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Arbus 202 class notes up until midterm.docx

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University of Waterloo
PHIL 215
Brian Orend

NOTES 9/10/2013 4:28:00 PM C) But What Does it Mean to Behave Ethically? My own strategy is to look up the Top Five Ethical Models and be guided by them: Virtue Ethics – what would a virtuous person do? (oldest, originated in Ancient Greece, prominent religious traditions have a prominent virtue ethics component to them)  Character, not action, focused o From action to character (a person who lies is deemed as a “liar) o Makes stronger and sweeping claims about someone’s character  Development of good character over time o “A virtuous character” over your lifetime  Pursuit of ethical excellence, be the best you can be  Virtue (excellence of character, strength of character) KEY FIGURE: Aristotle – EUDAIMONIA (ethical excellence)  “Happiness/Flourishing Excellence” o Flourishing, “best kind”, of human life has 3 parts:  1) Pleasure – humans are hard wired for individuals to pursue pleasure o However, we can train ourselves to pursue different kinds of pleasure o What changes, and is plastic, is what gives individuals pleasures o Train yourself to get pleasure out of morally good actions o If you get pleasure out of lying to someone’s face, that is a defective character o Birth – to P/A – “Moral Luck” – out of our control. We don’t choose what society we are born into. Social institutions are there to tell us what is right or wrong, rewarding us for good behaviour. Parents taught us well o After that is “Personal Control”  2) Internal Goods – the virtues o Traits of character o Not natural, development overtime  “Correct natural deficiencies”  he thinks that a lot of people are naturally inclined to be lazy  (being hardworking corrects this natural deficiency)  he thinks that most of us are liars and are naturally disposed to lies (a lot of psychological evidence that most people lie to give them some sort of pleasure under situations)  (being honest corrects this natural deficiency)  he thinks that most people are cowards as well  (courage corrects this natural deficiency) o Require constant practice & exercise  Virtues are like muscles, you have to constantly use them  If you are not using your virtues, you are not a virtuous person o Benefit self & others   3) External Goods o born into a good society o born to good parents o need a certain level of health and wealth  health (if you are extremely sick, you’re going to be collapsed in on yourself and your problems and struggles and you’re going to lack the spirit to be morally involved with other people)  wealth (unless you are somewhat wealthy, you wil not be morally good. If you are so poor and you keep thinking about where your next meal is going to come from, you will lack the experience of being a morally giving person – you need resources)  4) Friends & beauty o ancient greeks had a firm belief that being physically attractive shows a lot of your character (weak point) o having good friends is important to be better people  who you normally are, is how you habitually behave  ex. Anyone can be nice in a situation by holding the door for someone else. Doesn’t work if you do small good deeds  you socially spend more time with your friends, therefore how you treat your friends show how you are morally  if you lie and are manipulative, you are not good  friends offer you continual moral practice  honest, supportive, empathy, love  friends help you move from part b to part a How does Virtue Ethics recommend how to solve moral dilemma?  Aristotle: consult amoral expert and follow their advice o Hat would a virtuous person do under the situation?  A virtuous person is someone who has 1) Pleasure 2) Internal Goods 3) External Goods and uses them in their lives, they are virtuous  Consulting with people who have been through this situation before, who have more experience Strengths:  Excellent, verified account of general human happiness  Action comes out of character, no? o Recidivism – when you are caught for one crime, you are more prone to be accused for another crime. Aristotle would agree: “well obviously… once a criminal, always a criminal” o Character is destiny  Attention to moral development and the need for continual moral “practice”  Stress on social and relationship context needed for (moral) thriving: nothing just individuals making choices in a vacuum o ZOON PLITIKON - Human beings are by nature social animals (natural fact)  Inspiringly, optimistic and hopeful Common Criticisms:  “inspiring” or naïve, re: “perfectibility” o deeply naïve, ton of evidence that suggest that few of any people can fulfill A o Artistotle’s recipe at any point in time  illiberal, oppressive overtones re: character judgment and social context o Artistotle suggest that social institutions should be structured to have good parents and society, but doesn’t clue in to having any personal freedom. He believes in fulfilling human potential.  