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PHIL/POLS/INTP264 Ethics and International Affairs Lecture 1: Intro/Utilitarianism 7 July 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "PHIL/POLS/INTP264 Ethics and International Affairs Lecture 1: Intro/Utilitarianism 7 July 2008."— Presentation transcript:

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2 PHIL/POLS/INTP264 Ethics and International Affairs Lecture 1: Intro/Utilitarianism 7 July 2008

3 Some Moral Theories 1. Utilitarianism (Rachels article) 2. Kantian Ethics (ONeill article) 3. The Wrongness of Killing (Norman article) 4. Why do we need moral theories? a) Justify and/or morally appraise actions b) Enable moral debate

4 Utilitarianism (Rachels) 1. The morally right action is the one (out of all possible actions) that is judged to have the best overall consequences * All other actions are morally wrong/inferior 2. Best consequences = maximise happiness * Happiness = (net pleasure/pain, or preference satisfaction) 3. No ones happiness is to count more than anyone elses in determination of overall happiness

5 Utilitarianism Objections: 1.To hedonism: Is happiness all that matters? (deceived businessman/ experience machine e.g.)

6 Nozicks Experience Machine (1974)

7 Utilitarianism Objections: 2.To consequences: a. Justice (lonesome stranger e.g.) b. Rights (peeping tom e.g.) c. Backward looking considerations (promises)

8 Utilitarianism Responses: 1. Examples unrealistic (but real life examples readily available) 2. Rule utilitarianism 3. So much the worse for our ordinary moral intuitions

9 Utilitarianism (Rachels) Utilitarianism is right to warn against taking moral common sense at face value, but still some objections to the theory seem to have a rational basis; e.g., moral desert.

10 Next Time Kantian EthicsKantian Ethics Reading:Reading: Onora ONeill Onora ONeill A Simplified Account of Kants Ethics A Simplified Account of Kants Ethics In the course reader In the course reader

11 PHIL/POLS/INTP264 Ethics and International Affairs Lecture 2: Kantian Ethics 10 July 2008

12 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) 1. Different formulations of fundamental moral principle (Categorical Imperative) 2. ONeill focuses on Formula of the End in Itself: One should always treat humanity, whether in others or in oneself, always as an end, and never merely as a means 3.How are we to understand what it means to treat someone as an end, not a means?...

13 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) Kantian Ethics (ONeill) a. Acts are based on maxims b. A maxim is a subjective principle of action, a policy for how someone intends to act in certain circumstances e.g., I should get to class on time, I should keep my promises, etc. c. Examining ones maxims will tell whether ones actions are morally permissible or not, according to Kant

14 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) 4.An act is morally impermissible (wrong) if it uses another in a way to which they could not, in principle, consent. Examples: a.deceit (lying, false promise, etc.) b.coercion

15 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) Justice vs. Beneficence: 1.There are two types of moral duty, according to Kant, duties of justice and duties of beneficence. a.Duties of justice require one not to treat others as mere means, but as ends in themselves (as discussed) b.Duties of beneficence require one to sometimes act to further the ends of others

16 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) 2.Scope & precision of Kantian Ethics vs. Utilitarianism: Kantian ethics lacks scope of utilitarianism, but it is more precise in guiding individuals conduct in the areas of life that it does apply.

17 Kantian Ethics (ONeill) a.Scope example: Kantian ethics doesnt apply, ordinarily, to the question whether it is right to brush ones teeth; utilitarianism does apply, in principle. b. Precision example: In cases where a potential act involves, for e.g., intentionally killing an innocent person, Kantian ethics offers absolute answer: it is always wrong. - Whereas Utilitarianism may or may not permit such killing, depending on the consequences for overall happiness

18 Some Moral Dilemmas The Tram Dilemma The Tram Dilemma The Surgeons Dilemma The Surgeons Dilemma The Jungle Dilemma The Jungle Dilemma What would a Utilitarian and a Kantian do? What would a Utilitarian and a Kantian do? What would be morally right to do? What would be morally right to do?

19 The Tram Dilemma An out of control tram will soon kill 5 people who are stuck on the track. An out of control tram will soon kill 5 people who are stuck on the track. You can flick a switch to divert the tram to another track where only one person is stuck. You can flick a switch to divert the tram to another track where only one person is stuck. Should you flip the switch? Should you flip the switch? Should you kill one person to save five? Should you kill one person to save five? SWITCH

20 The Surgeons Dilemma You are a surgeon with six patients. You are a surgeon with six patients. Five of them need major organ transplants. Five of them need major organ transplants. The sixth, an ideal donor for all the relevant organs, is in hospital for a minor operation. The sixth, an ideal donor for all the relevant organs, is in hospital for a minor operation. Should you kill one person to save five? Should you kill one person to save five?

