Moral Discussion Logic

Moral Discourse The objective of this 10 slide presentation is to: Identify roadblocks to moral discourse. Give your roadblock in class Evaluate the content of the moral discourse in a discussion with other students 1. Lets study this presentation in Slide Show. 2. At the end of the presentation there will be one discussion question. Decide on one of the specific discussion stopper (1, 2, 3, or 4) that you would like to interpret. Construct a discussion with the discussion stopper in mind. Please remember that we are posting views to exemplify roadblocks so some may not be a true view/opinion. Please respect each other. Moral Discussions 1 Discussion Stoppers as "Roadblocks" to Moral Discourse Discussion stoppers can be articulated in terms of the following four questions: 1. People disagree about morality; so how can we reach agreement on moral issues? 2. Who am I/Who are we to judge others and to impose my/our values on others? 3. Isn't morality simply a private matter?

4. Isn't morality simply a matter that different cultures and groups should determine for themselves? Lets practice creating some possible roadblocks Moral Discussions 2 First lets study the Discussion Stopper # 1: People Disagree on Solutions to Moral Issues People who hold this view fail to recognize: (i) Experts in other fields of study, such as science and math., also disagree on what the correct answers to certain questions are. (ii) There is common agreement about answers to some moral questions. (iii) People do not always distinguish between "disagreements about factual matters" and "disagreements on general principles" in disputes involving morality. Moral Discussions 3 Lets study Discussion Stopper # 2:

Who am I to Judge Others? We need to distinguish between: Persons Making Judgments and Persons Being Judgmental, and Judgments Involving Condemnations vs. Judgments Involving Evaluations Also, we are sometimes required to make judgments about others. Moral Discussions 4 Here is Discussion Stopper # 3: Ethics is Simply a Private Matter Many people assume that morality is essentially personal in nature and that morality must therefore be simply a private matter. Private morality" is essentially an oxymoron or contradictory notion. Morality is a public phenomenon (Gert).

Moral Discussions 5 And last of all Discussion Stopper # 4: Morality is Simply a Matter for Individual Cultures to Decide According to this view, a moral system is dependent on, or relative to, a particular culture or group. There are some very serious problems with this view, which is called ethical relativism. To understand the problems inherent in this position, it is useful to distinguish between two positions involving relativism: cultural relativism and moral relativism. At the base of cultural relativism is the following assumption: (A) Different cultures have different beliefs about what constitutes morally right and wrong behavior. This assumption (A) is essentially descriptive in nature. Although Assumption A (the view that different groups have different conceptions about what is morally right and morally wrong behavior) is widely accepted, some social scientists have argued that the reported differences between cultures have been greatly exaggerated. Other social scientists have suggested that all cultures may possess certain universal core moral values.

Moral Discussions 6 Cultural Relativism Continued Even if Cultural Relativism (assumption A) is true, does it logically imply the further claim? (B) What is morally right or wrong for members of a culture or group can be determined only by that culture or group. Note that (B), unlike (A), is a normative claim. Also note that to move from (A) to (B) is to move from cultural relativism to moral relativism. Moral Discussions

7 Moral Relativism Moral relativism asserts that no universal standard of morality is possible because different people have different beliefs about what is right and wrong. From this inference, relativists appear to further suggest that, in matters of morality, anything goes. But this principle of reasoning is problematic because it is essentially incoherent and inconsistent. Does it follow that individuals who reside outside a particular culture can never make any judgments about the behavior of those who live within that culture? Consider that in many tribes in West Africa a ritual of female circumcision is still practiced. Although this practice has been a tradition for many generations, some females living in tribes that still perform this ritual on teenage girls have objected. Moral Discussions 8 Summary of Logical Flaws in the Discussion Stoppers Decide on one of the specific discussion stopper

(1, 2, 3, or 4) below. Construct your discussion to the next slide with the discussion stopper in mind. Stopper #1 Stopper #2 People disagree on solutions to moral issues. Who am I to judge Ethics is imply a others? private matter. Stopper #3 __________________ __________________ a. Fails to recognize that experts in many areas disagree on key issues in their fields. b. Fails to recognize that there are many

Stopper #4 Morality is simply a matter for individual cultures to decide. a. Fails to distinguish _________________ between the act of a. Fails to recognize judging and being a that morality is judgmental person. essentially a public system. b. Fails to ___________________ distinguish between judging as condemning and judging as evaluating. b. Assumes that people can never reach common

agreement on some moral principles. b. Fails to note that personallybased morality can cause major harm to others. c. Fails to recognize that sometimes we c. Confuses moral are required to make choices with judgments individual or Moral Discussions personal a. Fails to distinguish between descriptive and normative claims about morality. c. Assumes that a system is moral because a majority in a culture decides it is moral.

9 With the specific discussion stopper (1, 2, 3, or 4) in mind construct a specific discussion stopper type of answer to the following: Some kinds of records, like property ownership records, marriage licenses and conviction records have been open to the public ever since such records began to be kept. Anyone could get access to such records by going to a government building and asking for the records. Some governments are now posting such records on the World Wide Web. What are the advantages of making records available on the Web as opposed to in a government building? What are the disadvantages? Be specific. Moral Discussions 10

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