Presentation on theme: "Ethic theories: A Review YOU MUST DO THE READINGS"— 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 TheoriesFormal 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 principlesWhy study ethical theories?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.Increases our empathy. The study of ethics does not require acceptance of any one or more ethical approach but helps in our thinking process.Can stregthen (or challenge) our own beliefs and increase our ability to defend them
3 Morals, Ethics and LawAlthough 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 wrongEthics 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 Absolutism-objectivismRelativism (socio-cultural, geographic-place, time-historic and context). When moral choices are based on personal opinion only- it is called moral subjectivismConsequentialism (Utilitarianism)Egoism, Hedonism and Ethical EgoismDeontology: Ethics of duty & obligation (includes Theism, Divine Command Theory & Kant’s Categorical Imperative)
5 The Ethic Theories (cont’d) Virtue Ethics (Aristotle and others)The Categorical ImperativeNatural Law (very different from Natural Rights-Human Rights theory)Natural RightsExistentialismThe Golden Rule (Reciprocity)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 ABSOLUTISMMoral Guidance and rules of conduct that are a final truth and that are:OBJECTIVENON-NEGOTIABLEUNIVERSAL WITHOUT EXCEPTIONAPPLY 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 orACCEPTANCE OF THE ETHICAL DIRECTION set out by POLITICAL or SOCIAL LEADERS. Acceptance can be CHOICE, HABIT OR COERCION, e.g. “Divine right of Kings” orACCEPTANCE OF AUTHORITY OR CORRECTNESS OF ETHICAL GUIDANCE FROM THE ANALYSIS OF GREAT THINKERS orACCEPTANCE 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 sourcesNatural 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 RelativismRejects totally the idea that there is any one absolute or objective truthApproaches 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 arrogantBelieves 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 acar accident. Study shows 90% ofNorwegians would not lie, What percentof Bosnians, Turkish or Croations wouldnot lie? What would you personally do?Treatment of elderly in a society that isunder threat of survival may offend us .
12 Relativism can be based on… Accepting as morally valid the different views of right and wrong held bydifferent cultures-societiesdifferent time periods-historiesdifferent geographies-placesdifferent 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 wrongSome different kinds of relativism:Socio-cultural relativismTime-history relatisismGeographic-place relativismContext relativismSubjective relativism (personal
14 SUBJECTIVISMEach 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 guidelinesIt 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 unacceptableCertain 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 ( ) & John Stuart Mill ( ) (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-ethicsAct utilitarianism: We should adopt individual actions which produce:Maximum happiness compared to unhappinessThe best ratio of happy to unhappy resultsThe best ratio of pleasure to painThe greates good for the greatest numberRule 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, consequentialismIs based on the ends justify the meansLooks to measuring the greatest good for the greatest numberAssumes no moral objective truths but is a calculation of the utility of the act or principleRequires 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 asthe foundation of morals, utility or the greatesthappiness principle, holds that actions are right inproportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrongas they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Byhappiness is meant pleasure and the absence ofpain; 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 PositivesAllows 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 NegativesMust 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 decisionLacks 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 EgoismPsychological 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 observationthat psychological selfishness is socommon, that a theory of ethicalbehavior, to be meaningful, should bebased on this psychological realty. Claims persons can only act from their selfish psychologyBut is not so simple……
25 Psychological Hedonism Very Similar to Psychological Egoismbut emphasizes people want to dowhat they can to maximize theirPleasure and to minimize their PainPain-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 ourpsychological process?
28 ETHICAL EGOISMEthical egoism is the doctrine that all persons should (ought) toact from their own self-interest. It says selfish behavior is good &should be our guidePersonal 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-interestUniversal ethical egoism is the doctrine that all persons should pursue their own interests exclusively.
