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What does it mean to have an Ethics Framework?

It is more difficult than it looks to define what is right and what is wrong. An ethical framework helps you define it.


Utilitarian System

Consequentialist: what matters is consequence, the outcome of an action, decision, or law. The best consequence is that which maximizes everyone's well being.


What does Utilitarianism focus on?

Focuses on Humans and their welfare. It is a reaction to the idea that 'sophists' and others can declare what is right. --and that people must suffer because of what a few leaders declare to be moral. THE basic idea is that no one person is more entitled than another. It is very democratic.


How does Utilitarianism work?

At the government/societal level, people are given enough freedom to express and aggregate their preferences. --voting --markets --free speech At the individual level, ethical principle are evaluated in terms of the hedonic calculus.


Act vs. Rule Utilitarianism

Act: A particular action is evaluated in terms its utility Rule: rules are established that maximize utility across particular acts (thinking in term of rules is usually an easier way to apply utilitarianism than evaluating every act) --Rule utilitarianism is usually most useful for our purposes


What is the problem with utilitarianism?

It is possible that even if overall people would be better off by taking specific actions, these actions may violate intrinsic rights. Also, it is possible that there are things like certain types of knowledge, that could be reasoned should be falsified.


Rights, Justice and Fairness

Most people believe in intrinsic rights -Some of these seem to be devoid of culture--even if the culture forbid it, many people resist and do not feel guilty. --Free speech is like this is as is consenting adult sexuality the right to a home, the right to not be enslaved, right to art, right to knowledge, etc.


Ethics as Rights and Justice

AKA 'intrinsic rights' and 'universal ethics' and 'ethical fairness'


Intrinsic Rights

are to respected in and of themselves and do not require any justification in terms of consequences in and of themselves and do not require any justification in terms of consequences or other considerations. Derived from fundamental moral concepts such as autonomy and liberty as in Kant's system.


Instrumental rights

are to be respected because they contribute to achieving better consequences, by, for example enabling people to pursue their interests. example: right of free contract.


Veil of Ignorance

Just principles are established behind a 'veil of ignorance'. Imagine you do not know who you are or where you will end up in society. Given this, what is the right action/principle?


Integrating the two approaches

1.) Check whether rights are violated 2.) If not, use utilitarian approach to evaluate ethically (If it is easier to work the other way around, you can--POINT IS that rights cannot be violated for the action to be ethical even if a majority of people would prefer the action)


People as Ends

One of Kant's most influential principles -'act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person to any other, never simply as a means but always at the same tim as an end'


Violation of 'People as Ends'

The violation of this principle is rampant in the justification of wrongs especially in business and government.


Key Points:

Ethics can be studied in a principled way that makes contact with past work. The two primary ethical system are utilitarianism and rights/fairness The systems are compatible and together form a framework and the concept of 'ethics' Any statement of ethical principle or ethical decision must be defended within this framework (without a framework, ethics can be very difficult to discuss and evaluate)