ORAL EXAMINATION STATEMENTS LIST Theoretical Foundation of Moral Values Dr. RANILO B. HERMIDA, Ph.D.Aristotle 1. “Human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. But we must add ‘in a complete life.’ For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.” • ‘The human good turns out to be activity of the soul in accordance with virtue’ o The end of man is not mere life, because this is shared with him even by vegetables o The life of sensation is not the end of man either, because this is shared with him by animals o But there is an active life of the elements that has a rational principle o The function of man is an activity of the soul which follows a rational principle 1. Happiness is doing well 2. Doing well for a man is doing the human function well 3. The human function is to exercise reason. 4. Therefore, happiness for a man is using reason well. 5. Conclusion: Human happiness is the activity of excellence of reason. o The principle of life is the soul. Everything that is alive is alive because of the soul. The soul refers to the total person and has two parts: the irrational and the rational. The irrational has two parts: the vegetative and the sensitive. But man’s soul is the rational soul. 1. Vegetative soul 2. Sensitive soul (animal) 3. Rational soul (human) • ‘But we must add ‘in a complete life.’ For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”’ o Man is not defined by his isolated acts, but what he does over his lifetime o For as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy. o Morality is good action, because nothing can be called good unless it is functioning o The good man is not the one who does a good deed here and there or now and then, but whose whole life is good o We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit. 2. “Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e., the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it…. But not every action nor every passion admits of a mean; for some have names that already imply badness.” • Passions are capable of a wide range of action, all the way from too little to too much, so a person must discover the proper meaning of excess and defect, and thereby discover the appropriate mean
• Virtue is concerned with our various feelings and actions, for it is in them that there can be excess or defect. You can feel pain, confidence, lust, anger, etc. • ‘Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean’ o The mean - to feel these emotions is when we ought to, on which occasions, toward whom, and as we should o Meson – the doctrine of the mean 1. Ethics is not just a theoretical science; it is practical 2. Virtue lies in the domain of the mean; not too much and not too little 3. Why do we have to act according to the mean? 4. There is a need for practical wisdom to determine for yourself what is the mean, since the mean is different for everyone. o The mean is the best state for man to be in, and this is virtue o It is through the rational power of the soul that the passions are controlled and action is guided • ‘The mean relative to us’ o The mean is not the same for every person, nor is there a mean for every act o Each mean is relative to each person inasmuch as the circumstances will vary o Example: the mean for eating is different for an adult athlete and a little girl • ‘By which the man of practical wisdom would determine it’ o In the rational soul, practical reason / wisdom gives us a rational guide to our action under the particular circumstances in which we find ourselves • ‘But not every action nor every passion admits of a mean; for some have names that already imply badness.’ o Spite, envy, adultery, theft, and murder are bad in themselves and on their excesses and deficiencies. One is always wrong in doing them.3. Explain how the distinctive end or telos of man is attained in the conduct of the political life and the reflective life. • Telos - End / goal / the point or reason for doing something • Happiness is the goal and end of all our actions • Every art and inquiry is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim • What are the choices for the happy life? o Life of pleasure 1. Rejected by Aristotle 2. It is fleeting and eventually gives a sense of emptiness o Life of commerce 1. Rejected by Aristotle 2. Money is made for something else and therefore cannot be an end in itself o The political life 1. Is this the second best life? For Aristotle, it is a matter of being practical o The reflective life 1. Highest form of life we are capable of 2. Acting according to our nature as human beings (according to reason) 3. The objects of reason are the best of knowable objects 4. Most continuous, because we can contemplate truth more continuously than we can do anything 5. This life is superior to the political life 6. But this is a life that man is not capable of, because unlike the gods, man is a social, emotional, physical creature that has needs other than reflection
7. Man can only engage in reflection episodically 8. Therefore, we shall live in the political life • The political life o The political life is the life of a person active in the affairs of the polis and displaying ethical excellence or ethike arête (justice, temperance, courage, etc) o The ethical person of the polis organizes his activity around a single goal: the pursuit of the admirable and avoidance of the shameful 1. Kalon – pursuit of the “admirable” 2. Aischron – the avoidance of the “shameful” o For example: the liberal person will not accept income from sources that are shameful. The friendly person shares the pleasures of others as long as they are fine. The witty person has a standard of decency and avoids shameful jokes or jokes that would be shameful to tell in the given circumstances. • The ethical person however will not choose to engage in reflection in circumstances where it would be shameful to do so, such as if the person’s children will go hungry • Only in situations in which nothing fine or shameful is at stake is one mandated to opt for reflection • One cannot lead an excellent human life without