What should I do?






Skeptics of moral knowledge claim that
moral values and judgements are simply
‘matters of taste’.
Saying ‘aborti...




According to moral relativism our values are
determined by the society we grow up in, and
there are no universal val...


The Diversity Argument – The sheer variety
of moral practices suggests that there are no
objective moral values.



Th...







To highlight the lack of foundation to moral
arguments consider this example:
Some people in the world are sta...
One of the attractive features of moral relativism is
that it seems to encourage a tolerant ‘live and let
live’ attitude t...


The belief in universal tolerance is not
consistent with moral relativism.



Consider the following example…..







Punishing adultery by stoning to death.
Punishing murder by lethal injection.
Female genital mutilation.
Infa...
There appears to be shared moral values amongst all
nations, people’s, culture’s and religions such as limiting
violence, ...


The theory that human beings are always and
everywhere selfish
There are 4 arguments in support of this
theory.





It is necessarily true that everyone is selfish.
You are being selfish when you do what you
want to do and you alw...




Human beings are naturally selfish creatures
who are programmed to pursue their own
interests.
Looking after number ...




We get various hidden benefits such as
gratitude, praise, and a positive image of
ourselves from being kind to other...





Fear of punishment keeps us in line and
prevents us from wrong doing.
The fear of a fine, imprisonment or even
dea...
While it may be that some values are relative and
that people are often selfish, we do not need to
conclude that all value...
Often reduced to slavish obedience to religious
codes of conduct laid out in holy writings eg The
Bible, Torah, Old Testam...
Is something good because God says it’s good, or does
God say it’s good because it is good?
 On the one hand, if somethin...





The failure of religious ethics to counter
Plato’s argument as well as religious ethics
not appealing to atheists ...
People have different views on duty
 Some people believe it their duty to remain
faithful – others do not.
 Some people ...









Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Argued that all duties can be known through reason.
Something is your duty if yo...
This another key area in Kant’s thinking.
It is sincere motives behind our actions that are
important and not the conseque...





Kant also insisted that truly moral behaviour
should be motivated by reason and not
feeling.
He felt feelings are ...








Who were the rational students?
Who were the more emotional students?
What would Kant think?
Do you agree wit...

1.
2.
3.


Kant believed there were 3 different motives for
doing good.
You expect something in return
Sympathy
Duty
Ka...




Kant has been instrumental in shaping
modern approaches to ethics however, it can
be seen that Kant’s theory suffers...
A madman asks you
where he can find the
person he’s trying to
kill and you know
where they are
hiding. What should
you do?...
Simple theory of ethics.
There is only one supreme moral principle – that we
should seek the greatest happiness for the gr...
The only thing that is good in itself is happiness and
actions are right if they increase happiness and
wrong if they decr...
It is a simple and coherent theory.
It is based on human nature which would seem to
suggest we all seek pleasure and avoid...





How do we measure happiness?
How do we accurately predict the outcomes
or consequences of our actions?
Also consid...







Ethics is inescapable and a part of all our lives.
In the case of a girl on holiday about to cheat on her
unkn...
PERCEPTION
To what extent is
our perception of
things coloured by
values?

NATURAL SCIENCE
Are scientists morally
responsi...
Aok   ethics (1)
Aok   ethics (1)
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Aok   ethics (1)
Aok   ethics (1)
Aok   ethics (1)
Aok   ethics (1)
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Aok ethics (1)

