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Flashcards in Applied Ethics Deck (19)
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Stealing: Utilitarianism

-It it makes the most happiness it’s correct e.g. Robin Hood.
-However after a while everyone would be scared of being stolen off and there would be no trust, leading to no happiness.

-Mill says having and respecting property rights contributes most to happiness in the long term. He says ‘justice is the most sacred and binding part of all morality’. This suggests that we should never violate someone’s right for a purpose.
-However the Robin Hood of stealing in dire need contradicts this.


Stealing: Deontology

-Stealing because you want something fails in conception. However, stealing to save a life, if universalised wouldn’t lead to the end of property.

-However our maxim is ‘to steal’ and this is what causes the contradiction in conception, so perhaps the purpose for stealing isn’t relevant. Stealing to save a life is still stealing.

-Kants Categorical imperative says you can’t steal as you are using someone as mere means. Why not ask them for what you want.
-If they give you the morally incorrect answer of no, is it now ok to steal?


Stealing: Rule Utilitarianism

-A world where stealing is impossible is better than one with property.
-If there is property, the rule ‘do not steal’ creates more happiness than a rule that allows stealing freely.
-One big simple rule will lead to more happiness overall but not in every case.

-You can’t have exceptions to the rule either as people will think their case is ‘exceptional’ and steal when they shouldn’t.
-One solution is to keep the rule against stealing but add a ‘general purpose’ rule: In circumstances in which not doing something will lead to significant and immediate harm, then do that thing even if it means breaking some other rule.


Stealing: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

-Stealing is always a matter of injustice, of depriving someone of their ‘fair share’.

-If this injustice has come about through no ones action then you shouldn’t deliberately do an unjust act such as stealing to fix it.
-Unjust state of affairs came through people’s actions e.g. exploitation. This situation
demands justice in rectification.

-Use your practical wisdom. If someone has more than their due then you can steal from them. Any conflict between virtues resolve with your practical wisdom.


Simulated Killing: Utilitarianism

-No one is being hurt and there’s an increase in happiness. However could it increase the risk of harmful behaviour in the real world? E.g. an increase in killing, or aggressive behaviour, or other forms of antisocial behaviour e.g. gamers being less responsive to other people’s distress, or changes of gamers attitudes towards violence in general.

-Short term effects= increase risk of aggressive thoughts/emotions/behaviour. However another study found this only occurred in people with violent personalities, or just boys and not girls.
-There are arguments on both sides of long term effects so they cancel each other out.


Simulated killing: Utilitarianism

-Act U also consider the ‘tendency’ of the action having certain consequences.
-Rule U consider a rule that allows simulated killings. There’s no cause and effect relationship atm.
-It’s only wrong if there’s less happiness than if we weren’t to partake in simulated killing.
-It’s part of development of children (cops and robbers, aliens, monsters etc).
-It’s a Lower childish pleasure, so if the adult is doing it we may think worse of them as a person, but will it condemn the activity itself.


Simulated Killing: Deontology

-Playing a game is no violation of one’s moral duty. But if doing so damaged one’s rational will then we can object.
-It could undermine our willingness to dread others as ends in themselves in real life.
-Reviewing empirical evidence shows there is a link between SK and neglecting one’s duties to others.
-We might not fail our duties to others but to ourselves. It erodes our sense of identity as rational, moral beings. However this is unclear whether this is true.


Simulated Killing: Aristotle’s Virtues Ethics

-We develop virtues by doing virtuous acts. Likewise we become unvirtuous acts. Killing is often an unjust act. May lead to the development of characteristics that aren’t virtuous, e.g. injustice and unkindness, or at least inhibit our development of virtuous traits.
This would stop us achieving eudaimonia.

-But is SK an unjust act? No one is killed. So why thinking that simulating unjust acts will develop injustice? Once again, we can argue that evidence doesn’t support this claim.


Simulated Killing: Virtue Ethics

-If a Virtuous person partakes in SK it would be in the right way, with the right motive, and at the right times. Is taking pleasure in this act virtuous?

-What context is SK in? Is idle just for fun or is it necessary for a further goal.
-Different react differently to SK. Some know there is no connection between the video game and the real world, other might see it as a model!
-If someone draws a clear conceptual and emotional distinction between SK and real life then there is no risk of being more aggressive in real life.


Telling lies: Utilitarianism

-Does it create more happiness if you tell the lie? If so it is morally correct.
-Mills version says that being truthful leads to more happiness generally, as our ability to trust others is fundamental to social-wellbeing.

-Therefore to tell a lie just for convenience is morally wrong.
-However it is acceptable sometimes e.g. the axe murderer example.


Telling Lies: Rule Utilitarianism

-The Rule ‘don’t lie’ will, if everyone followed, create more happiness than one that allowed lying.

