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Chapter 1


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Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong-Pojman

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Chapter 1

  1. 1. Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong Louis J. Pojman and James Fieser Seventh Edition
  2. 2. Chapter One: What is Ethics? <ul><li>What is it to be a moral person? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the nature of morality? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we need morality? </li></ul><ul><li>What function does morality play? </li></ul><ul><li>How do I know what is the good? </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Ethics? <ul><li>Are moral principles absolute? </li></ul><ul><li>Are moral principles relative to social groups or individual decisions? </li></ul><ul><li>Is morality only in the view of the person being moral? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a time for me to act immorally? </li></ul><ul><li>How can I justify my moral beliefs? </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is Ethics? <ul><li>What is the basis of morality? </li></ul><ul><li>Which ethical theory best justifies and explains moral life? </li></ul><ul><li>What is morality’s relationship with </li></ul><ul><li>religion? </li></ul><ul><li>law? </li></ul><ul><li>social etiquette? </li></ul>
  5. 5. “ Moral” vs. “Ethical” <ul><li>Terms “moral” and “ethical” are often used interchangeably but both derive their meaning from the idea of “custom” </li></ul><ul><li>The term “moral” comes from </li></ul><ul><li>the Latin (meaning “mores”) </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>the Greek (meaning “ethos”) </li></ul>
  6. 6. “ Morality” refers to <ul><li>Certain Customs </li></ul><ul><li>Certain Precepts </li></ul><ul><li>Certain Practices of Peoples and Cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Positive or Descriptive Morality: </li></ul><ul><li>is used to describe actual beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>and customs of a culture </li></ul>
  7. 7. “ Moral Philosophy” <ul><li>Refers to philosophical or theoretical </li></ul><ul><li>reflection on morality </li></ul><ul><li>Your author terms these theories </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ethical Theories” </li></ul><ul><li>These theories come from moral </li></ul><ul><li>philosophical reflections. </li></ul>
  8. 8. “ Ethics” Refers to the whole domain of morality and moral philosophy Both areas are connected by common concerns in different ways through: Values, Virtues, Principles And Practices
  9. 9. Ethics and its Subdivisions (1) Descriptive morality (2) Moral philosophy (ethical theory) (3) Applied ethics
  10. 10. (1)Descriptive Morality Refers to actual beliefs, customs, principles, and practices of people and cultures. Example: Sociologists pay attention to moral practices of social groups and treat them as cultural “facts”
  11. 11. The systematic effort to understand moral concepts and justify moral principles and theories. Moral Philosophy analyzes key ethical concepts such as “right”, “wrong”, and “permissible”. (2) Moral Philosophy
  12. 12. (2) Moral Philosophy <ul><li>Explores possible sources of moral </li></ul><ul><ul><li>obligation such as God, human </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reason, or the desire to be happy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Seeks to establish principles of right </li></ul><ul><li>behavior that may serve as action guides for individuals and groups </li></ul>
  13. 13. (3) Applied Ethics Deals with controversial moral problems such as abortion, premarital sex, capital punishment, euthanasia, and civil disobedience
  14. 14. Morality as Compared with Other Normative Subjects <ul><li>Morality has a distinct action-guiding, or normative , aspect which is also shared with other practices such as religion, law and etiquette. </li></ul><ul><li>Morality differs from religion, law and etiquette. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Morality and Religion <ul><li>Moral behavior is usually essential to religion’s practice </li></ul><ul><li>Neither the practices nor principles of morality should be identified with religion </li></ul><ul><li>Practice of morality need not be motivated by religious considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Moral principles need not be grounded in revelation or divine authority </li></ul>
  16. 16. Morality and Religion <ul><li>Religious ethics grounded in revelation or divine authority </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics is characterized by its grounding in reason and human experience </li></ul><ul><li>Some versions of religious ethics hold that reason can discover what is right or wrong even apart from divine revelation </li></ul>
  17. 17. Morality and Law <ul><li>Many laws are instituted in order to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>promote well-being </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>resolve conflicts of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>promote social harmony </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Morality and Law <ul><li>Morality also does all of these three. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics may judge that some laws are immoral without denying that they have legal authority </li></ul>
  19. 19. Law and Morality Differ <ul><li>Some aspects of morality are not covered by law, ie. Lying in general </li></ul><ul><li>Intention plays a role in determining legal character of an act, once the act has been committed but bad intentions themselves are not illegal but can be immoral </li></ul>
  20. 20. Morality and Etiquette <ul><li>Etiquette determines what is polite behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Morality determines what is right behavior in a deeper sense </li></ul><ul><li>To disregard or defy etiquette in some cases can be considered immoral </li></ul>
  21. 21. Limitations of Religion, Law, & Etiquette <ul><li>Religion –Rests on authority that may lack certainty or agreement on authority credentials or how authority would rule in new cases. Reason may not be able to persuade. </li></ul><ul><li>Law – Every social ill cannot have a law and not all rules can be enforced </li></ul><ul><li>Etiquette – Does not go to the heart of what is important for existence </li></ul>
