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What Are Right Actions?

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Rod Williams

on 4 May 2015

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Transcript of What Are Right Actions?

What Are Right Actions?
Virtue Ethics: Character
Virtue Ethics
- the ethical theory that focuses on the moral
quality
of
individuals
rather than their
actions
Traced back to ancient
Greeks
-
Aristotle
Cultivation
of a
virtuous

character
; become a virtuous person- "
living well
"
Concept of
character
- "
to make sharp
" or "
to engrave
"
The integrated
totality
of your moral
traits
and
dispositions
How you
habitually
respond when
confronted
with moral
choices
Consistency
Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws
Virtue
asks, "
How should I be
?"
The
deontologist
asks, "
What should I do
?"
Deontology
- from Greek
deon
: "
duty
" or "
obligation
"
Moral duties that
all
people in
all

situations
follow
Immanuel Kant
believed we discovered
moral laws
with our
rational
faculties
Sought a moral grounding beyond
subjective
feelings;
a priori
- true
independent
of experience
Not enough to be
told
; need to
choose
moral laws
Both
knowing
the moral laws and the
will
to
do
it
Authenticity: Existentialist Ethics
Existentialism
- focuses on the uniqueness of each human
individual
; humans
create
themselves through
free

choices
and are
responsible
for who they are.
Asks, "
How do I live my life authentically
?"
Soren Kierkegaard
- we need to
cultivate
our souls, committing ourselves to the
quest
of truth/authenticity
Criticized those who become absorbed with "
the crowd
"; crowds
steal
our
individuality
Don't surrender
autonomy
as part of
social group
To exist
is a
lifelong
, evolutionary
process
Consequences: Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham
was committed to social equality, democracy, public education, and a universal improvement in the public welfare
His theory became known as
utilitarianism
Promote the
greatest good
for the
greatest number of people
Bentham
was a
hedonist
- the view that
pleasure
is the only thing of true value
Ethical hedonism
- human action ought to be directed to
achieve pleasure
/
avoid pain
Empathy: The Ethics of Care
Ethics of Care
- theories that emphasize the role of
others
in our moral relationships
Sympathy
&
caring
are the most important virtues
Nel Noddings
believes that morality is
rooted
in "
natural caring
"; act on our
feelings
Not
created through
rational
or
consequential
means; created by a
caring response
Caring
is both
cognitive
&
emotional
First we learn to
empathize
with others, then we direct the caring inward; cultivate
enlightened

character
Authenticity & Ethical Responsibility
Jean-Paul Sartre's
approach to ethics was similar to
Kierkegaard's
For
Sartre
, our
choices
are entirely
free
; we can depend only on
ourselves
to determine the "
right
"
choice
God
does
not
exist;
no absolute moral codes
Is this a potentially
dangerous
theory?
When you make a
choice
, you are:
creating
and
defining
yourself as a
person
creating
and
defining
how
all
humans
should be
Constructing An Ethical Theory-9
For
Aristotle
,
happiness
came from virtuous living; fulfill your distinctive
function
or
purpose
Teleology
- view that everything has
purpose
How
do we become virtuous?
Aristotle
believed you
must
:
know
what you are doing
deliberately
choose
to do it
do it because it is
unchangeably
moral
Aristotle's
Golden

Mean
- the desirable
middle

ground
between two
extremes
;
excess
&
deficiency
(
cowardice
--
courage
--
foolhardiness
)
His virtuous life involves a
balanced
integration of the various behaviors, values, emotions, and attitudes
Do you see any
weaknesses
?
Kant
distinguishes between two types of
moral

imperatives
-
Hypothetical
and
Categorical
Hypothetical
- the action being commanded by the
maxim
is only a
means
to something else
"
If
you want to be charitable,
then
you should help those in need."
Categorical
- commands moral
obligation
independent of
experience
or
consequences
"
Act as if the
maxim
of your action were to become by your will a
universal
law of nature."
Kant
insisted that we should do what is
logically

consistent
He envisioned a "
Kingdom of Ends
"- everyone is treated as a person of
intrinsic
worth
Bentham's

principle of utility
focuses on
self-interest
He developed what is known as
The Hedonistic Calculus
Measured
pain or pleasure in
7 categories
intensity
,
duration
,
certainty
,
remoteness
,
fecundity
(chance of repeat sensations),
purity
(chance of not repeating),
extent
(how many effected)
Applied
hedons
or
unit
of pleasure/pain to the act
Sum up values; do that which has
highest score
Bentham said
motives
and
intentions
are
morally neutral
Only
consequences
determine morality
John Stuart Mill
was a student of
Bentham's
; expanded on
utilitarianism
Mill
was convinced that there were
higher

pleasures
(intellectual, literary, aesthetic, philosophical);
hierarchy
Higher
pleasures have more
intrinsic
worth than
lower
Society
should pursue the
higher
pleasures
Mill's
theory formed definite
divisions
within society
Kierkegaard's

Thee Stages on Life's Way
Aesthetic Stage
- pursue
pleasure
; hedonistic; ultimately
dissatisfying
Ethical Stage
- seek life
guided
by moral standards & ethical values
outside of self
;
unsatisfactory
Religious Stage
- personal,
subjective
, nonrational;
take a leap of faith
; beyond reason
Friederich Nietzsche- life is governed by primal force; the will to power
Ultimate moral good is striving to exert the will to power to the fullest
Religious values were weak and powerless
Slave morality
Nietzsche
was convinced that humans were destined to
evolve
to higher forms of being
The
ubermensch
("
overman
" or "
superman
")
The
overman's
role is to
create
values & not
conform
to
"slave morality"
For
Nietzsche
, devoting ourselves to
God
is a
wasted
effort; "
God is dead
."
It is no longer for humans to
depend
on a
supernatural

being
to provide purpose to their lives and a moral code
It is now up to us humans to
create
meaning in life and a moral code to live by
Weak "
doglike
" people seek to establish a social order in which
everyone
is considered
equal
Recognition
of our
responsibility
causes us to
universalize
our
choices
with
logical
consistency
Plato
-
no person does evil intentionally
Our own
independent
thinking is the
only
way to determine the "
best
" choices
Totally free
;
totally responsible
Sartre believed our moral
instincts
,
emotions
, &
conscience
are notoriously
unreliable
We cannot rely
other

people
for moral instruction
By
selecting
someone for advice, we are
already
making the choice of which alternative to select
Making Connections: Revisit Your Moral Compass
The ultimate goal of a
moral

philosophy
is for us to use these moral theories to
calibrate
our
moral compass
,
sharpen
moral
intuitions
, &
refine
moral
conscience
.
When we are faced with moral
decisions
& ethical
issues
, we can choose
confidently
.
Each of us must sort through the theories & consider their
merit
Which make the most
sense
to you?
Can they help to
sharpen
or
refine
your views?
You don't need to
abandon
your present beliefs
Critically

evaluate
&
consider
whether to use or not
Virtue Ethics
: Moral value is determined by cultivating a virtuous
character.
Deontology
: Moral value is determined by the moral rules (
maxims
) prescribed by reason.
Utilitarianism
: Moral value is determined by the
consequences
of actions: the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
Existentialism
: Moral value is determined by the
authenticity
of actions: by acknowledging and accepting our freedom to create our lives and the moral values defining them.
Ethics of Care
: Moral value is determined by an
empathic
caring response to one other.
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