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Moral Dilemmas. Moral dilemmas A situation in which, whatever choice is made, the agent commits a moral wrong.

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Presentation on theme: "Moral Dilemmas. Moral dilemmas A situation in which, whatever choice is made, the agent commits a moral wrong."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moral Dilemmas

2 Moral dilemmas A situation in which, whatever choice is made, the agent commits a moral wrong

3 Moral Dilemmas Example from Book I of Plato's Republic Example from Book I of Plato's Republic Cephalus defines ‘justice’ as speaking the truth and paying one's debts. Socrates quickly refutes this account by suggesting that it would be wrong to repay certain debts (weapon) Socrates quickly refutes this account by suggesting that it would be wrong to repay certain debts (weapon)

4 Moral dilemmas Socrates' point is not that repaying debts is without moral import; rather, he wants to show that it is not always right to repay one's debts….

5 Moral Dilemmas There is a conflict between two moral norms: repaying one's debts and protecting others from harm.

6 Moral Dilemmas The agent regards herself as having moral reasons to do each of two actions, but doing both is not possible

7 Moral Dilemmas When one of the conflicting requirements overrides the other, we do not have a genuine moral dilemma. In the Crito, Does Socrates confront a moral dilemma?

8 Moral Dilemmas 1. Something morally right 2. Something morally wrong Bad outcome Bad outcome Good or better outcome

9 Moral Dilemma A woman was near death from a unique kind of cancer. There is a drug that might save her. The drug costs $4,000 per dosage. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only get together about $2,000. He asked the doctor scientist who discovered the drug for a discount or that he let him pay later. But the doctor scientist refused.

10 Moral Dilemma Should Heinz break into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? (Why or why not?)

11 Moral Stages Lawrence Kohlberg ( ) Lawrence Kohlberg ( )

12 Kohlberg Kohlberg proposed that moral reasoning, which he thought to be the basis for ethical behavior, develops through stages.

13 Moral Stages Level 1: PRE-CONVENTIONAL Level 2: CONVENTIONAL Level 3: POST-CONVENTIONAL

14 Kohlberg’s Stages Level 1 (Pre-conventional) Reasoners judge the morality of an action by its direct consequences Stage One: Obedience and Punishment Stage Two: Individualism, Instrumentalism, and Exchange Exchange

15 Heinz Dilemma Stage One (obedience): Heinz should not steal the medicine, because otherwise he will be put in prison.

16 Pre-conventional level Stage One (obedience orientation) Individuals focus on the direct consequences that their actions will have for themselves.

17 Socrates’ Dilemma From the point of view of Stage One, Socrates should not die because… From the point of view of Stage One, Socrates should not die because…

18 Heinz Moral Dilemma Pre-conventional Level Pre-conventional Level Stage Two (self-interest): Heinz should steal the medicine, because he will be much happier if he saves his wife, even if he will have to serve a prison sentence.

19 Kohlberg’s Stages Stage Two (self-interest orientation): what's in it for me position. Right behavior is defined by what is in one's own best interest.

20 Socrates’ Dilemma From a level two perspective, Socrates should not die because… From a level two perspective, Socrates should not die because…

21 Kohlberg’s Stages Level 2 (Conventional) People who reason in a conventional way judge the morality of actions by comparing these actions to social rules and expectations. Stage Three: Interpersonal Concordance ("Good boy/girl") Stage Four: Law and Order

22 Heinz Moral Dilemma CONVENTIONAL LEVEL Stage Three (conformity): Heinz should steal the medicine, because his wife expects it. Stage Three (conformity): Heinz should steal the medicine, because his wife expects it.

23 Conventional level Stage Three (conformity orientation) Individuals seek approval from other people. They judge the morality of actions by evaluating the consequences of these actions for a person's relationships.

24 Socrates dilemma Socrates should not die because… Socrates should not die because…

25 Heinz Dilemma Stage Four (law-and-order): Heinz should not steal the medicine, because the law prohibits stealing.

26 Conventional level Stage Four (law-and-order mentality). In stage four, individuals think it is important to obey the law and conventions of society.

27 Socrates Dilemma Socrates should die because… Socrates should die because…

28 Kohlberg’s Stages Level 3 (Post-conventional) (Most people do not reach this level of moral reasoning) Stage Five: Human Rights Stage Five: Human Rights Stage Six: Universal Ethical Principles (Principled Conscience) Stage Six: Universal Ethical Principles (Principled Conscience)

29 Heinz moral dilemma Stage five (human rights): Heinz should steal the medicine because saving his wife is more important than obeying the law.

30 Post-conventional level Stage Five (human rights orientation) People have certain principles to which they attach more value than laws, such as human rights. People have certain principles to which they attach more value than laws, such as human rights. An action is wrong if it violates certain ethical principles. An action is wrong if it violates certain ethical principles. Laws that do not promote general social welfare should be changed Laws that do not promote general social welfare should be changed

31 Socrates dilemma Socrates should not die…? Socrates should not die…? We are at level 3!!!!

32 Post-conventional level Stage six (universal human ethics): Stage six (universal human ethics): Heinz should steal the medicine, because saving a human life is a more fundamental value than respecting the property of another person.

33 Post-conventional level Stage Six (ethical principle orientation). Moral reasoning is based on the use of abstract reasoning using universal principles. (People rarely, if ever, reach stage 6 of Kohlberg's model) (People rarely, if ever, reach stage 6 of Kohlberg's model)

34 Socrates’ Decision Socrates chose to die because….

35 Socrates Should we return the weapon then (according to Socrates)?

36 Socrates Socrates maintains that protecting others from harm is the norm that takes priority


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