Week 2 ethical living and kantian ethics


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Week 2 ethical living and kantian ethics

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