Presentation on theme: "1 Ethic theories: A Review YOU MUST DO THE READINGS International University of Sarajevo By Steve Spielman (November 2009 version—always in process)"— Presentation transcript:
1 Ethic theories: A Review YOU MUST DO THE READINGS International University of Sarajevo By Steve Spielman (November 2009 version—always in process)
2 Ethic Theories Formal study of ethics goes back to Greek philosopher Socrates. Philosophers have proposed many ethic theories seeking to provide rules and guidance to find the path to good behavior. It was and is a search for guidance and principles Why study ethical theories? o Ethic theory makes it possible for us to examine moral problems, reach conclusions through logical reasoning and defend these conclusions. It gives us lenses through which to view our behavior and the behavior of others. o Increases our empathy. The study of ethics does not require acceptance of any one or more ethical approach but helps in our thinking process. o Can stregthen (or challenge) our own beliefs and increase our ability to defend them
3 Morals, Ethics and Law Although the words “ethics” and “morals” are often used almost interchangeably: Morals usually refers to an individual’s personal sense of what is good or bad, or what is right or wrong-what a person feels is right or wrong Ethics usually refers to an organized system of moral behavior, often by groups who want to voluntarily police themselves. Examples: Teachers Code of Ethics; Lawyer’s Code of Ethics; Doctor’s Code of Ethics: Engineer’s Code of Ethics: Psychologist code of ethics: Advertising ethics. Law is society’s decision that the conduct is an important enough or violations are often enough that there must be a rule that coerces compliance by threat of punishment. The Key word is coercion
4 THE Ethic Theories There are many ethical theories. We will consider 1. Absolutism-objectivism 2. Relativism (socio-cultural, geographic-place, time-historic and context). When moral choices are based on personal opinion only- it is called moral subjectivism 3. Consequentialism (Utilitarianism) 4. Egoism, Hedonism and Ethical Egoism 5. Deontology: Ethics of duty & obligation (includes Theism, Divine Command Theory & Kant’s Categorical Imperative)
5 The Ethic Theories (cont’d) 6. Virtue Ethics (Aristotle and others) 7. The Categorical Imperative 8. Natural Law (very different from Natural Rights-Human Rights theory) 9. Natural Rights 10. Existentialism 11. The Golden Rule (Reciprocity) 12. The Pluralistic Alternative
6 Themes of this Part of Course Is there something “special” or “unique” about being human? If so, what does this mean to ethics? Is the fact that human’s are capable of rationality and reason important to ethics? What is importance of human responsibility in ethics? How does secular thinking relate to morals/ ethics? What is the relationship of external ethical direction and human responsibility? Is there one best ethic guidance? How do I decide what is the best ethic guidance system for me?
7 ABSOLUTISM Moral Guidance and rules of conduct that are a final truth and that are: OBJECTIVE NON-NEGOTIABLE UNIVERSAL WITHOUT EXCEPTION APPLY TO ALL PERSONS, IN ALL PLACES AT ALL TIMES
8 Absolutism-Objectivism Absolutism’s moral/ethical direction can come from : ACCEPTANCE OF THE ETHICAL GUIDANCE OF RELIGIOUS DIVINE SOURCE - REVEALED TRUTHS; Divine Command, for example holy word or holy books or ACCEPTANCE OF THE ETHICAL DIRECTION set out by POLITICAL or SOCIAL LEADERS. Acceptance can be CHOICE, HABIT OR COERCION, e.g. “Divine right of Kings” or ACCEPTANCE OF AUTHORITY OR CORRECTNESS OF ETHICAL GUIDANCE FROM THE ANALYSIS OF GREAT THINKERS or ACCEPTANCE OF THE ETHICAL DIRECTION THAT COMES FROM OUR OWN HUMAN REASONING & RATIONALITY, FROM MORAL INTUITION.
9 Absolutism –Objectivism Can come from secular sources as well as from religious sources Natural Rights Theory is an example of a “secular” belief that has a sense of absolutism within it (in dispute) Theories of the uniqueness of human beings (rational and thinking entities) have a sense of absolutism within it.
