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Chapter 4 The Power of Moral Theories. Moral theory What makes an action right? What makes a person or a thing good? What is the difference between a.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 4 The Power of Moral Theories. Moral theory What makes an action right? What makes a person or a thing good? What is the difference between a."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 4 The Power of Moral Theories

2 Moral theory What makes an action right? What makes a person or a thing good? What is the difference between a moral theory and a moral code? Consequentialist Non consequentialist

3 The Ethics of Utility The Utilitarian Theory : First, actions are to be judged right or wrong solely in virtue of their consequences. Nothing else matters. Right actions are, simply, those that have the best consequences. Second, in assessing consequences, the only thing that matters is the amount of happiness or unhappiness that is caused. Everything else is irrelevant. Thus right actions are those that produce the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness.

4 The Ethics of Utility Third, in calculating the happiness or unhappiness that will be caused, no ones happiness is to be counted as more important than anyone elses. Each person s welfare is equally important. As Mill wrote in his short work entitled,Utilitarianism, the happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agents own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. What is the difference between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism?

5 The Ethics of Utility Utilitarians have different conceptions of intrinsic good: For most utilitarians, maximizing intrinsic good means maximizing happiness. We should always do what we can to maximize the overall happiness in the world. This is called hedonistic utilitarianism. Some utilitarians maintain that other things such as knowledge and integrity are intrinsically good. This is called ideal utilitarianism.

6 Ethical Egoism Which ethical theory says that we ought to do what is ever in our best interest, and that others ought to do what is in their best interest? How is this justified? What is the difference between psychological egoism and ethical egoism?

7 Natural Law The theory of natural law has three main parts: – 1. The Theory of Natural Law rests upon a certain view of what the world is like. This view holds that the world has a rational purpose built into nature. Everything in nature has a purpose. 2. The Laws of Nature not only describe how things are but how they ought to be as well. 3. We can grasp the Laws of Nature because God has made us rational creatures.

8 Natural Law Criticisms of natural law: – What makes something unnatural? Hearing aids are not found in nature. Diseases are found in nature: cures are unnatural because they are discovered by humans? – Is being natural always good?

9 Divine Command Theory Ultimately, saved by faith and not by good deeds. If God says something is good, then it is good. We are put on this earth to obey Gods commands. Rewards are not on earth – reward is eternal life in heaven. Though, pleasure may be found in the sheer joy of pleasing God. First Commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, all thy mind, and all thy strength.

10 Religious Ethics There are arguments for & against religious ethics: Advantage of Religion: Provides sanctions. Criticism: Sanctions are too remote. Advantage: Faith in God is the center of a Christians life. Criticism: Social utility should be number 1 for a moral person, not incidental to following Gods word. Time spent in church could be time spent feeding the poor, for example.

11 Religious Ethics Criticism: Religious dogma can lead to tragedy, such as the Spanish Inquisition. – Also, religious dogma can stifle inquiring minds. Reply to criticism: Fallible human beings are to blame for these tragedies, not religion properly understood.

12 Religious Ethics Criticism: Consistent Christians should believe their God is the answer. Thus they should try to convert others in order to save them from eternal damnation. Answer: Christianity has mellowed since then. Christians now work effectively with Muslims and Jews.

13 Religious Ethics Advantage: Religion has good uses. Criticism: Do we teach people to believe in a certain religion because it is useful or because it is true? Pascals wager. Is this anything more than an appeal to force? Russell: How do you know that there isnt a God who respects intellectual honesty, and basing ones beliefs on evidence rather than faith, so much that he will throw into hell anyone who adheres to a religion just to be on the winning side?

14 Religious Ethics Euthyphro – Is an act right independently of Gods command?

15 Kantian Ethics 2 nd Commandment: Love thy neighbor as thyself. – What does this mean? Should you love the entire human race equally? Even child molesters and serial killers? – Should you love everyone as much as you love your own family? – What if you are working on a project and some remote acquaintance is hungry and needs food? Should you drive a half day to feed him/her? Should you do this for everyone? Do you rally have to sell all thou hast and give to the poor? Then you will be poor and forced to rely on the possible charity of others. – Golden rule can be problematic because of different strokes for different folks.

16 Kantian Ethics 2 nd Commandment: Love thy neighbor as thyself. – What does this mean? Should you love the entire human race equally? Even child molesters and serial killers? – Should you love everyone as much as you love your own family? – What if you are working on a project and some remote acquaintance is hungry and needs food? Should you drive a half day to feed him/her? Should you do this for everyone? Do you rally have to sell all thou hast and give to the poor? Then you will be poor and forced to rely on the possible charity of others. – Kant said we should follow universal moral laws.

17 Kantian Ethics Kants Theory of Duty – Animals act from inclination. – Only human beings are capable of acting on principle. – Feelings and attitudes differ from person to person. However, reason is universal. If A is larger than B, and B is larger that C than A is larger than C universally. Every rational person would have to agree with this conclusion.

18 Kantian Ethics A hypothetical imperative is different than a categorical imperative. The Categorical Imperative: Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. Charity and Payment of debts are Kants examples. Deontological ethics holds that the rightness of an act is derived from its logical consistence and universalizability. the character of the act itself rather than the consequences is what matters the character of the act itself is determined by its maxim. Case of murderer looking for friend and Kants response. Critics ask why there cant be exceptions and qualifications.


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