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  1. The branches of philosophy • Philosophy is the study of the most fundamental questions. • Philosophy is divided into 5 main branches: • 1. Metaphysics • 2. Epistemology • 3. Logic • 4. Aesthetics • 5. Ethics
  2. What is Ethics? Ethics, or moral philosophy, is the branch of philosophy concerned with systematizing, defending, and proposing concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term ethics derives from the Ancient Greek word ethikos, which derives from the word ethos (habit, or custom).
  3. 4 AREAS OF ETHICS • Reflecting upon morality leads to 4 directions. • Ethics is divided into 4 major areas. • Each of these directions is studied by ethicists. 1. Value Theory 2. Normative Ethics 3. Metaethics 4. Applied Ethics
  4. 1. Value Theory • The area of ethics that tries to determine what is valuable in and of itself, in what a good life consists. • Is it happiness? • Is it getting what you want? • Is it one? • Is it many? • Is it virtue?
  5. 2. Normative Ethics • There are 2 types of theories: Deontological and teleological. • Deontological. Theories that propose universal rules. Making the right decision is in accordance with the rule. • Teleological. Making the right decision is based on the outcome of action. The area of ethics concerned with determining the set of principle(s) of right action. Propose moral theories.
  6. From where to start? • Some moral philosophers argue that a viable moral theory is one that conforms to our intuition. • Yet others contend that because our intuitions can be manipulated, we must use impartial procedure.
  7. Normative Ethics • The Divine Command Theory: Acts are right because God commands them. • Utilitarianism: Right action is one that produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number. • Deontology: Acts are right if we can use them consistently without any contradictions. • Social Contract: Morality is a set of rules that people agree to follow on the condition that others follow as well.
  8. Normative Ethics • Prima Facie Duties: Rather than one single principle, there are several important duties. When they conflict, we decide which takes precedence. • Virtue Ethics: It places the virtues at the center of morality. Right is what the virtuous person does. • Feminist Ethics: Ethics has been the business of men to address other man. Women should be taken into consideration.
  9. 3. Metaethics • Meta-Ethics asks about the nature, of ethics. • Meta-ethical questions: • “Is it possible to acquire knowledge of right and wrong?” • “Are certain actions objectively right or wrong” • “If certain actions are objectively wrong or right, what makes them so?”
  10. Various Theories of Meta-ethics Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism: Cognitivism: ethical sentences express actual propositions that can be true or false. Cognitivism embodies many views: moral realism: ethical sentences express propositions about mind-independent facts. moral subjectivism: ethical sentences express propositions about peoples’ attitudes or opinions. Moral statements are subjectively true.
  11. Non-cognitivism: moral statements don’t describe properties, don’t make statements that could be true or false. When people utter moral sentences they are expressing non-cognitive attitudes more similar to desires, approval or disapproval, like “Murder? Aaaarrrrgh!”
  12. • Cognitivists hold that moral judgments express beliefs: truth-evaluable mental states that represent moral facts. • Non-cognitivists hold that moral judgments express some other sort of non-truth- evaluable, non-representational mental states.
  13. Take a sentence such as (1): “Slavery is morally wrong.” Moral Realism: A cognitivist theory according to which sentences like (1) are true by virtue of certain features of the world. These features or facts are believed to be independent of our perception of them or our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes towards them. Thus, according to realism, sentences like (1) are true because there are moral facts that make them true. Moral Subjectivism: A cognitivist theory according to which certain moral statements are true because the subject believes them to be true (or false). On this view, what makes “Slavery is morally wrong” true is a fact about an individual’s mind; for example, the fact that Lincoln feels that slavery is evil. What makes moral subjectivism subjective is that it allows that what is good/evil for one subject may not be good/evil for another.
  14. (Meta-ethical) Moral Relativism: A cognitivist theory according to which morality is relative to a certain civilization. Moral sentences like (1) are true (or false) relative to the people who deem them so. Moral Objectivism: A cognitivist theory according to which the certain moral claims are true (or false) independently of our thinking them so. Accordingly, we value kindness because kindness is good—it is not good because we value it. The good is not good because it satisfies desire—it satisfies it because it is good. The evil is not evil because it thwarts desire—it thwarts desire because it is evil. Thus for the objectivist, kindness is good and cruelty is evil, objectively, intrinsically, i.e., not in relation to individuals or groups of individuals. Slavery is wrong in and of itself regardless of the going practices in a given society and regardless of anyone's desires or aversions.
