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What is a normative theory?

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Presentation on theme: "What is a normative theory?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is a normative theory?

2 A normative theory is an intellectual tool or system that helps us decide on morality and moral issues. It is designed to answer the question ‘what is it that makes an action right or wrong?’

3 Name 2 normative theories.

4 Utilitarianism and Kantianism.

5 What is the main feature of teleological theory?

6 Actions are right or wrong based upon the consequences they produce.

7 Who are the two main proponents of Utilitarianism?

8 Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

9 What is the Greatest Happiness Principle?

10 The Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP) states that actions are right in proportion as they tend to produce happiness and wrong as they tend to promote the reverse of happiness (Mill).

11 Explain the different parts of GHP.

12 The only thing that matters are the consequences of an action (Consequentialist Principle), the only consequences that matter is happiness/unhappiness (Hedonic Principle) and the happiness of everyone should be equally considered (Equity Principle).

13 Why is Mill a consequentialist?

14 As an empiricist, he believes that knowledge is a posteriori (comes through experience). Mill thinks that we cannot know in advance whether an action is right or wrong, it is only by predicting what the consequences will be that we can establish what is right and wrong.

15 What did Bentham think were humanity’s sovereign masters?

16   Pain and pleasure.

17 According to the Hedonic Principle, what is the only thing worth valuing?

18 Pleasure or happiness.

19 How, according to Bentham, can we measure pleasure?

20 The Hedonic Calculus.

21 Describe the Hedonic Calculus.

22 The Hedonic Calculus has seven features, which must be used in order to evaluate competing pleasures.

23 Why does Mill think the Hedonic Calculus is not adequate?

24 Mill thinks the amount of pleasure we can get from an act is less important than the quality of pleasure we get from an act. He thinks that some pleasures are qualitatively different from one another.

25 What system does Mill believe sorts out the qualitative problem?

26 Higher and Lower pleasures.

27 Give three examples of both higher and lower pleasures.

28 Higher pleasures (intellectual), literature, music and the arts
Higher pleasures (intellectual), literature, music and the arts. Lower pleasures (body), eating, drinking and sex.

29 Who can decide between these competing pleasures?

30 Competent Judges – those who have experienced both higher and lower pleasures. Competent Judges will always prefer higher pleasures.

31 What does Mill have to say to the objection that many people will not always choose higher pleasures?

32 Higher pleasures require constant development and once we have tried them we will always prefer them. Lower pleasures are available to everyone, higher pleasures are not.

33 Why does the Equity Principle add altruism to Utilitarianism?

34 It means that we can account for actions that help others rather than just ourselves (egoism).

35 Explain aggregate happiness?

36 Aggregate happiness can either be the majority being a little happy or a minority being extremely happy.

37 What are the two branches of Utilitarianism?

38 Act and Rule Utilitarianism.

39 What is Act Utilitarianism?

40 Act Utilitarians ask what would happen if they do a certain thing
Act Utilitarians ask what would happen if they do a certain thing. They examine each situation individually and try to work out what the consequences will be.

41 What is Rule Utilitarianism?

42 Rule Utilitarians ask what would happen if there was no such law
Rule Utilitarians ask what would happen if there was no such law. They believe that laws are in place for the long-term benefit of all. Don’t lie or always keep your promises are rules that generally are in everyone’s best interests.

43 What is the division within Rule Utilitarianism?

44 Hard/strong Rule Utilitarians and Weak/soft Rule Utilitarianism.

45 Don’t lie – explain how strong and weak Rule would interpret this!

46 Strong Rule – never lie Weak Rule – only lie in extreme cases but the rule should remain.

47 What are the problems with happiness?

48 Quantifying happiness – both Bentham and Mill cannot do this well enough.   Bad pleasures – sadistic people. There is also something wrong with masochists who get pleasure from receiving pain?

49 What are the problems with consequences?

50 Predicted vs. Actual consequences Short-term vs
Predicted vs. Actual consequences Short-term vs. long-term consequences Local vs. Global consequences

51 What are the problems with equity?

52 Tyranny of the majority Justice and rights Special obligations

53 Why do some claim Utilitarianism is too demanding?

54 Endless list of calculating consequences We will almost always lose out

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