engaging in reflectionThomas Aquinas 1. The light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.” • Natural law o The portion of the eternal law that pertains particularly to man o It consists of broad general principles that reflect the divine intentions for man in creation o It is the light of natural reason by which man can discern what is good from what is evil and that it is an impression of the divine reason in man 2. “If reason or conscience err with an error that is voluntary, either directly or through negligence, so that one errs about what one ought to know, then such an error of reason or conscience does not excuse the will, which abides by that erring reason or conscience, from being evil.” • Every will at variance with reason, whether right or wrong, is always evil. o If reason proposed to the will something good to be done and the will chooses it, the will chooses the good o If reason proposes to the will something evil to be rejected and the will rejects it, the will rejects evil o If reason proposes to the will something good to be done and the will rejects it, the will rejects the good o If reason proposes to the will something evil to be rejected and the will chooses it, the will chooses the evil 3. Explain the following elements of Thomistic moral theory: the will of man, the end, the good, happiness, and the law. • The will of man o At the heart of Aquinas’ ethics is the will o The will, in collaboration with the power of reason, consummates the human act
o The will is the agency that inclines man towards the achievement of good o Properly human actions are those which a person has control over o Moral acts are willed acts, because they proceed from intellect and the will o Where the will does not operate, action has no moral quality whatsoever and falls back into the category of mere natural activity o External acts only have moral quality if they are commanded by the will o Moral goodness is located first and foremost in the will o Right choices are made with the will under the direction of reason, and through this, the person achieves happiness o The will is a rational appetite (endowed with reason) o The will tends towards things insofar as they are seen at the rational level to be good o Interior Acts of the will (ordered to means) § Choice § Intention – directed to ends and not means and indicates that the person is committed to actually carrying out the actions needed to achieve that end § Willing – simple willing precedes intention; to will an end by intending it signifies a much greater personal commitment o Interior acts of the will (ordered to ends) § Consent – choice implies consent, but consent need not imply choice § Use – the connection between the act of choice and the execution of the chosen action § Enjoyment – the act of the will which a person has upon acquiring a desired end• The end o For the act to be good, willing a good end is not enough. The object must also be good. Sometimes the exterior act is also good because of the good end. o The morality of human acts: three factors determining the morality of the human act § Ex objecto – from the objective of the act itself § Ex fine – from the intention of the moral agent § Ex circumstantia – from the circumstances affecting the act o Objectum § The objective of the act can cause a human act to be morally good or morally evil without even considering either the end of the moral agent or the circumstances § Two acts may have the same object of the action, but for different purposes § The end of the moral agent can provide moral species to the human act, or it can cause a morally good act to differ in kind from a morally evil act § An act that is good of its kind due to its objective can become evil in kind due to the evil intention of the moral agent. The intention or end of the moral agent can cause an act to be morally good or morally evil of its kind. § Just as the objective of the act and the intended end can respectively cause a human act to be good or bad of its kind, the circumstances of an act can also constitute it to be bad or good in its specific nature.• The good o The good is what all things desire
o For an act to be good, willing a good end is not enough, because the object must also be good“The human being is not his or her own fulfillment and purpose, ‘for the human being is not the highest good’… Anyone who accepts that the person consists of the body and soul, and that the body is ordered to the soul, must also grant that the final end cannot consist in bodily goods; as such, goods are ordered to the goods of the soul.” o The soul is humans have that animals do not o Everything is ordered to the higher thing—in this case, the soul o Unlike Aristotle where there is more emphasis on the body and unlike Augustine where there is emphasis on the soul, Aquinas talks about the existence of both. However, he acknowledges the superiority of the soul.• Happiness o Perfect happiness is found not in created things but in God, who is the supreme good o Happiness is not wealth, because wealth is only a means and can never have the characteristics of the end o Honor is only a sign and testament to excellence, so it cannot constitute finality o Glory depends on human estimation, and cannot be the end o Power cannot be considered a final end, because it is indifferent to good and evil o Genuine happiness includes the character of self-sufficiency; the happy person lacks nothing that he or she needs o Since the person is disposed to happiness through reason and will, his or her happiness cannot depend on external causes that lie wholly outside of human possibility o Therefore, due to its infinity, human striving cannot come to rest in creation. Human happiness consists in God alone. § Happiness is closely associated with the end or purpose of man. To achieve happiness man must fulfill his purpose. § Whereas Aristotle envisioned a naturalistic morality through which men could achieve virtue and happiness by fulfilling their natural end, Aquinas added the doctrine of the supernatural end of man and proposed a double level of morality corresponding to the dual ends of man. § For Aristotle, happiness is achievable in this life (political life). For Aquinas, the happiness in life is not the true happiness. The happiness we have is not the kind of happiness we are meant to have, and whatever happiness we have in the world is but a preparation for the greater happiness we have in the other world. § Happiness is a progression from the natural world to the supernatural world. § The error is to focus only on one kind of happiness. The natural happiness is as much a part of man as supernatural happiness, but supernatural happiness is our ultimate destination.