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Ethics: Definitions & Methodology 3.0

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Jennifer Garvin-Sanchez

on 7 February 2019

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Transcript of Ethics: Definitions & Methodology 3.0

Ethics: definitions and methodology
What would you do?
Jean Arthur, Ronald Coleman, and Cary Grant in The Talk of the Town.
Ronald Coleman plays a law professor about to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Cary Grant plays a fugitive from justice, an innocent man about to be convicted of murder in a corrupt town.
Jean Arthur convinces the “by the book” law professor to circumvent the law in the name of justice.

Our First Impulse –
Is to Use the Law as a Guide

When confronted with complex problems and difficulties, we look to the law to determine what our response should be. Yet, the law often does provide a complete answer.
Question for small groups
Try to come up with 4 reasons why we cannot equate the law with morality.
Legal Ethics and Ethics

However, only using the law as a recourse for ethics confuses the role of the law with ethics. The law provides a mandate which the community has sanctioned as conforming to its norms or customs. It provides only a minimal standard for determining what is right or wrong in a particular situation, since the law has developed in response to societal
pressure. This equates the law with morality.
Limits to Legal Considerations
First, "where the law is silent, anything goes" is a mentality often taken when the questions of cost win over concerns for human good and welfare.
Second, law of its very nature is not so much a matter of reason as it is a product of communal will. Law is a product of the courts and the legislature rather than a weighing of rational arguments for correct behavior which considers entitlements and human relationships.
Third, using the law as bases for ethical judgment assumes concepts of fairness or justice may be equated with law (Stevens, 1979, pp. 118-222). Such moral legalism falls far short of promoting universalizable principles which insure the betterment for all.
Limits to legal considerations
Decisions and actions derived from the law are often confined to the letter of the law.
This limitation underscores how ethics goes beyond the law. Ethics is not confined to prescriptive mandates, but may consider all aspects of a particular moral dilemma. Ethical judgments, based on rational principles, focus on the good for others.

Morality and law
Beliefs, world views
Norms of behavior
Taboos
Laws, public policies
The Meaning of Ethics
Generally, ethics or morality has been concerned with beliefs about right or wrong human conduct. In other words, ethicists have attempted to explore various ideas about how to define and determine which actions or decisions are right or wrong.
The meaning of ethics
The origins of such study in Western civilization began with the Greeks who understood ethics to be the study of the general pattern or way of life. They perceived good behavior as that which promoted harmonious life within the city, that is, the welfare of the community (MacIntyre, 1966). In this sense, ethics were derived from society's expectations of appropriate behavior.
Norms of behavior, then, become the right way to do things. Laws reinforce norms of behavior.
The meaning of ethics
Philosophical ethics involves the use of reason to support or justify particular decisions or actions as being good or right as opposed to being bad or wrong.
Traditionally, philosophers have explored ethical matters by:
Descriptive ethics: analyzing the beliefs and attitudes of persons or groups
Metaethics: discussing the meaning of ethical terms (e.g., good or right)
Normative ethics: arguing which actions ought to be considered good or right as normative moral discourse.
Along came Socrates
Socrates was put to death for questioning the sacred customs of the people, for daring to question the Athenian way of life. For this he was labeled an atheist—the rituals and customs had become equated with God.
After Socrates our term “ethics” came to mean “the questioning of the sacred customs” by asking “is what people call “good” really the good?”
Questions
Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist and survivor of German concentration camps, said that in time of crisis people do one of three things: they deny it. . . They despair. . . Or they commit themselves to ask critical questions.
Morality vs. ethics
The paradox of Socrates is that he insisted that he was not irreligious nor an atheist. He insisted that he was commanded to doubt by his own God who sent him to Athens to teach them to lead virtuous lives and seek justice.
Socrates demanded that we question that what is = what ought to be.

Morality—established norms of behavior
Ethics—questioning these norms of behavior

Theory and Method
Classical philosophical ethical theories offer two major perspectives to help us resolve dilemmas:
Teleological ethics
And deontological ethics
Ethical
categories
Deontological
Right action
duty
rights
Teleological
Being good
Consequences
Character, or virtue
relationships
Consequentialist, deontological, and virtue ethics
4 Elements of Moral Reasoning
interpretation of circumstances calling for moral involvement
Anthropological Assumptions about
The capabilities of human agents
Their motives
Their possibilities and limitations within the courses of nature and history
Values, norms, guidelines, and principles
Loyalties or causes to be served by the theory of decision-making.
Principles and Justification
These theories provide useful principles in determining a moral justified outcome.
Moreover, such an ethical decision requires an explicit method of justification. Employing ethical principles and a method of justification represent the core of applied ethics.

