Ethics is the study of moral values.
Moral values are behaviors of fundamental consequence for human welfare.
Moral Judgements = Moral standards + Factual beliefs.
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.
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 Consequentialism
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: Egoism may condone acts that are obviously wrong as right (you walk into the forest and see your rival who has been attacked by a wild animal. If it is in your best interest to eliminate him without getting caught then you are morally obligated to finish him off. In addition, 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 Kantian Ethics
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.
3. Kant's Second Formulation: TREAT PEOPLE AS ENDS, NEVER AS MEANS TO AN END. Problems with the second formulation? Problem of exceptions to the rule. Sometimes we have to treat people as means to ends. Example: Broad's Typhoid Man. What to do then?
4. W.D. Ross' Pluralistic Formalism: What makes an action right is that it falls under the highest ranked duty in a given situation. There are: Actual duties: One that must be performed in a particular situation. And Prima facie duties: 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. Follow the Ross/Triff hierarchy: 1- Justice, 2- fidelity, 3- reparation, (the three most important) followed by: 4- beneficence, 5- non-maleficence, 6- gratitude, 7- self-improvement.
Ross doesn't say how to proceed, only that it rests on our intuition.
8. Pluralistic Formalism improves upon Kantian theory's problem with exceptions.