  22. 22. Traits of Moral Principles <ul><li>Central to morality are moral principles which have have these five traits: </li></ul><ul><li>Prescriptivity </li></ul><ul><li>Universalizability </li></ul><ul><li>Overridingness </li></ul><ul><li>Publicity </li></ul><ul><li>Practicability </li></ul>
  23. 23. Prescriptivity <ul><li>The practical or action-guiding, nature of morality. </li></ul><ul><li>Moral principles generally put forth as commands or imperatives </li></ul><ul><li>Intended for use: to advise and influence action </li></ul><ul><li>Used to appraise behavior, assign praise and blame, and produce feelings of satisfaction or guilt </li></ul>
  24. 24. Universalizability <ul><li>Moral principles must apply to all people who are in a relevantly similar situation. </li></ul><ul><li>Exemplified in the Golden Rule </li></ul><ul><li>Applies to all evaluative judgments. </li></ul><ul><li>An extension of the principle of consistentcy </li></ul>
  25. 25. Overridingness <ul><li>Moral principles have predominant authority and override other kinds of principles </li></ul><ul><li>Take precedence over considerations including aesthetic, prudential, and legal ones </li></ul><ul><li>Religion is a special case where a command may override a normal moral rule </li></ul>
  26. 26. Publicity <ul><li>Moral Principles must be made public in order to guide our actions </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary because principles are used to prescribe behavior, give advice, and assign praise and blame </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping a moral principle secret would be self-defeating </li></ul>
  27. 27. Practicability <ul><li>A Moral Principle must be workable and its rules must not lay a heavy burden on us when we follow them </li></ul><ul><li>Rules must take human limitations into consideration so as to prevent moral despair, deep or undue moral guilt, and ineffective action </li></ul>
  28. 28. Domains of Ethical Assessment <ul><li>Most ethical analysis falls into one or more of the following domains: </li></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Character </li></ul><ul><li>Motive </li></ul>
  29. 29. Action <ul><li>Actions are usually termed </li></ul><ul><li>right or wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Right’ can be an ambiguous term. </li></ul><ul><li>Right can mean </li></ul><ul><li>Obligatory or </li></ul><ul><li>Permissible </li></ul>
  30. 30. Right Action 1. A right act is an act that is permissible for you to do. It may be either: a. An obligatory act – is one that morality requires you to do; it is not permissible for you to refrain from doing it b. An optional act – An act not obligatory or wrong to do; not your duty to do or not to do
  31. 31. Wrong Action 2. A wrong act is one you have an obligation, or a duty, to refrain from doing: It is an act you ought not to do; it is not permissible to do it.
  32. 32. Supererogatory Acts <ul><li>These actions are within the range of permissible acts. </li></ul><ul><li>Also known as highly altruistic acts. </li></ul><ul><li>These acts are neither required nor obligatory </li></ul><ul><li>They exceed what morality requires. </li></ul><ul><li>They go beyond ‘the call of duty.’ </li></ul>
  33. 33. Complete Scheme of Acts <ul><li>1. Right act (permissible) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a. Obligatory act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b. Optional act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(1) Neutral act </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(2) Supererogatory act </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Wrong act (not permissible) </li></ul>
  34. 34. Deontological Theories <ul><li>Emphasize the nature of the act </li></ul><ul><li>Some acts are inherently good or right and some acts are inherently wrong or bad </li></ul><ul><li>Kant defended a principle of moral duty he calls the categorical imperative </li></ul><ul><li>Deontological theories have in common the view that we have an inherent duty to perform right actions and avoid bad actions </li></ul>
  35. 35. Consequences <ul><li>Actions based on the foreseeable outcome of a course of decision </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical theories that focus primarily on consequences in determining moral rightness or wrongness are called: Teleological Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Utilitarianism is the most famous of these and requires us to do what is likeliest to have the best consequences </li></ul>
  36. 36. Character <ul><li>Ethical theories that emphasize character , or virtue are virtue theories </li></ul><ul><li>Good character traits are virtues </li></ul><ul><li>Bad character traits are vices </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle maintained that the development of virtuous character traits is needed to ensure that we habitually act rightly </li></ul><ul><li>Vital to empower our character with the tendency to do good </li></ul>
  37. 37. Motive <ul><li>Ethically assess situations by examining the motive of the people involved </li></ul><ul><li>Virtually all ethical systems recognize the importance of motives </li></ul><ul><li>For a full assessment of any action it is important to take the agent's motive into account </li></ul><ul><li>Seemingly identical acts may differ morally due to a difference of motives </li></ul>
  38. 38. Conclusion <ul><li>Ethics has enormous practical benefits: </li></ul><ul><li>Can free us from prejudice and dogmatism </li></ul><ul><li>Has comprehensive systems from which to orient individual judgments </li></ul><ul><li>Helps us to think more clearly about moral problems </li></ul><ul><li>Shows how principles and values relate to one another </li></ul><ul><li>Gives us some guidance in how to live </li></ul>
  39. 39. Answering Initial Questions <ul><li>What is the nature of morality, and why do we need it? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the good, and how will I know it? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it in my interest to be moral? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the relationship between: morality and religion? </li></ul><ul><li>morality and the law? </li></ul><ul><li>morality and etiquette? </li></ul>