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Virtue Ethics The third main objectivist moral theory focuses on the moral agent. The aim of a virtue theory is to explain how and why we should live and.

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Presentation on theme: "Virtue Ethics The third main objectivist moral theory focuses on the moral agent. The aim of a virtue theory is to explain how and why we should live and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Virtue Ethics The third main objectivist moral theory focuses on the moral agent. The aim of a virtue theory is to explain how and why we should live and structure our lives. Virtue ethics was first made clear by Aristotle Virtue ethics is teleological but not consequentialist

2 Aristotle Greek philosopher Student of Plato Trained as Natural Scientist and Physician

3 The Highest Good for Humanity(1) Virtue ethics is teleological (goal directed), but the goal is not to achieve certain consequences. The goal is to perfect the character of the person. Character is a state of the soul. A person’s character helps determine their desires and reactions, so character will help to govern action. A person of good character will not be disposed to do what we might call ‘evil’.

4 The Highest Good for Humanity(2) The goal for Aristotle is the “Highest Good” What goal does all human activity aim at? 1. Wealth? (no…) 2. Honor? (no…) 3. Pleasure? (no…) 4. Wisdom? ALL HUMAN ACTIVITY AIMS AT HAPPINESS

5 What is Happiness? The Greek term is: Eudaimonia: Eu – Good Daimonia – state of being or state of spirit. This is not the same as ‘feeling happy’. Happiness is more complex than a mere feeling

6 The Good Life for Humanity For Aristotle Ethics was part of Politics. The aim of politics was to determine the best form of government: A government that would allow people to live the good life The study of ethics was to determine the good life for humanity.

7 Happiness is the good life To experience Eudaimonia is to live the good life. Aristotle’s task is to determine what the good life for human beings looks like To discover the nature of the good life Aristotle looks at the essence of a human being, the human soul

8 The Platonic Soul Aristotle’s view is a reaction to Plato’s thought. The Platonic Soul had 3 parts: 1. Appetitive – desires 2. Spirited – sensory and motivating, the will 3. Rational– thinking Human psychology was seen as a battle between the Appetites and Reason for control of the will The Just Soul for Plato is ruled by reason assisted by the spirited soul.

9 The Aristotelian Soul Aristotle’s picture of the soul also has 3 parts: 1. The Nutritive Soul -- life 2. The Appetitive Soul – desires and action 3. The Rational Soul –reason BUT only the Rational soul was essentially human. This insight is cashed out through Aristotle’s so-called Function Argument.

10 The Function Argument (1) What is the function (Ergon) of Man? The proper human function is some activity of the human soul, which only humans can do. Therefore it is the function of the reasoning or rational part of the soul. (Aristotle argues for this claim by elimination) 1) Plant souls are nutritive, so anything we do in common with plants is not uniquely human. 2)Animal souls are both appetitive and nutrative, so anything we do in common with animals is not uniquely human. 3)What is left is the rational soul.

11 The Function Argument (2) 1. The proper human function is the function of the reasoning or rational part of the soul. 2. The Human Soul expresses its rationality in two ways: (a) by having reason (understanding or thinking, intellectual activity), and (b) by obeying reason (practical problem solving, knowing how to do things). 3. Human life is either a capacity or an activity. Life is best seen as an activity, since we wouldn't call something with the capacity to live, but which doesn't actually live alive. 4. Combining (1), (2), and (3) Aristotle concludes that: The proper function of a human being is, the activity of the human soul which expresses its reason either by having it, or by obeying it. (Translation: The uniquely human thing about us is that in our activities we try to understand about the world and how to best do things).

12 The Function Argument (3) 1. For any thing of type F, e.g. a flute, an F (flute) and an excellent F (excellent Flute) will have the same proper function. 2. A human being’s proper function is "the activity of the human soul which expresses its reason either by having it, or by obeying it.“ 3. The Good Life (excellent life/virtuous life) will be a life where our function is done well. 4. Doing a thing well is the same thing as doing it with its proper virtue. 5. The GOOD LIFE (Human Good), therefore, is "the activity of the human soul which expresses its reason either by having it, or by obeying it" which expresses the proper virtue(s) 6. If more than one virtue is involved, the Good will be the most complete virtue.