Question for small groups
In what ways is religious ethics different from philosophical ethics?
Religious ethics
Religious ethics differs from philosophical ethics in that religious ethics is a response to an experience of the holy.
Religious ethics uses the categories of philosophical ethics (philosophy has always been the handmaiden of theology)
But religious ethics uses stories and lives as moral examples. (David and Bathsheba)
Religious ethics also uses spiritual practices and communities to develop moral character and virtues
In addition, most religions teach that one must have some sort of conversion experience in order to do the good (humanism is an exception).
Sources for ethical reasoning
Reason—must be critical & analytical, sciences, philosophy must be questioned
Experience—your social location must be questioned
Tradition—your family, community, nation, faith community must be questioned
Scriptures, or revelation must be questioned

Question for small groups
A woman screams in the apartment next to yours. What do you do?
What are your sources in making ethical decisions?

Our Method
Observe – descriptive ethics
Judge – use different sources, especially from the viewpoint of the poor
Act -- praxis
Our Method
Observe – ask questions, go places, read things, gather facts., use different sources, especially from the viewpoint of the poor
Judge – a better choice of words would be "to reflect critically in the light of sources"
Act -- praxis

it must be geographically broad, historically deep, and take into account gender, race, and class.
define structural violence (Haiti)
What are examples of each
? What are its symptoms and consequences?
Individual:: (Physical, Psychological or emotional
familial
Community: city, work, school, faith community
Where does violence occur in the community? At school? In the neighborhood? With the police or other local authorities? Are there instances of environmental violence or conflict in the area? Are there particular issues which involve community conflict?
Nation
Where is there violence in the country? What kinds of situations, like child labor, poverty, freedom of speech and assembly, weapons making, and homelessness, can we identify as being conflicts within their country?
International
list conflicts or instances of violence transpiring across boundaries. Think geographically broad. . Think beyond simply warfare. Where is violence occurring? How for example, do our policies affect Chou Chou and Acephie?
Religious ethics
Religious ethics differs from philosophical ethics in that religious ethics is a response to an experience of the holy.
Religious ethics uses the categories of philosophical ethics (philosophy has always been the handmaiden of theology)
But religious ethics uses stories and lives as moral examples. (David and Bathsheba)
Religious ethics also uses spiritual practices and communities to develop moral character and virtues
In addition, most religions teach that one must have some sort of conversion experience in order to do the good (humanism is an exception).
4 Elements of Moral Reasoning
interpretation of circumstances
calling for moral involvement
Anthropological Assumptions (human nature)
Values, norms, guidelines, and principles;
These come from our families, society, religion.
Not all values are good. Some are false values. Social change occurs when new values confront old values, for example, when equality of the races confronted the superiority of the “white race.”
Anthropological assumptions
about human nature
Loyalties or causes to be served
by the theory of decision-making.
When we have competing values or duties, our loyalties determine which value has priority. For example, if peace is a value, but family and nation are also values, then we often have to decide whether or not to go to war based on our loyalties.
Who counts? Who has moral standing?
An individual counts for us if we believe that it makes a difference morally how that individual is treated. An individual counts if we feel that we ought to take that person’s welfare into account for their own sake, and not merely for ourselves or another’s sake.
Animals and the earth can also have moral standing for us.
Theory and Method
Classical philosophical ethical theories offer two major perspectives to help us resolve dilemmas:
Teleological ethics:
Strives toward a goal—Western Religious Tradition—we are striving toward the goal of the Kingdom of God; a vision of a just society.
Strives towards some end—we are made for a purpose or function. We are “perfect” according to how well we fulfill that function
And deontological ethics: In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek δέον, deon, "obligation, duty") is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.
Morality vs. ethics
The paradox of Socrates is that he insisted that he was not irreligious nor an atheist. He insisted that he was commanded to doubt by his own God who sent him to Athens to teach them to lead virtuous lives and seek justice.
Socrates demanded that we question that what is = what ought to be.

