Ethics lecture #1 2012

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  • 1.  
  • 2.
    • We will cover the major areas of moral philosophy and their proponents: from Ancient Greek ethicists to contemporary/living philosophers.
    • We will also consider contemporary commentary on major issues in ethics by philosophers and pundits.
    • In class, we will discuss news that relates to ethics, especially the topics we are covering that week.
    • The topics that will be covered in the class include (but are not limited to): war and terrorism, racism, homosexuality and sexual ethics, sexism and feminism, abortion, cloning and genetic engineering. The areas of moral philosophy that will be covered include: utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, virtue ethics, and care ethics.
  • 3.
    • Ancient - 585 bc to 1000 ad
      • Socrates, Aristotle
    • Medieval - 1000 ad to 1500
      • Thomas Aquinas, Boethius
    • Early Modern - 1600 to 1750
      • Descartes, Kant
    • Modern - 1800 to 1900
      • (Bentham, Mill
    • Contemporary - 1900 to today
      • Sartre, Freud
  • 4. Western Asian African Native American AND Others
  • 5. Descriptive Ethics Applied Ethics Normative Ethics
  • 6. Prescribes moral course(s) of action. Includes moral theories.
  • 7. Using philosophy (ethics) to determine the appropriate course of action. For example: applying deontology – a normative theory – to the question of whether animals have rights.
  • 8. Describes moral acts of a society or individual. Primarily anthropological, psychological, sociological approaches to morality.
  • 9. Milgram Experiment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TAqBbFJtfE
  • 10. The generator has 30 switches in 15 volt increments, each was labeled with a voltage ranging from 15 up to 450 volts. Each switch also has a rating, ranging from "slight shock" to "danger: severe shock". The final two switches were labeled "XXX".
  • 11.  
  • 12.  
  • 13. How certain are you? Do you think that morality is determined by each individual? Is it rude, presumptuous, egotistical, and/or patronizing to say that your moral stance is (more) right than another person ’ s?
  • 14. Do we need the concept of a God to define a universal set of moral principles?
  • 15. Universal/objective moral theory: A universal set of moral principles applies to all people, in all nations. These principles might even apply to beings from other planets.
  • 16. In order for one to be committed to universality, an individual only needs to believe that one moral principle applies to all people. Obviously, one can assert the position that an entire system of rules, principles, maxims, etc. applies.
  • 17. Is there even one principle that we can all agree on in this classroom, right now?
  • 18. Relativism is the philosophical position that either: One ’ s moral principles are determined by society Or One ’ s moral principles are determined by each individual Universality and relativism
  • 19. CULTURAL RELATIVISM One’s moral principles are determined by society. ETHICAL SUBJECTIVISM One’s moral principles are determined by each individual.
  • 20. Socrates: 469-399 bce
  • 21. We know about him from Xenophon, Aristophanes, Aristotle, and Plato
  • 22. Socrates
  • 23. Socrates Little is known about his life. He was the son of a midwife and, apparently, never worked. He married and had 3 sons and served some time in the military. Never wrote down his philosophy. We know about him from Xenophon, Aristophanes (the Clouds), Aristotle, and Plato (the dialogues). Concerned mainly with moral philosophy.
  • 24. Ethical Intellectualism
  • 25. Socrates
  • 26. Socrates
  • 27.  
  • 28. Socrates: Ethical Intellectualism
  • 29. Plato
  • 30. Plato
  • 31. Plato
  • 32.  
  • 33. Definitions of Piety in the Euthyphro 2. Pious acts are those approved of by the gods. Problem: the Greek gods are notoriously argumentative. They are always fighting about unimportant and important matters. 3. Pious acts are loved by all the gods. This is where we are introduced to Euthyphro ’s dilemma. Problem: this is an example of piety, not a definition of piety. Watch out for this in your own writing!
  • 34.  
  • 35. Euthyphro ’s Dilemma
  • 36. Divine Command Theory: The idea that actions are wrong if and only if God commands us not to perform them. 1. Either (a) God commands us to not to steal, murder, lie, etc. because these actions are wrong OR (b) these actions are wrong because God commands us not to do them. 2. If (a)is true, then there is a standard of morality separate from God’s commands, and DCT is false. 3. If (b) is true, then either (c) God has reasons for commanding us not to steal, etc. OR 5. If (d) is true, then God’s commands are arbitrary. 6. Therefore, either God’s commands are arbitrary or DCT is false.
  • 37. Edward Wierenga (1989) on DCT
  • 38. Edward Wierenga (1989) on DCT
  • 39. Euthyphro ’s Dilemma
  • 40. According to the text, Which part? What analogy does he use to explain this? 5. Piety involves looking after the gods. Problem: “Looking after” implies taking care of the gods. But the gods surely don’t need to be taken care of. 6. Piety is sacrifice and prayer. Problem: How does this relate to Euthyphro’ s act? More specifically, how does honoring them relate to his act? 7. Piety is what the gods love/approve of. Problem: We’ ve gone in a circle.
  • 41. The Crito
  • 42. Crito’s Arguments, Cont.
  • 43. The Crito
  • 44.  
  • 45. The Crito
  • 46. The Crito