Ethics is the study of moral norms & values.
Moral norms emerge from non-moral norms. i.e., "incest is wrong" only when brother & sister have sick babies.
Moral norms are behaviors of fundamental consequence for human welfare. They ensure survival.
mk = mn + "facts"
Ethics can be broadly divided into objectivism and subjectivism.
Objectivism is the view that right and wrong are independent from peoples' beliefs.
Subjectivism is the view that right and wrong are dependent of peoples' beliefs.
Cultural relativism: The doctrine that what makes an action right is that it's approved by that culture.
Counterarguments to cultural relativism here.
What's the structure of moral knowledge? Find it here.
6. Are there universal moral principles? I think we could say yes.
1- Principle of mercy (Unnecessary suffering is wrong)
2- Principle of justice (Treat equals equally).
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).
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).
Ethical egoism: What makes an action right is that it promotes one's BEST interest. This is equivalent to a calculus of prudence.
Find more arguments for Ethical Egoism here.
Counterarguments: (a) Moral agents are mot mere instruments for one's interest. (b) Egoism is not a socially or politically cogent theory (i.e., you would not vote for an egoist in office if you could vote for an utilitarian).
Act Utilitarianism: What makes an action right is that it maximizes happiness everyone considered (remember this is only a particular milieu: family, class, Miami, Florida, the USA). Counterarguments: (a) McCloskey’s informant (problems with rights) (b) Brandt’s Heir (problems with duties), (c) Goodwin's Fire Rescue (problems with duties), (e) Ewing's Utilitarian torture (problems with justice).
Duties: obligations one has by virtue of one's embeddedness in society. Filial, social, etc.
Justice: justice is fairness.
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.
In McCloskey, the rule is "Do not bear false witness." In Brandt's utilitarian heir, the rule is "Do not kill (your father)," in Ewing's Torture, the rule is "Do not torture." Yet if one knew that this particular individual, John Doe had information that would save the lives of 100 people, Rule Utilitarianism would justify torturing him (given the second clause of the definition: to "maximize happiness everyone considered."
Here you have more arguments for traditional utilitarianism.
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). Remember Triff's circuit.
Perfect duty: A duty that must always be performed no matter what (keeping our promises). Imperfect duty: A duty that doesn't have to be performed always (taking a shower every day).
Problem with Kant's first formulation: (a) Hare’s Nazi fanatic (I've commented this as the Al Qaeda paradigm). The Al Qaeda jihadist tells you that he's following Kantian ethics. He follows reversibility since he immolates himself with his victims. His actions follow a universalizability principle since (even if he was an infidel) he would wish that all infidels die -including himself.
Can Kant respond to that counter?
Kant's Second Formulation: TREAT PEOPLE AS ENDS, NEVER MERELY AS MEANS TO AN END.
Kant's second formulation yields the principle of respect. Are there problems with the second formulation? Yes, these are known as "problems of exceptions to the rule". Some times we have to treat people as means to ends. Example: Broad's Typhoid Man. What to do then?