elitism and issue of “moral experts” o some people know what’s better than others, Artistotle rejects relativism, objectivism – not what “he said she said” – some people know better than others o however some people may not believe/like this  too selfish to be a moral code? o Too self-obsessed o Artistotle - Doesn’t count as a virtue unless it benefits both others and self – thinks he addressed the problem  Vagueness of virtues and cultural relativity (eg. Of courage) o Honesty is a virtue – what are the extremes  Are virtues enough? Deontology – what are my duties in this situation? Consequentialism – how can I help make the world a better place? Rights based – will I violate anyone’s rights? Feminism – Liberal brand. will I violate gender equality? - Radical brand. what would a good mother do? I’m not going to do the common thing which is to advocate on behalf of one of these theories, over the rest, as The One Objective Truth. Instead, I advocate, as a problem-solving strategy, a plural strategy to solving moral dilemmas, using all the above. Why? 1) All These Major Theories Have Flaw  not one of the major theories are perfect 2) The Wisdom of Multiple Advisors and Different Perspectives 3) The Wisdom of NOT “Going With Your Gut” 4) Minimizing Your Chances of Really Screwing it Up, and Getting in Massive Trouble 5) The Chain vs The Table  The Chain o build a chain of arguments leading up to the conclusion o highlight of the chain is that there is a starting point, dominant value and dominant perspective o each 5 theories are structured like the chain o chain is only strong as the weakest link however when someone breaks the chain, the argument is over  The Table (6 legs for example) o don’t draw on different supports but gives you more support for conclusions  if anyone kicks on one of the table legs, the table can still stand o plural strategy is a better argumentative strategy Thus when confronted with a moral dilemma, ask yourself those 5 italicized questions above and usually you’ll find that the clear majority point a certain way. Thus, that’s great advice from the world’s top ethical traditions. Foolish to ignore it… Case Study Method  read the paragraph and think about how each person in the above five theories would react D) Why Do People Behave Badly? Concern with business and professional ethics has a much to do with avoiding the bad as achieving the good – maybe even more so, considering the desire to avoid the harm and damage which often come with bad behavior. But why do people behave badly? Prominent theories: 1) Ignorance  2) Weakness of Will (note: 1 vs 2 is Plato vs Aristole) 3) Self-Exception from Universal Standards (Kant) 4) Extreme Risk-Prone Tendencies 5) Situational Pressures 6) Mimicking Leadership (tone set from the top) Deontology  Focused on actions, not character  Actions to be evaluated via rules (+ intention)  2 historical examples: o Xianity (religious) o KANT (secular)  Virtue ethics (character) vs. deontology (actions)  Structure of Deontology - Refer to *1 A) Obey Objective Rules B) Right Subjective Intention Xianity (Religious) - Ex. 10 - love commandments - Golden Rules KANT (secular) - Categorical - respect Imperative A + B = Morally Permissible  KANT 1724 – 1804 – Enlightment Thinker o Era: science, rat. Technology, secularity o Purely rat. Foundation o Innate rule of reason  The Categorical: must always be obeyed  Imperative: command rule o Universality – one universal set of moral rules  T.C.I (2 parts) o Universality Test  Would anyone veto my action?  If not permissibly  If so, impermissible o Humanity Test Strenghts  1) focus on action allows us to be non-judgmental re: character  2) clear universality, no relativity  3) morality clearly understood: no ongoing development of character, nor complex calculations of consequence. Just simple rules we must obey  4) Ideal of Equality and Respect for the Autonomy of All (fits in with modern democracy, secularity, globalization)  Common Criticisms o 1) too simple: artificial, legalistic, “cookie-cutter”, binary ethics (vs. scalar) o 2) vagueness and problems interpreting the rules o 3) western-only approach? o 4) problems with intention (eg. Self deception; do we need it? o 5) “Empty form of rule-worship” What about the consequences of our actions? Kant’s terrible case of knife-wielding maniac Consequentialism  action-focused o evaluate actions through their consequences  ex. Utilitarianism (Bentham) o Utility = Pleasure – Pain o Bentham’s Heuristic Calculation Net Utility Score A B (Pleasure – Pain) Certainty Proximity Intensity Fecundity Purity Duration Extent TOTAL: 32 28 Strenghts  1) Who doesn’t love pleasure and hate pain?  2 ) Historic link to progressive reform  3) Useful aid to policy formation/institutional design (especially in a democracy, w
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