  15. Emotivism: A noncognitivist theory according to which moral language is not fact stating but rather expressive of feeling. Thus one who utters (1) expresses his disapprobation or repugnance toward slavery. It is as if one stated, “Boo slavery” or “Yuk, slavery!” Prescriptivism: A noncognitivist theory according to which moral claims such as (1) are commands. A prescriptivist who says that abortion is wrong, for example, is not arguing that abortion has a moral property of wrongness. Rather, he is prescribing that one not commit abortion.
  16. Moral nihilism: a meta-ethical theory according to which nothing is morally right or wrong. Some nihilists argue that moral statements such as “Slavery is wrong” or “Saving innocent lives is good” are neither true nor false because there are no moral facts in the world that would make such statements right or wrong. Another form of nihilism, known as error theory, which argues the following: • When we make moral statements, we always assume that something can be right or wrong. • But because nothing can be right or wrong, our statements are mistaken. • Consequently our moral statements are errors.
  17. 4.Applied Ethics • Typically, moral philosophers regard this branch of ethics one that deals with more particular problems, such as issues in medicine, sports, business, etc. • Selecting a theory to solve particular problems. • However, there is disagreement about which theory is correct. • Some philosophers propose that we address such problems without considering a specific theory.
  18. Review • Value Theory: What is good in itself? What’s a good life? • Normative: Theory and principles of right/wrong conduct. • Metaethics: What is ethics? Made up or discovered? • Applied ethics: Those who live ethical problems and try to resolve them.
  20. Legality versus Morality • Moral questions are distinct from legal questions. • Of course, moral issues often have legal implications. • Child labor is morally unacceptable not because it is illegal. • Slavery was immoral even when it was legal. • The Nazis did lots of immoral things that were legal. • Producing and Selling cigarettes is legal. But is it moral? So: It is unhelpful to determine whether something is morally right or wrong by looking to the laws.
  21. Expediency versus Moral Reasons • Something to keep separate are moral reasons and expediency. • Expediency relates to our personal reasons for doing things. • We use animals for food, clothing, research, entertainment because it is convenient. • When defending slavery, people used to cite the fact that it supported the economy as a reason to keep it. It True, it supported the economy. Those who benefited from slavery such as traders or plantation owners found it convenient. Convenience does not help us with the moral questions .
  22. Prescriptive versus Descriptive Claims • Another important distinction is between descriptive and prescriptive claims. • Christopher McDougall Born to Run (2009) • Supporters of meat-eating often say that we are meant to eat meat (nature?). What does this tell us about whether it is right or wrong to eat humans alive? Nothing.
  23. …A Challenge Who are We to Judge?
  24. MORAL RELATIVISM: the concept that morality is relative. Objectivism says that all people are under the same moral principles. Moral principles are objective. Relativism says that societies decide what is moral. Who are we to judge?
  25. • Moral Relativism does not say that in morality anything goes. • It does not mean there are no moral rules. • Moral rules are relative. • It states that what’s moral for a society could be immoral for another. • So there is no way to say that one society is moral and the other immoral. • Morality is relative to the particular society.
  26. Who Are We to Judge? • The Callatians, an Indian people, ate their dead people, while ancient Greeks cremated theirs. They viewed each other’s practice as immoral. So moral relativism concludes that morality is a matter of what peoples take it to be.
  27. But, is morality relative? It seems that people’s beliefs differ, not moral principles. Callatians believed their dead would continue living if ingested. Greeks believed flesh could be corrupted and so cremated the dead. Often, peoples’ differences are not moral but cultural. Aabortion? Everyone agrees that murder is wrong. We disagree over whether a fetus is a person.
  28. Implications of Relativism
  29. If relativism is true, you must admit there was nothing wrong about Nazi morality or slavery!
  30. Think About it… Those who fought against segregation and slavery were moral reformers. If you are a moral relativist, you cannot praise moral reformers. In fact, you should condemn them.
  31. Those who try to better the moral principles of a society try to change the moral rules of that society! Moral progress implies moving toward an ideal, objective, moral standard. But this is what relativism denies! There is no objective morality.
  32. Also, relativism says that the social group you belong to determines morality, right? But ask yourself: to which social group do I belong? Answer: you belong to many groups.
  33. Finally, some might say relativism is valid because we should have tolerance and respect other people’s practices and beliefs. But, if we apply this principle universally, then tolerance is ruled out by relativism because you are not a relativist but an objectivist.
  34. Assessing Ethical Theories
  35. In ethics we need to determine what makes things right or wrong. Which theory is best? A theory’s principles must provide a compelling explanation of why certain things are right while others are wrong. Adequate ethical theory needs to satisfy certain criteria. The more fully the theory satisfies all these criteria the better the theory.
