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Are There Moral Truths? Chapt. 8

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Rod Williams

on 18 April 2015

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Transcript of Are There Moral Truths? Chapt. 8

Are There Moral Truths? Chapt. 8
Cultural Relativism
The view that
cultural

norms
determine what is
ethically right and wrong
Ruth Benedict
,
cultural anthropologist
Makes no
assumptions
of moral
superiority
Human sacrifice, slavery, cannibalism, torture, genocide, child abuse, polygamy, etc.
Exist
in various cultures around the world
The adoption of "
Social Darwinism
" by anthropologists
Moral values
evolve
over
time
within
cultures
Are there
universal
moral standards that can be applied to
every

culture
?
Benedict
-
No
Selfishness
Altruism
is the opposite of
Egoism
Altruism
says we should place the needs
of
others
ahead of our
self
Rand
saw altruism as
evil
; condemned any system that insisted we place self-interest as
secondary
Arguments against egoism
James Rachels
-
as long as we are doing what we
want
to do-
self-interest
People choose to do whatever they
most

want
to do; can be
altruistic
All
choices are
equally
selfish
Egoists say that we do altruistic things to achieve self-satisfaction- still selfish
Rachels says that we cannot have a world of egoists
Each person would want everyone
else to be altruistic
Your Moral Compass
What is a "
Moral Compass
?"
We make moral choices on a
daily
basis
We may not even know when choices have a moral component to them
CHOICES
treatment
of other people or animals
not always an
obvious
"right" or "wrong" answer
+ and -
consequences
possible
guided by "
values
" to which you are
committed
concept of "
moral responsibility
"
ETHICS & VALUES
Ethics
comes from Greek
ethos
Moral
purpose
or
character
Morals
comes from Latin
moralis
Customs
Both terms may be
interchangeable
Ethical Relativism
The view that all moral values are
relative
to the
individual
or specific
culture
Ethical Subjectivism
- the view that the ultimate moral
authority is the
individual
or the "
subject
"
Both
popular
and
problematic
Seems on the surface to be
tolerant
&
open-minded
Does not tolerate the views or interests of
others
Recipe for
moral

anarchy
Because people have
different
morals, are all morals
equal
?

Descriptive Ethics
- approach that simply represents ethical beliefs without
evaluating
accuracy or appropriateness
Normative Ethics
- attempts to prescribe what ethical behaviors
should

be
accepted or become cultural
norms
Ethical Absolutism
The view that at least
some
moral values are
universal
and apply to
all
individuals & cultures
Example
- "
Human slavery is wrong
"
It doesn't
matter
if it is integral component of a culture....it is
morally wrong
W.T. Stace
- attempted to join
empiricism
with
spiritual
interpretations
Most
people conduct themselves as if there were a
universal

moral

code
William James
- humans use
intellectual
abilities to create
meaning
to lived
experience
We should endorse the most
rational
What happens when we
disagree
?
We
weigh
the
subjective
and
rational

explanations;
enlightened
Relativism= "
moral chaos
"
Egoism
Ethical Egoism
-
the view that we act
morally when we
pursue
our
own
interests
All things equal,
your
needs & interests
should take
precedence
over
others
(Not

egotist
-
arrogant, boastful,obsessed with self)
Social Contract Theory
-
the main reason
people
agree to form political
communities
is out of
necessity
...still what's
best
for
me
.
It is in our nature to be
individualistic
& communities keep us from being
victimized
by
others- Plato's
Myth of Gyges
Psychological Egoism
-
the view that we are compelled by our psychological makeup always
to pursue our self-interests above all else.
Ayn Rand
- (1905-1982) Writer
It is our
moral
duty to pursue our own
rational
self-interests
The Virtue of Selfishness
When we
say
something is "
right
"
or "
wrong
," we are suggesting that it is
right or wrong for
everyone
Moral beliefs are held to a
higher

standard
of
evaluation
&
justification
than other beliefs
Morals have
influence
within
cultures
Two important questions regarding ethics:
What is my opinion about this issue
?
Is my opinion informed by evidence & reason
?
Opinions
are
easy
to come by;
informed
opinions infer that you
know
what you are talking about
explored, examined, evaluated, synthesized
Is everyone
entitled
to their
opinion
?
Yes
and
No
Free speech
protections allow expression of
any opinion...no matter how
unpopular
Challenge opinions
respectfully
Moral
apathy

danger
Value
is general term to characterize
intrinsic
worth
Axiology
refers to the study of
value
or
quality
Moral values are
personal
qualities and rules of conduct that distinguish a person of
character
What is a "
good person
"?
What is a "
good action
"?
What
obligations
do we have to other
people
?
How
do we make moral
choices
?
Are there
universal
values or principles that apply to
all
individuals and
all
cultures?
Where do they come from?
Do we ever stop
acquiring
values and morals in our life?
Socrates
emphasized that values constitute the
core
of who you are
A life of
purpose
requires development of a
code of ethics
Religion & Universal
Values
Traditional role of religion is to provide moral guidelines for believers
Spiritual transformation
Metaphysical grounding for morality
Fundamental principles of the universe
Divine Command Theory- we act morally when we do what God commands us to do
10 Commandments; Qur'an; etc.
Commands are not intended to be questioned, but obeyed
Story of Abraham & Isaac

Challenges
with
divine commands
?
What happens when
critical

judgement
is suspended?
People's Temple, Branch Dividians, etc.
Things appear differently to those
outside
of certain
faiths
Rather than
faith
, people see
Abraham
as willing to "
murder
" his son
How did Abraham really
know
it was God?
What kind
of God would ask this of someone?
How do we react to divine commands that violate
our
sense of
moral rightness
?
ISIS
Do people consider the possibility of
other
checks and balances?
Natural Law
The ethical theory based on the view that
universal
moral values can be discovered in
nature
by using
reason
For those who believe in
God
, it is assumed that these
moral principles are
consistent
with
God's nature
Natural laws would not be relative to various
cultures
They would be
consistent
from culture to culture
These type of laws are called
immutable
(
unchanging
)
Emphasized by
Thomas Aquinas
;
America's Founders
"
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.....
"
What are the
norms
of conduct that are
universal
?
Aquinas
said that we need to discover God's ethic encoded in our human nature;
critical thinking
Aristotle
said that people become
virtuous
by acting
virtuously
; importance of
education
&
laws
What do we do when confronted with "unjust laws?"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
He said
man made
laws should square up
with
God's laws
Civil disobedience

Making the Connections
How do we make the
connection
between
theories and the choices we are confronted
with
daily
?
Can we
learn
morality by
studying
philosophy?
How can people be highly
educated
and yet remain
morally bankrupt
?
"
What's the point of knowing good, if you don't keep trying to become a good person?
"
How can we avoid lapsing into
cynicism
when we see the
conflict
in ethics around us every day?

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