10 Relativism Rejects totally the idea that there is any one absolute or objective truth Approaches ethics and morality as ”....it all depends....” Asserts that right & wrong rests with a society’s own internal moral guideines & should not be measured by our own values. Thinks that to impose our own values is arrogant Believes that right and wrong varies in time, place,history and circumstances/ context. May also be a matter of personal opinion (subjectivism)
11 Examples of Relativism Testifying in court to lower speed after a car accident. Study shows 90% of Norwegians would not lie, What percent of Bosnians, Turkish or Croations would not lie? What would you personally do? Treatment of elderly in a society that is under threat of survival may offend us.
12 Relativism can be based on… Accepting as morally valid the different views of right and wrong held by different cultures-societies different time periods-histories different geographies-places different contexts
13 REPEAT: Relativism Relativists Say There are no universal or objective moral norms of right and wrong. It all depends..... Different people/groups of people can have totally opposite views of a moral problem – both can be right. There is no obective right or wrong Some different kinds of relativism: Socio-cultural relativism Time-history relatisism Geographic-place relativism Context relativism Subjective relativism (personal
14 SUBJECTIVISM Each person creates his/her own morality. There are no absolutes One example Different views on abortion are often based on different subjective values. *Those who support allowing abortion speak of a woman’s (& her doctor’s) ”choice”. *Those who oppose the right to abortion speak of the ”right to life”
15 The Relativist Report Card Some Pros: Positives Different social contexts, different times, different histories, different places demand different moral guidelines It is arrogant for one society to judge another – we have more technology than others, but that does not mean we are not ’better’, more intelligent, more moral etc. We do not understand how others think and should not impose our way of thinking on others
16 The Relativism Report Card Some Cons: Negatives Relativism totally eliminates moral thinking in favor of “…it all depends..” Relativism offends human rationality, reasoning and logic to say there are no behaviors that are unacceptable Certain behaviors are simply wrong. Period. These behaviors violate the commands of religion, natural rights, human reason, logic etc.
17 Consequentialism The Theory of Utility (usefulness) A philosophy ( moral ethic) to guide behavior. It is not based on our duty or on the inherent morality of the act. It is not a set of moral rules. It is a process. It does not measure the nature of the act but measures the results of the act. Developed by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) & John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) (English) to help public see what laws were good and what laws were not good by looking at the results of the law being enacted or not enacted. There are 2 parts to the consequentialism approach to morality-ethics Act utilitarianism : We should adopt individual actions which produce: Maximum happiness compared to unhappiness The best ratio of happy to unhappy results The best ratio of pleasure to pain The greates good for the greatest number Rule utilitarianism – We should adopt only moral rules which if everyone follows them, will lead to greatest increase in total happiness * Note: We use the terms consequentialism and utilitarianism in this course to describe roughly the same theory.
18 Consequentialism-Utilitarianism (Continued) Philosopher Jeremy Bentham said: No motive is in itself a bad one. If motives are good or bad, it is only because of their effects. The moral value of an action has nothing to do with the attitude behind the action. It is all about the result
19 Consequentialism-simplified In most simple terms, consequentialism Is based on the ends justify the means Looks to measuring the greatest good for the greatest number Assumes no moral objective truths but is a calculation of the utility of the act or principle Requires the ethical person to look at short and long-term “goods” and “bads”. Requires lots of deep analysis
20 Consequentialism (to repeat) In philosopher John Stuart Mill’s words: [Utilitarianism is ] … ’the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, utility or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is meant pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain & the privation of pleasure Utilitarianism (from the Latin utilis, useful) is a theory of ethics based on quantitative maximization of some good for society or humanity.