13 Comments on The Function Argument The difference between life and good life is the presence of something good (or excellent). A complete virtue is a virtue that cannot be enhanced by adding more X

14 Virtue and Vice Virtue (Arete) is the notion of excellence. Vice is a failing of excellence. Virtues and Vices are usually thought to come in pairs: Beauty – Ugliness Courage – Cowardice health – sickness justice -- injustice

15 The Golden Mean Aristotle recognized that virtue is often part of a three part structure: Vice of ExcessVirtue of Moderation Vice of Deficiency FoolhardinessCourageCowardice Over-exertionHealthSloth Lust and overindulgence TemperancePrudishness OverconfidenceWisdomIgnorance ?JusticeInjustice ?FriendshipUnfriendliness

16 The Mean is not an average The Mean of Virtue is not a mathematical mean. Moderate action is appropriate to person and situation. BUT: The mean is not given as a goal. It emerges on a case by case basis. Rule of thumb: Avoid Excess!

17 Two Kinds of Virtue Because the rational soul has two parts, there are two kinds of human virtues: Having Reason: Intellectual Virtues Obeying Reason: Practical Virtues

18 How can I become virtuous? Find a virtuous person and imitate them! A just man is not one who acts as a just man acts, but one who acts justly for the right reasons and in the right way. You habituate yourself to virtue so that it becomes “Second nature”.

19 Action, Effect and Motive A virtuous person does: The right thing in the right way for the right reason. Thus for Aristotle we seek a combination of correct actions, properly motivated, which yield good consequences

20 Criticisms of Aristotle Perfectionism – the good life is unattainable Not a moral Theory – no moral content, not general, not really objective. Two kinds of Happiness – Intellectual vs. Practical. Which is primary? No theory of obligation – I have no duty only habit

21 General Comments on Moral Philosophy All Moral Theories connect to other parts of philosophy Theory of Persons Theory of Motivation Ethics and Politics Epistemology and Metaphysics

22 The Mind – Body Problem Slides © 2006 Robert Barnard

23 Metaphysical Background Metaphysics is the philosophical study of the nature of reality. Ontology is that part of metaphysics which looks at what is real. What kind of entities are there and how do they combine or function to make the world around us.

24 Two Ontological Maxims 1) Preserve the appearances: whatever the universe is like it must be such that it can give rise to the sort of things we experience. 2) Ockham’s Razor: Do not multiply (types of) entities without necessity. A rule: seek the simplest ontology that can explain what we experience.

25 One or Many? Imagine a universe that contained only Ice, liquid water, and steam. These three things seem very different. But, we know that we only need to have 1 kind of thing (water molecules) and different energy levels (heat and cold, etc.) in order to experience all three. A ‘water-molecule/heat’ ontology explains all three appearances. The alternative is to posit all three as distinct types of entity (as substances).

26 Substances and Properties In Traditional ontology we speak of the kinds of THINGS or STUFF as SUBSTANCES The characteristics that individual objects have are called PROPERTIES There are many ways to describe things using the language of substance and property. If Plants are a substance, then being red is a property some plants have and others don’t. But is we think of substance more generally, e.g. matter is substance, then being a plant is a property of some matter.

27 Two substances or just one? The Mind-Body problem asks a particular metaphysical question: Given that we appear to have both a mind and a body, are there two distinct substances: matter and mind?

28 Three Mind-Body options 1) The mind is a substance and the body is a distinct substance. (Dualism) 2) There is only one substance, Mind. Bodies are not real; they are just perceptions of the mind. (Idealism) 3) There is only one substance, Body. Minds are either a special byproduct of complex physical systems or are illusions. (Materialism/Physicalism)

29 General Metaphysical Physicalism One GENERAL position in ontology is called Materialism (or Physicalism). [MP] According to [MP] everything real is physical. Nothing non-physical is real. This is one type of metaphysical monism (mono: one) If you accept MP, then you owe us a story about minds and how they fit into the materialist picture of reality.

30 General Metaphysical Idealism An alternative to physicalism is IDEALISM. [MI] Idealism holds that everything real is a mind or an idea for some mind. What appears to be matter is just a ‘bundle’ of experiences that tend to hang together. Idealism is also a form of metaphysical monism.

31 General Dualism? A general metaphysical dualism would hold that the universe contains both matter (bodies) and ideas and minds. A general dualism is often thought to be objectionable because it might admit too much into reality. Every appearance could be its own substance.

32 What does a theory of mind and body need to explain? A) We seem to have body Ai) The body seems to be a physical thing B) We seem to have a mind Bi) The mind seems to be non-physical C) The body and mind seem to interact Ci) The body seems to affect the mind Cii) The mind seems to affect the body D) Causal interaction cannot involve non-physical things.

33 Is the problem D? If Cause-Effect relations can only hold between physical objects, then: i) The body cannot cause an effect in the mind. ii) The mind cannot cause an effect in the body. …BUT the appearance is that they do interact.

34 Is the problem C? What if the mind and body don’t interact? Maybe they just have two independent existences that seem to coordinate or go together like the picture and soundtrack of a movie?