Morality—established norms of behavior
Ethics—questioning these norms of behavior
Questions
Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist and survivor of German concentration camps, said that in time of crisis people do one of three things: they deny it. . . They despair. . . Or they commit themselves to asking critical questions.
Primo Levi--the Quiet City
The meaning of ethics
Philosophical ethics involves the use of reason to support or justify particular decisions or actions as being good or right as opposed to being bad or wrong.
Feminist thinkers have criticized this. Any thoughts why?
Traditionally, philosophers have explored ethical matters by:
Descriptive ethics: analyzing the beliefs and attitudes of persons or groups
Metaethics: discussing the meaning of ethical terms (e.g., good or right)
Normative ethics: arguing which actions ought to be considered good or right as normative moral discourse.
Limits to Legal Considerations
First, "where the law is silent, anything goes" is a mentality often taken when the questions of cost win over concerns for human good and welfare.
Second, law of its very nature is not so much a matter of reason as it is a product of communal will. Law is a product of the courts and the legislature rather than a weighing of rational arguments for correct behavior which considers entitlements and human relationships.
Third, using the law as bases for ethical judgment assumes concepts of fairness or justice may be equated with law (Stevens, 1979, pp. 118-222). Such moral legalism falls far short of promoting universalizable principles which insure the betterment for all.
fourth, decisions and actions derived from the law are often confined to the letter of the law.
Along came Socrates
Socrates was put to death for questioning the sacred customs of the people, for daring to question the Athenian way of life. For this he was labeled an atheist—the rituals and customs had become equated with God.
Morality and law
How are they related?
Beliefs, world views
Norms of behavior
Taboos
Laws, public policies
Morality
The Latin root for “morality” (mos, mores) means the “customs” of the people. In such societies, the customs or mores are sacred and unchangeable: to violate them is sacrilegious.
Social Stability
In large part, what gives a society a sense of social stability is the morality of the sacred order. The feeling that one’s way of life is sacred. This is a good thing, for every society needs stability.
Ethics
After Socrates our term “ethics” came to mean “the questioning of the sacred customs” by asking “is what people call “good” really the good?”
First rule of ethics: find out what the assumption are
What assumptions are behind the arguments? Look at your readings.
What keeps us from seeing clearly?
What keeps us from seeing the structural nature of the problem? How does our social position impact our assumptions? How does power affect decisions? Who benefits from these decisions?

Is logic, or philosophy, the only thing we should consider? How do we learn how to be moral people?
What about compassion? How does this enter into ethics? Compassion for whom?
Some ethicists argue that feelings may be irrational. We have to be guided by logic. Moral arguments are different than personal taste if they are grounded in logic.
But how can we know our assumptions and logic are true? Some argue for a veil of ignorance--I opt for the preferential option for the poor.
4 features of structural injustice
1. its relative invisibility to those who do not suffer directly from it (we cannot change if we do not recognize it)

2. the fact that it continues regardless of the virtue or vice of people involved.

3. its transmission from generation to generation unless exposed and confronted. socialization through institutions.

4. its expansion as a result of concentrated power. (political and corporate)
Moral Vision
"Moral vision, therefore, does not simply see the impoverished child of Mozambique or the family displaced by global warming. Moral vision sees also our functional relationship to that child and sees in particular, whether or not our "way of life" and the public policies and corporate actions that make it possible are contributing to her poverty. Moral vision must extend beyond interpersonal relationships to social structural and ecological relationships." p. 61 Resisting Structural Evil, by Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda
The paradox of Privilege
Even when does "see" structural evil, it is not possible to divest oneself from the impact of the social structures into which our lives are woven. Not by my will or intent, I continue to be involved and to reap the "benefits" of economic and ecological violence. I cannot refuse petroleum from the Niger Delta. Social violence transcends individual moral agency.
Structural violence
while it cannot be dismantled by individual actions, it cannot be dismantled without them. Every "system of evil requires personal actions to make it work." James Poling, p. 62 RSE
Collective Action
While structural violence may be impervious to individual agency, social movements demonstrate that people, working together, can counter it.

