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Presentation on theme: "Morality."— Presentation transcript:

1 Morality

2 What is Morality? Deceptively easy question
A means of determining right and wrong

3 Utilitarianism Morality is the greatest good for the greatest number of people Morally good actions produce the greatest utility Utility is typically happiness or pleasure

4 Jeremy Bentham First real utilitarian philosopher
All actions are motivated by pursuit of pleasure The Hedonic Calculus

5 John Stuart Mill Mental pleasures are greater than physical pleasures
The Harms Principle: “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”

6 Rule Utilitarianism Calculating utility for every action is a lot of work! Instead, evaluate the utility of rules, then follow the rules Solves some of the more pressing issues with utilitarianism

7 Negative Utilitarianism
Do the least harm to the least number of people Pain is a greater motivator than pleasure Problem of painless euthanasia

8 Pros of Utilitarianism
Everybody understands utilitarian calculus Weighing impacts in round is easy Relatively simple to run and works with a large variety of cases and impacts It just works

9 Cons of Utilitarianism
Very hard to quantify happiness Who’s happiness do we prioritize? Majoritarian abuses Making people happy isn’t always the best course of action

10 Utilitarianism in Healthcare

11 Consequentialism Morality of an action is based on its consequences
An ends based framework. Also referred to as Teleology

12 Variants of Consequentialism
Rule Consequentialism Mohist Consequentialism State level consequentialism Ethical altruism Auguste Comte Best consequences for everybody else

13 Deontology Actions are moral in and of themselves
Adherence to rules or duties determines morality Means not ends Intentions and motives, not outcomes

14 Deontology Variants Contractarianism
Morality determined through social pressures and outside influences, like contracts Divine command theory Rights Theory

15 Pros of Deontology Allows you to discount consequentialist impacts
You don’t need to defend plans or implementation Gives you a clear definition of morality

16 Cons of Deontology Moral grey areas What happens when duties conflict?
Layperson’s understanding of deontology can be limited Often collapses into utilitarianism

17 Deontology in Healthcare

18 Immanuel Kant German philosopher born in 1724
Attempted to apply practical reason to morality Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals Hypothetical duties are not morally binding

19 The Categorical Imperative
Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law. Moral actions are intrinsically good The only thing we can know is good is will

20 The Categorical Imperative
Humans are independent moral agents who are ends in and of themselves “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end”

21 Pros of Kant Absolute morality, clear positions and definitions
You can disregard edge cases and hypothetical situations Avoids a number of subjective or relativistic criticisms of morality

22 Cons of Kant Could I lie to a Nazi? Conflicting universal claims
Universal moral systems are unrealistic, nobody actually follows them Why is Kant’s view of what morality should be universal?

23 Moral Relativism Morality is dependant on the individual or social group Subject to cultural and social pressures Can differ wildly from person to person, place to place

24 Descriptive relativism
Moral disagreements exist It’s not up to us to condemn or praise different moral systems Default position for most anthropology and sociology Not a common debate position

25 Normative Relativism Not only do moral disagreements occur, but you should tolerate those who disagree with you Of course that might just be your opinion This is the kind of relativism that makes morality more or less meaningless

26 Ethical Egoism People ought to act in their own best interest
Who better to know what I need than Me? I can’t know what you need, and shouldn’t try to James Rachels, Ayn Rand More in the Capitalism lecture

27 Pros of Moral Relativity
Morality can be meaningless! Multiple moral definitions can exist simultaneously Allows you to disregard moral impacts Very high specificity

28 Cons of Moral Relativity
Morality can be meaningless! If moral relativity is true, moral definitions are hard to justify Might force you to admit some awkward things

29 Relativity and Healthcare

30 Moral Skepticism We can’t know enough about morals to make accurate moral judgments Doesn’t disallow the existence of absolute moral truth Epistemological skepticism: Moral beliefs don’t respond to evidence Morals are similar to the beliefs of the paranoid or insane

31 Moral Nihilism Basically amorality
Even if things aren’t necessarily moral or immoral, actions can be preferable Expressivism: Morals have no objective truth, but are still expressed as strong opinions Error theory: Lack of observable morals leads to no possible moral judgments, all moral proclamations are mistakes


33 Ethics of care Morality is determined by caring for individuals
Highly dependant on interpersonal relations Feminist, doesn’t conform to a hierarchy More details in the Feminism lecture Carol Gilligan

34 Legal Morality Law is a codified system of morality
Allows high specificity and a mix of absolute and relative morality Laws can change and don’t always resemble modern morals Jurgen Habermas

35 Pragmatic Ethics Morality could do with a dose of SCIENCE!
Morals evolve through hypothesis and testing Draws from a number of other philosophies Mostly descriptive, has been criticized for mixing up normative and descriptive morality

36 Situational Morality Context is everything
Can’t make blanket assertions about morality without taking circumstances into account Not as much a unified philosophy

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