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Ethics: A Brief Overview By Alyse Andalman Christine Smith Lindsay Wuller.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics: A Brief Overview By Alyse Andalman Christine Smith Lindsay Wuller."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics: A Brief Overview By Alyse Andalman Christine Smith Lindsay Wuller

2 Refresh our memory… Which framework do you think you use the most? ons/Theory/BasicOrientations/Basic %20Moral%20Orientations.pdfhttp://ethics.sandiego.edu/presentati ons/Theory/BasicOrientations/Basic %20Moral%20Orientations.pdf

3 Having Read the Trolley Problem… We’re going to take a vote!

4 History Pre-Historic –Hunter-Gatherer Behavior Mythology –Hesiod’s Theogony Pre-Socratic “Texts” –Heraclitus and Parmenides –Not much about Ethics

5 Socrates & Plato Euthyphro Dilemma: –Is it pious because the Gods love it? OR –Do the Gods love it because it’s pious? The Theory of the Forms –The Form of the Good That by virtue of which all other Forms are true qua form ex. Beautiful (the form) v. beautiful

6 Socrates & Plato The Form Virtue –Virtue = Knowledge = Happiness –Being virtuous requires one to tend to the health of his soul which results in happiness –Those who know the right thing to do will always act accordingly From the Apology: No one knowingly harms himself or does evil things to others because that would harm his soul.

7 Real World Application Is it ethical to give medications to people who do not have a “disease”? –Enhancement?

8 Socrates & Plato Assumptions and Premises: The soul is immortal. The body is not immortal. THEREFORE, the soul does not permanently reside in one particular body. –Parallel to The Matrix : The soul is placed in the body at the moment of birth and leaves the body at the moment of death, only to be inserted into another body

9 Aristotle Terms: Ergon: function Arete: skill (that allows it to function well) Telos: purpose or ultimate end/goal Example: A knife Ergon- to cut Arete- its sharp edge Telos- to cut steak with clean edges

10 Aristotle Per his knowledge of biology, Aristotle believed in the following, as regards living things: –3 Degrees of Souls Nutritive – plants Sensitive – animals Rational – humans –The purpose of life is the pursuit of eudaimonia. Overall happiness, fulfillment, flourishing, doing well, living to your highest potention PLEASURE IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF!

11 Aristotle Human Soul: Ergon: To live Arete: Justice Telos: Eudaimonia According to Aristotle, the just live well and are happy, but happiness is not the purpose of life, as later theories might conclude.

12 Aristotle In summary, his ethical framework consists of two main principles: 1. Humans must live a life consisting of acting well according to our natural human capacities. 2. Doctrine of the Mean: Individuals must act appropriately rational AND emotional in a given situation. AVOID THE EXTREMES!

13 Real World Application “Teaser” for next class… If animals have a different purpose from humans, does this change the “rules” for research?

14 Real World Application What does Aristotle consider a full human? How does this impact the way we view those with mental illness?

15 Major Ethical Frameworks Consequentialism Kantianism Virtue Ethics

16 Comparing Ethical Frameworks Consistency Clarity Completeness Simplicity

17 Consequentialism Main Proponents: Jeremy Bentham John Stuart Mill “The ends justify the means.” “All’s well that ends well.”

18 Consequentialism Basic Tenets: -The moral worth of an action is to be judged by its consequences or utility; intentions do not matter. -Utilitarianism: The act which is “right” is the one that provides for the greatest good for the greatest number—the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain.

19 Consequentialism Greatest Happiness Principle: “Act so as to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number” Problems: How do we calculate happiness? Is utilitarian calculus inherently flawed? Can we know the exact consequences of an action beforehand?

20 Consequentialism Act Consequentialism: -Act by act evaluation of what would provide for the greatest good for the greatest number (Situational) Rule Consequentialism: -There is a given set of rules governing behavior which maximizes the greatest good for the greatest number. Problems with these?

21 Consequentialism Ethical Egoism: -The well-being of an individual has more weight than the happiness of society as a whole. Ethical Altruism: -When performing the utilitarian calculus, you must consider all individuals’ well- being equally and always give to others whenever possible as long as that provides for the greatest amount of pleasure.

22 Kantian Deontology Main idea: The only thing which is good without conditions is good will or rationality. *If a person with good will cannot bring about good consequences, the individual is still acting morally. (non-consequentialist)

23 Kantian Deontology According to Kant, we have basic “duties” that he describes in ethical rules he calls “formulations.” The First Formulation: -An individual ought never to act except in such a way that he could also will that his maxim become a universal law.  “Will” means to rationally desire  Sustainability & Universalizability

24 Real World Application Suicide -You cannot rationally will suicide upon yourself because rationality/the will desires to preserve itself.

25 Kantian Deontology The Second Formulation: -We ought to treat human beings always as ends in themselves, never merely as means to another end. -e.g. Trolley Problem and the Fat Man

26 Real World Application “Savior Siblings” -My Sister’s Keeper

27 W.D. Ross Prima facie duties - “Other things being equal” - “On its first appearance” - e.g. lying - not absolute

28 Virtue Ethics We ought to act in accordance with virtue. –Based on rules which govern how we should act in any given situation –Ex. Aristotle’s ethical framework The question remains… Who decides what is virtuous? Who decides the rules?

29 Modern Divide Cognitivism: Ethical statements express propositions that are truth-apt (meaning they can either be true or false) versus… Non-cognitivism: Ethical statements are not truth-apt, suggesting that moral propositions reduce to “Boo!” or “Hooray!” or the expression of an emotion but NOT something objective in the world.

30 Moral Relativism Different Levels –Between societies –Between members of the same society or group –Within the same person (intrapersonal)

31 Real World Example Eskimo/Inuit babies

32 Trolley Problem Judith Jarvis Thomson

33 Do you still believe that you make decisions based off of the same ethical framework as when we started this presentation? Why or why not?


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