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Midterm

PHL376 Midterm study notes

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL376H1
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T.J.Berry

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January 18, 2013  (From last class) Sport as COMPETITIVE PHYSICAL PLAY: rule governed and mutually agreed, and not necessary for survival or productive (this definition is up for debate)  Perhaps if it weren‟t for professionalization and commercialization of sport, many of the relevant ethical issues (ex. cheating, doping) would be unlikely to arise  CULTURAL RELATIVISM (Simon calls “Ethical Relativism”): the view that what is right (or wrong) for a given person is dependent upon that person‟s culture. A person acts or thinks correctly if and only if the person acts or thinks in accord with the moral code of the person‟s culture. (A normative view)  Might be attractive because its seen as sophisticated, and tolerant (whatever works for you)  Disturbing consequences of cultural relativism: it may seem to promote tolerance, and that may be true but it also might not  If your culture is prejudice/bigoted, etc. then you will be the way your culture is – intolerant  Cultural relativism also seems to fail to capture first person moral deliberation  You would also have to give up all talk of moral progress  We also get deprived of the grounds of criticizing our own culture or other cultures (what‟s right is what that society or culture takes to be right)  STANDARD ARGUMENT FOR CULTURAL RELATIVISM: 1. Different cultures have different moral codes (Simon: descriptive relativism) 2. The best explanation of the difference is that nothing is morally correct independent of some particular culture 3. So, nothing is morally correct independent of some particular culture (cultural relativism)  First premise may not being illuminating enough, there are certain shared principles  Certain things we assume to be held true for all cultures (for example: the assumption of truth telling, and a prohibition against killing). People wouldn‟t stay within their culture if their culture didn‟t offer them some degree of safety.  These things being necessary for the cultural group‟s survival  Moral judgments of a society might be mistaken  UNIVERSALISM: the view that some moral values and principles are common to all cultures and so applicable to everyone  Some universalists might disagree on how much of morality is universally shared  METAPHYSICAL REALISM: the view that the world exists in some determinate way independent of how it is perceived, i.e., that there is a mind independent reality  Metaphysical realism as applied to ethics could be compatible with universalism, however it could be the case that the views about the world are not shared (not common to all cultures)  Newspon. Pg. 243: virtue ethics theory found in Aristotle being beset by relativist challenges (what is virtuous depends on one‟s culture)  Pg. 6 of Simon book: quotes Alan Bloom “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of, almost every student that enters university thinks that the truth is relative”  Simon: any good moral view shows 3 features - impartiality, consistency, and the chain of reasoning is reflectively stable  Reflective stability: the moral principles being employed have to fit our judgments about clear cases  We should be trying to think about and defend our own ethical principles  Testing ethical claims: by doing so we‟re acknowledging that we might be the ones who are wrong  Not just about scrutinizing the principles of other societies  Seeking to understand the situation of others seems to be critical in our moral thinking  Should not be abstaining from all ethical judgments (make them provisionally)  ETHICAL THEORY: I: Teleology a) Ethical egoism b) Utilitarianism - act-utilitarianism - rule-utilitarianism II: Deontology a) Divine command theory b) Natural law theory c) Kantianism  Teleological theories seek to promote and maximize the end  Whose end should be considered? What should we consider happiness and the good?  Provide an answer to what is happiness and the human good  There could be many different accounts of these (pleasure and avoidance of pain, preference satisfaction, virtue)  Preference satisfaction and pleasure not the same thing (lying to your mother about your success – gives her pleasure to think you‟re doing well, but its not her preference for you to lie about your success)  Utilitarian would say that if pleasure is the good then maximizing your own happiness (ethical egoist) is important – not the case if the good is virtue  Ethical egoism: one ought to maximize one‟s own happiness  Utilitarianism: one ought to maximize the general level of happiness, taking all into account  Problems: you need to specify what happiness is, and how are we to sum up the general level of happiness?  