• The law o Law is an ordinance of reason promulgated for the common by the duly constituted authority o Law is a binding rule or norm for human actions o Law belongs to reason; a sheer act of the will by a ruler not regulated by right reason is an iniquity, not a law o Law must have a purpose or end, which is ultimate happiness
o The law must have in view the common happiness of the communityo Law must touch the subjects by oral or written communication (promulgation)o Four kinds of law: § Eternal Law • Ruling idea which exists in the eternal mind the design or plan viewed as the ruling principle of all activities of creation • Eternal law is comprehensive; it applies to the movement of all creatures, rational or irrational, but in different ways • Law of nature (different from natural law) § Natural Law • The portion of eternal law that pertains particularly to man, consisting of broad general principles that reflect the divine intentions for man • Applies to man insofar as he is a being directed to his end, but a being that is able to determine his end by his own reason • This participation in the eternal law is called natural law • Does not exclude free choice, but it does insist that underlying free acts there is some natural determination and necessity • How do we know what we are to become? By analyzing our human nature • Morality is not an arbitrary set of rules of behavior • Precepts of the natural law: o “Good is to be pursued and evil avoided" § Preservation of life § Propagation of species § Propensity / search for truth • Where do we discern the natural law? What is the basis of natural law? (Question asked in orals): By discerning human nature. • The particular goods come under deliberation and choice. They oblige only when reason sees them as necessary or appropriate to the ultimate end. The negative imperative (avoid the contrary evils) obliges in every action. One is not required to pursue these goods in every action but only at the right time, place, and so on, according to a reasonable order determined by judgment of prudence. They constitute the horizon of reasonable goals for practical reason in ordering human living. • Although the "common" principles of natural law cannot be abolished from the mind as universals, they may be eliminated in a particular action because reason may be impeded from applying the universal principle to the particular action by some passion. o Bad beliefs o Evil customs o Corrupt habits § Human Law • Specific statues of government derived from the general precept of natural law • From the percepts of the natural law, the human reason needs to proceed to the more particular determination of certain matters
• What gives a rule the character of the law is its moral dimension, its conformity with the percepts of natural law, its agreement with moral law • Every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature • Limits of human law o Human law is affected by the uncertainty of human judgment, especially in particular and contingent matters with which morality and law deal o Human law is only about matters that humans can judge, and these are exterior acts of virtue (not the motive) § Divine Law • It was necessary that besides the natural and the human law, man should be directed to his end by law given by God • It was necessary for the old law to prepare the people for fear and punishment, to prepare the people for the new law of love • The divine law will lead us to our supernatural endImmanuel Kant 1. “Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good without qualification, except a Good Will… Gifts of nature may also become extremely bad and mischievous if the will which is to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is called character, is not good… The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator.” • The foundation of morality is a good will. The will is reason with respect to action. The will distinguishes rational beings such as man from natural beings such as animals • Only a good will is good unconditionally. Everything else needs a good will to make it good. Without a right intention, such things as intelligence, wit, and control of emotions can be bad and used for evil purposes. Having a right intention or motive, which is having a good will, is to do what is right (or what one believes to be right) just because it is right. This is to act out of duty or concern and respect for the moral law. • Commonly accepted good things such as wealth and health are not good under all circumstances, but only insofar as they are conjoined with something that is unqualifiedly good, namely, a good will. • Good will represents the effort of rational being to do what he ought to do, rather than to act from inclination or self-interest. • “The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator.”: A good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness 2. “An action done from duty derives its moral worth, not from the purpose which is to be attained by it, but from the maxim by which it is determined, and therefore does not depend on the realization of the object of the action, but merely on the principle of volition by which the action has taken place, without regard to any object of desire. It is clear from what precedes that the purposes which we may have in view in our actions, or their effects
