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Presentation on theme: "MORALITY AND ETHICS (cont.)"— Presentation transcript:


2 Debate dates “Smoking should be banned in public places” Oct. 19th
Nov. 9th “Great Apes should be granted human rights” Nov. 16th “It is wrong to eat meat”

3 Videos Videos should be like a short documentary on a topic related to the course 10-15 minutes for 2 people group 15-20 minutes for 3 people group 20-25 minutes for 4 people group Some video clips from other sources may be used, but the source must be clearly indicated. No more than 30% from other sources You should give me your proposed topics next week

4 Comparison of ethical systems
Main idea Virtue ethics: We should cultivate the virtues and act in accordance with them. Virtues include wisdom, generosity, kindness, justice, pride, courage, honesty Deontological ethics: follow strict moral laws, e.g. do not murder, do not lie, do not steal Utilitarian ethics: Act to maximize total happiness (and lack of suffering) among all people

5 Simplification of main idea (for discussion):
Virtue ethics: be good Kantian ethics: do what’s right Utilitarianian ethics: do what will have good consequences

6 Justification: Virtue ethics: Man’s natural function (telos) as a rational animal Kantian ethics: universalizability of moral laws Utilitarianism: Pleasure is good, pain is bad

7 Principles: Virtue ethics: be a good (well-balanced/rational) person Kantian ethics: Always treat a person as an end, not just an means Utilitarianism: Promote the greatest good for the greatest number

8 Ultimate goal: Virtue ethics: eudemonia (the good life) Kantian ethics: uphold the worth and dignity of every person Utilitarian ethics: maximize happiness

9 Main practical problems:
Virtue ethics: vague Kantian ethics: rigid Utilitarianism: may justify seemingly wrong actions

10 Thought experiments Philosophers love thought experiments! Test consistency of beliefs.

11 Ethical thought experiments
A way to compare different ethical systems. Which ethical system is consistent with our pre-theoretical beliefs? e.g. Kid breaks a vase Should he lie to his Mom? What’s the harm?

12 A terrorist has secretly planted a bomb on Mr. G, and Mr. G
A terrorist has secretly planted a bomb on Mr. G, and Mr. G. is now (innocently) walking into a crowded theatre. The bomb will be detonated in 5 minutes, killing hundreds. You are too far away to stop Mr. G, but you can shoot him down, killing him and saving hundreds. Should you?

13 Trolley case A runaway train is about to hit 5 people on Track A. Should you throw a switch to make the train go down Track B, where one person is standing (and will be hit). A runaway train is about to hit 5 people standing on the track. Should you push a fat man in front of the train?

14 Transplant case Kill one innocent bystander and transplant his organs to five patients to save their lives

15 Required readings Suggested readings
Traditional Ethical Theories (excerpt from Online Guide to Ethics and Moral Philosophy at:, available on Moodle Stephen Law, The Philosophy Gym, Chapter 17, “Killing Mary to Save Jodie”. available on Moodle Suggested readings Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at: Entries on: Consequentialism and Deontological Ethics and Virtue Ethics Mill, John Stuart, Utilitarianism (1863), available at: 15

16 Quiz next week You will be asked about a moral dilemma and expected to discuss it in relation to one or more moral ethical systems.

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