Week 2   ethical living and kantian ethics
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Week 2   ethical living and kantian ethics Week 2 ethical living and kantian ethics Presentation Transcript

  • Week 2 Morality: Contrasting Views, Ethical Living: Different Perspectives, & Elements of Kantian Ethics  Chapter 1, pp. 1-2  Chapter 2, pp. 9-13 and pp.18-27  Chapter 12, pp. 176-182
  • Ethical Living
    • Part 1:
  • Follow Your Reason or Follow Your Heart?
    • To act ethically, is it essential to overcome one ’s feelings and suppress sentiment in order to follow true rational moral principles that transcend our natures?
    • Or is ethics rooted in our sentiments, our feelings of compassion and kindness that are not derived from reason, that come from nature?
  • Reason or Feelings: History of Conflict
    • This fundamental conflict can be traced to religious tradition
      • Jewish adherence to divine law
      • Christian tradition of caring for the less fortunate
      • Confucian belief in the natural goodness of human beings that stems from an innate compassion
    • In contrast – Thomas Hobbes
      • The natural state of humanity is war, in which life is “nasty, brutish, and short.”
      • Guided by self-protection
  • Affection and Duty: The Case of Huck Finn
    • Huck Finn ’s moral quandary: help Jim escape slavery or become his legal owner
      • Huck believes that his “moral duty” is to turn Jim in
      • Huck ’s sentiments, his affection for Jim, prevent him from reporting Jim
    • Was Huck ’s act to protect Jim morally good?
  • Hume Versus Kant
    • Hume – the primacy of feelings over reason
      • Ethics is in the realm of feelings and passions
    • Kant – ethical system based on pure reason
      • Sets rational beings apart from the physical world
  • Sentimentalism
    • Sentimentalism : feelings/sentiments are vital to the proper understanding of ethics; without the right kinds of feelings, there would be no ethics.
      • Two views of ethical sentimentalism:
        • Objective: our feelings and sentiments can guide us to objective ethical truth
        • Subjective: feelings-based ethics is not objective
  • Sentimentalism
    • Contrasts with
      • Rationalism : ethics is a purely rational process.
      • Utilitarian ethics : the right act is the act that produces the best possible overall consequences (i.e. pleasure and alleviation of suffering)
    • Differs from
      • Intuitionism : what is intuited is not the feeling, but the direct insight, which is immediately known
  • Sentimentalism
    • Moral Sense Theory
      • Our feelings and sentiments are guides to an objective moral truth (ex. my sense of shame informs me that my act was immoral)
      • Often relies on analogies with the aesthetic sense
        • a sense of beauty and with feelings or judgments of taste
      • Your moral sense guides your appreciation of virtue and detestation of vice.
  • Sentimentalism
    • How do we know that our moral senses are reliable?
      • Anthony Ashley Cooper and Francis Hutcheson (design argument)
        • The moral sense is given to us by God, and God would not instill in us a faulty moral sense
        • Our moral sense is designed by God so that we perceive virtuous acts as lovely and attractive
      • Lord Shaftesbury
        • Everything must be understood in terms of purpose (i.e. how it fits into God ’s divine design of the universe)
  • Sentimentalism
    • Criticism of the design argument
      • Hume : sentiments are the vital mainspring for all of our behavior, including moral behavior. But those sentiments do not come from God.
      • Differing interpretations of Hume:
        • Rejects all objective ethical standards (ethics is a matter of feelings and not truth)
        • Sentiments can guide us to correct ethical behavior
      • Neosentimentalism – we cannot draw legitimate moral guidance and conclusions from feelings, but must carefully consider whether those feelings are appropriate, justified, and we can genuinely endorse them.
  • Intuitionism
    • Intuitionism : reason is not the source of basic ethical truth, but neither are feelings. We know the basic truths of ethics by intuition.
      • Where does intuitive power come from?
        • God
        • Nature
    • What Do We Intuit?
      • What types of intuitions do we have?
      • Many intuitionists believe we have a specific type of intuition that guides our ethical behavior.
  • Intuitionism
    • Questions About Intuitionism
      • How do we know that our intuitions are sources of truth?
      • How do we distinguish intuitions from feelings?
        • The limited answer is you just know when you experience them. The truth of intuitions is self-evident.
    • Which Intuitions Should We Trust?
      • Our intuitions can change as we age (W.D. Ross)
      • Disputes about moral intuition can be difficult to settle
  • Ethics, Emotions, and Intuitions
    • David Hume (Scottish, b. 1711)
      • A Treatise of Human Nature
    • Adam Smith (1723-1790)
      • Theory of Moral Sentiments
    • Jonathan Bennett (b. 1930)
      • The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn
  • Break!!!!!
  • Elements of Kantian Ethics
    • Part 2:
  • Reasoning About Ethics
    • Reason and Emotions
      • Most philosophers favor reason over emotion, because emotions can lead us astray
    • Reasoning about an Ethical Issue
      • Some object that reason does not apply to ethics
        • Judith Jarvis Thomson
          • Sarah Sloan hypo as analogy for the ethics of abortion following rape
          • If we have control over what happens to our own bodies, even to the detriment of others, then everyone does
  • Reasoning About Ethics
    • Reasoning about Conditional Principles
      • Hypothetical or conditional conclusion:
        • if this, then that
          • Applying Thomson ’s argument: If you believe that you have a right to decide what happens to your own body, then others also have that right
      • Reason becomes more difficult to apply when we consider categorical claims, unconditional claims with no ifs about them
  • Reasoning About Ethics
    • Kant and Categorical Principles
      • Categorical arguments are unconditional principles (ex. Cheating is wrong)
      • Kant : reason can supply absolute categorical ethical principles that reveal universal truths. In fact, only pure reason can reveal absolute ethical truths.
        • Reason can discover eternal, absolute ethical principles that can be known with rational certainty
  • Reasoning About Ethics
    • Kant ’ s Categorical Imperative
      • Always act in such a way that you could will that your act should be a universal law
        • Similar to the “Golden Rule,” except
          • Kant claims that the rule can be derived through pure reason
        • It is categorical, not hypothetical or conditional
      • Another formulation of the imperative: Always treat all persons as ends in themselves, and never merely as means to our ends
  • Elements of Kantian Ethics
    • Reason and Will
      • Two key elements of Kant ’s ethical system:
        • Ethics is based on pure reason
        • The capacity to follow the purely rational dictates of the rational moral law come from the special capacity of the human will
    • Nonnatural Ethics
      • Genuine moral acts stem from our special nonnatural powers of reason and will, not anything natural
      • Acts generated by natural inclination have no moral worth
  • Criticisms of Kantian Ethics
    • Who Is Excluded from Kant ’ s Kingdom of Ends?
      • Kant ’s system counts all people as moral equals
      • But to count as a person you must be capable of rationally deliberating about universal moral principles
        • What happens to the rationally impaired?
        • Someone without rationality (ex. an Alzheimer ’s patient) has no moral standing to Kant
  • Criticisms of Kantian Ethics
    • Conflicts among Principles
      • Focuses on moral principles, but ignores moral behavior
      • Even universal laws can have a variety of different, and possibly conflicting, practical effects
        • Ex. Hiding Jews from the Nazis
      • The Kantian system does not always provide clear moral answers to serious moral quandaries
  • Ethics and Reason
    • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
      • Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals
        • “ Transition from the Common Rational Knowledge of Morality to the Philosophical”
  • Break!!!!!
  • Morality
    • Part 3:
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  • Darwin and the Moral Status of Nonhuman Animals
    • Michael Ruse
      • Darwin posited that features evolve gradually. Morality must exist, at least in traces, in animals.
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