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Flashcards in Ethical Thought Deck (46)
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1

Outline Divine Command Theory

-Meta ethical=meaning of moral language.
-God's will=foundation of ethics.
-Morally good/bad because of God's will/commands.
-God's originator + regulator of morality.
-D.Z Phillips-'to a Christian, to do ones duty is to do the will of God'.
-Abrahamic religions-Ten commandments, Abraham sacrifice Isaac/Ishmad, God commands Joshua to sack the city of Jericho.
-Divine commands give reason to be moral-please God or avoid punishment.
-Right + wrong=objective truths.
-Divine commands=requirements of God's omnipotence-if morality didn't originate from him but independent, omnipotence compromised.
-Objective metaphysical basis for morality-not based on human deliberation.

2

Evaluate divine command theory

Strengths:
-Objective-moral absolutism-comes from divine: true certain + absolute-no room for doubt.
-Emphasis on importance of moral behaviour-accountable on final day of reckoning.
-Requirement of God's omnipotence- Dostoevsky- 'without God, everything is permitted'.

Weaknesses:
-Useless to atheists-w/o God no morality but disputed.
-Could make God's commands arbitrary- if said opposite, morality would shift- 'hate your neighbour, why worship!'- Leibniz- 'why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing the exact contrast?'
-Problem of abhorrent commands-even murder, rape etc could be morally good.
-Not concerned with effects e.g. child abuse has horrible effects but only matters if contrary to God's commands.
-Focus on individual paths to heaven-not working for happiness of community.
-Different religions=different Gods=different commands.
-Emptiness problem- 'God is Good'='Gods command are in accordance with his commands' if morally good means what God commanded-notion of divine moral goodness is lost.
-Ayer- 'no morality can be founded on authority'- needs individualism.

3

Outline the Euthyphro Dilemma

-Plato's Euthyphro, asked Socrates to Euthyphro.
-'do the gods love good action because it is good, or is good action good because it is loved by the god's?'

4

Outline the Horn 1 of the Euthyphro dilemma

Moral Goodness is good because God commands it.
-Makes God's commands arbitrary: morality not objective.

5

Outline the Horn 2 of the Euthyphro Dilemma

-God's omnipotence limited by something outside of his control.
-God's actions could be judged in commanding Joshua as morally wrong.
-Denies god=necessary for morality.
-Kant- 'even the holy one of the gospel must first be compared with our ideal of moral perfection before we can recognise him as such'.

6

Outline William Lane Craig's response to the Euthyphro Dilemma

-False dilemma.
-Third option- God's own nature determines what is good.
-by nature compassionate + kind: commandments reflect nature.
-Not arbitrary but rooted in God himself.

7

Outline the pluralism objection to the Divine Command Theory

-Many religions & produce same commands.
-Many interpretation is/in Christianity about existing commands e.g. Joshua mean.
-Christianity often reject commands passed down by Paul- man silent in church, submissive to men- culturally relative, gay.
-Islam- jihad>extremism.

8

Outline Robert Adam's Modified Divine Command

-Defines DCT as 'the theory that wrongness of an action is contrary to God's commands'.
-Can escape Euthyphro dilemma.
-Action wrong if 'contrary to the commands of a loving god.
-e.g. if believed God commanded bad action e.g. murder would be wrong as not loving God.
-God's character objectively never changes- perfect and 'God therefore retains his supreme moral and metaphysical status'- Austin.
-Recognises atheists would refute this- only 'a theory of what the word good means as used by some but not all people in ethical contexts'.
-Possible for god to command evil but unthinkable.

9

Outline Virtue Ethics

-Agent-centred morality-asks 'what sort of person ought I to be?' rather than 'how I ought to act?'
-Greek word for virtue 'arete' means excellence-virtuous person does things excellently all time.
-Starts by trying to define good rather than focus on behaviour.
-J.F Keenan- 'who am I? Who ought I become? How do I get there?'.

10

Outline Aristotle's formation of Virtue ethics

-Nicomachean Ethics.
-'we are enquiring to become good since otherwise our enquiry would be of no use'- purpose of ethics.
-All humans want/desire should lead to happiness-end in itself=Eudaimonia.
-In order to reach must be virtuous people-'we become builders by building'.
-Rational + social beings-wellbeing of groups>single member.

11

How do you become virtuous?

