Presentation on theme: "The guiding question of Chapter 1"— Presentation transcript:
1 The guiding question of Chapter 1 Why be ethical?The guiding question of Chapter 1
2 Four examples of the ethical The experience of personal response(you hear a scream crying for help…)The experience of the other(A person in need asks for help of some kind)The experience of obligation(Following a rule, law,; obeying one in authority over you)The experience of contrast(THIS IS NOT FAIR! Response to intolerable treatment of people – death camps, abuse of people…)
3 Aristotle (374-322 B.C.) Teleological Ethics Teleological: having to do with the design or purpose of somethingTelos: Greek for “end” or “goal”What is the end to which humans aspire?HAPPINESS
4 For Aristotle, the “end” “Happiness is an activity (of the soul) proper to the human person, in accordance with virtue in a complete life.”(Book 1: Ch. 7 The Nichomachean Ethics)
5 Aristotle continuedThe core of his ethics: political intent, not primarily the individual, but the polis, i.e., the city-stateisolated person: a beast or a godhuman life shaped to its full extent in context of communityHAPPINESS ≠ pleasure!Pleasure suitable for cattle – it’s only momentary
6 Happiness for Aristotle The enduring state of one who does well the tasks typical of a human beingThe condition of the good person who succeeds in living & acting wellThe activity of happiness must occupy an entire lifetime; for one swallow does not a summer make
7 According to Aristotle, we’re happy: If and only if, over some considerable period of time we perform with some success the most perfect of typically human tasksResponsible / active citizen in communityLifestyle fosters good health
8 Aim of Ethics for Aristotle, to discover what: Is good for us as human beings,Permits us to reach our full potential,Is our internal compass,We are intended to be.
9 Aristotle on teleology: “Every art and scientific inquiry, and similarly every action and purpose, may be said to aim at some good. Hence the good has been well defined as that at which all things aim.”“…knowledge of this supreme good is of great importance for the conduct of life… if we know it, we shall be like archers who have a mark at which to aim…”(no identifying target, any shot is a good shot; SIN = missing the mark, i.e., off target)Above all: we are RATIONAL, our intelligence is our greatest capacity
10 Humans are rational animals Our actions as much as possible must be based on reason.TO ACT ETHICALLY IS TO ENGAGE OUR CAPACITY TO REASON AS WE DEVELOP GOOD CHARACTER.
11 Aristotle on Human Excellence Developing habits the best of what it means to be humanVIRTUES, the result of habit,“the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
12 The Mean being moderate, between the vices of excess and lack. courage the mid way between fearing all dangers (cowardice) and fearing none (recklessness)generosity: between extravagance and stinginess
13 Immanuel Kant (1724 to 1804): Deontological Ethics Theoretical ReasonPractical ReasonHow we come to know thingsRole of experience in coming to know thingsCan we know things beyond immediate experience? Cause and effect?The area of reasoning to help us know how laws of nature, cause & effect, govern human behaviourFreedom of choice is not an issueHelps us understand how we make choicesMoves beyond scientific and empirical knowledgeLooks at human acts, as impulses from laws of nature & as conscious choices based on principles
14 Examples of theoretical & practical reason Theoretical reason tells us:Consuming alcohol has an effect on one’s bodyPractical reason tells us:We ought not drink alcohol and drive
15 Both Kant & Aristotle believe The good is the aim of a moral lifeKant’s focus: the certainty of principles of ethical reasoning (which aren’t of the same certainty as those in math & science)Ethical principles have PRACTICAL not RATIONAL / COGNITIVE certainty
16 3 practical principlesGod: we cannot on our own achieve the supreme good. God helps us to achieve the supreme good.Freedom: if the supreme good is to be, then what we ought to do, we can do. To have a duty to do something means that we must be able to do it. Kant argues that humans are therefore free.Immortality: achieving the supreme good is an immense task, impossible to complete in this life. That is why there is immortality, a life beyond for us to achieve the supreme good.
17 The Good Will Kant’s ethics is more individual than Aristotle’s One’s inner convictions autonomy“It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will.”A GOOD WILL IS OUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONA good will is to do our duty for no other reason than it is our duty
18 Kant’s Ethics: DEONTOLOGICAL “deon” Greek for dutyDoing one’s duty isn’t easy, our impulses & desires lead us away from our dutyMorally good acts are done out of duty (not for praise , not out of inclination)His language is full of “shoulds” or “oughts”You are your own legislator, your AUTONOMY is your decision to act in accordance with your good will
19 Kant’s MAXIMS (principles) i.e., every rational person would necessarily act on if reason were fully in chargeTell us how we ought to (should) act reason determines how the duty is universally applicableTHE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE (2 versions)“I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.” i.e., I WOULD WANT EVERYONE TO MAKE THIS SAME CHOICE.“Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.”
20 Kant was a utopian thinker his “kingdom of ends” had all participants following the second maxim.believed that people would always act out of respect for the other,acting out of rational will,always acting on principles that could be made universalHe valued the autonomy of the good willHe challenged people to not act like children“Dare to know!”
21 Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) An Ethics of the face Levinas believed that Western Philosophy tried to deal with questions of difference & diversity by grouping everything , under an all encompassing unity, “Being”Ultimately, everything is the same, West. Phil. thinks away differenceDifference becomes “accidental” (i.e., not essential)Levinas’ Hebrew tradition gloried in the singularThe singularity of a thing its unityHe found nothing to hold these singularities in unityContrasts: Western “totality” with Hebrew “infinity”
22 The “Good” The central question for all of Philosophy for Levinas Western Philosophies BeingLevinas The Good, which goes beyond BeingBeing names what things have in common when you take away the differencesFor Levinas that’s a problem:It takes away the most fascinating quality: each person is incredibly uniqueThe Good what is absolutely unique about each person
23 Unique things: “traces of the Good (God) everything we encounter is finiteNot a faint presence of GodSays, “God was there, but is no longer there” i.e., God (the Infinite One) always one step ahead
24 The face as witness of the Good Face, most naked part of the bodyMake-up an attempt to hide, put on a mask“thrill of astonishment”, most original moment of meaningThe “stranger” who is “Other” (not you)Face: an authority, “highness, holiness, divinity”The “Other” not your equal, your superior
25 The face as ethicalDeuteronomy tells the Israelites to love the stranger as themselves (the LORD watches over the stranger)The face of the stranger:demands that we recognize it and offer it hospitality.Makes the absolute demand as petition “please”Appeals to me with its destitution (hunger, nudity)Promotes my freedom by arousing my goodnessMakes me responsible (I’m not as innocent as I thought I was)Calls one’s self-centredness into questionThe Other rules (humbly, revealing itself as if afraid to speak)How God Speaks to us, God is the goodness who never seducesThe face is a trace of God who has already passed by.
26 The human is ethical The ethical is indispensible for human life The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is not true freedom except in the service of what is good and just.”