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To what extent do emotion and reason affect our ethical decisions?
Should it be legal for doctors to help dying patients kill themselves?
Area of Knowledge: Ethics
What is the balance between the amount of “natural rights” we give up and the “reciprocity” we receive?
How much of our rights should be given up for the benefit of the society?
Supreme Court approves doctor assisted suicide in specific cases
the study of how to live our lives morally.
How do we know what is morally “correct”?
How do we arrive at ethical conclusions?
Ways of Knowing: Reason
the way in which we try to make sense of the world using logic, rationality, comparison, judgement, and experience
allows us to assess the outcomes of our actions, and arrive at an objective judgement about moral behavior
Logic is formal reasoning that is considered the most ‘strict’ type of reason.
Logic is used to reach conclusions and weigh up conflicting statements, opinions, and ideas.
Deduction leads to specific conclusions based on weighing up general principles.
Produces certain knowledge that is less informative
Syllogism is a widely-used form of deductive reasoning
Primary Premise: All citizens should be free.
Secondary Premise: Being free is having the right to choose between life and death.
Conclusion: All citizens should have the right to choose.
Example of Deductive Reasoning
How can we measure happiness?
How can we guarantee that assisted suicide will provide happiness for the patient and the family members?
What role does emotion play when dealing with issues regarding death?
Should assisted suicide be legalized?
Judges actions carried out by fully sentient human beings by the consequences of the action
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832).
Based on the idea that an action’s worth should be measured by the amount of happiness it brings
The greatest happiness principle: “Greatest good for the greatest number of people.”
For example, a doctor who assisted the suicides of his or her patients with the intention of relieving them sufferings will be not be judged the same as a serial killer who murdered others for amusement, although both performed actions that led to the death of others.
Deserve to "die in dignity"
Painless and Instant process
Less costly for:
Hope for a peaceful death for terminal patients
"Right to life"
impulsive/not well reflected decision
"...a slippery slope"
Religion: We are not god and cannot decided whether life deserves to continue or end
Death cannot be given in a gentle way; Death is never the answer
Deontologicalism judges actions by their intentions.
Induction produces a general conclusion from specific cases.
The value of this information is much more informative. However, unless used the area of mathematics, inductive reasoning will not produce certain knowledge.
Example of Inductive Reasoning
I support assisted suicide.
Matt supports assisted suicide.
Lavin also supports assisted suicide.
Therefore, everybody supports assisted suicide.
Problems with Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
The use of inductive reasoning may lead to hasty generalizations.
It is arguable that in practice deduction is no more certain than induction because the premises on which deductive reasoning about the world is based must be derived from inductive reasoning.
So if inductive reasoning is no more reliable than deductive reasoning, is there any form of reliable reasoning?
Ways of Knowing:
1 a strong feeling, such as joy or anger.
2 instinctive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.
Where do emotions come from?
Why do we have them?
How have they evolved? What constitutes an emotion?
To what extent can we control them?
How does it interfere with our ethical decision making?
Theories on Emotion
The Body and the Mind
Associated emotions with different parts of the body
‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.’-Hume David
‘All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.’ -Immanuel Kant
Is it ethical to end a life prematurely without a guarantee of death?
How can the law be twisted to allow immoral actions be legal?
Related Real Life Situations
The Death Penalty
The Death Penalty
Counter Case Study
1992 Ray Krone was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Kim Ancona
Sentenced to death and 21 years in prison
Was released in 2002 with advances in DNA technology
Woman in Ireland denied an abortion although she claimed to be suicidal
Forced to give birth to the child
Irish legislation does not allow abortions in cases of:
incest, rape, fetal abnormality, or when the baby is unlikely to survive
When does shared knowledge become necessary to mandate through law?
Shared vs Personal Knowledge
"I know" vs. "We know"
personal knowledge: possession of knowledge by an individual
shared knowledge:knowledge that belongs to a group
Archbishop speaks out against proposed doctor-assisted suicide bill (New York,USA)
Emotion and Reason
Does the emotional distance from an event affect perception?
The claim: abortion is murder
At what point does a fetus become person?
Does it count as “murder” if it has not even developed?
Cardinal Timothy Dolan says he and the other bishops will fight against the bill
Fears the devaluation of human life
"The real death with dignity, the real heroes are those who die naturally, who take each day at a time, savoring everything they’ve got. That is death with dignity" -Cardinal Timothy Dolan
What about the mother's life?
How do you determine under what circumstances abortion is appropriate?
Why is it legal in some places such as England and not in others such as Ireland?
All authority and sovereignty is ceded to a single person in exchange for security from each other and from foreign invaders
We give up some of our ‘natural rights,’ but we expect benefits in return
Reciprocity is the fundamental basis of ethics for many thinkers.
Social Contract Theory
Area of Knowledge:
1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion
2 a particular system of faith and worship: the world’s great religions
3 a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion: consumerism is the new religion
"Rivers, ponds,lakes and streams- they all have different names, but they all do contain water.Just as religions do - they all contain truths"
Religion in the study
The bishops believe that all life is sacred and that god has the sole power over a life
They see lives as god's creation and thus are all precious and must be preserved
The most dignified way to die is to die naturally
Humans are not god and therefore must not "impersonate" by taking control over the continuation of a life
They fear the devaluation of life
Influenced by their emotions of losing a loved one and not wanting to lose a loved one.
Both sides are justified on whether or not the criminal should be executed through an emotional way of knowing.
Is emotion a sufficient enough way of knowing to determine whether or not a life is taken away?
How can a decision be made?
What psychological tools might we use to come to a decision?
How might our emotions influence our decision?
what role did confirmation bias play in the second conviction?
Dunn, Michael. Ethical authorities (10th May 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/areas-of-knowledge/ethics/ethical-authorities/ Last accessed: 2nd June 2015
Dunn, Michael. The relationship between emotion and reason (10th May 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/ways-of-knowing/emotion/the-relationship-between-emotion-and-reason/ Last accessed: 2nd June 2015
Dunn, Michael. What other types of reasoning are there? (10th May 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/ways-of-knowing/reason/what-other-types-of-reasoning-are-there/ Last accessed: 2nd June 2015
Is a logical thought process actually the best way to come to a decision?
What flaws may present themselves in both ways of coming to a decision?
Self-interest and the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule:
"One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself."
Both reason and emotion significantly and inevitably influence our ethical decisions
How justified is our ethical decisions if the reasoning we use does not produce certain knowledge?
What are the consequences of formulating a moral code with logical fallacies?
This is crucial for serious issues with irreversible consequences, such as assisted suicide, abortion and the death penalty.
Will emotion always override reason?
Will it always have a greater influence over our ethical decisions?
What is the relationship between reason and emotion?
To what extent are reason and emotion linked?
Our emotions often interfere with our logical reasoning, and reasoning itself does not necessarily generate certain knowledge.
How certain can we be of our ethical conclusions?
How do our emotions cloud our judgements?
Is reason always the best way of knowing?
To extent should law be able to control our lives?
Are there other ways of knowing that affect our ethical decisions?
How certain can we be of our ethical
Extended Knowledge Question:
To what extent should we be allowed to make decisions regarding others?