1 Overview of Significant Ethical Approaches on how to “find” Moral Truth: Virtue EthicsPlatoAristotleMisconceptions Regarding Virtue EthicsJohn DeweyKantSocial Contract EthicsUtilitarianismJohn Stuart MillRule vs. Act UtilitarianismAct UtilitarianismKantian Utilitarianism (R. M. Hare)G. E. Moore’s UtilitarianismIntuitionismEthical RelativismMoral RealismCare EthicsF. NietzscheDavid HumeJohn Rawls
2 Welcome to EthicsUnless your faculties aren’t working properly, you have an interest in ethics and the reason why is simple:Ethics is about what is right and what is wrong and how can we tell the difference.
3 Consider the following questions: What does it mean to be moral?What are human beings really like: selfish, greedy, noble, or good?Are some people “better” at being good than others? If so, how and why?What does it mean to be good?Are there good ways of teaching children to behave morally?Does anyone have the right to tell anyone else what is right from wrong?What is human nature?
4 Consider the following questions: Why should I be a good person? What does it mean to be a good person?Is morality about obeying a set of rules or is it about thinking carefully about consequences?When people say “cannibalism is wrong”, do they know it is wrong or just believe it very strongly?Are there certain kinds of acts that are always wrong (e.g., torturing children, beating up your mother, lying)?Is it okay to ever break a law?Is it wrong to enjoy hurting others?Are human beings essentially good or essentially wicked?
5 How do you find ethical, moral truth? Plato & Kant say the power of reasonJainism says ascetic control/suppression of all feelings.Sir W. D. Ross says intuitionsH. Utilitarians say we discover the right act calculating the balance of pleasure over painVirtue Ethics says in a virtuous character whereby a person is able to realize the crucial potentialities that constitute human excellence. It’s focus is on the person rather than the act.Nonobject. say there is no truthCare Ethics: Narrative of relationships that extend through time.Social contract theorists say ethical principles are made, not found, constructed by social groups, and exists for the benefit of those groups.Natural/Special Revelation from God
6 Overview of Ethical Systems: Virtue Ethics: Rather than focusing on what we ought to do, Virtue ethics offers a distinctive approach whereby we focus on human character asking the question, “What should I be?” Thus, ethical life involves envisioning ideals for human life and embodying those ideals in one’s life. Virtues are ways in which we embody those ideals.Virtue is an excellence of some sort. Originally the word meant “strength” and referred to as “manliness.” In Aristotle’s ethics (arete) is used which is trans. as “excellences of various types.”Aristotle says there are 2 types of virtue: intellectual virtues:excellences of the mind (e.g., ability to understand, reason, & judge well);moral virtues: learned by repetition (e.g., practicing honesty we become honest. To be virtuous requires knowledge, practice, & consistent effort at character building.Plato (c c):To be virtuous we must understand what contributes to our overall good & have our desire (appetitive; workers), spirit (warriors), & reason (ruler-guardians) educated properly so they will aggregate with the guidance provided by the rational part of the soul (Books 2 & 3 of Republic). When these 3 parts of the soul conflict with each other, it might move us to act in ways that go against the greater good (become incontinent).Plato (c ) is concerned with the quality of a person’s inner state & he prized beauty, health, harmony, & strength of a soul as the virtues we should emulate.Aristotle ( ): The function of man is reason (the good of the thing is when it performs its function well) which is peculiar to him. Thus, the function of man is reason and the life that is distinctive of humans is the life in accordance with reason. If the function of man is reason, then the good man is the man who reasons well This is the life of excellence (eudaimonia; human flourishing & well-being).G.E.M. Anscombe ( ) argues we can’t rely on moral obligation using a non-religious ethic but we can rely on the Greek notion of excellence because it is tied to well-being & appropriateness to the kind of things we are.Philippa Foot (1920-) ethical naturalist, grounds the virtues in what is good for human beings; the virtues are beneficial to their possessor or to the community; virtues are valuable because they contribute to it.Aristotle: “Must have knowledge, second he must choose the acts and choose them for their own sakes, & finally his actions must proceed from a firm character” (1105a).