3 ways:
-experience.
-repetition.
-observation.
-rather than thinking of action (could be bad motive).
-motive=most important as shapes us.
-role models-Jesus, Gandhi but criticism-Louden-in day to day lines can't imagine role models, is it freedom if copy others.'

12

What are the types of virtues?

-Intellectual e.g. wisdom, taught + developed through teaching.
-Moral e.g. courage, can't be taught, developed through habit + experience.
-These combined allow happy + satisfying life.
-Reason=most valuable virtue-work out what is right>eudaimonia, includes action + responding.
-Hursthouse agrees with types-child genius may have intellectual virtues but not moral experience.
-Everyone can develop virtues>eudaimonia, not everyone will-gentleman philosophers.
-Today partly social factors.

13

Outline Ethical Egoism

-Each person ought to pursue his or her own self-interest exclusively.
-Ayn Rand 'The achievement of his own happiness is man's highest moral purpose'.
-Only duty=what is best for ourselves.
-Agent-centred morality.
-opposed to altruism.
Psychological egoism=each person does in fact pursue their own interests.
-In leviathan, Thomas Hobbes argues humans are not naturally sociable- society as self preservation.
-we naturally act for ourselves.
-Actions: express dominant desires.

14

Outline working out virtues (Golden mean)

-Ethical virtue=halfway between two extremes of excess and deficiency.
-e.g. courage mean between two feelings (fear + confidence) + action (courageous act).
-Too much or too little confidence>cowardice, too little fear too much confidence>rash, foolish choices.
-Middle ground=essential to eudaimonia-Golden mean.
-Practising>healthy, happy life.

15

Outline the types of people as part of virtue ethics

-Depends on level to which able to use their nous (intellect) in accordance with reason.
-Virtuous-enjoy, doing right without moral dilemma.
-Continent-virtuous things mostly but conflict.
-Incontinent-some conflict but choses vicious
-Vicious- little value in virtue + doesn't attempt.
-Acknowledged virtues may differ between societies-no ultimate absolute good beyond world-here.
-Different societies different aims, cultivate virtues that lead there.
-Eudaimonia of community.

16

Outline Jesus's role in virtue ethics

-Beatitudes-teaches transformation of inner person + presents Bs as virtues>reward.
-Eschatological meanings.
-'blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God'.
-'blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth'.

17

Evaluate virtue ethics

Strengths:
-Individual rather than consequences or rules-personal.
-Anscombe-good for modern times as no religious basis.
-No obligations: agent centred.

Criticisms:
-Not a practical guide to moral behaviour:
-'Too much' / 'too little' subjective-not on single scale.
-Difficult to consider all factors that go into virtuous decision e.g. right motive, right way etc.
-Anything could be interpreted as golden mean.
-BUT Aristotle encouraged use of own practical wisdom not blindly follow doctrine.
-But useless to those without practical wisdom.
-But Aristotle-must have some knowledge + can develop.

18

Outline how virtue theory is culturally relative

-Different cultures places specific value on different virtues + different idea what constitutes.
-E.g. historically courage= fighting but now standing up for beliefs-too subjective.
-For some virtue the only virtue if universally as such.
-But relatively keeps up to date.

19

How can virtue theory be used for immoral acts?

-Soldiers fighting unjust wars for oppressive regimes=courage but not morally good.

20

What is meant by supererogation as part of virtue theory?

-Actions beyond call of duty-exceptional goodness.
-Rich westerner sells all possessions + relocates to developing country, giving money to poor.
-Most command.
-But fall under vice of excess.

21

Outline Max Stirner's ethical egoism

-'The Ego and Its own'.
-Self-interest=root cause of every action, even when apparently altruistic.
-'I am everything to myself and I do everything on my account'.
-Other people=means for self enjoyment- relation to each other=usefulness.
-Everyone unique: not mere part of society.
-Must be conscious egoists-see themselves as 'the highest being'.
-Unconscious egoists: think they are serving a 'higher being'-'spooks', ideas to which individuals sacrifice themselves to + by which are dominated.
-Includes capitalism, Incl. private property, division of labour, state + religion.
-State=greatest threat 'I am free in no state'.
-If conscious egoists support a 'higher being' it is not because noble but for own benefit.
-'I am my own only when I am master of myself'-state claims sovereign over area.
-Urges uprising against all forms of authority through destruction of hierarchy-kept down by unwillingness to challenge authority.
-Self interest & greed- 'narrow egoism'-capitalists- 'self sacrificing as driven solely by profits, forced upon individual by society.
-Instead also consider long term gain.

