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Final

PHIL215 Study Guide - Final Guide: Immanuel Kant, Virtue Ethics, Cardinal Virtues


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL215
Professor
Brian Orend
Study Guide
Final

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PHIL 215
Midterm worth 45%,
Take-home Final worth 55%
Don't have to buy the book. Attend lectures and it's hard not to do well.
Lecture #1
Why do we care about ethics?
Generally, good ethics lead to good business.
Madoff - Ponzi scheme (Pyramid Scam) "147 years sentence"
- middle class
- wanted to go to upperclass
- considered working legitimately vs. going with a scam.
- saved up $60k initial sum
- went to a couple of "suckers", billy and sally who each have $100k to start with.
- (S&P 500 is about 6.5% over the past 100 years)
- on Jan 1st, invest 100k from billy and sally.
- on Dec 31st, pays out 30k each to billy and sally.
- On the next year, Madoff asks each of billy and sally to get 2 more friends
- On the next year, Madoff has 600K from 6 ppl, and only has to pay out 30k x6
- His son turned him in.
What does it mean to behave ethically?
- To gain insight from the 5 theories: (all have strengths, but all have flaws)
1. Virtue
2. Deontology
3. Consequentialism
4. Rights based
5. Feminism
We shall use a plural of these above, because:
1. Wisdom of multiple advisors
2. Wisdom of NOT going with your gut (instincts/intuition are usually from your
earliest upbringing - parental, religious, etc - conditioned to simply be most
comfortable)
3. Minimize chance of getting in trouble
4. “Chain vs. Table”
Chain approach: start with some premise and slowly build, one chainlink at a
time, to some conclusion. However, this is a bad argumentative strategy
because it's only as strong as its weakest link. Putting all your eggs in one
basket is not a good strategy.

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Table approach: surface of the table is the conclusion, and the table's legs
are the premises.
Virtue Ethics Summary:
- Key concept is virtue defined as an "excellence of character." This tradition is all
about the development of good character over time; moral problems are character
defects.
- Founding figure: ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC)
- His ethical vision: In life, we must pursue eudaimonia (i.e. our fullest development)
- "Eudaimonia" - "happiness, flourishing, human excellence"
- This is:
- Pleasure +
- Internal Goods +
- the virtues
- External Goods
- good society & parents (Aristotle said that if you were not bore into a
good family, your emotional growth would be stunted. He did not
believe in redemption. He believed that if a bad upbringing would not
allow any further development morally)
- financial security
- health & safety
- friends & relationships
- beauty
*Solve Moral Dilemmas by Consulting a Moral Expert
A virtue:
- is not natural, or automatic
- must be developed over time, with conscious & deliberate effort (like exercising a
muscle)
- must become a reliable, stable part of your character
- benefits self & others
- "traits we praise in others & strive to develop in ourselves"
- are usually in a mean between extremes (e.g. courage)
- 4 cardinal virtues: courage, moderation, prudence, justice.
Strengths:
1. Excellent verified account of general human happiness
2. Actions comes out of character.
3. Attention to moral development, & the need for continued moral "practice"
4. Stress on social & relationship context needed for (moral) thriving not just
individuals making choices in a vacuum,
5. (Inspiringly Optimistic & Hopeful)
Common Criticisms:
1. "Inspiring", or Naive, re: "perfectibility"
2. Illiberal, Oppressive Overtones re: character judgement & social context

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3. Elitism & Issue of "moral Experts"
4. Too Selfish to be a Moral Code?
5. Vagueness of Virtues + Cultural Relativity (e.g. of courage)
6. Are Virtues Enough?
Duty-Based Ethics Summary “Deontology”:
- Key concept is duty / obligation / responsibility. Key differences from virtue ethics:
1) deontology separates prudence & morality, whereas virtue ethics blended them;
2) deontology focuses on judging actions; virtue ethics concentrated on character.
3) deontology is clearly, strongly committed to universality; virtue ethics is less so.
- central figure: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 A.D), German “Enlightenment” Thinker
- his ethical vision: through a strength of will, we must bring our body (or “animal
instinctuality”) in line with commands of our mind (or “free rationality”). When we do
this, we shall be truly autonomous (i.e. ruled by our own selves: not by God, nor by
nature). Autonomy for all the big inspiration: “The Kingdom of Ends”.
Deontologists are concerned with Actions and the Intentions behind these
actions: (Action + Intention = Good)
Action (Objective) Intention
(Subjective)
Christianity - 10 Commandments
- Golden Rule
- Love
Kant - Categorical Imperative (categorical:
“must be obeyed”; imperative: “rule”,
“command”)
- Respect
Kant was inspired by the Christian moral view. However, he believes that
categorical imperative is already instilled within each of us, we just need to
self-reflect to find it. He believes that motivating people with love is too
demanding. “I have a hard time loving the people I should love (much less my
enemy)”. It’s too much to ask everyone to love everyone else. Attitude of
respect should suffice.
- For an action to be morally permissible, it must be both: a) in accord with the
objective duty / law of the Categorical Imperative; and b) motivated by the proper
subjective intention of respect for everyone’s autonomy. A+B = Morally OK (Thus, we
solve moral dilemmas by determining the correct duty & performing it with right
intention)
(crucial thing for this course is solving moral dilemma: so in this
context Kant’s solution is to use categorical imperative is to find the
most important moral duty, and to performing that duty with the right
frame of mind)
- More on The Categorical Imperative. This is an innate command of reason, which
we must always obey (lest we betray our true selves). It is Kant’s secular
reinterpretation of The Golden Rule (i.e. “do unto others as you would have them do
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