HPS200 Exam Prep Notes

14 Pages

History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Course Code
Paul Thompson

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HPS200 ExamPrep Notebook: UfT Created: 12/17/2012 8:05 PM Updated: 12/18/2012 12:52 AM Some Definitions" Moral values: beliefs about right and wrong behaviour" Morality: a system of beliefs about right and wrong behaviour (actions)" Ethics: the philosophical study of morality" Non-moral Values: everything that we desire that is not a moral value (often expressed as “interests”)" One might value leisure time in a wilderness setting" One might value being part of a society that avoids extremes" One might value living in a country whose legal system is secular, not religiously, based" Social Values: values that constitute the fabric of a society" The protection of privacy" Constitutions capture these broad collective values" Bias: This is a very fluid term: for us it will one of:" a belief that influences other beliefs and actions but isnot relevant to those other beliefs or actions (often sub-conscious)" a belief that is inconsistent with the available evidence (e.g., Insite)" a behaviour (or belief) that violates a moral or social value (e.g., hiring on ethnicity rather than merit)" Anglo & European Ethical Theories Natural Law Ethics Has a very long history stretching back to Plato and Aristotle Consider Aristotle's distinction between conventional justice and natural justice Over the last two thousand plus years it has had many faces In essence natural law ethics connects what is right and wrong conduct to what is natural The important elements in both are: Reason is inextricably connected to human nature, right action and virtue. Failure to live according to the dictates of right reason debases the person (corrupts the persons nature) The goodness of the human person (virtuousness by pursuing right reason) and the goodness of the actions (works) of the person are inextricably connected True law (the consequence of right reason in agreement with nature) applies universally, and is unchanging and everlasting (Cicero states this explicitly in the quoted passage; Aquinas holds this as well); in today's language ethical principles apply to everyone, in all places and in all times. Natural law restting, as it does, on reason and reasonableness relies also on "self evident" truths - truths that any right thinking person would accept This seems tenable within a common framework (European Christendom) The self-evident truths are considerably more contentious when viewed across different frameworks Appeal to natural-law-type theory today occurs in two different contexts Inalienable human rights The Roman Catholic Church's argument against "unnatural behaviors" Contraception Homosexuality Abortion US Constitution "We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. UN Declaration of Human Rights "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." In this statement, the grounding of the inalienable rights is: not in self evident truths but in requirements for "freedom, justice and peace in the world" Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights of freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" The broad challenge is: To provide a non-value-laden definition of "right reasoning in accord with nature" To consistently declare things unnatural to be wrong Specific Challanges: David Huma and G.E. Moore Home and the is/ought barrier War involved pain, suffering and death War is wrong More and the Naturalistic Fallacy "Good" is a non-natural property the "Open question" Any statement of fact- any claim about the nature of things - is subject to the question "is it good?" Kantian Ethics Immanuel Kant(1724-1804) Foundational Principle: Universalizability "Act only on the maxim through which you can at the same time will that it be a universal law" This is known as the Categorical Imperative An operational interpretation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you form ancient Babylonian "code of Hammurabi" circa, 1780BCE Categorical Imperative is broader It provides the basis for social justice and social obligations (duties) as well as guiding individual action Means and Ends "Act always so that you trat humanity, in your own person or another, never merely as a means but also at the same time as an end in itself" Social Contract Ethics The basis of ethics lies in tacitly accepting a social contract - agreeing to live in a certain sort of society Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) the "war of all against all" (state of nature) Social compact Jean-Jacques Rouseau (1712-1778) "Attempt to reconcile what right permits with what interest prescribes, so that justice and utility are not divided" (social contract, 1762) Social contract theorists takes as a starting point self-interest and attempt to provide a foundation for a collective (society) and a concept of justice John Rawls A theory of justice (1971) - constructing a just society based on individual self interest the original position THe veil of ignorance Maxi-min principle To this point ethical theories considered are "deontological" the study of, reasoning about, of duty Utilitarianism First comprehensive statement was by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) Greatest exponent was John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) Foundational Principle utility (pleasure, happiness, good) must be maximized Standard Formulation: One should always act such that the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved One shoud always act such that the individual utility is maximized for the greater number Increasingly in Ango-European countries values ahve been understood in terms of: Individual Interests Harm vs Benefit Harm Ethical Version: Thwarting invadind defeating or setting back legitimate interests Legal version: Invasion of legally protected interests Risk: probability and magnitude of future unwanted harm Harm Principle: The interests of one individual should not be "thwarted" by another individual or group of individuals (including a society) unless demonstrable harm to others can be demonstrated Live and let live Risk Assessment 1. Magnitude of the harm 2. Probability of harm occurring 3. Magnitude of the benefit 4. Probability of realizing the benefit Feinberg's Schema Value of a desired outcome Probability of the desired outcome Probability of harm in securing the outcome Severity of harm Alternative methods of achieving the outcome Ethical Theories Summary: Natural Law: Moral facts are those that any rational, clearly thinking person would agree upon. Kantian: Moral facts can be derived from the categorical imperative Social Contract: Moral facts are what people would agree upon from a state of nature or behind a veil of ignorance Utilitarianism: Moral facts are those that maximize aggregate wellbeing. Christianity/Divine Command Theory Moral values are correct because God makes them correct. Moral duties are obligatory because God commands them to be. God makes moral facts true. Meta-Ethics Meta ethics asks: What makes ethical theories true A meta-ethical theory purports to tell you how you can tell whether an ethical theory is correct. Why its right Ethical theory in turn posits moral factsW. hat is right Christianity is a ethical theory Divine Command Theory it Meta-Ethical Intelligent Design Theory Successor to "Scientific Creationism" which sought to accommodate Biblical literalism with scientific findings. little to no religious references Typically accepts evolution but argues that intelligent design must have intervened evolution in some way Arguments certain feature in biological organisms that are highly unlikely to evolve in natural selection (negative argument) Evo by natural selection is the only credible naturalistic account of the features of life Since natural selection is likely to be false, only credible alternative is Intelligent Design (positive argument) Philip Kitcher on IDT intelligent force too vague to account for both the negative argument or positive one. Does not solve or hypothesize anything in detail. if god is intelligence than we dont know its aims. with out that IDT does not exist, therefore its not science Science is seen as the best method of arriving at true claims about the world. Sociobiology 1. Kitchers "four ways" 1. Sociobiology can explain how people have acquired ethical concepts 2. Sociobiology cant each us facts that, in conjunction with moral principles that we already accept, can be used to derive normative principles that we have not already appreciated 3. Sociobiology can explain what ethics is all about. It is the key to meta-ethics 4. Sociobiology can teach us new fundamental normative principles DNA of individuals is derived from previous generations Human beings should do whatever is required to ensure the survival of a common gene pool Jumping from DNA to ensuring survival is not logically deduced Sociobiology cannot teach us fundamental moral facts Animal Rights/Welfare Majority opinion is that animals do not equal with humans Small opinion is that they have no standing Descartes and friends believed it Minority opinion is that they have equal standing Majority believes that animals have interests that we should recognize Based on suffering or intrinsic value Majority believes that we should embrace the 3 Rs of animals in research Reduce (higher species) Replace (with non-animal processes) Refine (more humane) Transgenic animals and xenotransplantation additional issues Genetic techniques are fraught with difficulties and success rate is low Gender and Science 2 Fundamental Strands Women
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