22

Outline the Union of Egoists as part of ethical egoism

-Alternative ways of organising society.
-As more people>egoists, conflict in society decrease.
-each individual recognises uniqueness of others>environment for cooperation-'truces in the war of all against all'.
-Called these 'truces' 'unions of egoists'-allow to 'annihilate' state + destroy private property.
-Based on free agreement.
-Mutual interests of individuals who would 'care best for their welfare if they unite with others'.
-Exist to ensure 'intercourse' or 'union' maximising self-enjoyment, pleasure, freedom + individuality while no sacrifice.
-'Intercourse is mutuality'.
-Ensure do not dominate nor are dominated.
-Groups should be 'owned' by members, not the members by the group.
-Social nature of property-all property='my property'.
-Ego set free here.

23

Outline destruction of community of ethics as a challenge to Ethical egoism

-How can society function if only interested in self?
-Contradictory-same act right + wrong.
-Jack competing against Jill for job.
-EE=right for Jack to praise Jack's qualities.
-Wrong for Jill to praise jack's qualities.
-Praising Jack's qualities right + wrong.
-can lead to total selfishness involves hating others.
-BUT sometimes selfish acts have good consequences e.g. if made a habit of harming others we could end up in jail etc: best interest.

24

Outline Social injustices as a challenge to Ethical egoism

-Endorses wicked actions that benefit individual.
-E.g. to increase profits pharmacists filled in prescriptions for cancer patients using watered down drugs.

25

Outline ethical egoism as a form of bigotry

-Doesn't help solve conflicts of interest- Baier-B + K running for president.
-Since in B's interest to win also interest to murder K-not done duty as egoists until this.
-'there would never be moral solutions of conflict of interest'.
-What difference between myself + others?-arbitrary, surely ethics should recognise needs of others.

26

Outline Naturalism

-Meta-ethics: meaning of terms such as 'good'.
-Nothing outside this world: no supernatural authority or morality.
-Goodness + right=natural properties located in natural world.
-E.g. 'Hitler committed suicide in 1945=non-moral factual (cognitive) statement as determined by evidence.
-Also evidence for 'Hitler was a bad person'-deceitful etc-universal as objectively look + evidence + conclude same thing.
-Can go from what 'is' and 'ought' to be e.g. evidence illustrates sharing good for society: ought to share.
-Ethical terms defined by non-ethical terms e.g. something is right (moral term) if it makes majority happy (non-moral term).

27

Outline Bradley on naturalism

-Book 'Ethical Studies' in essay 'My Station and It's Duties'.
-Advancement of utilitarianism/ethical hedonism + improvement on Kant's deontological ideas of duty.
-Liked naturalistic nature of utilitarianism but not subjectivity or lack of social unity-too egotistical.
-Liked Kant's idea of duty but too detached from ethical realm-'divorced from any way of becoming particular and concrete'.
-Isolated self as part of whole organism (society).
-'Them as myself, myself as them'.
-Self only appreciated when understood within whole'.

28

Outline ethical sentences express propositions

-Ethical statements=cognitive, verifiable + meaningful as not just abstract but based in real world.
-Person's 'station' (duties + purpose) and empirical realm-duty not a person's 'station' (duties + purpose) in empirical realm-duty not a priori like Kant.
-Goal=realise self via observation.
-Knowledge of society confirms/denies claim of ethical propositions in relation to finding duty in life.

29

Outline meta-ethical statements seen in scientific terms (naturalism)

-Ethical decisions=part of self-realisation process i.e. engaging without out becoming part of world in which we live-finding 'station or duty.
-Interaction + engagement with society crucial.
-Acknowledges certain facts 'the fact that we often feel ourselves to be under some obligation.
-Foundation='moral consciousness united everyone'-goal of self-realisation=see 'the self as a whole' (society).
-Morality= act of self-expression to realise who we are + what behaving is.
-Realised through biological predisposition but also influenced by society (like Hegel)-influenced by family, city + state.

30

Outline Hume's challenge to naturalism

-Is-ought problem:
Hume-cannot move from facts (what 'is') to making ethical statements ('ought').
-Can't move from cognitive 'John is dead because he was murdered' to ethical statements e.g. 'you ought not to murder people because it is bad'.
-Only synthetic + analytic statements meaningful-moral statements meaningless: naturalism wrong.