L2 ethics the greeks

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L2 ethics the greeks

  1. 1. Lecture 2
  2. 2. THE SOPHISTS (5th Century BCE) AND SOCRATES ( 470-399 BCE)  Rational justification for rules of conduct  Moral judgments must be supported by reasons SOCRATES  He is concerned with the meaning of words that signify moral virtues, words like justice, piety and courage.  Socrates believed that all acts characterized by a given moral term must have something in common.  He therefore sought to determine what the essential commonality is. Socrates assumption that a virtue has an essential nature, an essence that may be disclosed through rational inquiry.
  3. 3. PLATO AND ARISTOTLE’S ETHICS  Plato and Aristotle both conceive of ethics as focusing on good character traits of individuals – virtues – rather than on a set of rules for actions (such as “treat others as you would have others treat you”)  VIRTUE ETHICS – the ethical questions is not what ought one do? but rather What kind of person ought one be? ULTIMATE SOURCE OF MORAL VALUE – the Good:  Plato – non-natural FORM.  Aristotle – define good for humans in terms of what the human organism in fact naturally seeks – namely happiness.
  4. 4. PLATO  Plato accepted the Socratic idea that all things named by a given term, including any given moral term, share a common essential or “defining” feature.  The zenith of all Forms, is the Form Goodness, or the Good, because it is the Form of highest value.  The Forms define true reality, and because  The form of the Good is the uppermost of all Forms it follows that;  Individual things are real only insofar as they partake of or exemplify this ultimate form.
  5. 5.  Because the form of the Good is the source of all value and reality, Plato believed, we must strive to obtain knowledge and understanding of it. Therefore, because forms can be apprehended only by reason, we should govern ourselves by reason.  THE MAXIM: “be governed by reason”
  6. 6. THE HUMAN SOUL The Human soul has three different elements: 1. An element consisting of raw appetites, 2. An element consisting of drives (like anger or ambition) and 3. An intellectual element (an element of thought or reason)
  7. 7. For each of these elements there is an excellence or virtue that obtains when reason is in charge of the element, as in the case when you govern yourself by reason. 1. When our appetites are ruled by reason, we exhibit the virtue of temperance 2. When our drives are governed by reason, we exhibit courage 3. And when our intellect itself is governed by reason, we exhibit wisdom.
  8. 8.  Thus Plato held that a well governed person, the person ruled by reason, exhibits the four cardinal virtues of : TEMPERANCE, COURAGE, WISDOM AND JUSTICE.  JUSTICE - is the virtue that obtains when all element of the soul function as they should in obedience to reason.  He said that only by being virtuous – that is possessing these four virtues – can have a “WELL ORDERED SOUL” and thus have the psychological well being that is true HAPPINESS.  This Platonic idea, that all value is grounded in non- natural source, is an element of Plato’s Philosophy that is found in many ethical systems and is quite recognizable in Christian ethics.
  9. 9. ARISTOTLE NATURALISTIC ETHICAL SYSTEM  According to ethical naturalism, moral judgment are really judgment of fact about the natural world.  Aristotle – is the first great ethical naturalist believed that the good for us is defined by our natural objective.
  10. 10.  What is the highest objective by nature?  For Aristotle, it is the attainment of happiness, for it is that alone that we seek for its own sake.  And because the attainment of happiness is naturally our highest objective, it follows that happiness is our highest good.
  11. 11. WHAT DOES HAPPINESS - HIGHEST GOOD, CONSIST?  According to Aristotle, to answer we must consider human being’s functions.  As human animal, most essentially, it: a) lives b) reasons Thus, happiness consists of two things, Aristotle concluded: 1. Enjoyment (pleasure 2. The exercise and development of the capacity to reason.
  12. 12.  It consists in part of enjoyment because the human being, as a living thing, has biological needs and impulses the satisfaction of which is pleasurable.  It consists in part of developing and exercising the capacity to reason because only the human being , as distinct from other living things, has that capacity.  The exercise of our unique and distinct capacity to reason is termed by Aristotle VIRTUE – thus Aristotle’s famous phrase that happiness is activity in accordance with virtue. TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF VIRTUES:  INTELLECTUAL VITUE – to exercise actively our reasoning abilities. – as when we study nature or cogitate about something  MORAL VIRTUE – when we exercise our rational capacity to moderate our impulses and appetites
  13. 13.  According to Aristotle’s major ethical work, Nicomachean Ethics is devoted to analysis of specific moral virtues, which Aristotle held to be the mean between the extremes (e.g. courage is the mean between fearing everything and fearing nothing)  He emphasizes that VIRTUE is a matter of habit, the human who exercise his rational capacities only occasionally does not fulfill his function, that is, is not virtuous.  Aristotle’s moral insight that a person’s pleasures reveal his true moral character.
  14. 14. INSTRUMENTAL AND MORAL END  ANOTHER DISTINCTION MADE BY ARISTOTLE BETWEEN INSTRUMENTAL END VS. INTRINSIC END.  INSTRUMENT AL END – is an act perform as a means to other ends.  Intrinsic end – IS AN ACT PEROFRMED FOR ITS OWN SAKE.

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