  36. 1. Completeness: theory should be able to address completely moral concepts. If the theory leaves something out that must be included, then that theory is faulty. Hedonistic theories, don’t account for justice. 2. Explanatory Power: The theory must give us insight into what makes something moral or immoral. It must help us understand the difference between right and wrong.
  37. 3. Practicability: how useful is a theory? - Clear and precise moral claims. If the theory’s principles are vague, then it isn’t a practical theory: “don’t hurt people unless they deserve it.” Vague. - Moral guidance to ordinary people. - Principles should not create conflict. Imagine a friend lives in the US illegally. Should you turn him in? A practicable theory must be able to resolve your dilemma.
  38. 4. Moral confirmation: a theory must give correct answers to moral questions. Does it work? A theory is morally confirmed if we have good reasons to consider it true. This criterion resembles the scientific method. In science we begin testing a theory’s hypotheses by experiment and observation.
  40. Moral judgments and personal preferences Some people like classical music; others do not. This is disagreement in preferences. Moral disagreements, disagreements over right or wrong, are not the same. If I say abortion is always wrong and you say abortion is never wrong, then you are denying what I affirm. The point: right or wrong require reasons. Cannot be determined just by finding out about the personal preferences of people.
  41. Moral judgments and feelings Some philosophers think words like right and wrong are empty. This position suggests it doesn’t matter one way or the other. But morality matters. So, one must not use personal feelings to determine what’s right and wrong.
  42. Thinking it is so does not make it so This should be obvious: upon reflection you might be surprised. You might think same-sex marriage is immoral, but when you reason logically, you might arrive at the opposite conclusion.
  43. Irrelevance of statistics Some people think that the more people believe something, the truer something is. Religious people may say that God exists because the majority of the world’s population believes in a god. Clearly this is not true. If the majority holds that capital punishment is wrong, that doesn’t make it wrong.
  44. The appeal to a moral authority: Many people think that there is a moral authority, e.g., a God. However, appealing to such an authority creates problems...
  45. THE IDEAL MORAL JUDGMENT There are different concepts that an ideal moral judgment must satisfy
  46. Conceptual clarity: if someone tells us that euthanasia is always wrong we could not determine whether that statement is true before we understand what euthanasia is. Concepts need clarity. –In the case of abortion, for example, is a fetus is a person?
  47. Information: We answer moral questions by having knowledge of the world. For example, in order to know why eating meet is morally wrong, we must know the facts: e.g. animals feel pain and like us do not want to feel pain. They are killed, Chopped up, packaged, and sold. Many people ignore, or want to ignore, these facts.
  48. Rationality: must be able to recognize the connection between different ideas. The best way is to use logic. Sally thinks all abortions are morally wrong, but she recently has had an abortion. Sally is not being rational or logical.
  49. Impartiality: correct answer to moral questions must be impartial. Impartiality is related to justice: the principle that justice is the similar, and injustice the dissimilar, treatment of similar individuals, e.g. If causing suffering to humans is wrong, but it is not wrong in the case of animals, this is not impartial. - we should not consider irrelevant characteristics such as the color of the skin, the color of hair, nationality, height, age, species, and so on.
  50. Coolness: the idea is that the more emotionally charged we are, the more likely we are to reach a mistaken moral conclusion, while the cooler or calm we are, greater the chances that we will avoid mistakes.
  51. VALID MORAL PRINCIPLES besides information, impartiality, conceptual clarity, etc., ideal moral judgment must be based on valid or correct moral principles. Ideally, one wants not only to make the correct moral judgment but also to make it for the correct reasons.
  52. Criteria for evaluating moral principles: • Consistency: whatever principle let Sally to believe that all abortions are morally wrong and yet have an abortion is morally right, must be an inconsistent principle. • Adequacy of scope: A successful principle is one that provides guidance to different circumstances. So, the wider the principle’s scope, the greater its potential uses, the narrower its scope, the narrower its range of applications. • Precision: What we want from an ethical principle is not to be vague. For example if we are told we should love our neighbors and we should do no harm we must also be told in a clear way what love, harm, and a neighbor are supposed to mean.
  53. Moral Theories
  54. Consequentialism Is the family of moral theories arguing that the only the consequences of our actions matter morally. A consequentialist argue that morally right acts are those that will produce the best outcome, or consequence. There are many different varieties of consequentialist theories.
