Sunday, July 22, 2012

Final Review, Chapters 4, 5 (Ethics)

Chapter 4

Numerical identity: Two objects are identical if they are one and the same. Qualitative Identity: Two objects are qualitatively identical if they share the same properties (qualities).

Accidental property:  a property a thing can loose without ceasing to exist.
Essential property: A property a thing cannot loose without ceasing to exist.

Is numerical identity a necessary condition for qualitative identity? Read p. 266.

1. Animalism: Identical persons are those with identical human bodies (i,e., "I'm my body"). Problems: Siamese Twins (Hensel sisters), The "transgender issue". C/E: Locke's tale of the prince and the cobbler (as the cobbler and the prince trade souls, their bodies become redundant).

Soul Theory: Identical persons are those who share the same soul. ("I'm my soul"). The main argument against the soul theory is that there is nothing about the soul theory that one cannot already explain much better by referring to people's behaviors (or character).

2. Locke's Memory Theory of Personal Identity: (I am my memories and my memories are the result of my experiences). Problem: What if one forgets? Is that forgotten part still a part of my identity? Reid’s Tale of the Brave Officer reveals the following: Direct memory: A memory that a person can consciously recall. Indirect memory: A memory that an earlier stage of that person can consciously recall. Real memory: A memory of an event that was experienced by the person remembering it and that was caused by the event it records. Apparent memory: A memory of an event that either didn't happen or was not caused by the event it records.

The main objection against Locke's memory theory is that Locke's Memory Theory is circular. Why? It defines memories in terms of the self and the self in terms of its memories (i.e., I am my memories and my memories are what happens to me.

3. Psychological Continuity Theory: Identical persons are those who are psychologically continuous to one another. That is to say, two people are psychologically continuous if they form part of an overlapping series of persons that quasi-remember and quasi desire the same things.

A note about the relationship between q-memories and personal identity: What  is the difference between quasi-memory and real memory? Take a look at p. 297: A q-memory is an apparent memory caused in the right way by an actual experience. All real memories are q-memories but not all q-memories are real memories, because people can have q-memories of experiences they didn't actually have. Why is it so important that q-memories are caused in the right way?  Because q-memories ground personal identity, though not every way of causing memories is identity preserving. An example would be hypnosis, the hypnotists may give you a memory that happened to someone else. That doesn't make you identical to that person. 

C/E: William’s Reincarnation of Guy Fawkes; Williams' Reduplication Argument. The conclusion from this experiment is that psychological continuity is one-to-many, not one-to-one. That is to say, one can be psychologically continuous to many people at once. C/E Parfit Teletransporter Mind Experiment. Recall that in the second teleporter Po (on earth) and Pc (in Mars) are psychologically continuous, physically identical, but they cannot be the same person (it violates the principle of numeric identity: one person cannot be in two places at the same time). It also suggests that (as when Po dies of cardiac arrest, the Pc survives, which seems to suggest that identity is not necessary for survival.

4. Brain Theory: Identical persons are those who are psychologically continuous with one another and whose psychology is caused by and realized in the same brain. C/A: Parfit’s Division. Triplets, A,B,C. A's brain is transplanted into B & C and A dies. The surviving brothers (A and B) are now physically identical and psychologically continuous with one another. So, if your brain can be divided, the brain theory is flawed.

5. The difference between narratives of the self: 1- diachronic, 2- episodic. The diachronic sees the different stages of the life as part of a continuous series. The episodic sees the different stages as discontinuous episodes. This doesn't mean that the episodic individual cannot make a narrative, but they usually don't. However this integration doesn't seem to be necessary condition for being a person.

We've analyzed the example of Robert and Frank (p. 265) in class. If Frank and Robert are different persons it would be wrong to punish a person for what another person did. Some in the class affirmed they are the same, but that's what we needed to prove. In any case, the Frank-Robert case points to the self as a process.

6. Is personal identity a necessary condition for responsibility? No. Why? We have to talk about character, which is a function of our beliefs, desires, values, etc. Can a person change his/ her character? Remember the differences between Frank and Robert. Though Frank and Robert are numerically identical, they don't have the same character (they are qualitatively different). Yes, they are numerically identical, but their degrees of responsibility have to be taken into consideration. This is the idea behind rehabilitation. Parole boards take into account that if the character of a person changes for the better, the individual's responsibility for a crime is lessened.

What matters for responsibility is character. Character being a function of our beliefs, desires, values, etc and our actions being a function of our character. So numeric identity seems to be neither a necessary condition nor sufficient condition for responsibility. What matters is sameness of character. 

7. Self as PROCESS.

What does it mean to say that the self is "a process." Let's recall Sartre's motto: l'homme n'est pas ce qu'il est, il est ce qu'il n'est pas ("the self is not what it is and it is what it is not"). The self is in constant  de-venir (or be-coming).

Chapter 5

Section 5.1

1. Subjective Absolutism: The view that what makes an action right is that one approves of it;
Objections: (a) SA makes moral evaluations a matter of personal opinion, (b)impossibility of moral disagreements (one can only agree with the absolutist and the reason is that he believes he's the ONLY ONE THAT'S RIGHT). 