Act-utilitarianism: one ought to perform the action that presently maximizes the general level of happiness, taking all into account (situational)  Rule-utilitarianism: one ought to perform the action that conforms to the rule that tends to maximize the general level of happiness, taking all into account  Mill pg. 275: problem with act-utilitarianism is that there‟s not time previous to an act for weighing judgment of the happiness that will be produced  Rely on past history? Follow rule-utilitarianism  Reflective stability in rule-utilitarianism  But there is also a problem depending on context, there may be a rule that tends to maximize the general level of happiness in most cases, but given specific circumstances it does not in a particular case  Mill 269: utilitarian standard is too high for all of humanity – it is very demanding, we are supposed to act to maximize happiness by taking all into account  Doing good on an extended scale (a public benefactor) – few of us have this power  Utilitarian standard would seem to constantly affect the lives of people like us who live extremely comfortably in the developed world  Every decision we make for some sort of a luxury, utilitarianism would seem to demand that we forgo these luxuries  Either we are bad people, or utilitarianism asks too much  Deontological theories are duty based theories  Some source of duties that you will follow  Divine command theory and natural law theory could collapse into each other or be separated  Divine command theory: what you ought to do is what God tells you to do  Obvious problem is the epistemological one (never mind questioning whether or not God exists), how do we know the voice speaking to us is the voice of God?  Tends to fall out of favor these days  Natural law theory: figure out what natural law is and abide by what it commands  Don‟t hear much talk about this unless people are talking about natural rights  Natural rights theories would seem to be versions of natural law theories  Right is correlative to a duty  Natural law might be thought to be derivable from reason, or something that flows out of God‟s command (could go either way)  Kant gives something in the same vein of natural law theory and divine command theory  Kantianism (deontology): one ought to act from the motive of duty and in conformity with duty  Motives contrary to duty: action that stems from what Kant calls „mediate inclinations‟ (calculation of self interest) Shopkeeper example: cheating young children in their change  He won‟t cheat the children because its in the best interest because if the parents find out then it will be bad for his business (acting out of the motive of self- interest)  Kant wants to discard someone who is benevolent (Shopkeeper who loves everyone and always gives perfect change even when he could get away with not doing so)  Kant says that their motive for not cheating people would be an immediate inclination for benevolence, another case of not acting out of moral duty  He‟s not saying that we should hate mankind  It‟s nice to feel benevolently towards others but it‟s not the purest of moral action  Not recommending malevolence  One ought to act in conformity with duty (the categorical imperative)  Act in maxims one can will to be universal law  Act out of respect for rationality, always treating other persons as ends and not just as means  Absolute prohibitions in Kant (example: lying)  Looks as though the prohibition is morally misguided  But there seems to be cases where is seems appropriate to lie (lying to a murderer who comes to your door looking for their victim and you know their whereabouts)  Or lying to a Nazi coming to your door looking for Jews  Kant’s theory validates maxims that don’t seem to match our test of reflective stability (lying) January 25, 2013  ARISTOTLE’S METHOD: (according to Newsponn) STAGE 1: The demarcation (separation/differentiation) of the sphere of choice: the grounding experiences that fix the referent of the virtue term as whatever acting appropriately in that sphere is  What are your virtuous options for how to act in a given situation? STAGE 2: Concrete inquiry in what the appropriate choice in the sphere is (find the mean between extremes)  Worthiness based on excellence 1. The great-souled are worthy of the greatest things 2. If the great-souled are worthy of the greatest things, they are the best 3. So the great-souled are the best 4. If the great-souled are the best, then they possess all of the virtues (i.e. they have practical wisdom 5. So, the great-souled possess all of the virtues (have practical wisdom)  Utilitarians place all emphasis on consequences  Kantians base all evaluation on the intention of the act  Aristotelian theory takes both consequences and intentions to matter for virtuous action (virtue ethics)  For Aristotle the good life/happiness seems to be about realizing human excellences/virtues  These virtues are to be understood as fixed dispositions of character to respond appropriately in a given situation  The right way to respond stands