  55. • State consequentialism:argues that the moral worth of an action is based on how much it contributes to the welfare of a state. • Ethical Egoism: Right actions are those that promote the greatest good for the agent. • Utilitarianism: Right acts are those that produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
  56. Hedonism and Consequentialism • Consequentialistic theories commit to a definition of utility. • Hedonistic theories regard Pleasure/Happiness as utility and pain as disutility. • Hedonism views pleasure as the only good. – Not all pleasures are good. • Pleasure and happiness are not the same.
  57. - Pleasure/Happiness are the ultimate good - Different kinds of pleasures: - Pleasure of creating art, thinking of morality, vs. getting drunk, sex, food, etc. - Intellectual pleasure are higher than physical. - Higher pleasures more conducive to happiness. - “it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.” - Many people do not know higher pleasures due to lack of education.
  58. Act Utilitarianism • Right actions maximize happiness/pleasure. • everything we do is motivated by a desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. – the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of beings. • Why pleasure/happiness? Because that’s the only thing that matter. • What beings? All sentient beings. • Act utilitarianism tells us what counts as the right act—what we ought to do.
  59. Which act ought we carry out? We assess an act by following these aspects:
  60. How we Proceed… • First we identify the choices. • Next we determine utility and subtract disutility by considering 1,2,3,4. • The outcome that leads to the greatest overall utility is for act utilitarians the morally right thing to do.
  61. Mill John Stuart Mill, argues: “He who saves a fellow creature from drowning does what is morally right, whether his motive be duty, or the hope of being paid for his trouble.” Therefore, Mill argues, our moral analysis should ignore matters of intention.
  62. Rule Utilitarianism • Certain practices/core values such as promising can generate consequences conducive to maximization of utility. • Rule utilitarianism defines a morally right rule or practice as one that promotes overall utility. • Principle of rules: a morally right rule is one that is widely followed would promote greater utility than if it did not exist. • Principle of acts: a morally right act is one that follows morally right rules. We have a moral duty to obey those rules unless they come into conflict.
  63. • Act utilitarianism: must decide by calculating consequences case by case. • Rule utilitarianism: based on experiences of consequences, apply certain rules that maximize utility. • Hedonistic utilitarianism: maximize pleasure/minimize suffering. • Preference utilitarianism: maximize utility based on people’s preferences. Each individual preference is unique. But in the end the aggregative satisfaction is the goal. • True preferences vs. corrupt preferences.
  64. Immanuel Kant
  65. Immanuel Kant • Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) was one of the most important philosophers ever. • Made important contributions to science and philosophy. • Argued that certain features of our minds structure our experiences. – For example, space and time, and cause and effect. • So, our experience of the world is always filtered through our senses: we do not have direct access to the world itself. • Morality must be based on reason. • Acting morally is acting rationally. • Acting immorally is acting irrationally.
  66. “In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.” “Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.” “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” “Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.” “Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
  67. The Good Will • In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant offers as the starting point of morality the good will. • Our actions possess moral worth is and only if they are the results of the good will. • The good will is the only thing in the world that can be considered good without limitation. • Anything else, courage, money, etc., could be bad.
  68. • Suppose Instead of paying taxes, I keep my money and spend it on a vacation. • I get away with it. • have I done something wrong or immoral? Many would say yes! • So has the person who cheated on her exam and got away with it. So has the politician who intentionally lied to be elected.
  69. But… • Suppose I return from my vacation and, as a result, I am a better father, worker, and citizen. • Suppose the person who cheated on her exam graduated and went on to being a great teacher who helped hundreds of underprivileged children get into good schools. • Suppose the politician who lied to be elected made great contributions to his country. Do these positive outcomes make up for what they have done? • Still wrong?
  70. • Some people would say that if the consequences of my actions lead to the good, then the intention does not count, or can be forgiven. • Immanuel Kant would disagree because an act is right only if it proceeds from a good will. • A good will is the steady commitment to do our duty for its own sake. • He developed a theory of morality that can answer the hard question of how to determine right from wrong. • That’s quite an achievement!
  71. Let’s just see… • How do we justify our moral conduct? • Typically 4 ways come to mind: 1. What if everyone did that? 2. How would you like if I did that to you? 3. The end justifies the means. 4. God prohibits it.
  72. Consider 1: What if everyone did that? That is, if everyone did X, disastrous results would occur. So X is immoral. Common argument against homosexuality: If everyone did that, the human race would die out. Consider priests or couples who don’t want children or the celibate. It would follow that celibacy, priests, and childless couples are immoral! But that can’t be right. So, 1. is not a reliable way to test the morality of our actions.