regarded as ends and springs of the will, cannot give to actions any unconditional or moral worth.” • The good will is not good because it achieves good results. Even if it were unable to attain the ends it seeks, it would still be good in itself and have a higher worth than the superficial things gained by immoral actions. • A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition, that is, it is good in itself, and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favor of any inclination. • The good will is one that acts for the sake of duty. Human actions have inner moral worth only if they are performed from duty. Actions that result from inclination or self-interest may be praiseworthy if they happen to accord with duty, but they have no inner moral worth. • An act must be done from duty in order to have inner moral worth. An act done from duty derives its moral value, not from the results it produces, but from the principle by which it is determined. • Actions have genuine moral worth only if they are done from the motive of duty, the governing motive of a good will • It is not the consequence of the act that gives it moral worth. No person may be blamed for intending and trying to do what he thought is right but which turned out badly. The consequences of our acts are not always in our control and things do not always turn out as we want. It is out motives that we have control over and so we are responsible for our motive to do good or bad. Thus, it is for our motives that we are held accountable. • Example: The shopkeeper who does the right thing by charging the customers a fair price and charges the same to all can have three possible motives: o 1) It is a good business practice to charge the same to all and so it is in his own best interest that he do this. o 2) He is sympathetic toward his customers and is naturally inclined to do them good. o 3) He believes it is the right thing to do and so he does it. • “But merely on the principle of volition by which the action has taken place, without regard to any object of desire.”: self-interest is not a praiseworthy motive. Natural inclination and sympathy are not the highest motives for why we do things. We do not have high moral esteem or praise for people who simply do what they feel like doing, even if we believe they are doing the right thing. But we have a special respect / reverence for people who act out of a will to do the right thing, especially when this is at a great cost to themselves. Only an act that is motivated by this concern for morality or for the moral law has moral worth.3. Define the role of the categorical imperative in Kantian moral theory and explain how the three laws explicate the good will. • The categorical imperative is Kant’s proposition for the ultimate criterion for judging personal morality. As an imperative, it is an “ought.” It demands that we act in a certain way, and this is the only demand which is valid without qualification. It says “act morally.” The categorical imperative is none other than the notion of morality under the conditions holding for finite rational beings. Since limited rational beings such as humans do not automatically and necessarily act morally, morality for them has the character of an obligation rather than a fact. Rational beings, to the extent that they act rationally, will always be guided by ethical principles or maxims which can be adopted by everyone else without generating a contradiction.
• The categorical imperative, as an unconditional directive, prescribes action to be done because of the moral worth of the maxim and not for the sake of some consequence that may result. By contrast, a hypothetical imperative is a conditional directive that advises us what ought to be done if a desired goal is to be achieved.• Three laws: universality, subjectivity, and autonomy• Universality o “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” o This is basis for an impersonal principle which is valid for everyone, including oneself o The maxims for moral action must be universalized without logical contradiction, and they must be universal directives for action which do not bring the will into disharmony with itself by requiring it to will one thing for itself and another thing for others.• Subjectivity o “Act always in such a way that you treat humanity whether in your own, or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.” o We should not make exceptions for ourselves but only do what we can will for all. Moral obligation and morality itself flow from our nature as persons as rational and autonomous. Morality is grounded in the ways in which we are alike as persons rather than the ways in which we are different as individuals. o All human beings must be respected with impartiality and exploiting anyone should be avoided. We must act towards others in ways that they can somehow consent to as independent persons o There is something about a human being that makes him resist and resent being treated as a thing instead of a person. What makes us persons is our rationality, and to be a person, or a rational being, is an end in itself. We become a thing when someone uses us as a means for some other end; and however necessary such use of us may be at times, we nevertheless consider ourselves as being of absolute intrinsic worth as persons. The individual human being as possessing absolute worth becomes the basis for the supreme principle of morality. o The second law also tells us to treat ourselves and others as ends rather than merely as means. We should treat persons as having intrinsic value and not just as having instrumental value. People are valuable in themselves, regardless of whether they are useful or loved or valued by others. The second law also specifies that we should not simply use others or let others be used.• Autonomy o "Act always on the maxim of such a will in us as can at the same time look upon itself as making universal law." o Each person through his own act of will legislates the moral law. An autonomous will is free and independent, and as such is the supreme principle of morality. Not only are all rational agents subject to the law, we are also equally authors of it.