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PHIL-127 (1)
Walter J. (1)

Moral Concept Summary.doc

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Suffolk University
Walter J.

Moral Concept Summary ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moral Predicates: X is obligatory = It is morally required to do X. If X is strongly obligatory, then one may be compelled by others to do X. X is permissible = It is "morally OK" to do X. OR It is not obligatory to not do X. X is impermissible = It is obligatory to not do X. X is supererogatory = X is a good thing to do (and is permissible), but it is not obligatory. Other moral predicates, such as 'good' and 'bad,' and 'right' and 'wrong,' are not so easily defined. Note, however, that 'right' and 'wrong' generally apply to actions, whereas 'good' and 'bad' can apply to almost any kind of thing. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Egoism vs. Altruism Egoism: One is never obliged to act against one's own interests (although it may be permissible to do so). Altruism: One is (sometimes) obliged to act against one's own interests. The above refer to moral or ethical egoism and altruism. These should be kept distinct from psychological egoism and altruism. Psychological egoism claims that we in fact always do act in our own interest anyway, whereas psychological altruism claims that we in fact sometimes act against our own interests in order to help others. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Consequentialism (or Teleological Ethics) vs. Deontology (or Duty-Based Ethics) Consequentialism: The rightness or wrongness of an action depends solely on the goodness or badness of its effects. Motives are irrelevant to evaluating the action, but they may be relevant to evaluating the agent (i.e. the one doing the action). There are several kinds of consequentialist theories. A strong form of ethical egoism in which one is obliged to maximize one's own interests, is one kind of consequentialist theory. Another kind, perhaps the most important one, is utilitarianism. Unlike the egoist consequentialism just mentioned, utilitarianism requires everyone's good to be taken into account, not just one's own good. Utilitarianism seeks the most favorable balance of good consequences over bad consequences in society. 'Good' and 'bad' are generally interpreted in terms of hedonism or eudaimonism (see next page). There are two major variants of utilitarianism: Act Utilitarianism: One should always act so as to produce the most favorable balance of good over bad in society. Rule Utilitarianism: One should follow rules which, on the whole, produce the most favorable balance of good over bad in society. Deontology: The rightness or wrongness of an action depends on one or more of the following: 1) the kind of action that it is; 2) the action's conformity to, or violation of, a moral rule; 3) the extent to which the action fulfills, or violates, a duty of the agent
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