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Flashcards in Mid Term Test Deck (47):

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Developed ethical egoism as alternative to excess of Soviet Communism
Altas Shrugged: There is no God to look after us, we are on our own
We ought to be selfish


Prisoner’s Dilemma (a model of self-interest)

Standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interest to do so



An ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation morality


Long-Term Self-Interest

That person who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong) ultimately serve their own self-interest
Note: this does not exclude cooperating with others
Virtues of long-term self-interest:
Honesty (most of the time)
Non-maleficence (“do no harm”) most of the time
Hard work & Thriftiness



That we should act in ways that do no inflict evil or cause harm to others



The action that is done for the benefit of others


Cultural Relativism

The idea that a person’s belief, values and practice should be understood based on that person’s own culture, rather than be judged against the criteria of another

Values & norms differ between cultures


Ethical Relativism

The belief that nothing is objectively right or wrong and that the definition of right or wrong depends on the prevailing view of a particular individual, culture or historical period

What is right & wrong is determined by cultures or the individual


Diversity Thesis

What is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society so that there are no universal moral standards held by all societies


Dependency Thesis

Whether it is right for an individual to act in a certain way depends on or is relative to the society to which he or she belongs


Divine Command Theory

Proposes that an action’s status as morally good is equivalent to whether it is commanded by God


Euthyphro Dilemma

The puzzle set forth in Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro in which Socrates asks whether God loves the pious because it is pious or whether pious is pious because God loves it

Associated with the Divine Command Theory and Autonomy thesis


Confucius (ca. 551-470 BCE)

Human Heartiness

A person who believes in the teaching of the Chinese philosopher Confucius

Respecting your elders is a Confucian ideal




Basic Idea: Nobility is something that one becomes, not something one is born into


Xiao (Filial Piety)

Importance of respect for elders in general and parents in particular

Emphasis on importance of duties of parents to children and older brother to younger brother


Li (Ceremony/Ritual)

Imperative that people participate in traditional ceremonies
State/Religion Rituals

Ceremony/Rituals is a way of respecting others



Exemplified by a normal adult’s protective feelings for children

Concern for others

Silver Rule
“Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you”
The principle that one should not react other people in the manner in which one would not want to be treated by them


Four Noble Truths

1) The truth of suffering (life consist of suffering)
2) The truth of the source of suffering (craving/desire)
3) The truth of cessation of suffering (there is a solution)
4) The truth of the path of the cessation of pain (the eightfold paths)


Anatman (no-self)

The idea that there is no self

Both a philosophical claim (there literally is no “self”) and an ethical one (‘against ‘self’ishness)


Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 C.E)

Synthesis of Aristotle & Christian theology


Doctrine of Double Effect

A way of thinking about means and ends but not unique to natural law

Basic Idea: Causing harm/negative consequences can be permitted if it it a foreseen but unintended byproduct of an otherwise good action



The rightness/wrongness of an action is determined by the goodness/badness of its result


Act Utilitarianism

An act is right if and only if it results in as much good as any available alternative

Theory of ethics which states that a person’s act is morally right and if and only if it produces results in that specific situation


Rule Utilitarianism

An act is right if and only if it required by rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to great utility for society than any avail either alternative

An action is right as it conforms to a rule that leads to the greatest good


John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Mill’s wanted to distinguish happiness from mere pleasure

He defined happiness in terms of a higher order of pleasures or satisfactions


Justice Objection

Utilitarianism appears consistent with (e.g.) framing an innocent individual to prevent a riot


Publicity Objection

Moral principles must be known to all, but utilitarian do not claim everyone should act like a utilitarian


No Rest Objection

We always have an infinite set of acts to choose


The ‘Right’ and the ‘Good’

The ‘Right’: on the one hand, we can focus on the right action, independent of any consequences that might follow

The ‘Good’: On the other, we can focus on the consequences only



Focuses on consequences/results/outcomes

Motive & the nature of an act is not central & pure consequentialists will say these do not matter at all


The Golden Rule

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you”

The principle of treating others as one would wish be to treated


Trolley Problem

There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to the lever. If you pull this, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person tied up on the side track. You have two options.
1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track
2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person


W.D. Ross

Best known work is The Right and the Good (1930)

Emphasis on the right over the good

Central role of moral intuitions


Prime Facie Duties

‘On the face of it’/at first glance/initial intuition

Claim: there exists at set of duties we all:
Intuitively Recognize
Generally know how to apply


First Categorical Imperative

‘Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law’

Example that works reasonable well: Promise Keeping


Second Categorical Imperatives

“So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or it that of any other in every case as an end and never as a means only”

Example: Employer-Employee Relation



To action that is influenced by a force outside the individual, in other words the state or condition of being ruled, governed or under the sway of another, as in the military occupation


Act Deontology

Associated with Bishop Joseph Butler

Basic Rule: Do what your conscience tells you to do (i.e., act according to your basic moral intuitions)


Hypothetical Imperatives

Any conditional rule of action, concerned with means and ends rather than with duty for its own sake


Categorical Imperatives

Unconditional moral obligation that is binding in all circumstances and is not dependent on a person’s inclination or purpose


Carol Gilligan

Boys vs. Girls
Gilligan criticized Kohlberg for experimenting only with boys

When she did the same study girls, she found that while boys emphasized adherence to rules, girls often focused instead on the impact on relationships

Known for her work with Kohlberg on his stages of moral development as well as her criticism of his approach to the stages. Despite being Kohlberg’s research assistant, Gilligan argued that Kohlberg’s stages of moral development were male-oriented, which limited their ability to be generalized to females


Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987)

The idea of stages of moral development

Three Broad Stages
Pre-Conventional: Very Young Children/Typified by emphasis on obedience & punishment
Conventional: Emerges in tweens/adolescence/Characterized by appeal to group norms & peer influences
Post-Conventional: Move away from group norms to independent reasoning/Highest stage: appeal to universal principles much as Kant argued/But: very few reach this stage according to Kohlberg


Heinz’s Dilemma

Used in Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

A women was on her deathbed. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that was a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $1000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said “No, I discovered the dug and I’m going to make money for it.” So, Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s laboratory to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife?


Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) (Pleasure)

Background: Lived during period of industrial revolution & massive social changed in Great Britain

Bentham’s Version of Utilitarianism
Goal: A scientific moral theory
the greatest happiness principle (principle of utility)
or: the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number
Bentham’s Good
Good = Pleasure/Bad = Pain
Measures: Intensity/Duration/Certainty & Nearness
Assign number to pleasure & pain units, then crunch the data!


Ultimatum Game

The first player (proposer) conditionally receives a sum of money & proposes how to divide the sum between the proposer and other player. The second player (the responder) chooses to either accept or reject this proposal. If the second player accepts, the money is split according to the proposal. If the second player rejects, neither player receives any money. The game is typically played only once so that reciprocation is not an issue.


Genital Mutilation

The ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and within communities from countries in which it is common


Hedonic Calculus

An algorithm formulated by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham for calculating the degree or amount of pleasure that a specific action is likely to cause