21 The Consequentialism- Utilitarianism Report Card Some Pros: The Positives Allows one to adopt a universal rule based on a formula that calculates results/ consequences. We can generalize the consequences to some extent. Sounds like a simple mathamatical process-easy to compute? Follows basic human nature and how people really think. It is down to earth – where to build a prison, where to treat drug- addicts (but: not in my back yard)… Reflects how society really thinks about good & bad-in terms of the impact on ”me” and on my interests. Is a practical functional guide and is better than no guide at all
22 The Consequentialism-Utilitarianism Report Card (Continued) Some Cons: The Negatives Must create a single value scale to evaluate very different kinds of consequences – for instance building a new road: cost and benefit in money, compared to people losing their homes. It is illogical basis of comparison. Very complex analysis-ripples of the act can be very wide and extensive, e.g. Consequences for whom? Consequences when? Consequences where? It is not a practical approavh to determining what is moral- too much energy must go into every moral decision Lacks an underlying moral foundation-can produce results that are morally (based on intuition) totally unreasonable. Ignores our sense of duty (if we accept there is a sense of duty) Implies that the majority rules-what happens to the minority or minority rights?
23 “It’s all about me….” Psychological Egoism, Hedonism and Ethical Egoism Psychological Egoism is the general term used to describe the basic observation that human’s mostly (or always) act selfishly. Psychological egoism claims that people predictably act in their own self- interest, seeking always to maximize results favorable to themselves. It asserts that this is human nature, and that ethics should not fight human nature but build a theory of ethics that is consistent with human nature. To do otherwise will not work in reality. But it is not that simple….
24 Psychological Egoism (Continued) The “theory” is based on observation that psychological selfishness is so common, that a theory of ethical behavior, to be meaningful, should be based on this psychological realty. Claims persons can only act from their selfish psychology But is not so simple……
25 Psychological Hedonism Very Similar to Psychological Egoism but emphasizes people want to do what they can to maximize their Pleasure and to minimize their Pain Pain-Pleasure Principle
26 Psychologic Egoism Complexity What is a selfish act (petty selfishness)? Are not all acts, in some basic way, psychologically selfish? Can selfish acts or a selfish society be a positive force? Can selfishness be the basis of a moral system?
27 Psychological EGOISM (Continued) Does Psychological Egoism meet our intuitional sense that there must be some standards of what is right or wrong, not just our saying OK to being selfish? Does Psychological Egoism truly reflect human reality or are we just generalizing or being too clever in always finding some selfish motivations like “it makes me feel good”? Motivations are too complex to simplify into “selfish” and not “selfish”. Is it a false logic to point out minor selfish thinking as proof of selfishness and as THE motivation when it may only be a small part of the motivation, may not be cause of the conduct or even relevant to the reason for the action/behavior was done. In other words, does Psychological Egoism over-emphasize and over-simplify our psychological process?
28 ETHICAL EGOISM Ethical egoism is the doctrine that all persons should (ought) to act from their own self-interest. It says selfish behavior is good & should be our guide Personal ethical egoism is the belief that only I should act from the motive of self-interest, nothing is stated about what motives others should act from. Individual ethical egoism is the doctrine that all persons should serve my self-interest Universal ethical egoism is the doctrine that all persons should pursue their own interests exclusively.
29 ETHICAL Egoism An ethical egoist says “The correct ethical action is that which is based on one’s self-interest, selfish desires and desire to maximize self- benefit” Ayn Rand was the best known advocate of virtuous selfishness. She rejected altruism as a basis for moral conduct. She has had great influence on politics and economics
30 Ethical Egoism (Continued) According to Ayn Rand… the proper moralmoral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest;happiness that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individualfull respect for individual rightsrights, as seen in pure laissez fairelaissez faire ( no government interference) capitalism
31 Examples of Ethical Egoism The basic capitalist system uses “greed” and self-interest in profit to maximize and energize economic activity and creativity Private ownership of personal property (not state owned) is a stimulus to productive activity (e.g. writing, music, architects) Reduced role of state. People will rely more on their own and not on state “hand-outs” or protection Success measured by wealth and “success”
32 Psychologic Egoism expanded link to determinism In addition to psychological factors that are so important, science suggests we are learning of more and more factors that may cause or contribute to our so-called “selfish” behavior. maybe we should add Genetics & Biology: Genetic-Biological Egoism Social Factors: Sociological or Behavioral Egoism Hormonal & Chemical Egoism Neurological Egoism Fatalism THIS STARTS SOUNDING LIKE DETERMINISM
33 Determinism versus Free Will What does this attributing our actions and values to our “nature” (how we are born) And nurture” (how we are raised) say about the ethical insistance on personal responsibility? Does psychological egoism or the other egoisms excuse moral-ethical failure? Does determinism excuse moral-ethical failure?