"To counter SV, moral vision must, itself, be structural." p. 77 rse
passed down from generation to generation
in our social structures--cultural, political, economic, ideological.
tend to be uncritically accepted and passed on to the next generation as though they were just the way things , divinely ordained.

This is a process of moral formation or malformation.

example: our patterns of consumption--we are taught that in order to be successful we must have more than the previous generation.
the invisibility of structural violence
epistemological privilege

in direct violence the person or group is easily identified.
In indirect violence there may not be any person who directly harms another person in the structure. "Direct violence is an event; structural violence is a process." -- Galtung p. 73 rse

those involved may also be victims of another form that precludes them from taking actions without the support of a broader community

cultural violence--what is the cultural violence that enables us to celebrate lavish lifestyles while children are starving? accept the pay of CEO's at 450 times the earnings of their lowest paid workers as right?


What SV does
1. influences who will be at risk for imprisonment, death in childbirth, poverty, devastation in the face of ill health or disasters. it "influences the nature and distribution of extreme suffering."
2. leads to direct violence in the forms of revolutionary violence, riots, "terrorism," domestic violence, hate crimes, war, etc.
3. contributes to and grows out of a power imbalance that disadvantages those who hold little power.
What SV does
4. puts those who challenge it at risk.
5. leads to internalized oppression.
6. determines who will have the necessities for life with dignity and who will not.
7. enables a few people to benefit far more than many others from interactions.
SV
8. becomes more devastating with concentration of power in fewer hands.
9. consists of interlocking rather than isolated forms of oppression. Hence, one may "benefit" from SV along one "axis of oppression" while being victimized by it along another.
10. may trap perpetrators by victimizing them in the very structural violence they perpetrate.
SV
11. Entails ideologies and worldviews,institutional policies, and practices so embedded in society that they appear natural, normal, inevitable, or divinely mandated.
Paul Farmer
Can we identify those most at risk of great suffering? Among those whose suffering is not mortal, is it possible to identify those most likely to sustain permanent and disabling damage?
Anthropologists who take these as research questions study both individual experience and the larger social matrix in which it is embedded in order to see how various large-scale social forces come to be translated into personal distress and disease. By what mechanisms do social forces ranging from poverty to racism be come embodied as individual experience?
We like to think that because we do not personally choose to be racist, classist, or sexist, that we are absolved of responsibility. This ignores the underlying "matrix" of oppression which we cannot escape.
Question for small groups
In what ways is religious ethics different from philosophical ethics?
First rule of ethics: find out what the assumptions are
What assumptions are behind the arguments? What keeps us from considering ethical questions logically? How does tradition enter into our assumptions?
Arguments are sound if assumptions are true and the conclusion logically follows
So what?
Case Study: Haiti
What is the ethical problem as Farmer describes it?
what is the ethical problem for Dr. Farmer?
what keeps us from seeing the true nature of the problems in Haiti?
What is the ethical problem for King?
Ethical
categories
Deontological
Right action
duty
rights
Teleological
Being good
(happiness)
Consequences
Character, or virtue
relationships
Teleological and Deontological ethics
What is the Good?
The Good
A Just Society
Kant (1724-1804)
• When you have to make a decision, is the "right" decision always clear?
What are some reasons it is not always clear? [Answers may include: because what is right in one situation might not be right in another, you might not know the right thing to do, you might need more information to make a good decision, you have conflicting values (e.g., it would be kind to help a friend on a test, but it would also be cheating), and different people might have different ideas about what is right.]
What goes into our decision making process? How much of our decisions are conscious and based on well-thought out reasons? What things limit our choices?
A connected world
The Pencil and the Rose--Arun Gandhi
5. It is built on a foundation of lies meant to deceive in so that the population thinks that the status quo is the way things are "meant to be."
O for the P
tophat
What is philosophy?
Not so much about finding the answers to questions, as it is about the PROCESS of finding the answers, using reason or logic rather than accepting conventional views or wisdom.
Plato (Socrates' student)--"Wonder is very much the affection of a philosopher, for there is no other beginning of philosophy than this."
The Fundamental Questions
1.
Metaphysics
-- Existence and knowledge--What is the universe made of, and what is it's nature? What is the nature of human existence, and what does it mean to be a conscious being? How do we perceive the world around us, and do things exist independently of our perception? What is the relationship between our mind and body, and is there an immortal soul? The area of metaphysics concerned with questions of existence,
ontology
, is huge and forms the basis for much of Western philosophy.
2. How can we know what we know? The study of the nature and limits of knowledge--
epistemology
. How do we acquire knowledge, how we come to know what we know what we know; is some (or even all) of knowledge innate, or do we learn everything from experience? Can we know something from reasoning alone?
Logic
3. Reasoning relies on establishing the truth of statements, which can then be used to build up a train of thought leading to a conclusion.
If picture A is Obama's inauguration, and picture B is Trump's, and picture B shows less people than picture A, then whose inauguration was larger?

