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Moral and Ethical Theories. - John Rawls, A Theory of Justice A conception of justice cannot be deduced from self-evident premises or conditions on principles;

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Presentation on theme: "Moral and Ethical Theories. - John Rawls, A Theory of Justice A conception of justice cannot be deduced from self-evident premises or conditions on principles;"— Presentation transcript:

1 Moral and Ethical Theories

2 - John Rawls, A Theory of Justice A conception of justice cannot be deduced from self-evident premises or conditions on principles; instead, its justification is a matter of the mutual support of many considerations, of everything fitting together into one coherent view.

3 Review – Our Three-Step Pie  We begin by using this to dissect our problem  But… How do we then define our moral (ethical) problems / questions? Conceptual Questions Moral Questions Factual Questions

4 Genesis of Ethical Thought  Began in ancient Greece  Influenced by religion  Current theories derive from western culture:  Europe  Middle East Source: socialstudiesforkids.com Engineers are used to having just ONE theory to solve problems. Alas, ethics is not that simple. There are many theories to consider concurrently!

5 Do Not Panic!

6 Four Evaluative Tools Pop Out of That Box! Duty Ethics Virtue Ethics Utilitarianism Rights Ethics

7  Maximize well-being of society as a whole, rather than the individual  Produce most utility  Take consequences of everyone involved into account  Consider construction a dam Utilitarianism (John Stuart Mill) Balance between good and bad consequences of action Benefit Power, drinking water Flood control, recreation Cost Destruction of homes, livelihood of people living in flooded area Wildlife, history

8 Two Types Act: Focus on individual actions rather than rules. Rules can be broken if doing so leads to most good Rule: Holds that moral rules are most important. Adhering to ‘do not lie’ or ‘do not harm others’ will lead to most good Utilitarianism (John Stuart Mill)

9  Moral duties are fundamental  Ethics actions can be written in a list of duties  Be fair, be honest, do no harm to others, etc. Duty Ethics (Immanuel Kant) Actions are our duties because they express respect for others Moral self-knowledge, which requires one to penetrate into the unfathomable depths and abyss of one’s heart, is the beginning of all human wisdom - Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

10  We have moral rights, and any action that violates these rights is ethically unacceptable  Locke argued that to be a person entails having human rights to life, liberty, and the property generated by one’s labor.  Sound Familiar? Jefferson perhaps? Rights Ethics (John Locke) People have central rights that other people have a duty to respect Human rights - not good consequences – are fundamental

11 The Two Frequently Considered Together  What if rights conflict? How do we decide whose have priority?  These don’t always account for overall good of society well. They focus on the individual. Rights Ethics (John Locke) Duty Ethics (Immanuel Kant)

12  Right actions manifest good character traits (virtues)  Wrong actions manifest bad character traits (vices)  Closely tied to personal character  Respect, honesty, competence, etc. Virtue Ethics (Aristotle) Focus is on the type of person we should strive to be Pragmatism: Emphasize good consequences, BUT embrace a wider range of values than simply maximizing good by IMPARTIALLY considering interests of everyone affected Pragmatism: Emphasize good consequences, BUT embrace a wider range of values than simply maximizing good by IMPARTIALLY considering interests of everyone affected

13 What constitutes peaceful to you? How should public land be used? Should boundaries be drawn? Just what is right?

14 The Front Range Roadless Area In 2007, Governor Ritter presented a petition to the Forest Service requesting protection for roadless areas in Colorado as an "insurance policy" in case the regulation that had been protecting them is permanently repealed. Source:

15 Utilitarianism The Front Range Roadless Area

16 Duty Ethics The Front Range Roadless Area Rights Ethics

17 Virtue Ethics The Front Range Roadless Area


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