34 Determinism versus “free will” questions With nature & nurture influences, how free are we as humans really to make choices. Or are choices an illusion? Is all predetermined (fatalism)? Can the influences of determinism be integrated with “free will”? Does morality require “free will”?
35 DUTY ETHIC THEORY DEONTOLOGY Philosophers keep trying to produce a clear picture of what is moral behavior or show a clear path that leads to know what is moral behavior. Duty theory defines morality as doing ones’ duty Duty theory raises three very basic questions : Question 1: Are there core, “universal”, objective moral values shared by all. By moral truths, philosophers meant moral values that are accepted by many if not all people, despite differences in culture and religion. Question 2: If there are such core values, where do they come from? Question 3: Where does the duty to follow these core values come from?
36 Question 1: Are there core moral values (”moral truths?) The Questions: Are there any moral truths that go beyond and do not depend on absolutistm, relativism or a computation of consequence/ results duch as used in Consequentialism? Are there any moral truths or universal truths that are INHERENT from just being reasoning humans? Are there any moral truths from the ”law of nature”? The Claim : Societies share core values, therefore, there may exist a universal ethical theory – opposing the ”it all depends..” of cultural relativism. Suggested examples of core values. Could these include care for newborn, not telling lies, prohibition against murder But are even these values really ”core”or is it just our assumptions that they are ”core”. Will they withstand the test of factual (empirical) analysis?
37 SOME CORE VALUES?? Let’s look at some so-called ”core values” and ask: Are these genuine core values that can withstand the test of factual (empirical) analysis? (1) Not tell lies (2) Not cheat (3) Care for newborn (4) Not murder
38 Ethical Duty Theory Q2 Where does the “duty” come from Duty Theory states : Humans have the duty (obligation) to act morally But the question remains: How do we learn or know what is moral? Duty Theory claims there are a number of ways of knowing what is moral. We discuss only two: Answer : Divine Command Theory Categorical Imperative (Kant)
39 THEISM (Religious Belief) Theism is directly related to Divine Command theory Different religious belief systems have very different positions on how much “choice” or decisions are left to humans even in the context of a divine presence. Some religions leave little room for human judgment but others give very much room for such human judgments. Some Absolutist beliefs are secular and based on non- religious or partially religious ideas of: Nature’s law The unique status of being human The uniqueness of the capacity of human’s to reason The idea of moral intuition giving human beings moral direction
40 The Ethics of Duty Theory 1. Divine Command Theory Divine Command Theory says that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. There is a duty to obey God. Divine Command Theory rejects Consequentialism. It adds that the rightness of any action also depends upon that action being performed because it is a duty being fulfilled…the motivation is very important Divine Command Theory is closely related to Absolutism and Theism
41 Where does duty come from? 2. Kant: Categorical Imperative Philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that, as thinking human beings, we can find our moral duty and moral rules through the process of our rational thought & our reason. It does not require religious belief in divine command or divine guidance. Kant’s position is that we are human beings capable of reason and is this capacity for reason through which we learn the what meets the test of moral duty and moral behavior It is very complex so let’s simplify
42 Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) (Continued) Kant did not find Divine Command (religion) to be an acceptable answer in his search for moral duty. Kant believed in the power of human rationality and reason. Human reason could arrive at certain moral—ethical conclusions. Kant’s moral philosophy is very strict First Principle: Principles of morality must be based on reason Second Principle: Peoples actions must be governed by moral laws that are universal. This is Kant’s absolute and his Categorical Imperative (CI) Third Principle: Human beings must never be treated as means (tools) but only as ends. This is because human beings are a unique category of reasonong, rational being Fourth Principle: An action can only be moral if the reason for doing it is the morality of the act---behavior must be based on seeking to be moral.
