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Ethics Part I: Ethical Relativism and Ethical Objectivism.

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1 Ethics Part I: Ethical Relativism and Ethical Objectivism

2 Ring of Gyges (Ji-jeez) Grants total invisibility. No one knows you have it. Totally free to act in anyway you desire without suffering social or legal judgment. Would you use it? Would there be limits on its use? Why not use it to satisfy your every desire, gain power, and crush enemies?

3 You’re Not Who They Think You Are They think you’re Mother Teresa but you’re really Hitler. Why not be immoral? They think you’re Hitler but you’re really Mother Teresa. Why be moral?

4 How Did You Learn about Morality? Questionnaire on page 430. How did you arrive at your ideas of morality? Would different life circumstances have caused you to develop different moral ideas?

5 Ethics: What Ought We Do? Descriptive vs. Normative Ethics. A situation, a motive, an action, and a consequence.

6 The Situation and the Act What makes an action “moral” or “immoral?” Is truth-telling a moral act? Thought Experiment page 421.

7 Motives and Intentions Does motive matter? Can motive alone make a seemingly good act bad and/or a seemingly bad act good? Thought Experiment page 422.

8 Do consequences of an act matter? Do consequences determine whether an action was morally right or morally wrong? Thought Experiment page 423.

9 Ethical Relativism Subjectivism (individual relativism) Conventionalism (cultural relativism) Is the basis for moral claims individual taste, cultural norms, or something else? Philosopher’s Notebook: Why not use you as a test subject?

10 Ethical Conventionalism (Cultural Relativism) Different societies have different moral codes. There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one societal code better than another. The moral code of our own society has no special status; it is merely one among many. There is no “universal truth” in ethics—that is, there are no moral truths that hold for all people at all times. The moral code of society determines what is right within that society. It is mere arrogance for us to try to judge the conduct of other peoples. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance toward the practices of other cultures.

11 Implications of Ethical Relativism No cultural practices are any better than others (FGM?). Actions are right /wrong only by the standards of the culture in which they take place. No such thing as “moral progress.” (spanking, slavery).

12 Ethical Objectivism Objectivism. Absolutism. Are there some moral standards that exist independent of individual taste and cultural norms?

13 “Where” Do Objective Standards Exist? Golden Rule. (page 445) Logic. Human flourishing. Biological necessity = individuals need society. Divine Command. How do we acquire moral knowledge?


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