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Moral and Legal Reasoning

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1 Moral and Legal Reasoning

2 Moral Value Judgments What is a moral value judgment?
How is it different from a taste value judgment? It is wrong for Senator Kennedy to have withheld information. Karl Rove ought to spend more time with his family. Senator Kennedy dresses well. Beowulf has some of the best special effects of any movie ever made.

3 Moral Reasoning Priciple 1
According to More and Parker, moral reasoning principle # 1: If separate cases aren’t different in any relevant way, then they should be treated the same way, and if separate cases are treated the same way, they should not be different in any relevant way. AKA the consistency principle. Principle # 2: If someone appears to be violating the consistency principle, then the burden of proof is on that person to show that he or she is in fact not violating the principle.

4 1a. Elliott’s father depends on Elliott
1a. Elliott’s father depends on Elliott. Therefore, Elliot should take care of him. How would you put this into a valid deductive argument? P1. Elliott’s father depends on Elliot. P2. Adult children should take care of parents who are dependent on them. 2nd order enthymeme. Conclusion: Therefore, Elliot should take care of his father. This argument is valid. Is this argument sound?

5 Another example: Homosexuality is unnatural. Therefore, it ought not to be practiced. P1: Homosexuality is unnatural. P2: Whatever is unnatural ought not to be done. 2nd order enthymeme. Conclusion: Therefore, homosexuality should not be practiced. What is natural?

6 Major perspectives in moral reasoning
Consequentialism Utilitarianism Ethical egoism Duty Ethics – deontological ethics Moral Relativism What is believed to be right and wrong may differ from group to group, society to society, or culture to culture. (Cultural relativism) What is right and wrong may differ from group to group, society to society, culture to culture. (ethical relativism) Religious relativism, religious absolutism

7 Moral Principles Virtue ethics
Boy scout pledge – to be loyal, helpful, friendly, and so forth. Aristotle – develop virtues by using our capacity to reason to moderate our impulses and appetites. Exercises 12.6 on page 452.

8 Legal Reasoning Legal precedent – often argument from analogy.
Justifying laws – four perspectives 1) Legal Moralism – the law should make illegal anything that is immoral. Do we have legal moralism in this country? 2) Harm principle – the only legitimate basis for forbidding x is that doing x causes harm to others. Prostitution? Drug use? 3) Legal paternalism – the view that laws can be justified if they are for a person’s own good. 4) Offense principle – something should be illegal if other people are greatly offended by it. Exercise 12-13, page 459

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