35 The three options again: Dualism – There are two substances (mind and body) but Dualism must explain how they interact (or seem to interact). Idealism – There is one substance (mind). Idealism must fully explain how and why we are tempted to think there is matter and material objects. Physicalism – There is one substance (matter / body). Physicalism must explain how and why we are tempted to think we have a distinct mind.

36 Questions about Dualism What laws of ‘nature’ govern minds? Are minds interacting with bodies everywhere or only in some places? Is there one MIND or many minds? What kind of properties do minds have and how do we discover them?

37 Is Dualism the ‘default’ view? Pre-theoretically (before we think about it in detail) we would all agree that we have minds and bodies. Part of the reason for this is that the line dividing what we call physical and what we call mental is not clear.

38 Is it mental or physical? Pain? Hunger? Emotion? Love? Memory?

39 Next Time… Descartes’ defense of Dualism Read: Meditation 2 and start of 3

40 Begin by Setting aside Idealism Just to save time we will set aside IDEALISM. Idealism can explain all the appearances of mind and body. There is no special idealist mind-body problem. Instead, Idealism requires that subjective states replace objective facts about a material world. Do we want to embrace the view that we are mostly wrong about the world (containing at least some matter)?

41 Varieties of Dualism There are three main versions of mind-body dualism. 1) Cartesian Dualism (interactionism) 2) Parallelism 3) Occasionalism

42 Cartesian Dualism Cartesian Dualism is a theory of mind that emerges as a byproduct from Descartes’ epistemology. Under hyperbolic doubt the first thing that Descartes discovers that he cannot doubt is that there is thought. He further reasons that there must be a THING that thinks. (Res Cogitans – The Thinking Thing)

43 The Thinking Thing According to Descartes, the Thinking Thing: Affirms Denies Wills Imagines Desires Doubts Believes …and it doesn’t do anything physical!

44 Mind vs. Body The Thinking Thing is known independently of the body. The Thinking Thing cannot be doubted; the body can. The Thinking Thing does not take up space (has no extension), but the body—if any— must have extension.

45 …get your body back! Eventually, Descartes is able to demonstrate that his sensory experiences can yield knowledge of the body. But, since knowledge of the body is different form knowledge of the mind, and because it is obtained differently, the PRICE of knowledge is accepting that the MIND (res cogitans) and the BODY (res extensa) are two distinct substances.

46 A Metaphysical Law Leibniz’s Law of Identity [LL] If two things have different properties then they are not identical, if they have exactly the same properties then they are identical. If you distinguish and classify objects based upon their properties, then this law determines whether two substances are distinct or identical.

47 Arguments for Substance Dualism Argument from Knowability Argument from Subjectivity Argument from Ontological Independence Argument from Conceivability Arguments from Extension and Separation Argument from Intentional States Argument from Conscious Experience

48 Argument from Knowability 1) Minds are knowable by reason alone. 2) Bodies are known through the senses. 3) If two entities have different properties then they are distinct substances. ______________________________ 4) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances. Critique: Modes of knowability are not genuine properties of minds or bodies. They are properties of knowers.

49 Argument from Subjectivity 1) We experience minds subjectively (first- person). 2) We experience bodies objectively (third- person). 3) If two entities have different properties then they are distinct substances. 4) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances. Critique: Modes of knowability are not genuine properties of minds or bodies. They are (arguably) properties of knowers.

50 Ontological Independence Arguments 1) It is possible for me to exist without a body. 2) It is not possible for me to exist without a mind. 3) If I exist then my mind is essential to my existence but my body is not. 4) If two entities have different properties then they are distinct substances ) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances.

51 Comments on Ontological Independence Arguments. Modal Argument: Argues from possibility of X to actuality of X (Doesn’t work in all cases). Argument is posed for ‘Me’. Will it work for ‘You’? (Possibility of Fleshy Automatons) (1) and (2) need support. - Near Death experiences (alternate explanations possible?) - Prior commitments to immortality (most proofs of immortality assume dualism)

52 Argument from Conceivability 1) I can conceive that I exist without a body. 2) I cannot conceive that I exist without a mind. 3) If I exist then my mind is essential to my existence but my body is not. 4) If two entities have different properties then they are distinct substances ) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances.

53 Comments on Conceivability Arguments Why should conceivability count as evidence about what is real? (3) really means “I have no mind” is a contradiction, but “I have no body” is not a contradiction. Is this right? Is it rooted in a fact about reality or a fact about our concepts of mind and body? Does it work for ‘you’?

