Waller ch 11

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Waller ch 11

  1. 1. Chapter 11Chapter 11 Ethics: Reason and EmotionEthics: Reason and Emotion
  2. 2. Opposing Views of MoralityOpposing Views of Morality • For the ideal moral person, acting virtuously is easyFor the ideal moral person, acting virtuously is easy and natural; it does not require careful rationaland natural; it does not require careful rational deliberation.deliberation. • Moral acts require special effort: the moral path isMoral acts require special effort: the moral path is narrow and difficult, and staying the course is nevernarrow and difficult, and staying the course is never easy.easy.
  3. 3. Hume on EthicsHume on Ethics • There is no place for reason in the basicThere is no place for reason in the basic operations of ethics.operations of ethics. • Ethics is an area of emotion, dealing with whatEthics is an area of emotion, dealing with what we find agreeable and disagreeable, with ourwe find agreeable and disagreeable, with our sympathies and desires.sympathies and desires. • Reason can play only a subordinate role:Reason can play only a subordinate role: – Once our feelings have set the basic goal, reasonOnce our feelings have set the basic goal, reason can help us discover the best means of reachingcan help us discover the best means of reaching that goal.that goal. – Reason can tell us whether our factual judgmentsReason can tell us whether our factual judgments are false.are false.
  4. 4. Utilitarian EthicsUtilitarian Ethics • For utilitarians, the basic goal of ethics is to maximizeFor utilitarians, the basic goal of ethics is to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering.pleasure and minimize suffering. • Reasoning is useful in helping us discover the bestReasoning is useful in helping us discover the best means to that end.means to that end. • The right act is the act that produces the bestThe right act is the act that produces the best consequences overall, including consequences forconsequences overall, including consequences for everyone and including long-term consequences.everyone and including long-term consequences.
  5. 5. Teleological Theories ofTeleological Theories of EthicsEthics • Utilitarian ethics is an example of a teleologicalUtilitarian ethics is an example of a teleological theory of ethics.theory of ethics. • ““Teleological” comes from the Greek word “telos,”Teleological” comes from the Greek word “telos,” meaning end or goal.meaning end or goal. • Such theories are sometimes called consequentialistSuch theories are sometimes called consequentialist theories, since they base ethical rules and judgmentstheories, since they base ethical rules and judgments on the consequences.on the consequences. • Roughly, an act is judged good if it has good results,Roughly, an act is judged good if it has good results, or if it is productive of worthwhile ends.or if it is productive of worthwhile ends.
  6. 6. Quality vs. Quantity inQuality vs. Quantity in Utilitarian EthicsUtilitarian Ethics • Do some pleasures count for more than others?Do some pleasures count for more than others? • Should we consider quality of pleasures as well asShould we consider quality of pleasures as well as quantity of pleasures?quantity of pleasures? • If so, how do we rank pleasures? Which are of higherIf so, how do we rank pleasures? Which are of higher quality and which are of lesser quality?quality and which are of lesser quality?
  7. 7. Act vs. Rule UtilitarianismAct vs. Rule Utilitarianism • Act utilitarianism: The standard utilitarian positionAct utilitarianism: The standard utilitarian position that the right act is the specific act that produces thethat the right act is the specific act that produces the greatest balance of pleasure over suffering forgreatest balance of pleasure over suffering for everyone.everyone. • Rule utilitarianism: Believes that utilitarianRule utilitarianism: Believes that utilitarian calculations must weigh in the larger benefits ofcalculations must weigh in the larger benefits of having such practices as promise-keeping; thosehaving such practices as promise-keeping; those practices make it necessary to suspend act-utilitarianpractices make it necessary to suspend act-utilitarian calculations.calculations.
  8. 8. Criticisms of UtilitarianismCriticisms of Utilitarianism • Utilitarian ethics are a fundamental corruption of theUtilitarian ethics are a fundamental corruption of the entire ethical enterprise: focusing ethics on theentire ethical enterprise: focusing ethics on the maximization of pleasure reduces ethics from themaximization of pleasure reduces ethics from the sublime to the trivial.sublime to the trivial. • Utilitarianism is psychologically false: It is not trueUtilitarianism is psychologically false: It is not true that humans regard maximizing pleasure andthat humans regard maximizing pleasure and minimizing suffering as the greatest good.minimizing suffering as the greatest good.
  9. 9. Kantian Rationalist EthicsKantian Rationalist Ethics • Feelings are notoriously unreliable, changeable,Feelings are notoriously unreliable, changeable, and uncertain; they are not universal, nor areand uncertain; they are not universal, nor are they distinctively human.they distinctively human. • Ethical principles must be universal, not relativeEthical principles must be universal, not relative to cultures.to cultures. • Ethics is a distinctively human phenomenon, and so itEthics is a distinctively human phenomenon, and so it must be based on what is distinctively human: ourmust be based on what is distinctively human: our power of reason, and particularly our power ofpower of reason, and particularly our power of abstract reasoningabstract reasoning • from principle.from principle.
  10. 10. Kant and Ethical TruthsKant and Ethical Truths • Ethical truths must be categorical—not merelyEthical truths must be categorical—not merely conditional.conditional. • Ethical truths must be universal—must apply alwaysEthical truths must be universal—must apply always and everywhere to everyoneand everywhere to everyone
  11. 11. Kant’s CategoricalKant’s Categorical ImperativeImperative • When we reason carefully, we can rationally discoverWhen we reason carefully, we can rationally discover a fundamental true ethical principle:a fundamental true ethical principle: – Always act in such a way that you could will thatAlways act in such a way that you could will that your act should be a universal law.your act should be a universal law. – Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your ownAct so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, always as an end andperson or that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.never as a means only.
  12. 12. Kant, Emotion, and EthicsKant, Emotion, and Ethics • Emotion has no place in ethics:Emotion has no place in ethics: – Actions motivated by generous emotions (i.e.,Actions motivated by generous emotions (i.e., affection and sympathy) have no positiveaffection and sympathy) have no positive moral worth.moral worth. – Instead, these emotions stand in the way ofInstead, these emotions stand in the way of genuine moral acts, which must be carriedgenuine moral acts, which must be carried out purely from the rational recognition of theout purely from the rational recognition of the duty to follow the moral lawduty to follow the moral law
  13. 13. Kant and the Motive for EthicalKant and the Motive for Ethical BehaviorBehavior • We do our moral duty strictly from an act of will,We do our moral duty strictly from an act of will, which cannot be traced to our feelings or wishes orwhich cannot be traced to our feelings or wishes or our causal history.our causal history. • The power of will to follow the moral law, togetherThe power of will to follow the moral law, together with the power of reason to recognize the moral law,with the power of reason to recognize the moral law, sets us apart—makes us special, almost godlike.sets us apart—makes us special, almost godlike.

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