between two alternatives, one that stands to be too little and the other too much (finding the mean)  For example: too little or too much fear in an appropriate situation  Courage stands between being a coward and rashness  Virtue stands between extremes  Newsponn: Aristotle frequently though not always follows this method (listed above in 2 stages)  Fear of death: the appropriate response is courage  But it does not tell you specifically what actions and behavior appropriately constitutes courage in stage 1  In stage 2 we get a filling in of what is appropriate  Megalopsuchia: greatness of soul – having the right attitude and taking the right actions with respect to what we’re worthy of  We are self conscious beings, capable of evaluating ourselves and our own worthiness  Attitudes and actions with respect to our worthiness of great things  Aristotle thinks that there are some people worthy of great things, medium things, little things  If you‟re worthy of medium things and you recognize it and respond to it appropriately then this is not a virtue  The real virtue is being worthy of great things and responding appropriately to it  Worthiness of great things: what are the great things one might be worthy of? This would be addressed in stage 2  Essential details of megalopsuchia: the great things that we might be worthy of reduces to honor  Aristotle says the greatest of the external goods are the ones that seek out to the Gods  We want an account of what makes us worthy of honor  Honor is the great thing for us to seek  Worthiness of honor  1123b27: explains what makes us worthy of honor  Truly great souled man must be good  Great soul not possible without refinement of excellence  You‟re not learning anything you‟re just explicating concepts  See “worthiness based on excellence” above  Seems to fit with basic notions of desert  Reduction – connect the idea that those worthy of the greatest things have to be the best  Aristotle says what we need to have are the virtues, he discounts being rich or powerful  He accepts the thesis that any virtue you have is going to require some sort of knowledge and wisdom, recognize a situation for what it is  If you weren‟t to have all the virtues then you wouldn‟t be a person who possessed practical wisdom  Need practical wisdom (phronesis) in order to possess virtues  He seems to think that with respect to external goods like wealth and power, if you don‟t have practical wisdom then you‟re not going to use those goods correctly  External goods aren‟t actually good for us if we lack wisdom  The worth of external goods is conditional upon one‟s possession of practical wisdom  If you have money without practical wisdom then you won‟t use it correctly, you might hoard it or squander it, same with power  Possession of the virtues is what really matters to being worthy of the greatest thing  Pg. 244 in Newsponn, easy to feel that Aristotle‟s list of virtues must be restricted, reflective of one‟s particular society  Culture bound list  The great soul is not to enter trivial contests of their abilities  If they are to compete it is to be when the greatest things are at stake  It doesn‟t seem like the megalopsuchous will be engaging in any sports unless it is at the highest level  Pride as a virtue and a vice – we use the word in both ways  Worthiness – engaging in self-estimation  Virtue of self-estimation is proper pride  PROPER PRIDE: the appropriate response in a situation of self-estimation  Accurately assessing yourself and your worth  IMPROPER PRIDE: inaccurately over-estimating your worth (take more credit than is due)  MODESTY: inaccurately under-estimating your worth (failing in the other direction – giving yourself less credit than is due)  What really matters here are points about character  Failing in respect to external goods: you think that you‟re rich, but you‟re not, or you think that you‟re powerful, but you‟re not  Being right seems to be the appropriate way to be  Being properly proud as an athlete would affect how they go about competing Arguments against sport  Simon’s Sport: “mutually acceptable quest for excellence through challenge”  Pg. 27 not a zero sum game, but a mutually acceptable quest for excellence  You don‟t have to win, in competing you develop yourself, improve and work on your skills  Rule governed, agree to the rules and agree to participate – it‟s cooperative  Simon pg. 24/25 – argument that the goal to enhance one competitor at the expense of others is selfish and immoral  IMMORALITY ARGUMENT: 1. Sport is essentially competitive 2. Competitors are necessarily selfish 3. Selfishness is immoral 4. So, sport is necessarily immoral  INEQUALITY ARGUMENT: 1. Sport is essentially competitive 2. Competition introduces distinctions (inequality) between persons (e.g. winners and losers) 3. Sources of inequality are morally objectionable 4. So, sport is morally objectionable  If it‟s the competitive aspect that is so bad then it cuts right down to the core