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Flashcards in Midterm 1 Deck (52):

What is meant by "no harm, no foul"?

It is wrong to punish a person for a simple mistake if no harm was done.

(Comes from recreational basketball)


Define "ethics"

Ethics is a set of morally permissible standards of a group that each member of the group (at their rational best) wants ever other member to follow, even if their doing so would mean that they must do the same.


Define "morality".

Morality is the set of standards everyone (every rational person at their rational best) wants everyone else to follow even if their following them means having to do the same.


What is the goal of a moral theory?

To answer the questions:
1. How do I know that X is good?
2. Why is X good?


What is the divine command theory?

It is a moral theory that holds that X is good because God commands it, and for no other reason.


Who first introduced the idea of the divine command theory?



What is cultural relativism?

It is based on two premises:

1. You must morally judge someone based on the standards of their culture.

2. There is no rational way to compare cultures with respect to morality.

Thus, there can be no universal human morality.


What are the positives of cultural relativism?

It promotes tolerance and respect for differences in human culture and values. It claims that there is never any justification for the wishes of one culture to override another.


What are the negatives of cultural relativism?

- It doesn't offer a universal moral standard for all humans to live by.
- Things that can be considered moral atrocities can be considered moral in cultural relativism.


Who is virtue theory associated with?

Plato and Aristotle


What is virtue theory?

It is a moral theory that attempts to answer two questions:

1. What does it mean to be "good"?
2. How does one become "good"?


How did Aristotle attempt to answer, "What does it mean to be 'good'"?

He listed the virtues (characteristics) of a "good" person.


What did Aristotle use to define a virtue?

The ideal mean between two extremes of a human characteristic.


How did Aristotle answer the question, "How does one become good"?

- One acquires intellectual virtues through education
- One acquires character virtues by mimicking virtuous behaviour until it becomes habitual


How does one make a moral decision in virtue theory?

By asking the question, "What would a good person do in this situation?"


How does virtue theory differ from the other theories we've studied?

It is agent-centered as opposed to act-centered


What is utilitarianism?

It is a consequentialist moral theory that says that the right decision is the one that causes the most happiness.


Who is considered the father of utilitarianism?

Jeremy Bentham


Who is considered the strongest proponent of utilitarianism?

John Stuart Mill


How does utilitarianism define happiness?

According to Mill, "happiness is... pleasure and the absence of pain."


In utilitarianism, how does one act morally?

By choosing the action that maximizes happiness.


What are the two main types of utilitarianism?

Act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.


What is act utilitarianism?

Each ethical choice is evaluated according to whether or not the action taken maximizes happiness, compared to the other options.


What is rule utilitarianism?

We select a set of rules, and each act is evaluated as to whether it conforms to them. The rules are selected so as to maximize happiness if followed faithfully.


Define "utilitarian calculus".

The process of calculating which action will bring the most amount of happiness.


What is deontological ethics?

It is a moral theory that states that the only good is the good will. It is concerned with obligation, duty, and rules. That is, you are meant to follow a rule (or your duty), even if it results in harm.


Who is most commonly associated with deontological ethics?

Immanuel Kant


How does Kant define what is "good"?

The only good is the good will.


What is the "good will"?

The will of a person to act solely according to a code of morality based purely in reason.


What is the categorical imperative?

It is a rule that must always be followed by all rational beings. (an absolute command)


What is the Universal Law of Nature?

Act only according to principles that could be adopted as universal laws.


What is the Principle of the End in Itself?

Treat humans, both yourself and others, always as ends in themselves, and never merely as a means to an end.


Who is contractarianism associated with?

Thomas Hobbes


What is the premise behind contractarianism?

People are rational beings who wish to promote their own self-interests, and the best way to do this is to promote common interests in society.


What is game theory?

A branch of mathematics that studies conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers.


What are two key qualities that every moral theory hopes to have?

Impartiality and universality


Who argued for two principles of justice as fairness?

John Rawls


What were Rawls's two principles of justice as fairness?

1. Each person should have as many basic freedoms as possible, as long as it doesn't stop others from having the same.

2. Social and economic inequalities are only justified if:
a) Everyone has a fair chance to obtain a better position.
b) These inequalities provide the greatest benefit to the least advantaged (the difference principle)


What is the veil of ignorance?

What if, before you were born into the world, you got to choose a social contract? What kind of contract would you choose? However, you have complete ignorance of what qualities you will have once you are born.

Rawls argues that behind this veil of ignorance, any rational person's choice of social contract would contain his two principles.


Is Rawls's theory of justice a moral theory?

No, it is simply a way of evaluating various possible social contracts.


Which quality of a moral theory does Rawls's theory of justice go against?

Impartiality, because of his difference principle. (It makes impartiality *sometimes* undesirable)


Who is commonly associated with the Ethics of Caring?

Nel Nodding


Why is Nodding critical of both utilitarian and deontological theories?

She says they don't really teach real people how to act morally.


What is the ethics of caring?

It defines goodness in terms of whether or not we take care of the people around us.


For Nodding, what is the only inherent good?



What are the four "main" components of the ethics of caring?

1. Empathy and acting on that empathy
2. The cared-for must be receptive
3. It is morally acceptable to be partial
4. Morality (caring) is contextual to specific situations and people, thus there are not universal moral rules.


How does Noddings differ from Rawls?

Noddings is about the individual, whereas Rawls is about institutions.


What exactly is the contract in Contract Theory?

The social agreement to work together for the benefit of all.


Who is the father of consequentialism?

G.E.M. Anscombe


What is the difference between pure reason and practical reason?

Pure reason is a system of proofs used to establish the truth; practical reason is reason used to make decisions.


Under which premise does a deliberative critical discussion start?

That intelligent, knowledgeable, well-intended people who think carefully and rationally about an ethical issue may disagree.


Sometimes deliberative critical discussions may not end in agreement. Why?

- They could disagree about the facts.
- They could disagree about each other's reasoning.
- They could disagree because they have different values.