21 Jungle Dilemma You are trekking alone in the Amazon. You are trekking alone in the Amazon. You discover an evil army officer and his troops rounding up villagers. You discover an evil army officer and his troops rounding up villagers. Unless you kill one, the troops will kill six. Unless you kill one, the troops will kill six. Should you kill one person to save five? Should you kill one person to save five?

22 Jungle Dilemma Cont. What if there are 2 villagers? What if there are 2 villagers? What if there are 10 villagers? What if there are 10 villagers? What if there are 100 villagers? What if there are 100 villagers? Can you ever kill one innocent person to save many? Can you ever kill one innocent person to save many?

23 Next Time Why killing is wrongWhy killing is wrong Reading:Reading: Richard Norman Richard Norman The Wrongness of Killing The Wrongness of Killing In the course reader In the course reader

24 PHIL/POLS/INTP264 Ethics and International Affairs Lecture 3: The Wrongness of Killing 11 July 2008

25 The Wrongness of Killing Utilitarianism: Life is valuable because living things are sentient (or capable of feeling pleasure/pain, happiness). But, persons can be sacrificed for the greater good (i.e., a greater amount of happiness). Kantianism: Life is valuable because humans are rational. Persons cannot be sacrificed for any greater good. Respect for persons

26 Right to Life (Norman) Right to Life (Norman) Are there any basic rights? Are there any basic rights? According to Norman, no; all rights are essentially social. According to Norman, no; all rights are essentially social. –He claims that such questions cannot be answered simply by appealing to the notion of rights. There must be some morally relevant consideration that is prior to that of rights.

27 Sanctity of Life (Norman) 1.Religious connotations problematic 2.Even on secular conception of reverence or awe or respect to life, the notion is too broad. a. does it include all life? b. Human life? (why?; speciesism) c. Animal life above a certain threshold? Again, why there?

28 Sanctity of Life (Norman) 3.If the criterion is one of rationality or some other cognitive criterion, then what about those animals who possess it (or those humans that dont?) 4.Potentiality: problematic

29 Utilitarian Objections to Killing (Norman) 1.It normally causes pain and suffering to the person killed and their loved ones a.In line with certain of our intuitions, i.e., with regard to euthanasia and anencephaly b.But what about those cases where killing doesnt cause pain and the person is a normally functioning adult hermit? Deprives them of future happiness Deprives them of future happiness

30 Raskolnikovs Dilemma "On the one hand, we have a stupid, senseless, worthless, wicked, and decrepit old hag, who is of no use to anybody and who actually does harm to everybody, a creature who does not know herself what she is living for and who will be dead soon, anyway... On the other hand, we have... Hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives could be saved, dozens of families could be rescued from a life of poverty, from decay and ruin, from vice and hospitals for venereal diseases - and all with her money. Kill her, take her money, and with its help devote yourself to the service of humanity and the good of all. Well, don't you think that one little crime could be expiated and wiped out by thousands of good deeds? "On the one hand, we have a stupid, senseless, worthless, wicked, and decrepit old hag, who is of no use to anybody and who actually does harm to everybody, a creature who does not know herself what she is living for and who will be dead soon, anyway... On the other hand, we have... Hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives could be saved, dozens of families could be rescued from a life of poverty, from decay and ruin, from vice and hospitals for venereal diseases - and all with her money. Kill her, take her money, and with its help devote yourself to the service of humanity and the good of all. Well, don't you think that one little crime could be expiated and wiped out by thousands of good deeds? Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky

31 Respect for Autonomy (Norman) 1.Similar to Kantian Ethics a.but, just how autonomous does one need to be to be worthy of respect? b.Again, what about borderline cases, infants and severely retarded persons; and higher animals?

32 Respect for Life (Norman) 1. Maybe whats significant about taking life is that it involves fundamental disrespect for life* as a whole * Where life means: the continuing process of experience and development 2. To make sense of this, the concept of potentiality must be reintroduced at some level; early deaths, Norman claims, are especially tragic (but infants are borderline?) 3. Is this a problem for non-philosophers?

33 Marginal Cases 1. Important to recognize marginal cases as indeed marginal (i.e., abortion) 2. Doesnt follow that because there are hard cases, everything is subjective or relative. (is duck-billed platypus a mammal or not?) 3. In practical sphere, as opposed to theoretical, much more pressure to have definite answer

34 The Doctrine of Double Effect The doctrine of double effect claims that: The doctrine of double effect claims that: –Sometimes it is morally permissible to knowingly but unintentionally cause harm as a side effect of intending to do some good act (presumably with good consequences). And, this is the case even when that side- effect harm should not (morally speaking) have been intentionally caused to bring about those same good consequences. And, this is the case even when that side- effect harm should not (morally speaking) have been intentionally caused to bring about those same good consequences. E.g. Dropping 1080 on national parks E.g. Dropping 1080 on national parks E.g. Dropping nukes on Japan E.g. Dropping nukes on Japan


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