How should human beings live their lives? Ethics seeks to provide rational justification for why we should act and decide in a particular way. Anyone can advice for what you should do and how you should act, but a philosophical and reasoned ethics must answer the Why question.Three Categories of Philosophical EthicalReasoning: 1. Consequences 2. Principles 3. Personal Character
• Three major traditions of ethical theory ( reflect common ways to think and reason abouthow we should live and what we should do): 1. Ethics of Consequences: Utilitarianism make decisions based on the overall consequences of our acts 2. Ethics of Principles: Deontological ethical traditions decide on the basis of moral principles, promises, obligations , deserved recompense and duty( keeping your promises or giving people what they deserve) 3. Ethics of Personal Character: Virtue ethics consider the moral character of individuals and how various character traits can contribute to, or obstruct, a happy and meaningful human life.
Sec 2-2: Ethical Relativism and Reasoning in Ethics
Paper’s Grade in Ethics class • How a paper graded since got low grade • She asked professor how he had graded her? • How could he say that her opinion was wrong? • Professor answered that anyone who had reasons to support opinions could say what was right or wrong Ethics: not like math, science, or accountingCan’t prove the truth of an ethical judgment inthe way you can offer a proof in Geometry.
Ethical Relativism: ( serious challenge to ethics) • ethical values and judgments are ultimately dependent upon, or relative to , one’s culture, society or personal feelings. • matter of opinion, the opinion of one’s self, culture, society or religion • denies that we can make a rational or objective ethical judgment. • There is no right or wrong, moral or immoral, except in terms of a particular culture or society. • All opinions are equally valid Example: Child labor: western businesses criticized for using supplier who rely on child laborers, working under harsh conditions for long hours and very low wages to produce expensive consume goods. Some argue working conditions accepted in country so they can’t impose their own cultural norms : ethical relativism p 26
• Ethical theories attempt to provide more fundamental answers to the relativist.• Avoiding three traps that end up reaching relativist conclusions: 1st Trap: Don’t hold ethics to too high standard of proof: ethical judgment must not be proven as absolutely certain and beyond doubt. 2nd Trap: Confusing the fact that there is wide disagreement about values, with the conclusion that no agreement is possible (cultural relativism) Ethos of cultures differ, but there’s a wide agreement about many values such as child abuse, torture, genocide, and slavery, etc.
• 3rd Trap: confusing values such as respect, tolerance and impartiality with relativism. – Example: Respect for other people is fundamental ethical value which means to respect someone is to listen to his or her opinions . Tolerating diverse opinions and values is not ethical relativism. Is tolerance (and respect and impartiality) merely a matter of opinion? If it is, the intolerant people have no reason to change their view. Condemning intolerance is simply your opinion. On the other hand, tolerance in not merely a matter of opinion, is a legitimate social value