Moral values are behaviors of fundamental consequence for human welfare.
mj = mn + facts
Is there moral knowledge? (here I flesh out moral naturalism)
Subjective relativism: What makes an action right is that one approves of it. C/A, an action can be right and wrong at the same time. The subjectivist doesn't pay attention to the properties of the world. For him, right and wrong are relational properties, like big and small, not like "square" and "round." They believe moral judgments are "secondary properties," brought by the observer. Formalists, on the other hand, believe that moral judgments express PRIMARY properties of the world. Just like the juice in the wine or the broth in the chicken soup.
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: mj = mn + "facts" (this is not a formula, just an approximation). What is a "fact"? 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. We could point to at least two: 1- Principle of mercy (Unnecessary suffering is wrong) 2- Principle of justice (Treat equals equally).
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 (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. This is equivalent to a calculus of prudence. C/A (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).
Click here for my notes on Ethical Egoism
4. Act Utilitarianism (or Traditional 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). C/A (a) McCloskey’s informant (problems with rights) (b) Brandt’s Heir (problems with duties), (c) Goodwin's Fire Rescue (problems with duties), (e) Ross Unhappy promise (problems with duties) (6) Ewing's Utilitarian torture (problems with justice).
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. 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."
Click here for my notes on utilitarianism
Kant's Formalism. Formalism is the theory that AIR because of the action's form.
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). Remember Triff's circuit.
2. Duties: obligations one has by virtue of one's embeddedness in society. Perfect duty: A duty that must always be performed no matter what. And imperfect duties.
Here are my notes on Kantian ethics.
3. Kant's Second Formulation: TREAT PEOPLE AS ENDS, NEVER AS MEANS TO AN END. Problems with the second formulation? C/A The problem with Kantian theory is the problem of exceptions to the rule. Should I keep a promise even if it puts someone's life in danger? Then, some times we have to treat people as means to ends. Example: Broad's Typhoid Man. What to do then? Pluralistic Formalism: What makes an action right is that it falls under the highest ranked duty in a given situation.
Here are my notes on Kant's second formulation.
4. Ross’ Pluralistic Formalism: AIR if it falls under the highest ranked duty in a given situation. So now we have prima facie duties and actual duties.
Prima Facie Duty: A duty that must be performed unless it conflict with a more important duty. Actual duties: One that must be performed in a particular situation.
You must know hierarchy and each one of these duties as I explained in class:
1- Justice, 2- fidelity, 3- reparation, (are the three most important) followed by: 4- beneficence, 5- non-maleficence, 6- gratitude, 7- self-improvement.
Click here formy notes on W D Ross' Pluralistic Formalism
Pluralistic Formalism improves upon Kantian theory's problem with exceptions.