-However we can object with skill, that never lying can lead to harm in some situations. We need a rule that allows exceptions.
-However it is hard to know what the right rule for lying should be. As if it isn’t the right one then people might take advantage of it.
-If we cant find this right Rule it’s better to make the general rule of don’t lie at all.


Telling Lies: Deontology

-If we lie, we are following the maxim ‘to tell a lie to get what I want.’
-You can only lie if people believe you, as everyone would lie there wouldn’t be any trust and therefore no deception. Therefore it can’t be universalised.

-Perhaps it is ‘to lie to save a life’. In the axe murderer example he knows everyone lies to save a life, so they won’t believe us. We can’t deceive them which means the maxim isn’t universalisable.
-We don’t know the consequences. We say we don’t know and they turn round and find the victim running away in the street. We are now responsible because we failed our duty.

-Aren’t we similarly responsible if we tell the truth and the murderer finds them in our house.
-To lie to them is to treat them as just mere means. So if everyone was morally good, then lying would always be wrong.
-However If we are just being treated as means and need to protect ourselves from the wrong actions of others, it is needed!


Telling Lies: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

-He opposes being truthful to boasting and mock-modesty.
-Lying has no golden mean.
-He’s not particularly critical of boastfulness, it’s ‘futile rather than bad’. To lie in order to gain or protect one’s reputation is not particularly blameworthy. Someone who lies to gain money however, ‘is an uglier character’.

-Aristotle says we need to use our practical wisdom to judge when it isn’t justified and when it is. If we are going to deceive someone it need to be in the right way/time/motive/about the right truths.
-There are ways of nothing sharing the truth other than lying. Perhaps the virtuous person will exhaust the alternatives before resorting to a lie.


Eating animals: Utilitarianism

-If it maximises happiness it’s right.
-Are animals morally important? Can they suffer?
-U says happiness is good. This is all happiness not just human. No reason to privilege human happiness over non-human.

-Eating animals isn’t always wrong.
-U objects only to suffering not killing. So if you pointlessly kill an animal and bring another animal into being, you haven’t reduced the total happiness in the world.


Eating Animals: Utilitarianism. Peter singers opinion.

-There’s sexism, treating women worse than men but there’s also speciesism; treating animals unequally Just because they aren’t humans.

-Response: There’s a difference of language and ability capabilities between us and animals that there isn’t between us and women.

-Singer Replies: These differences are not relevant when it comes to the important capacity that they both share- namely sentience (the basic consciousness needed to experience pleasure and pain).

-Singer concludes that if we raised the animals correctly and ethically and then killed them painlessly it wouldn’t be ethically wrong to eat meat. However we use factory farming so atm U would say it is wrong!


Eating Animals: Deontology

-Kants categorical imperative: Acting only on a maxim that it is possible for everyone to will it to be a universal law.
-‘Everyone’ here refers to ‘everyone with rational will’. On this Kant argues there is a sharp distinction between humans and animals.

-Animals do not have rational will. They have desires but to have rational will you have to be able to stand back from one’s desires and reflect on whether or not one’s desires are good and whether or not to act on them.

-There’s is no contradiction in conception or in will, in universalising the maxim to eat meat.


Eating Animals: Deontology (ends not means analysis)

-Because of our being for practical reason humans are ends in themselves.
-Animals are not rational wills and are therefore not ends in themselves, and can therefore be treated as means to our ends. We may therefore eat them.

-Objection: It’s counterintuitive and fails to account for what is wrong about treating animals badly. Instead of saying harming an animal is wrong because of the harm to the animal, Kant says it’s wrong because of the harm done to ourselves.

-Second Objection: Babies and mentally disabled people aren’t rational or autonomous?
-Response: Babies have the potential for rational will and will do so if cared for. This doesn’t work for mentally disabled people though. If we have duties towards them and yet we don’t to Animals with similar psychological capabilities then this would be speciesist it seems.


Eating Animals: Aristotles Virtues Ethics

-Animals have no share in eudaimonia because they are incapable of either practical or theoretical reason.

-Recent Virtue theorists have argued that this is mistaken. A different understanding of the relationship humans and animals providers arguments for greater concern. There may be ways of treating animals that are not virtuous.
-Cora Diamond has a similar opinion.


Eating Animals: Cora Diamond

-Specisism isn’t true
-Pets are fellow creatures.
-We are in the same boat but we aren’t the same.
-We have moral principles which make us humans.
-Specisism doesn’t recognise why we treat them different.
-Animals aren’t like humans.
-We don’t celebrate animal births.
-We treat pets as ‘fellow creatures’ but not humans.
-We recognise them as a pet.
-Don’t have sex with animals.
-Specisism does have an idea that suffering is wrong