  73. Consider 2: How would you like if I did that to you? That is, the golden rule—we should treat others as we would like to be treated. But consider masochists who love to be hit. Imagine: Tell a masochist: “Hey, treat me as you would like to be treated!” The masochist: “Oh, wonderful! I will hit you, then, since I would like to be hit.” What about the fanatic? Terrorists believe so strongly in their cause that they are willing to blow themselves up!
  74. • The golden rule would permit immoral acts. The reason is that the golden rule depends on a person’s desires. • The morality of hitting people, or any other act, should not depend on a person’s desires. What if you have the wrong desires? • So the golden rule is not a reliable principle to determine the morality of our actions.
  75. • What about 3?: The end justifies the means. This is utilitarianism: An act is right if it produces the best consequences. • Cheating on your test could be right if it leads to the best consequences. • Kant disagreed: Cheating is immoral, regardless of the consequences. • How can that be right? What kind of a moral principle is one that gives importance to the end results rather than the motive. If what’s important in morality is the end results, then one would be justified to do immoral things, like lying, cheating, killing, torturing. So this is not a reliable principle.
  76. • Perhaps 4: God prohibits it. This is the divine command. • Religions disagree on morality—often the same religion! • There are thousands of them. Which one is right? • Worse: Acting right out of fear of God’s punishment? • What kind of morality is that? • What if one is not religious at all? • Religious morality is not reliable.
  77. The Universalizability Principle • Kant understood these difficulties and proposed a solution: the universalizability principle. • And it goes like this: • UP: An act is morally permissible if, and only if, its maxim can be universalizable. • What is a maxim: The principle that you follow when you choose to act the way you do. For example, if you decided to cheat on your ethics exam, your maxim might be, “I will cheat on my ethics exam so that I will be able to graduate this year.”
  78. Maxim • Notice that a maxim has two components: 1. A statement of what you are about to do, “I will cheat on my ethics exam.” 2. The reason why you want to do it, “I will be able to graduate this year.” • According to Kant we all act on maxims. These are the rules we live by. • Vey important: We all have maxims. Sometimes I ask people why they act the way they act and they say, “I don’t know!” But that’s impossible. At some level, we all follow certain principles. If we don’t, then our actions are random. Moral decisions are not random. • Kant believed that the only consistent way to assess the morality of our actions is to determine whether our actions follow universal maxims based on reason.
  79. • For Kant, the morality of our actions has nothing to do with the end results. Rather, it has to do with our intentions, i.e., the motive behind our actions. • People often do the same thing but for different reasons. I dive into a river to rescue another from drowning because I was offered money to do it. You do it because you believe it to be the correct thing to do. • Kant would say my action was not moral because it was motivated by money. Conversely, he would praise you because you acted from a sense of duty—a good will. Actions are right only if they proceed from a good will. • In Kant’s terms, a good will is a will whose decisions are determined by duty, and duty is determined by reason.
  80. You’re with Kant or with the Utilitarian • If you agree with the utilitarian, you would have to say that those who intend to do evil, but end up doing good, do the right thing, which seems inconsistent. • But if you agree with Kant, you can consistently say that those who intend to do evil are acting immorally, regardless of the outcome. • Kant’s view supports our belief that those who have good intentions, even if their actions result in something undesirable, they are acting morally and they should be praised for their actions. • Also it makes morality depends on our maxims, which we can control.
  81. Universalizability • So the morality of an action depends on its maxim. But how does it work, exactly? • Kant proposes this procedure: • STEP 1: Formulate your maxim clearly: State what you intend to do and why. • STEP 2: Imagine a world in which everyone lived by that maxim. • STEP 3: Then ask, “Can the goal of my action be achieved in such a world?”
  82. • If the answer from STEP 3 is “yes” then the maxim is universalizable, and the action is morally permissible. If the answer is “no” then the maxim is not universalizable, and thus the action is not morally permissible. • He is not concerned about whether or not acting on a maxim is conducive to the best consequences or if God approves of it. He asks whether we could achieve our goals in a world where people uphold our maxims as universal moral laws. • Kant argued that this procedure enables us to reliably determine whether or not our actions are morally consistent and fair.
  83. Don’t believe me? Try! • Supposed you question your civic duties. • Your maxim might be, “I will pay my taxes to support the police and firefighters.” • Can I universalize this maxim? • Let’s test it. Imagine a world in which all citizens acted on my maxim. Would I be able to accomplish my goal? Yes. • In fact, if all citizens pay taxes, the police and firefighters will be supported. Thus, using the universalizability test, we can determine that we have a moral obligation to pay taxes.
  84. Try Again • Suppose after a picnic in the park, I say, “I will pick up my trash to keep the park clean.” • If all park visitors picked up their trash, then the park would be always clean; that is, if everyone acted on this maxim, I would be able to accomplish my goal to keep the park clean. • Since this maxim is universalizable, we know that we have a moral obligation to keep the park clean.
