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PHL376H1 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Divine Command Theory, Gamesmanship, Virtue Ethics

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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
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)
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
First premise may not being illuminating enough, there are certain shared
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)

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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
Should not be abstaining from all ethical judgments (make them provisionally)
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
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

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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
Doing good on an extended scale (a public benefactor) few of us have this
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
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-
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)
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