29 ETHICAL EgoismAn 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 moralpurpose of one's life is the pursuit of one'sown happiness or rational self-interest;that the only social system consistent withthis morality is full respect for individualrights, as seen in pure laissez 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 creativityPrivate 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 protectionSuccess measured by wealth and “success”
32 Psychologic Egoism expanded link to determinism In addition to psychological factors that are soimportant, science suggests we are learning of moreand more factors that may cause or contribute to ourso-called “selfish” behavior. maybe we should addGenetics & Biology: Genetic-Biological EgoismSocial Factors: Sociological or Behavioral EgoismHormonal & Chemical EgoismNeurological EgoismFatalismTHIS STARTS SOUNDING LIKE DETERMINISM
33 Determinism versus Free Will What does this attributing our actions andvalues to our “nature” (how we are born)And nurture” (how we are raised) sayabout the ethical insistance on personalresponsibility?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’ dutyDuty 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 includecare for newborn,not telling lies,prohibition against murderBut 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 thatcan 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 morallyBut the question remains: How do we learn orknow what is moral?Duty Theory claims there are a number of waysof 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 theoryDifferent 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 lawThe unique status of being humanThe uniqueness of the capacity of human’s to reasonThe 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 importantDivine Command Theory is closely related to Absolutism and Theism
41 Where does duty come from? 2. Kant: Categorical Imperative Philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that, asthinking human beings, we can find our moral dutyand moral rules through the process of our rationalthought & our reason. It does not require religiousbelief in divine command or divine guidance.Kant’s position is that we are human beings capable ofreason and is this capacity for reason throughwhich we learn the what meets the test of moralduty 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 answerin his search for moral duty. Kant believed in the power of humanrationality and reason. Human reason could arrive at certain moral—ethicalconclusions. Kant’s moral philosophy is very strictFirst Principle: Principles of morality must be based on reasonSecond 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 beingFourth 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’sthinking. According to Kant, this Categorical Imperativewas the single basic, universal, unconditional commandrule that all actions must comply with to meet the test ofbeing 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 aslisted earlierKant’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 ConsequentialismHumans are unique. Never treat other human beings as a means to an end.
45 Kant’s Categorical Imperative Principles Summarized 1st: The Categorical Imperative is universal and absolute. ”Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to become universal laws”.2nd: Act only out of moral motivation and moral duty because it ought to be done3rd: ’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 atthe person not at specific actions. Maybethis is a better way of improving andguiding 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 personsVirtue Ethic Theory is different than the duty approach that emphasizes duties or rules andVirtue 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 historyThe level of society to which the developer of the virtues (maybe the philosopher) belonged andThe values of the era. For example in Aristotle’s time:Women and slaves were not valuedThere probably was little value placed on workLeisure was greatly valuedBroad-based equality was not recognized or particularly valuedRights were probably were considered as limited to elitesHuman life (except for the elite) was less valuedForeigners 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 asforever, may have little or no relevancetoday…or do they?. Notice, there is no virtue ofhard work” or compassion” but there are virtueslike “wittiness” and “high-mindedness”. Somevirtues 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 VirtuesThe 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 othersHe 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 religionskey 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 rulesExpressed 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 rootsRule is the unstated, intuitive element of most moral-ethical thinkingSome 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 homeLiking 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 sometimeswithout a formal religious basis, sees nature providingthe guidance as to what is “moral”.Natural law is seen as arising from nature itself andWhat is “natural” is moralWhat is “not natural” is immoral.This is an absolutist doctrine without a formal religiousbasis and very, very controversial
60 Natural Law Theory The Criticisms Natural Law Theory sounds simple but is not. It claims certainthings are natural and others unnatural but it is unclear howand who makes this judgment. Without more, it is a matter ofopinion, 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 isnatural (The “territorial Imperative). Is it therefore OKfor humans?Example: There is evidence of homosexualty in animals. Whatis 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 theorythat there were certain natural laws that applied tosocial arrangements. These Laws of Nature werefurther developed into “Human Rights Theory”the belief that there are certain universal, inherent,non-negotiable rights of every human being, everyplace, at all times.
63 Natural Rights Theory Human Rights Theory (Cont’d) Human Rights Theory is subject of other courses. It is a veryhot and controversial topic with peoples and countries havingvery different points of viewThere are generally considered to be 3 basic classes of humanrights:Civil & Political Rights (speech, religion, assembly, vote…)Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (job, health-care, education….)Group or fraternal Rights (indigenous life; environment …)
64 EXISTENTIALISMExistentialism History: Existentialism is a modern ethical theory that grewfrom the despair of post war Europe. It is an attempt to deal with hard realityBrief 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 andessence 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 ExistentialismHumans 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 philosophyThere 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 actThe 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)One’s knowledge of the world is incomplete and relations can be very complicated, but still one must choose and act.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?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 lifeSays life is “absurd”, there is no grand plan or logic. Other systems look for a plan or purposeSays 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 guideSays life is a struggle in a world of anxiety, dread and mortality. Other systems try to create some comfort in livingExistentialism 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 freedomand ability to choose that we have.
68 ETHICAL PLURALISM-???Some ethicists suggest we can pick and choose from the many ethical theories andput 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 differentEthical conclusions can maybe be mixed but this neglects how they were arrived at. The premise of each may be totally differentEach ethical theories supporters thinks his/her position is “true”But it is a compromise that makes sense day to day: For exampleI 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 responsibilityI also know we humans have reason and rational ability, and I knowResults (consequences) can be important and I consider them. But they must not offend my moral intuition. I also thinkRelativism 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