Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer A (MWF 8am) Topics for Final Exam

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).

4. Cultural relativism: The doctrine that what makes an action right is that it's approved by that culture. Counterarguments: (a) Logical contradiction (see above), impossibility for moral disagreements and (b) 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) Mc Closkey’s informant (b) Brandt’s Heir, (c) Ross' unhappy promise, (d) Goodwin's Fire Rescue. 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.
Problems with Kant's first formulation: (a) Hare’s Nazi fanatic (Triff's The Bin-Laden Syndrome).

How do you solve that?

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.

4. 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. Why is Pluralistic Formalism better than Kantian theory? Because it allows for exceptions.