What assumptions would we have to make in order to determine this?
an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals;
all animals have four legs;
therefore all dogs have four legs ).
syl·lo·gism
Logic is about constructing a reasoned argument which involves using language carefully and accurately, examining statements and arguments to make sure they mean what we think they mean; when we study other people's arguments, we have to analyze not only the logical steps they take, but also the language they use, to see if their conclusions hold water.
especially assumptions
an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals;
all animals have four legs;
therefore all dogs have four legs ).
syl·lo·gism
Ethics or moral philosophy
The examination of what leads to the "good" life, what concepts such as justice and happiness actually mean and how we can achieve them, and how we should behave.
From there it is a natural step from questions about our individual lives to ask questions about the sort of society we would like to live in--how it should be governed, the rights and responsibilities of its citizens, and so on--
political philosophy.
Ethics and Religion
You may have noticed that some of these questions overlap with questions that religions ask. So philosophy examines religion itself, asking, "Does God exist?" and "do we have an immortal soul?" "Is there a conscience, and where does it come from?" "Does humanity have free will?"
In the East the lines between philosophy and religion are less clear.
The Meaning of Ethics
Generally, ethics or morality has been concerned with beliefs about right or wrong human conduct. In other words, ethicists have attempted to explore various ideas about how to define and determine which actions or decisions are right or wrong.
f I argued that you should study hard because you will get an A? Because you will learn something? Just because it is the right thing to do? Because you are a student and students should study?

if I argued that we should drop drones on terrorists because it will save more lives than will be killed, what kind of argument is that? If I argued that this is wrong because killing innocent people along with a few terrorists is never right? because it will cause more people to become terrorists?

if I argued that I should get an A on the exam because I answered the question properly, what kind of argument is that?

if I argued that food stamps should be cut because I don't want to pay taxes for them based on the belief that it is theft of MY wages, what kind of argument is that?

if I argued that food stamps should be increased because of principles of social justice, equality and fairness demand that we take cae of the poor, what kind of argument is that?
How does the person (and the policy) view the human’s relationship to God? What is the nature of “sin” or evil and how are human beings transformed?
What is the relationship of humanity to nature?
To other human beings? How do humans interact with each other?
One on one
In groups?
Nationally, internationally, ethnically, sexually, emotionally, classes, in groups and out groups, especially relating to religious affiliation and national affiliation, the “other”, etc.
The capabilities of human beings
Their motives
Their possibilities and limitations within the courses of nature and history

For medical ethics, the pertinent questions relate to what gives life value, what makes a body human, what gives one life value over another, etc.

Anthropological Assumptions
Write down what you feel is your ultimate value—what primary value guides your life?
Now define that value in one sentence.
What do you feel is the primary value you have learned from your religious heritage? (or humanist heritage)
What primary value did you learn from your family? Define it.
What primary value did you learn from your sub-culture? Define it.
What primary value did you learn from society? Define it.

identifying your values
American values and principles
Harvey Cox is arguing that the market has become our belief system and functions as a religion in our society. Our principles and values are market driven.

"The market affects what we believe is important in life, what we are striving for, what we believe is wrong with us and the society, and what we are to do. In other words, the market is generating the values and meanings by which hundreds of millions of people are living."

In the past, that was the function of religion or of God.
Harvey Cox
How does Cox describe the market
functioning
like a religion for us? How do "civil religions" function in society? Can you name other kinds?
In our secular society, does Cox have a point? Has the market replaced religion?
What has value in life beyond a purchase and sale agreement? Is it ok for everything to be subject to the market? What about kidneys? children? wombs? water? health care?
How do we know when enough is enough?
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