COMP 381 ETHICS AND ETHICAL SYSTEMS 12 JANUARY What is ethics? philosophical study of morality Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods. What is ethics?
philosophical study of morality rules of conduct describing what people in a society should and should not do Society Association of people organized under a system of rules designed to advance the good of its members over time Rawls, A Theory of Justice What is the common good?
James Moors core values Life, happiness, ability to accomplish goals Declaration of Independence Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness John Finniss intrinsic goods Life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience,
sociability, religion, practical reasonableness Ethics What choices that people make are part of ethics? Must be voluntary Must relate to morality What is the fundamental purpose of any
moral system? To advance the common good What rules of conduct did you learn growing up? Ethical Dilemma Apparent conflict between moral imperatives
New technologies can open up new social problems and new ethical dilemmas Examples? Can new technologies change morality? Studying Ethics Three Approaches Descriptive ethics: what people believe to be
right and wrong Normative ethics: what people should believe is right and wrong Philosophical ethics (meta-ethics): looks at the logic behind the decisions Relationship between normative and philosophical ethics? Examples where descriptive and normative ethics differ?
Theories that we will look at Ethical relativism very briefly Individual (or subjective) Cultural Normative ethical theories Deontological (duty-based) Kantianism Contractualism
Teleological (result-based) Utilitarianism Hybrid theories Social justice Just consequentialism Criteria for Ethical Systems
balance of justice and mercy protect individual freedoms and rights no individual can/should impede or hurt another individual recognizes unethical laws flexibility dealing with relativism
societal balance Ethical Relativism Is there anything universally right or wrong? How is right or wrong decided? Individual Relativism
Is this the same as tolerance? For Well-meaning, intelligent people can disagree Against Does not provide moral distinction. What does morality mean? Not based on reason People are good at rationalization Cultural Relativism
Consider Hampden-Turner & Trompenaars work For Different social contexts Arrogance to judge Are there examples when we should impose views on a society? What if people have the right to leave?
Against Evolution of practices Societies do share core values Normative Ethical Theories Deontological: based on the sense of duty Right because of the act
Teleological: based on the result Right because of the result Deontological Theory What is it? Based on our duties and responsibilities Actions are fundamentally right or wrong
Duty as freely imposing obligation on ones own self Duty is internal We impose duty on ourselves What we SHOULD do, not what we WANT to do Kants Categorical Imperatives
Universality: Always act in such a way that the maxim of your action can be willed as a universal law of humanity. Respect: Always treat humanity, whether in yourself or in other people, as an end in itself and never as a mere means. Are these the same? Which do you prefer?
Strengths of Kantianism Rational Produces universal moral guidelines Treats all people as moral equals Criticisms Practical Actions may need to be characterized by
multiple rules and there is no way to resolve a conflict between rules Allows no exceptions Philosophical Moral minimalism: requirements are not heartfelt Moral alienation: alienated from feelings Contractualism
Social Contract Theory Morality consists in the set of rules, governing how people are to treat one another, that rational people will agree to accept, for their mutual benefit, on the condition that others follow those rules as well. James Rachel, The Elements of Moral Philosophy Rights and Duties
Duty not to interfere with others rights Negative and positive rights Negative right: duty is to not interfere Positive right: duty is to provide Absolute and limited rights Typically, negative rights are absolute and positive are limited Strengths of
Contractualism Framed in terms of rights Explains acting out of self-interest when there is no common agreement Provides framework for moral issues dealing with government (civil disobedience) Criticism
Doesnt address actions that can be characterized multiple ways Doesnt address conflicting rights Comparing the Two Theories Both believe that there are universal moral rules Basis of those moral rules
Kant can be universalized based on duties Contract would benefit the community based on rights Teleological Theory What is it? Something is good based on its
consequences Primary example: Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham 1748-1832 John Stuart Mill 1806-1873 Utilitarianism
Greatest Happiness Principle Compute the costs and benefits Simple calculation: do positives outweigh the negatives? Two forms Act judge the consequence of a specific act Rule judge the consequence of the generalized rule
Strengths Focus on happiness Down to earth Appeals to many people Comprehensive Problems of Act that Rule Addresses
Too much work to make a decision on each act Susceptible to happenstance Criticisms Ignores our sense of duty
Range of effects that one must consider Calculus requires that we balance very different aspects Unjust distribution of good results
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