 2. Subjective Relativism: What makes an action right is that it is approved by that person. Objections (same as above). You must be able to tell the difference between the (the absolutist thinks she's the only one that's right, whereas the subjective relativist believes that many people can disagree and still be right at the same time) absolutist and the subjective relativist.

3. Emotivism: The doctrine that moral utterances are expressions of emotions. Basically, the emotivist is saying that right and wrong ARE NOT REALLY OUT THERE!
Counterargument: Blanshard’s Rabbit. What matters is not one's suffering but the victim's suffering (factual force of the victim's suffering). I've brought up the argument of throwing acid into women's faces, as a proof that these women's suffering warrant a moral judgment of condemnation.  

4. Cultural relativism: The doctrine that what makes an action right is that it's approved by that culture. Counterarguments: 1- Logical contradiction (see above), impossibility for moral disagreements and 2- The fact that cultures are not that different at a deeper level. One can point to differences between "deep" values (moral values, i.e., human behavior of fundamental consequence for human welfare) and "superficial" values (domestic habits, etiquette, fashion, etc) other cultural values to the effect that most cultures seem to share the same deep moral values.

5. Logical Structure of Moral Arguments: Moral standards + factual beliefs = Moral judgments (this is not a formula, just an approximation). What is a factual belief? A belief held by factual evidence (i.e., child abuse is wrong because of the facts we know about psychology, human rights, child development, etc,).

6. Are there universal moral principles? YES! 1- Principle of mercy (Unnecessary suffering is wrong) and 2- Principle of justice (Treat equals equally).

Section 5.2.

1. Difference between consequentialist theories and formalist theories. Consequentialism is the theory that judges the rightness or wrongness of an action in terms of its consequences. Formalism is the theory that judges the rightness or wrongness of an action in terms of the action's form (i.e., "killing is wrong": the formalist believes that moral actions are objective).

2. Intrinsic (value for its own sake; personhood is an essential value: a-reason, b-autonomy, c-sentience, d-freedom) and instrumental values (value for the sake of something else): 

3. Ethical egoism: What makes an action right is that it promotes one's best interest in the long run = PRUDENCE. Counterarguments: (a) Egoist's motivations (if known, the egoist's intentions seem to betray reversibility principle). (b) Egoism is not a socially or politically cogent theory (i.e., you would not vote for an egoist in office). 

4. Act Utilitarianism: What makes an action right is that it maximizes happiness everyone considered (which means, "bringing happiness for the greatest majority of people"). Counterarguments: (a) McCloskey’s informant (b) Brandt’s Heir, (c) Ross' unhappy promise, (d) Goodwin's Fire Rescue, (e) Ewing's Utilitarian torture. In each one of these cases one has violated principles of justice, duty and equality.

5. Rule Utilitarianism: What makes an action right is that it falls under a rule that if generally followed would maximize happiness everyone considered. RU is a better theory than AU. Why? Because if applied, it can solve the problems posed by the previous counterarguments.

Section 5.3.

1. Kant’s Categorical Imperative: What makes an action right is that everyone can act on it (which yields universalizability), and you'd have everyone acting on it (which yields reversibility: Golden Rule).

2. Perfect duty: A duty that must always be performed no matter what. And imperfect duties. Problem with Kant's first formulation: (a) Hare’s Nazi fanatic (I've commented this as Bin-Laden Syndrome).  How can we solve that?

3. Kant's Second Formulation: TREAT PEOPLE AS ENDS, NEVER AS MEANS TO AN END.Problems with the second formulation: Problem of exceptions: Some times we have to treat people as means to ends: Broad's Typhoid Man.

Pluralistic Formalism: What makes an action right is that it falls under the highest ranked duty in a given situation.

Ross’ Prima Facie Duties. Actual duties: One that must be performed in a particular situation. Prima Facie Duty: A duty that must be performed unless it conflict with a more important duty. You must know hierarchy and each one of these duties as I explained in class: 1- Justice, 2- fidelity and 3- reparation being the first three, because they explain out the remaining ones: beneficence, non-maleficence, gratitude, self-improvement.
5. Pluralistic Formalism improves upon Kantian theory's problem with exceptions. 

Section 5.4

Aristotle's virtue. Aristotle begins by saying that the highest good for humans, the highest aim of all human practical thinking, is eudaimonia. What makes a virtuous character (ethikÄ“ aretÄ“) possible, which is in turn necessary if happiness is to be possible. He describes a sequence of necessary steps: righteous actions (under the influence of teachers) allow the development of the right habits, which in turn can allow the development of a good character in which the habits are voluntary, and this in turn gives a chance of achieving eudaimonia. 

Virtue is an admirable human quality, marked by a disposition to behave in certain ways in certain circumstances. Then, there is the mean between excess and defect. Here are some examples:
apathy----gentleness----short temper

Virtue ethics is centered around what makes a good person rather than what makes an action right. So the purpose of morality for Aristotle is to make it possible for everyone to enjoy a good life by restricting certain forms of self-interested behavior. And the best way to get people to abide by a system of moral rules is to instill in them certain dispositions known as virtues.
Here is the link for your textbook, "Doing Philosophy."