43 Kant: Categorical Imperative (Continued) The “Categorical Imperative” (CI) is the heart of Kant’s thinking. According to Kant, this Categorical Imperative was the single basic, universal, unconditional command rule that all actions must comply with to meet the test of being moral actions. What is the Categorical Imperative? The Categorical Imperative rule states: Your moral act must be one that could be applied universally and should be applied universally
44 More Kant: The motivation for moral behavior must be moral duty In addition to the Categorical Imperative, there are the other principles as listed earlier Kant’s focus is on our moral duty. Kant argued that for an action to be moral, it must be based on our moral motivation-It therefore must be based on what we ought to do, not what we want to do. We must act in a certain way out of duty and because it is the moral way to act. Moral duty is good for its own sake. Moral action is not about our happiness or our satisfaction. Nor is it about results or consequences. Kant totally rejects Consequentialism Humans are unique. Never treat other human beings as a means to an end.
45 Kant’s Categorical Imperative Principles Summarized 1 st : The Categorical Imperative is universal and absolute. ”Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to become universal laws”. 2 nd : Act only out of moral motivation and moral duty because it ought to be done 3rd: ’Act so that you always treat both yourself & other people as ends in themselves,never only as means to an end.’ 4th: Rejects result based Consequentialism or need for religious-based duty in favor of finding the ”rules” through human reason
46 Categorical Imperative Analysis of Plagiarism Plagiarism evaluated using The Categorical Imperative (CI): The rule being evaluated: ”I can claim credit for a report written by someone else” Evaluated for its universality: Reports would no longer be valid as indicator of knowledge if everyone followed this rule. This is not acceptable. Therefore, the rule therefore does not meet Kant’s standard for a moral rule. Evaluated against rule against using person as means: The person arguing for the rule is using her professor as a means to an end. Again, the the rule does not meet Kant’s standard for a moral rule.
47 Kant and CI: Criticisms Criticism (1) No Basis for the Categorical Imperative. Basis for adopting CI is unclear and seems to be an assumption—almost Kant’s own absolutist-like assumption. Criticism (2) Is Pure Rationalism Human? it is not clear why people should not also follow their feelings, desires and emotions. These are also part of the human mind. Criticism (3) CI Does not address special relationships. The CI does not differentiate between moral obligations in general and “special” moral obligations that may run to family members-is this not a rational differentiation for humans? Criticism (4) CI is contrary to human nature. Kant’s ethics is far away from how people actually think and act. It does reflect our ordinary moral views. A moral philosophy should be based on human nature? Criticism (5) Moral motivation: Kant requires that for an act to be moral, the motivation for the act must be to be moral. Therefore, according to Kant, mixed motivations (it makes me happy + I want to act morally) make the act less moral. Is this rational? Criticism (6) It is all a word game? The CI’s morality depends on how the action is phrased. Each language version may result in a different result using the CI. Criticism (7) No exceptions? CI is a non-negotiable absolute rule. It does not allow for exceptions. Life and situations are too complex for such simplicity.
48 VIRTUE ETHICS Another way to look at morals The search for a moral guide continued. Now philosophers suggested looking at the person not at specific actions. Maybe this is a better way of improving and guiding morality? What makes for a virtuous person? (if a person is virtuous, morality follows)
49 Virtue Ethical Theory Summary Virtue Ethics is an ethic approach emphasizing the virtues, or moral character of persons Virtue Ethic Theory is different than the duty approach that emphasizes duties or rules and Virtue Ethics is different from all theories that emphasize consequences (results) of actions.
