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Transcript of REVISITING
What is morally right or wrong depends on the prevailing view in the society or culture we happen to be dealing with
Theory 3: Consequentialism
Consequentialists maintain that whether an action is morally right or wrong depends on the action's consequences.
The Categorical Imperative
What is Ethics?
A theory or system dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
Goals Of Ethical Theory
Principlism attempts to have it both ways
Popularized by Beauchamp and Childress
Principles of Biomedical Ethics
The ‘Georgetown Mantra’
Now the dominant theory in medical ethics
What is morally right or wrong doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks is right or wrong.
'Moral facts' are like 'physical' facts in that what the facts are does not depend on what anyone thinks they are. They simply have to be discovered.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
The most influential deontologist.
Ethical theories represent the grand ideas on which guiding principles are based. They attempt to be coherent and systematic, striving to answer the fundamental practical ethical questions:
What ought I do?
How ought I live?
to provide a systematic answer to the question of how we should behave.
to survey a variety of theories as to what matters morally
Divine Command Theory – what’s right is what God commands; what’s wrong is what God forbids
Often presented as a tolerant view: ‘if moral relativism is true, no one has a right to force his moral views on others.’
A Bad Argument for Moral Relativism
The 'Cultural Differences' Argument
There are huge differences in moral beliefs from culture to culture and era to era.
E.g., Some cultures endorse the killing of elderly members of the tribe, we condemn such actions.
There is no objective fact as to which of these beliefs is correct, morality is relative.
Why is the Cultural Differences Argument Weak?
Controversy regarding how much fundamental disagreement about morality there really is
Differing opinions regarding an issue don’t prove there is no fact of the matter about that issue
Imagine relativism about the shape of the earth (e.g., in the 1400s)
Suppose for the moments that objectivism is true. What are the objective facts of morality?
In any situation, the morally right thing to do is whatever will have the best consequences.
Consequentialist theories are sometimes called teleological theories.
What Kind of Consequences?
Consequentialism isn't very informative unless it's combined with a theory about what the best consequences are.
is such a theory
The most influential variety of consequentialism.
The Basis of Utilitarianism: ask what has intrinsic value and assess the consequences of an action in terms of intrinsically valuable things.
a thing has only instrumental value if it is only valuable for what it may get you
a thing has intrinsic value if you value it for itself
i.e., you’d value it even if it brought you nothing else
What, if anything, has intrinsic value?
has INTRINSIC value
What Utilitarians Think Is Intrinsically Valuable: happiness (or pleasure or satisfaction)
"actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."
John Stuart Mill's Greatest Happiness Principle
In other words, judge an action by the total amount of happiness and unhappiness it creates
'Duty Based' Ethics
Deontologists deny that what ultimately matters is an action's consequences.
There are many kinds of deontological theory.
They claim that what matters is the kind of action it is. What matters is doing our duty.
e.g., The 'Golden Rule' - "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."
Even if by bad luck a good person never accomplishes anything much, the good will would
"A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes."
"like a jewel, still shine by its own light as something which has its full value in itself."
Kant claims that all our actions should be judged according to a rule he calls the Categorical Imperative.
"Act only according to that maxim [i.e., rule] whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law."
"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means."
Important to treat people as autonomous agents
What if doing your duty has repugnant consequences?
Kant on telling lies
What if you have to do something that seems wrong in order to produce the best consequences?
Convicting the innocent
1 & 4 are deontological
2 & 3 are consequentialist
It is really possible to have it both ways?
Ethics of Care
We won’t try to settle the question of what the best theory is
Think of them as tools to draw upon
End of the Presentation