  85. And Again: • Suppose you owe money to Joe and if you don’t pay him back he will break your arms and legs. No one will lend it to you because you have bad credit. I’m your last resort. You come to me and promise you will pay me back, though you don’t actually intend to. You have made a lying promise. • Are you justified in making a false promise? Let’s test it: your maxim might be something like this: Whenever I need a loan, I will promise to repay it even if I don’t intend to do so.
  86. • Is this maxim universalizable? Let’s use Kant’s procedure: imagine a world in which everyone lived by your maxim. Could you achieve your goal in such a world? • Obviously not. Your maxim would be self-defeating. • If your maxim becomes a universal law, then no one would believe such promises, and so no one would be so crazy as to lend you money—and Joe would mess you up every time!
  87. Test Your Maxim • Another example: Suppose you refuse to help others because you are selfish. Your maxim might be “I will not do anything to help others in need unless I have something to gain from doing so in order to advance my own interests.” • But once again, if this were a universal law, you would not be able to accomplish your goals because at some point in your life you will need the help of others, but because they follow your maxim, they will turn away from you.
  88. • So according to the universalizability principle, we can test any maxim. If the maxim turns out to be self-defeating then it is morally impermissible. • Self-defeating means that acting on our maxim would not enable us to accomplish our goals. • What follows? Acting morally is equivalent to acting rationally. And acting immorally is acting irrationally. Our moral duties are actions according to reason. • But is Kant right about this? What about those people who are perfectly rational but just refuse to comply with the right maxims? Imagine a person who understands that what he’s about to do is immoral but does not care. Is he irrational?
  89. • Suppose this person reasons as follows: • People have a reason to do something only if doing it will get them what they want. • Acting according to one’s moral duties often fails to get people what they want. • So people sometimes do not have a reason to do their moral duty. • If people lack reasons to do their moral duties, then violating their duties is perfectly rational. • Therefore, it is perfectly rational to violate one’s moral duty. • But according to Kant if you have reasons to do something, then whether you like it or not, you must do it, even if you suffer as a result.
  90. Hypothetical or categorical • Kant makes an important distinction to explain why the argument just given above seems valid. • He explains the distinction between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives. • When we test our maxims, as you recall, we ask whether the goal of our action can be achieved; we ask if a certain maxim will get us what we care about. But not all maxims are of the same nature. • Hypothetical imperatives tell us what we need to do in order to achieve our personal goals. For example, if I want a big job, I must get a college degree, and if I want to lose weight I must eat better, and so on. In order to accomplish such goals I have to do what is needed, and not doing so will be irrational.
  91. • But if I decide not to get a big job or not to lose weight? If my desires change, then it is no longer rational for me to follow certain maxims. These commands of reason depend entirely on what I want. • But not all rational requirements are like these! • There are categorical imperatives. They do not depend on what I care about. They are categorical because they apply to everyone who possesses reason. • This is why Kant does not regard animals as moral agents—because animals are ultimately driven by their wants and instincts and not by reason.
  92. • Categorical imperatives are not based on what I want. So one could never change her mind about the commands of categorical imperatives. Doing so would be always irrational. Consequently, we must obey these commands even if we don’t like it. • Remember what Kant says about the golden rule? It is not reliable because it depends on our personal desires. • Today you desire to help, tomorrow your desire might change. Kant: when you feel like helping you do something nice, but it’s not right because you acted from your personal feelings. • But what kind of morality is that? A morality that relies upon our personal feelings is unreliable and inconsistent. Therefore, right moral duties must categorical imperatives.
  93. The Formula of Humanity • Holds that the rational being is “the basis of all maxims of action” and must be treated never as a mere means but always as an end. What this means is that all rational beings should never be exploited for personal gain. • What makes a being rational? Freedom and his free capacity to understand the importance of the moral law. A rational being can do the universalizability test and enforce duty. • A Martian who is capable of freely reflecting and acting on maxims is rational. • Animals cannot do that. • Also small children, the senile, people with severe mental disabilities (the so-called “marginal cases”) are not rational!
  94. Autonomy • Also, Kant’s proposes the idea of moral autonomy: • All rational beings have authority over their actions. Rather than political leaders, priests, or society. • Kant argues that it is the will that determine its guiding principles for itself. • Rational beings, thus, are self-governed. • Kant calls this autonomy.