54 Argument from extension and separation 1) The body is extended in space / separable into parts. 2) The mind is not extended in space / separable into parts 3) If two entities have different properties then they are distinct substances ) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances.

55 Another version: 1) If you remove one cell from my body you do not diminish or change my mind. 2) If you remove all the cells from my body, one-at-a-time you do not diminish or change my mind. 3) The result would be a mind independent of a body ) Therefore, minds and bodies are distinct substances.

56 Comments: How do we know that minds are not extended in space? They are invisible and immaterial. They could be anywhere. How do we know that minds don’t have parts? If I cut off my arm, only my arm knows it if has a mind. Just because I don’t detect a mind there doesn’t mean it isn’t! (imagine if I applied the ‘I don’t see it so its not there’ rule to you) Some physical changes do seem to change (or eliminate) minds. e.g., brain trauma or decapitation.

57 Intentional States argument 1) Minds have intentional states (states that are about other things). 2) Material objects do not have intentionality (aboutness) unless some mind interprets the physical facts. 3) If there is meaning in the universe (one thing means or is about another) then there must be more than just material objects. 4) There is meaning in the universe. 5) There must be immaterial objects capable of explaining meaning / intentionality (i.e. Minds) 6) Therefore, minds and bodies both exist.

58 Comments on Intentional States… Argument only proves the existence of minds. It is consistent with general idealism. Not a conclusive argument in favor of dualism.

59 Argument from Conscious Experience 1) Conscious experience contains more information than the physical facts provide: ‘What its like to X’ 2) If the ‘What its Like’ is not part of the physical world, then physicalism cannot explain all the appearances. 3) If we have both minds and bodies, then we can explain all appearances ) The best explanation of the existence of conscious experiences is dualism.

60 Comments on Conscious Experience Argument Assumes that there is no physical explanation of ‘What its Like’ experiences. Need to consider possible physicalist stories before deciding.

61 The Dead-weight argument There are a lot of arguments and reasons in favor of dualism. Doesn’t that count for something? No.

62 Basic Problems of Substance Dualism Mental Causation (Interaction) Category Mistake Argument (Ryle’s Argument)

63 The Mental Causation Objection Cartesian Dualism (interactionism) requires that the mind and body interact in a causal or quasi-causal way. But, there is no way to give a reasonable account of this interaction. Physical interaction cannot affect minds Mental interaction cannot affect bodies. A substance crossing relation would need to: a) Interact with physical objects b) Interact with minds c) But could not itself be a mental relation or a physical relation This would require an extra type of substance or set off a regress of substances. (violates Ockham’s razor?)

64 Dualism without interaction? Parallelism – Mental and physical events are independent but seem connected. -- implies determinism  (no free will) Occasionalism—Mental and physical events are independent but coordinated by God through ongoing divine interventions. --relies on miracles  (wild ontology?, science doesn’t work) Property Dualism (epiphenomenalism)—there is no mental substance but there are mental properties had by bodies. --mental properties either have interaction issues or are causally inert (and un-necessary) 

65 Next Time… Conclude critique of dualism with Ryle’s category mistake argument. Discuss Basic Physical Theories of Mind. Focus on Behaviorism and Identity Theory

66 The Ghost in the Machine 20 th Century British Philosopher Gilbert Ryle attempted to show that the mind-body problem was really a confusion that results from a poor description of the situation.

67 Ryle’s notion of a ‘Category Mistake’ Suppose I ask to see the university. You show me the buildings, the people, and the grounds, but I ask: “Ok, but where is the university?” In that case I have CATEGORIZED the university as something distinct –over and above the buildings, people, and grounds. Do we make the same kind of mistake when we ask for a mind –over and above what we do and what happens in our brains?

68 Objective Evidence of Minds? What evidence do we have that others have minds? Behavior (bodily and linguistic) We do not have access to subjective states (except through behavior) If we want a scientific / objective account of minds we must start with behavior. (there is nothing else available)

69 Types of Physicalism Physicalist theories of Mind | BehaviorismIdentity TheoryFunctionalism Minds are explained away as inferences to relate and explain behaviors. There is no mind over and above behavior Mental states are identical with brain states (either as types or tokens). No minds without Brains. Behavior traces back to brain states. Mental states are functions from internal and external stimuli to behavior.

70 Logical Behaviorism Methodological Behaviorism tries to understand human psychology by observing behavior. Logical Behaviorism claims that mental states are really just behaviors and dispositions to behave in certain ways. Example: We can discover what it is to be in pain by observing the behaviors of people who report pain.