50 Virtue Ethical Theory (Continued) In philosophy, the term ”Virtue Ethics” refers to ethical systems that focuses primarily on what sort of person one should try to be. According to virtue ethicists the aim of all humans is to lead a good, happy, flourishing and fulfilling life. The Question: What Virtues are needed to achieve a good, happy, flourishing & fulfilling life
51 Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics Aristotle is the philosopher most identified with this ethic theory based not on the morality of acts but on the virtues of the actor. Defining the virtuous person is seen as a way to determine what are the basic moral values. Key concept: Look at the person not at the acts. Lots of philosophy was written & lots of philosophers spent time studying this “grand problem” of defining what was virtue.
52 The Virtuous Person Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics Virtue Ethics many see as a (relativist) product of: Its’ specific times and history The level of society to which the developer of the virtues (maybe the philosopher) belonged and The values of the era. For example in Aristotle’s time: Women and slaves were not valued There probably was little value placed on work Leisure was greatly valued Broad-based equality was not recognized or particularly valued Rights were probably were considered as limited to elites Human life (except for the elite) was less valued Foreigners were probably often considered barbarians
53 Aristotle’s List of Virtues The result is that maybe many of Aristotle’s “virtues” although he thought of them as forever, may have little or no relevance today…or do they?. Notice, there is no virtue of hard work” or compassion” but there are virtues like “wittiness” and “high-mindedness”. Some virtues are possibly forever like truthfulness & patience
54 Aristotle’s Virtues (Continued) Aristotle also added some practical points: Virtues work together.They complement each other and should not be applied totally separately. Example: Justice & wisdom need each other to be effective Virtues The mean: Each virtue is to be applied somewhere in the middle—not too much and not too little. Example: Courage is a virtue but not too much or it’s a vice (bad thing).
55 Hume’s Moral Philosophy Another version of Virtue Ethics Hume was another philosopher who did not find a religious source for morals. He also did not see any basis of morality in Consequentialism-Utilitarianism. He was searching for another basis for morals. In his ‘Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (1751)’ Hume analyzed the various judgments which we pass upon our own character & on the character of others He concluded that virtue & personal merit consist of those qualities which are useful to ourselves and others.
56 Reciprocity Ethic The Golden Rule A guide to “good” or moral behavior found, one way or another, in most religions key element of rule is that person living by this rule treats all people, not just members of her/his in group or family, in the way that the person would consent too be treated. Does not list rules of behavior but is a process to find the rules Expressed as “Act only as you would consent to be treated in the same situation” Expressed as “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”
57 Golden Rule (continued) The Rule should not be considered as literal. Proverb is a general guide with many, exceptions. No deep philosophical roots Rule is the unstated, intuitive element of most moral-ethical thinking Some say Golden Rule is part psychological egoism since the person doing the act “benefits” from the behavior
58 Golden Rule-Exceptions Can be absurd Calling police on the burglar in your home Liking to give gifts does not mean liking to receive gifts. Helping your neighbor. But what if he is doing something bad…help him/her…? Be tolerant of others…but what if they are doing evil things……… Prisoner-criminal argues Golden Rule when asking judge to release him, saying the judge would not want someone to send judge to jail, so he should not leave prisoner in jail.
59 Natural Law Theory The Law of Nature Natural Law Theory, sometimes with and sometimes without a formal religious basis, sees nature providing the guidance as to what is “moral”. Natural law is seen as arising from nature itself and What is “natural” is moral What is “not natural” is immoral. This is an absolutist doctrine without a formal religious basis and very, very controversial
60 Natural Law Theory The Criticisms Natural Law Theory sounds simple but is not. It claims certain things are natural and others unnatural but it is unclear how and who makes this judgment. Without more, it is a matter of opinion, sometimes based on less than ethical analysis. Example: Aggression is very common and “natural”. Is it therefore OK for humans? Example: In nature, multiple mates are common and “natural”. Is it therefore OK for humans? Example: In nature, to fight and protect territory is natural (The “territorial Imperative). Is it therefore OK for humans? Example: There is evidence of homosexualty in animals. What is the relevance of this evidence?
61 Natural Law Theory: Criticisms (Continued) Our knowledge of nature is always changing. Does that mean we change the rules of “natural law”? Can we trust our knowledge of nature as a guide? Natural law has been used to condemn abortion, contraception-birth control and homosexuality. Is this a valid or a political use of natural law theory?