  95. The Kingdom of Ends • All maxims must harmonize with the Kingdom of Ends. • This means that we should act in such a way that we may think of ourselves as “a member in the universal realm of ends”. • So our maxims (the ways we live by, the rules we act on) must harmonize with all individuals who are included in the Kingdom of Ends. • These are rational beings. • And consequently, we have a direct moral duty to the citizens of the kingdom of ends. • This also means, for example, we do not have direct moral obligations to treat animals nicely.
  96. Direct vs. Indirect duty • Direct duty means that if I lie to you, for example (and you are a rational being according to Kant’s specification) I wrong you directly. • Indirect duty means that if you are not rational and I do something wrong to you, I do not wrong you directly. • For example, I do not have a direct moral obligation to treat a dog nicely. If I kick a dog and hurt him severely, I do not do anything wrong to the dog. I don’t owe him anything. • If, however, it is your dog that I kicked, then I did something wrong to you, the owner, but not the dog. • So I have a direct duty to you but indirect duty to the dog. • Kant says: “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” • What about people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, severe mental disabilities, small children? Do we have direct or indirect moral duties to them? We’re left in the dark.
  97. Problems
  98. • Well, Kant argues that if my maxim can be universalizable, we are guaranteed that acting upon it is always right, and thus morally permissible. • But it seems as though we can act on universalizable maxims and still do wrong: • When a thief robs a bank to gain money, Kant can show that the thief is acting irrationally because in a world in which everyone robbed banks, banks would run out of money. And consequently, the goal of the thief could not be achieved. But what if the thief’s goal is to put the bank out of business? Well, strangely enough, if everyone acted on the thief’s maxim, the thief’s goal could be achieved. So Kant’s principle would permit bank robbery, but that’s wrong!
  99. • Consider Hitler’s maxim: “I will destroy all non-Aryans to achieve an Aryan world.” • Can Hitler’s maxim become a universal maxim? Let see: Imagine a word in which everyone lived by that maxim. Could Hitler accomplish his goal? Yes! If everyone destroyed all non-Aryans, the world would be populated only by Aryans; and thus Hitler’s goal could be accomplished. Remember that the universalizability principle says: An act is morally permissible if, and only if, its maxim can be universalizable. It follows that Hitler’s act is right, which is spectacularly absurd!
  100. But wait! What about the Kingdom of Ends? • The Hitler’s maxim could be universalized, all right. However, it violates the formula of humanity: “the rational being is the basis of all maxims of action” • This means that we must treat other rational beings never as means to our ends, but as ends-in-themselves. • Hitler’s maxim violates this principle because it requires that everyone treat non-Aryans as means to the accomplish a non- Aryan world. • But what about people with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Could one exterminate them all? • After all, marginal cases are not rational beings. • Fair enough: perhaps we—and not the principle or Kant—are mistaken. Maybe we’re formulating the wrong maxim? • But it gets worse!
  101. • Suppose you must lie to save someone’s life: during the Holocaust, you are hiding some Jews in your basement. A group of Nazi soldiers knock on your door and ask, “Are you hiding any Jews in your house?” Should you lie or tell the truth? Ask Kant, who would reason as follows: • We should act only on those maxims that can be universalized. • If you lied to the Nazis, you would be following the maxim, “I will lie to advance my personal interest.” • But this maxim could not be universalized because a world in which everyone lied to advance their personal interests, people would stop believing one another, and then it would be impossible to lie. So your goal could not be achieved. • Therefore, you must not lie to the Nazis.
  102. • What just happened?! Kant told us that we must never lie, not even to protect the lives of innocent people! • If Kant is right, then whether we like it or not we must never lie—even in such a situation. “By a lie, a man... annihilates his dignity as a man.” • But is he right? • Here is the problem: Why should you ask whether it is permissible to lie? Why should you phrase your maxim like that? Who decides? Perhaps you should phrase it this way: “I will avoid telling the truth when doing so would save someone’s life.” Or this way: “I will avoid complying with criminals to prevent the death of innocent people.” Now these maxims would not be self-defeating. Imagine a world in which everyone lived by them. We all want that, don’t we? We hope that everyone would live by these maxims.
  103. Kant was confronted by this objection and responded in an essay with the title “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Altruistic Motives” (1797). His argument can be stated as follows: • We are tempted to make certain exceptions. But when we do it we are reasoning like the utilitarian—we assume that the end justifies the means. However, we cannot possibly know what the consequences of our actions will be. • Suppose that the Nazis hear a noise coming from the basement. They go downstairs and kill all the Jews who are hiding there—and they also kill you for lying to them. • So making exceptions to rules might be unexpectedly worse than following them. That’s why we should never try to determine the morality of our actions on the basis of their consequences.