71 Two models Behavioral Model Mind Plays a role(?) model Stimuli Behavior Conditioned Responses MENTAL EVENTS Not observable Observable

72 Arguments for Behaviorism If all talk of mental states is really talk about dispositions to behave in certain ways, then: a) There are no mental states or mental properties (supports physicalism). b) The theory is objective and scientific. c) Does not require rationalist epistemology. d) No problem of mental causation (all interactions are physical-physical)

73 Arguments against Behaviorism 1) Simulated behavior If Anger-behavior and simulated or pretended anger- behavior are the same behavior, then there is no difference between being angry at a person and pretending to be angry at them. 2) Non-behavioral mental states Suppose a person has a desire to do X, but never does X and never tells anyone about that desire. Is that a real desire? Must either say NO (contrary to hypothesis) Or tell a counter-factual story (not behavioral)

74 Identity Theory Identity theory is another attempt to offer an objective theory of mind. Instead of using behavior as data, states of the Central Nervous System (CNS) [Brain states for short] provide the objective data. Brain states are correlated to behaviors and reports. Until we can map so-called ‘mental states’ perfectly onto brain states. Mental-state talk becomes talk about brain states.

75 Is this person Happy or Sad? This color enhanced fMRI image shows that some areas of the brain are more active than others. Does it show more than that? This is the fear of philosophy final exam questions

76 Type-Type Identity Theory The most compelling version of identity theory is called type-type identity theory. Different TYPES of mental states are posited to be identical with TYPES of brain states. “Pain is C-Fiber firings” But: How do we determine types? How many Types? Same Mental Type, can occur with different Brain Type Dominant Brain and Damaged brain issues

77 Type - Token Identity Theory Alternatively we could say that TYPES of mental states are identical with collections of particular TOKEN brain states. “Pain (type) is identical to X (token)for Tom, Y for Sue, Z, for Al, …” Still no way to determine mental types (except by taking them as basic)

78 Token-Token Identity Perhaps Identities need to be more specific? Individual mental states are identical to individual brain states! “Pain for tom at 3PM is identical to what is happening in Tom’s brain at 3PM” TOO WEAK. This just says that brain events happen when mental events happen. It does not explain the mental event or demonstrate its identity to the brain event. NO Psychological Laws! If there are no general types then we cannot have a science of psychology

79 Multiple Realization Problems X is multiply realized if the SAME thing can occur in more than one different way. Money (coins, bills, electronic transfers, etc.) Congress (every congress has different members but is still a congress) Mental States are multiply realizable: The same mental state can (possibly) be realized in different kinds of brains or even in non-brains. If MR is true, then there are no mind-brain identities of the kind that would support identity theory. This objection killed Identity Theory for most folks…

80 Why not ELIMINATE!?! (Simplify your metaphysics…) One possibility is to just jettison mental talk and allow “mental states” to just BE brain states. A Love Poem: When I detect you visually my synapses flood with dopamine and other positively valenced neurochemicals. The degree of this effect exceeds that caused by infant canines or floral bodies. My nervous system is conditioned to your stimuli and my blood chemistry would change if your stimuli were removed. I expect that a long term biochemical imbalance would result.

81 Functionalism Functionalism in philosophy of mind is the view that mental states should be identified with and differentiated in terms of functional roles. A function (as in mathematics) relates inputs to outputs. (e.g. multiplication vs. addition) A functional role would determine a specific kind of function.

82 Functional Concepts (1) Part of FUNCTIONALISM is conceptual. In a ‘stuff’ concept, what a thing is and what it does is a matter of the nature of the stuff. To be water is to be liquid and wet. To be wood is to be…, to be a sheep is to be…. Most ‘STUFF’ concepts are the concepts of certain kinds in nature (or ‘natural kinds’).

83 Functional Concepts (2) A functional concept identifies what a thing IS with what it does. To be a knife, is to be a thing that cuts To be money, is to be the kind of thing that permits economic exchange To be an umpire, is to be the person who adjudicates events in a baseball game. To be a chess queen, is to be a piece that moves and captures in a specified manner.

84 Functional Concepts (3) If we say that a mental state is a functional kind, then we say that to be “in pain” is to be in that state that relates injury to behaviors of type T. What the mental states have in common is the functional profile of relating input to output. If two functional states relate the same inputs to the same outputs then they are the same function.

85 Examples… Two word processing programs will have different computer code, but will perform the same work. Same function different realization. A Calculator and an abacus will both perform simple mathematical calculations, but one is digital and one is analog. A digital clock and a wind-up cuckoo clock both keep time, etc. Same function different form…

86 Function and Multiple Realization One of the primary reasons people entertain functionalism about mental states is that functional states are multiply realizable. Recall: MR was a problem for identity theory. Now it is a virtue of Functionalism.


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