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Flashcards in Ethical Thought Deck (46)
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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.


Evaluate divine command theory

-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'.

-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.


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?'


Outline the Horn 1 of the Euthyphro dilemma

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


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'.


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.


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.


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.


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?'.


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.


How do you become virtuous?

3 ways:
-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.'


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.


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.


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.


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.


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'.


Evaluate virtue ethics

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

-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.


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.


How can virtue theory be used for immoral acts?

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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'.


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.


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.


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.