  104. • The problem with this argument. Sometimes we can know what the consequences will be. We do that all the time: We lock doors and shut windows to prevent burglars from entering our apartments; we don’t tell a friends that he is a terrible singer to avoid hurting his feelings. • Even if we don’t know the consequences, avoiding the truth with the intent to save people’s lives is worth the risk. Lying by omission instead of commission. • It is what any individual with moral integrity would do. After all, Kant was concerned about consistency and fairness. • Being fair often requires that we break rules: Lying to the Nazis to protect innocent people’s lives is fair (the right thing to do). • That seems to be the point of Kant: Do the right thing for the right reason. If I lie because it is convenient to me, surely I am doing the wrong thing. But if I lie to save people’s lives, it would seem that I do what is right and for the right reason.
  105. Okay, are you done? No, There’s More • For Kant, once we have identified the correct maxim, we have an obligation to act on it—whether you like it or not. • Suppose you are in the hospital recovering from an illness. I come to visit you and you are delighted to have some company. • You thank me for coming and I say to you I’m just doing my duty. • I’m not visiting you because I love you or I feel compassionate, but rather because I have a moral duty to do it—a categorical one.
  106. • You would be very disappointed. • I am doing the right thing, but something’s missing. • Furthermore, who’s going to motivate me? • At one point my duty will be something that I don’t want or don’t enjoy doing. • Well, Kant says you would be irrational. • Okay, but who cares? • Kant’s ethics leaves us with a bunch of impersonal, objective, legalistic rules.
  107. Conclusion • Kant believed that we must follow absolute moral rules dictated by reason, which he called categorical imperatives. • These rules, according to Kant can never be broken—there can be no exceptions. • Breaking rules = acting irrationally. • But which rules are we to follow? Well, those that pass the test of universalizability. • Unfortunately, the most telling problem is to decide how to formulate, how to phrase, our maxims. • It is not entirely clear, for example, why my maxim should be “It is okay to lie” instead of “I will do whatever is in my power to save the life of other rational beings.” • Kant certainly did not give us a clear way to determine this. • Consequently, it is difficult to defend the idea of absolute moral rules. And so Kant’s theory seems fatally flawed.
  108. Virtue Ethics Aristotle Born 384 BCE Stagira, Northern Greece Died 322 BCE (aged approx. 62)
  109. Virtue Ethics • Emphasizes the role of one's character and the virtues rather than rules or duty. • Rather than right actions, virtue ethics prefers noble, admirable, virtuous actions. • No rule can tell me to do the right thing. I must use my practical wisdom to guide my virtues to determine correct action in a given situation.
  110. • A virtue is an excellent trait of character; a disposition, well entrenched in its possessor— not a habit such as being a coffee-drinker. • To possess a virtue is to be a certain sort of person with a certain complex mindset. • An honest person is not simply one who practices honest dealing and does not cheat. • The honest person recognizes internally that lying is wrong (depending on the circumstances). • The honest person is one who feels repulsed at the idea of lying or cheating. Compare to one who does not cheat because it is against rules).
  111. Virtues • Prudence • Compassion • Generosity • Benevolence • Wisdom • Justice • Courage • Temperance
  112. • Aristotle argued that moral virtues are means between two corresponding vices, one of excess and one of deficiency. For example: courage is a virtue found between the vices of cowardliness and rashness. Rashness Courage Cowardliness |_______________|______________|
  113. Practical Wisdom • Given that good intentions are intentions to act well or “do the right thing”, practical wisdom is the knowledge or understanding that enables its possessor, to act well, in any given situation. • It characteristically comes only with experience of life. • Confers upon the individual the capacity to recognize relevant features of a situation as more important than others, and make a decision based on the virtues.
  114. Eudaimonia • Eudaimonist virtue ethics is the view that virtues are traits necessary to eudaimonia. • eudaimonia is standardly translated as “happiness” or “flourishing” Each translation.
  115. • Whatever has a natural function, the good resides in the function. • Its natural end determines the natural function of a thing. • For Aristotle, there is an end of all the actions that humans perform, which we desire for its own sake: Flourishing. • Eudaimonia is a property of one's life when considered as a whole. • The best life is one of excellent human activity. • An excellent human being is one who exercises the virtues in accordance to reason.
  116. Feminist Ethics/Care • Women see morality differently from men. • Motherly care. • Kohlberg stages. – Medicine dilemma. Would it be right to steal a medicine that you cannot afford but will safe your life? Men tend to respond in legal/obligation terms. Women prefer compassion.
  117. This is the end! What are your Questions?