  1. 1. What should I do?
  2. 2.     Skeptics of moral knowledge claim that moral values and judgements are simply ‘matters of taste’. Saying ‘abortion is wrong’ is no different to saying ‘I like spinach’. Emotivist’s argue all moral debate is nothing more than a set of boos and cheers. Do you agree with this?
  3. 3.   According to moral relativism our values are determined by the society we grow up in, and there are no universal values. Moral values are simply customs that vary from one culture to another.
  4. 4.  The Diversity Argument – The sheer variety of moral practices suggests that there are no objective moral values.  The Lack of Foundations Argument – Moral values appear to be ungrounded or lacking in foundation.
  5. 5.      To highlight the lack of foundation to moral arguments consider this example: Some people in the world are starving. Therefore, I ought to give some of my food to the starving. It can be seen that there is no logical link between what is the case, to what ought to be the case. The argument is emotive but it is not rational/logical.
  6. 6. One of the attractive features of moral relativism is that it seems to encourage a tolerant ‘live and let live’ attitude to other cultures.  Each and every culture’s values and beliefs are to be respected as no one cultures values are better or more important than another.  Tolerance therefore avoids – Cultural Imperialism. 
  7. 7.  The belief in universal tolerance is not consistent with moral relativism.  Consider the following example…..
  8. 8.       Punishing adultery by stoning to death. Punishing murder by lethal injection. Female genital mutilation. Infanticide. Imprisoning suspected terrorists without trial. Discriminating against minority groups
  9. 9. There appears to be shared moral values amongst all nations, people’s, culture’s and religions such as limiting violence, protecting property, promoting honesty etc.  The moral systems of the major world faiths contain very similar moral codes.  Some values can be justified as intuitively obvious. For example the vast majority of people would think ‘random torture is wrong’.  Admittedly it cant be proved but it can be argued that ‘random torture is wrong’ is as obvious as 2+2=4 
  10. 10.  The theory that human beings are always and everywhere selfish There are 4 arguments in support of this theory.
  11. 11.    It is necessarily true that everyone is selfish. You are being selfish when you do what you want to do and you always end up doing what you most want to do – otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Peter Stringfellow is comparable to Mother Theresa because there is no such thing as ‘genuine altruism’.
  12. 12.   Human beings are naturally selfish creatures who are programmed to pursue their own interests. Looking after number 1 is intrinsic to the struggle for survival.
  13. 13.   We get various hidden benefits such as gratitude, praise, and a positive image of ourselves from being kind to other people. If we help people when they’re in trouble then we can ask for help when we’re in trouble.
  14. 14.    Fear of punishment keeps us in line and prevents us from wrong doing. The fear of a fine, imprisonment or even death is enough to deter most people from acting immorally. Consider what it is like living in places where law and order has broken down. What do you think takes place?
  15. 15. While it may be that some values are relative and that people are often selfish, we do not need to conclude that all values are relative and that people are always selfish.  It follows that there is room for the idea that there is such a thing as moral knowledge.  We are now going to have a look at a more systematic and coherent approach to ethics which enables us to make sense of our moral beliefs and intuitions. 
  16. 16. Often reduced to slavish obedience to religious codes of conduct laid out in holy writings eg The Bible, Torah, Old Testament, Quran.  However, this raises serious questions.  Should we really put people to death for working on the Sabbath?  It was Plato who first introduced us to the problem of attempting derive ethics from Religion. 
  17. 17. Is something good because God says it’s good, or does God say it’s good because it is good?  On the one hand, if something is good simply because God says it’s good , then if God suddenly decided that murder was good, it would be good.  Most people would reject this conclusion.  On the other hand if God says something is good because it is good then it seems values are independent of God. Goodness exists outside and beyond of God. We therefore do not need to appeal to Him in order to justify our values.  This is a very convincing argument against religious ethics. 
  18. 18.    The failure of religious ethics to counter Plato’s argument as well as religious ethics not appealing to atheists has led to the idea of ‘duty ethics’. Ethics is a matter of doing your duty. The problem is finding out what exactly it is we need to be dutifully performing.
  19. 19. People have different views on duty  Some people believe it their duty to remain faithful – others do not.  Some people believe it is their duty to not take life – others do not. 
  20. 20.        Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Argued that all duties can be known through reason. Something is your duty if you can consistently generalise it. For example – if you wanted to jump the dinner queue because you can’t be bothered to wait – you should ask yourself what would happen if everyone did that. The answer of course would be chaos. If everyone jumped the queue there would be no more queue to jump. So if you were to generalise the rule ‘jump the queue whenever you feel like it’. You end up with a contradiction. Therefore it is your duty to stand in line and not jump the queue whenever you feel like it. The same reasoning is applied to every moral decision Consider Kant’s response to the following…..
  21. 21. This another key area in Kant’s thinking. It is sincere motives behind our actions that are important and not the consequences our actions produce.  If you genuinely try to help a blind man cross the road but he gets knocked over, you should not be blamed.  If however, you intended to murder someone but they escaped unharmed you are still considered a bad person.  
  22. 22.    Kant also insisted that truly moral behaviour should be motivated by reason and not feeling. He felt feelings are unreliable and cannot justify values. If you feel like helping someone today there is no guarantee you will feel like helping them tomorrow.
  23. 23.      Who were the rational students? Who were the more emotional students? What would Kant think? Do you agree with him? What would an emotivist think?
  24. 24.  1. 2. 3.  Kant believed there were 3 different motives for doing good. You expect something in return Sympathy Duty Kant believed the only moral actions are ones performed out of duty with sincere motives behind them and without regard for consequences.
  25. 25.   Kant has been instrumental in shaping modern approaches to ethics however, it can be seen that Kant’s theory suffers from very serious difficulties. Consider…
  26. 26. A madman asks you where he can find the person he’s trying to kill and you know where they are hiding. What should you do? According to Kant you have a duty to tell the truth, and not lie regardless of the murderous consequences that are likely to happen. This seems clearly counter intuitive.
  27. 27. Simple theory of ethics. There is only one supreme moral principle – that we should seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number.  Basically maximise happiness.  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-73)  Wanted to give a scientific foundation for ethics in the same way science was discovering natural laws Bentham and Mill were looking for moral laws.  
  28. 28. The only thing that is good in itself is happiness and actions are right if they increase happiness and wrong if they decrease happiness.  You may ask ‘what is happiness?’  Bentham would reply ‘the sum of pleasures and a happy life one that maximises feelings of pleasure and minimises feelings of pain.   According to this theory apply the principle of utility to the following examples…
  29. 29. It is a simple and coherent theory. It is based on human nature which would seem to suggest we all seek pleasure and avoid pain.  It is based on reason and seesm to suit the egoistic, hedonistic, individualism of the 21st Century  It’s based on the premise that desirable consequences are more important than motives or duties.  It avoids criticisms like that held against Kant.  
  30. 30.    How do we measure happiness? How do we accurately predict the outcomes or consequences of our actions? Also consider the following horrific example which would be considered morally justifiable by Utilitarians…
  31. 31.      Ethics is inescapable and a part of all our lives. In the case of a girl on holiday about to cheat on her unknowing boyfriend back home – What would a Utilitarian think? What would a Kantian think? How much use are theories in practice? Perhaps they offer a sense of support when we make decisions and justify them on the basis of others. The fact that we can never be sure that we have done the right thing, or that we are painfully aware that we could have done better, is perhaps part of the tragedy of the human condition.
  32. 32. PERCEPTION To what extent is our perception of things coloured by values? NATURAL SCIENCE Are scientists morally responsible for how their discoveries are used? HISTORY Does history show that we have made moral progress? REASON How important is consistency in moral reasoning? EMOTION Is ethics more of a matter of the head than the heart? ETHICS THE ARTS To what extent should the arts have a moral function? MATHEMATICS Do moral truths exist in the same way as maths truths? HUMAN SCIENCES How do ethical factors affect experiments in the human sciences? RELIGION How have religions shaped peoples moral beliefs?

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