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What is a "meta-ethical" question?

Is a question where their answers are either objective or subjective


What can studying ethics achieve?

-To change peoples minds, you can get clearer alternative theories, what their advantages and disadvantages are
-Better expresses our preferences and inclinations


Duty-based ethical theory

That we will have ethical duties, whether being things we have to do, or things we dont have to do


What are two main types of duty-based ethical theory?

1-Christian (theistic) ethics
2-Kantian ethics


Christian (theistic) ethics

Includes the Abrahamic religions what God wills is right and what is against Gods will is wrong


Example for Christian (theistic) ethics

The ten commandments


What are two fundamental problems for any ethical theory

1-Why should we accept the claims made by this theory as objectively, universally true?
2-Why should I be good?


What are the key elements of Kantian ethics?

3-The categorical imperative
5-Means and ends



Are important for the action to be done out of the right kind of motive


What are types of gains with motives?

-Financial gains
-Political gains
-Emotional gain/satisfaction


Which of these gains are more valuable?

None these are all forms of personal gain, you are doing it for yourself


What is the right kind of motive according to Kant?

The sense of duty, for your ethical duty which is the right thing to do


Why does Kant focus on the motive of an action and not the consequence?

He thinks everyone could be moral everyone should be able to achieve not just a certain elite group


Why do some philosophers argue about everyone being moral not just a certain elite group?

Philosophers argue that being good in a full sense requires extraordinary character traits and intellectual abilities


What's Kant's objection to the view of being good requires extraordinary character traits and intellectual abilities?

Based on his principle "ought implies can" which means if I ought to do X then I can do X which also means if I cant do X then I ought not to do X


What does "ought implies can" mean?

It means that if I ought to do X then I can do X which also means if I cant do X then I ought not to do X


What does Kant think about motives and their consequences?

He argues that you cant be held responsible for things that aren't up to you. Our motives are things we can control, but the consequences are determined by other factors


What are our duties according to Kant?

-The categorical imperative
-Means and ends


What are maxims?

They are the intentions behind any act which we perform intentionally


The same behavior can be guided by what?

Can be guided by different maxims


Example for same behaviors that are guided by different maxims

Someone helping the poor acting on the maxim "always help those in need when you can" or "always help those in need if it will help your political career"


What are ethical duties?

They are categorical commands which means they are absolute and unconditional commands


What answers the question to what our ethical duties are?

The categorical imperative


The categorical imperative

Are ethical duties that tells us what to do in all cases whether being absolute or unconditional commands


What do Hypothetical duties tell you to do?

Tells you what to do if you want to achieve or avoid certain goals if you want X then you ought to do Y


Categorical duties

Are completely independent of what you want and your particular circumstances you ought to do Z


Example for categorical duties

You ought not to kill anyone


Example for hypothetical duties

If you want to lose weight, you ought to eat less


What are our categorical duties?

Act only on maxims which you can will (rationally want) at the same time for it to be a universal law



For an action to be ethical/moral the maxim must be universalizable


Universalizability is similar to which rule?

Its similar to the golden rule


The golden rule

To do onto others as you would have them do onto you


The euthyphro dilemma

Its based on what is right and wrong and what god wants he rejects basing ethics on what god wants even if all gods agree


The euthyphro dilemma is presented for all such views

1-God commands, loves what he commands, loves because it is morally good
2-What God commands, loves is morally good because he commands, loves it


What is problematic about the golden rule principle?

1-What if I want to be treated in a way that others would not?
2-What if I want to be treated in a way that is damaging?


According to Kant how do you decide whether an action is moral?

1-What is the maxim of this action?
2-Is this maxim universalizable?


Means and ends

Always treat other people as ends in themselves never just as means to an end where we should not use other people


Means are?

Means are done in order to achieve a goal


Ends are?

Ends are the goal itself


Criticisms of the Kantian ethics

1-It is empty
2-Universalizable immoral acts
3-Implausible aspects


It is empty

Kantian ethics are empty in a sense that it gives us a general principle but doesnt tell us what to do specifically


Universalizable Immoral acts

It ignores the second(means/ends) version and argues that immoral acts can pass kants universalizability test


Implausible Aspects

-Should you tell the truth to someone asking about your friend in order to find and kill him?
-It fails to appreciate the role of emotions in morality
-It ignores the consequences of actions what if you have good motives/intentions but you keep hurting people? Is such a person really a good, moral person?