62 Natural Rights Theory Human Rights Theory Natural Law, over time, developed into the theory that there were certain natural laws that applied to social arrangements. These Laws of Nature were further developed into “Human Rights Theory” the belief that there are certain universal, inherent, non-negotiable rights of every human being, every place, at all times.
63 Natural Rights Theory Human Rights Theory (Cont’d) Human Rights Theory is subject of other courses. It is a very hot and controversial topic with peoples and countries having very different points of view There are generally considered to be 3 basic classes of human rights: Civil & Political Rights (speech, religion, assembly, vote…) Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (job, health-care, education….) Group or fraternal Rights (indigenous life; environment …)
64 EXISTENTIALISM Existentialism History: Existentialism is a modern ethical theory that grew from the despair of post war Europe. It is an attempt to deal with hard reality Brief Definitions: Here is the definition I find most useful: Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and still stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts. Relationship to Religion: Existentialism rejects the idea of of external objective standards of morality. In most versions, it rejects Divine Command Theory or any variation which takes decision-taking from the person, based on any external “spiritual” direction. But it can be linked to religion Existentialists believe human beings must create the meaning and essence of their own lives, as opposed to this being created for them by deities or authorities or defined for them by philosophical or theological doctrines. Some accept religion but still require humans to find their own way.
65 Existentialism (Continued) Summary of basic points of Existentialism 1. Humans have individual freedom-freedom to choose their values, standards & way of life. This freedom must be used. The use of freedom is the heart of the philosophy 2. There is no external guidance. The worst thing is those that try to impose limits on human freedom and attempt to impose their standards. One must find his/her own way in the world. Science does not provide complete answers. Still, with all the unanswered questions, one must choose and act 3. The world is absurd, meaning there is no rational world order and no clear meaning to life. Still, one must choose and act
66 Existentialism (Continued) Summary of basic points of Existentialism (Continued) 4. One’s knowledge of the world is incomplete and relations can be very complicated, but still one must choose and act. 5. The world is a difficult place full of dread (like death) and anxiety. There are huge questions that are not answered but which weigh on our minds: Is there a rational plan for the world? Does anything I do matter? Does life have a purpose? Why live? 6. The person must struggle in this world using his/her freedom and ability to choose. Life is struggle.
67 Why Existentialism is Different Says life has no real meaning. Other systems seek meaning in life Says life is “absurd”, there is no grand plan or logic. Other systems look for a plan or purpose Says no objective values or external direction- must find one’s own way in a hard, confusing world. Many other systems look for objective values or ways to find moral values to guide Says life is a struggle in a world of anxiety, dread and mortality. Other systems try to create some comfort in living Existentialism concludes that we just simply exist. That is the human Condition. And, through our values and choices, We make our own lives and future. We must each exercise that freedom and ability to choose that we have.
68 ETHICAL PLURALISM-??? Some ethicists suggest we can pick and choose from the many ethical theories and put them together in a way that works for each of us. Is this valid or a “cop-out” avoiding the issue). Basis of analysis of different ethical theories are totally different Ethical conclusions can maybe be mixed but this neglects how they were arrived at. The premise of each may be totally different Each ethical theories supporters thinks his/her position is “true” But it is a compromise that makes sense day to day: For example I believe in God but God still leaves me choice in certain areas. I must use that freedom and choice well and not run from my responsibility I also know we humans have reason and rational ability, and I know Results (consequences) can be important and I consider them. But they must not offend my moral intuition. I also think Relativism is important but some acts/ behaviour is simply wrong no matter where, when and who? Sometimes, I look at the person to learn if the act/behavior is OK since a virtuous person more often will probably behave morally. My psychological egoism (selfishness) is part of my thinking but just one of many factors I also know I am influenced by my genetic nature and social nurture. I sometimes see life as a struggle;The world is not perfectly ordered. Still, I must act; Is this pluralism reasonable, logical and helpful