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PHIL215 Study Guide - Final Guide: Ontario Health Insurance Plan, Centre For Addiction And Mental Health, Associate Family

Course Code
Rachel Mc Kinnon
Study Guide

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Ethical Theory Part 1: Lecture 1
Key Concepts:
Terms ; impermissible , permissible, obligatory , supererogatory, prescriptive , descriptive ,
naturalistic fallacy
Theories : Egoism ( narrow and wide), Utilitarianism , Rawlsian , Distributive Justice
Descriptive claims, are those that describe a situation and what people do, verses prescriptive
claims which describe what we ought to do (prescribing a solution to a problem) , in general
ethics is concerned with prescriptive claims, helping people decide what they ought to do ,
anthropologist simply tells us what people do ( they have no opinion as to what they think the
people should be doing )
Naturalistic fallacy thinking a descriptive claim is a prescriptive claim, just because something
is a certain way that doesn’t mean it ought to be this way , turning an is into an ought
Actions are permissible if they are ethically acceptable not necessarily obligatory but it is not
forbidden, actions are impermissible if they are not ethically acceptable, and are forbidden,
obligatory actions are actions that are required to be ethical, they must be performed and are
stronger than permissible actions, supererogatory actions are ethical actions that go above and
beyond what is required
Ethical Theories: Egoism
Egoism if it’s in your best interest it’s the right thing to do (ethically correct)
Psychological Egoism people only do what’s in their best interest (descriptive),there is no such
thing as altruism (an unselfish act done to others), because we only do unselfish acts because
they make us feel good, giving to charity makes us feel good therefore it isn’t unselfish and we
still have our best interests in mind
Ethical Egoism people should only do what’s in their best interest (prescriptive), clear example
is Adam Smith ( economist) who believed that the only reason the market works is because
people do things out of their best interest , as well as that people only cooperated if it was in
their best interest , the fact that people only do what’s it’s in their own best interest is a
descriptive claim but that doesn’t mean that we ought to continue this or turn it into a
prescriptive claim ( naturalistic fallacy) for how businesses ought to treat each other
Narrow self-interest Egoism you only think about what will benefit you the most right now
(short term) , you don’t think of how others might respond to your actions or the future effects
of your decisions ( one shot prisoners dilemma, always confess) you do the best by confessing
no matter what the other person does ( you don’t worry as to what the other person does and
only think of the short term effects )

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Wide self-interest Egoism you consider the long term effects of your decisions and how they
might affect the way people behave because of your actions (iterated prisoners dilemma, better
to remain silent) if you think of the other person and how they might respond to your answer
and what this would cause over time then its wide self interest
Ethical Theories: Utilitarianism ( evaluate consequences)
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are the father of this theory , they cared about pleasure,
only valuing things that created pleasure , value happiness because its good and not because of
what it produces ( happiness = intrinsic good ) , they wanted to maximize happiness and reduce
unhappiness , greatest good for the greatest number , Bentham thought all pleasures were
equally good where as Mill believed that intellectual pleasures were better than others (
produced more happiness ) , they measured happiness in terms of utility ( utiles ), everyone is
treated morally equal ( 5 utiles for you is the same 5 utiles for me ) this theory is a
consequentially theory as it only focuses on the consequences of an action ( as long as you get
some pleasure at the end it doesn’t matter how you get there, the ends justify the means )
,intentions and motivations are irrelevant , in order to analyze a situation as being the right one
for utilitarianism think of the consequences and the utility received from completing the action
Decision Procedure:
1. Create a list of potential actions
2. Do a utility calculation , showing increases or decreases for each person involved according
to decision made
3. From here chose the option that maximizes overall utility , if one option is chosen this
option is obligatory ( as it is ethically required ) if there are more than one option that
maximizes each of these are permissible as they ethically accepted but not required the one
from the set of permissible then becomes obligatory
Ethical Theories: Distributive Justice
- Distributive justice , describes how wealth or resources should be distributed within a society , there
are various way to distribute the wealth : egalitarianism holds the view that these resources should
distributed equally amongst the society ( any inequality is bad ) difficult to fulfill because the levels
of things that people need vary ( expensive taste, what makes you happy varies) , luck
egalitarianism holds the view that inequalities are okay as long as they aren’t a byproduct of one
person have more luck than another , in a sense saying that everyone should have equal
opportunities of getting what they want, satisfacting is a theory were we make sure everyone has
enough to survive ( food , shelter , water) ie the society is responsible for provided enough , any
inequality beyond that is okay
Ethical Theories : Rawlsian ( Justice Theory) ( evaluates procedure)
- Believes that if a process is fair anything that comes out of it is fair and just , even if it’s an inequality

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- In order to ensure a process is fair we need to ; be in the original position ( what would a rational
person chose if they didn’t know who they would be in a society or better off or worse off )
- In the original position , there is no cooperation within the society , everyone is self interested and
they aim to maximize their personal utility ,we have no knowledge of race, marital status , skills,
intelligence ( veil of ignorance )
- We must think of the action , as a policy ( since we care about fair procedures) , then we ask
ourselves if a rational person in the original position under the veil of ignorance would accept this
policy if so then we must see if the policy passes the liberty principle and the difference principle
- Liberty principle is the policy consistent with the basic liberties that people need to have
(Freedom of speech, personal property, freedom from arbitrary arrest ) and would it be consistent
if everyone had this liberty
- Difference Principle if the policy creates an inequality , this must be the greatest benefit to the
least well off in the society
Decision Procedure
1. Create a list of potential actions
2. Turn these actions into policies
3. Determine whether the policy would be accepted by a ration person in the original position
and under the veil of ignorance , if yes move on, if no unethical
4. Does the policy pass the liberty principle and the difference principle , if yes move on
5. Chose option that is most consistent with the principles , if only one its obligatory if more
than one they are permissible
The What and Why of Business Ethics -Fritz Allhof and Anand Vaidya
- Business is the sum total of all relationships dealing with the trading of goods or services for profit (
arena where rewards are ideally distributed on the basis of merit)
- Ethics explains or prescribes how humans should live , legally does not mean it is ethically or
morally permissible
- Metaethics , deals with morality and the fundamentals questions and concepts
- Applied ethics is applying normative ethics to a situation
- Normative ethics is determining what’s right and what’s wrong
- Business Ethics is the area which we try to answer ethical questions by using normative theory ,
these issues arise from the relationship of those trading for profit , issues can be external (btob)or
internal (employees and employer) , we study business ethics in order to help us deal with and
analyze issues we might face
Ill founded criticisms of Business Ethics- Anand Jayprakash Vaidya
- Business ethics seems like an oxymoron because the concept which they are rooted from are
completely opposite
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