of sport, it won‟t be easy to eliminate the competitiveness of sport, if anything we might be able to mitigate the competition and change the way competition is framed within sport, but you can‟t have sport without it being competitive  Cooperative element does not remove the competitive aspect – there will still be a winner and there will be a loser  The challenge is going to be better met by someone (the winner)  Critical to compare ourselves with others to make assessments of achievement and improvement, to evaluate ourselves  Nozick‟s West example: we can‟t understand sporting achievement without comparison to other achievers – is this point correct? (From example in the text)  Competing with other people vs. competing with your former self  The example doesn‟t show the point but the point may be right  There doesn‟t have to be reference to others, the contest could be altered (raise the basketball net)  Personal excellence vs. human excellence?  Standard of perfection is not always easy to define  You need to know information about what other people do  There may be a way to mathematically deduce what the limits of human ability would ultimately be if we truly understood human physiology, but we do not have this kind of understanding  We need to make reference to others in evaluating sport activity  Simon draws a distinction between selfishness and self-interest  Selfishness: do whatever to make your side prevail (no bounds) insist that your side does prevail – not required for competition (not necessary)  Selfishness keeps demanding that you play to a higher score  Kill the game the second you get the higher score  Self interest – you’re playing the game for yourself, you enjoy it or you want to enhance/practice your skills, win or lose, it’s part of sports but it’s not the end goal  Second premise is no longer true of immorality argument if you draw the distinction between selfishness and self-interest  Sometimes selfishness is considered a blanket term to cover self-interest  This is how Simon tries to derail the immorality argument  Of course sport can be selfish (cheaters), but it is not necessarily selfish  Inequality argument – attack premise number 3  Simon rejects premise 3 that all sources of inequality are objectionable – this premise doesn‟t seem right  Borrows Dworkin’s distinction between the right equal treatment and the right to treatment as an equal  Right to equal treatment: guaranteeing that there will be an equal outcome  Right to treatment as an equal: giving people full respect as persons – guarantee a fair shot at earning playing time, same opportunity  Rejects number 3 on the basis that it seems to be referring to right to equal treatment, but in respect to right to treatment as an equal, equality is respected  Sport fulfills the right to treatment as an equal to the max  Right to equal treatment isn‟t warranted, but what we do have is the right to treatment as an equal is in sport  HUNDLEY: explanations for the overemphasis on winning in the practice of sport in capitalist society  A. Neo Marxist: sport sustains ideology of social mobility B. Play Theorist: in modern society, only productive work is valued (capitalist) C. Radical Feminist: in modern society, sport functions to reinforce male dominance  Sport reinforces a false ideology of capitalist society  No difference between labor and play in the way in which they‟re talking about them between A and B  Capitalism pushes for sports to be commercialized  Sport as a form of play that we can make money off of  Once we commercialize sport we set up a situation where a slew of external goods (endorsements, money) go to the winner  Powerful external reason to want to win – overemphasis placed on winning  Sport by itself may have no overemphasis on winning (mutual quest for excellence), but with commercialization and professionalization then all these external goods hang on our success  External motivations  DIXON on distinguishing winning from athletic superiority  Winning does not necessarily indicate athletic superiority  Produce an unjust outcome: refereeing errors, cheating, gamesmanship, bad luck, and inferior performance/off day (latter produce a misleading but not unjust outcome)  Gamesmanship where you psych out opposing players (strategic behavior, play of questionable fairness)  Gaming of the rules fits more under cheating  What makes athletic superiority: physical skill, strategy, and emotional control (?)  If emotional control isn‟t part of athletic superiority then gamesmanship involves testing something irrelevant, otherwise it may be a necessary part of athletic superiority  What about fan interference? Or is it just a part of bad luck? February 1, 2013  How the inferior win: Referee error Cheating Gamesmanship Bad luck Inferior performance (off day) – first 5 from Dixon‟s list Injury Illness Bad rules Fan interference “Throwing the contest”/gambling  GAMESMANSHIP:
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