7 Basic Framework of Virtue Ethics: Premise 1: An action is right iff it is what a virtuous agent would do in the circumstances.Premise 1a: A virtuous agent is one who acts virtuously, i.e., one who has and exercises the virtues.Premise 2: A virtue is a character trait a human being needs to flourish or live well.
8 3 Central Concepts:Though there are several modern versions of virtue ethics, most models have their roots in ancient Greek philosophy by the employment of three concepts derived from it:1. arête (excellence or virtue);2. phronesis (practical or moral wisdom);3. eudaimonia (usually translated as human) flourishing; successful living)
9 Consider the following quote: “We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live.”~ Socrates in Plato’s Republic
10 Overview of Ethical Systems: Plato (427-347 B.C.) Plato believed our natural desires are greedy and depraved. Thus, they mustbe held in tight check by the powers of reason. He compared the human soul toa city-state made up of ruler-guardians, guardians, and the peasants/artisans.Every reality is an archetype of a corresponding eternal form. The goal of life is toactualize one’s true nature together with one’s many innate potentialities.4 primary integrated virtues: Wisdom: corresponds to reason; courage: corresponds to the will: temperance, corresponds to desire: justice: links individual to society.So long as the individual is governed by the power of reason, and reason is assisted by courage and will power (guardians), the unruly desires can be suppressed.If reason for a moment lets down its guard, then the desires will exert their power, seize control, and lead the person to corruption and immorality.The highest good is the well-ordered whole to which each part contributes according to its own capacity. A thing in reality is good insofar as it participates in & corresponds to the form of the good (which is the high point of the forms).
11 Essential Terms for Plato: 1. teleology: "everything in the universe has a proper function to perform within a harmonious hierarchy of purposes"2. reason: the intellectual component of the soul: "calculates, measures and decides"3. spirit: "structural element of the soul"; this is our passionate side that desires honor, glory, and respectappetite: the part of the soul that desires things that help us to satisfy our biological and material desiresmoral balance: situation in which reason governs the soul guarding against the excesses of spirit and appetite.6. class system: In Plato's Republic, a way of dividing individuals into different social groups based on their talents. There are three classes: philosopher-kings (rulers [reason] ), auxiliaries (guardians [spirit]) who serve as warriors, and a combination of craftsmen, artisans, and traders who are driven mostly by appetite.7. just society: a society that functions harmoniously by allowing each individual to do the work suited to his/her talents.8. philosopher kings: rulers in Plato's just society from the Republic9. guardian class: warriors in Plato's just society from the Republic
12 Main Points to Know:Plato writes dialogues rather than philosophical treatises. Hence, most of his philosophical positions are voiced through the character of Socrates. Even though Socrates was Plato's actual teacher, the positions and doctrines traditionally attributed to Socrates are actually Plato's account of his teacher. Socrates never wrote anything.Plato advances a teleological conception of morality, "we live the good life insofar as we perform our distinctively human function well."
13 Main Points to Know:The soul is divided into three parts: appetitive, spirit, and reason. Each part helps us to fulfill critical needs, but in Plato's view, only the rational part of the soul is fit to rule.In order to live a virtuous life, it is necessary for the individual to cultivate balance in his/her soul. Thus, persons ruled by appetite or spirit (emotion) are "out of balance" and their actions are apt to provoke personal or social disharmony.
14 Main Points to Know:Appetite: In cases where appetite rules (oligarchic and tyrannical characters fit here) individuals are at the mercy of the their biological or material whims. Alcohol addiction fits this profile. Individuals who are addicted to self-destructive patterns of behavior are apt to feed their appetites at the expense of other life pursuits. People can also be ruled by material greed in much the same way. The key here is that desire is determinative; these are cravings of the highest degree.
15 Main Points to Know:Spirit: The emotional, passionate side of our character is centered on the idea of status on a social level. Ambition, desire for honor and glory, moral indignation, and cravings for admiration, all fit under the umbrella of spirit. Love relationships fit into this category as well. Our interactions with others provide core experiences that influence our emotional development.
16 Main Points to Know:Reason: The intellectual, thinking part of the soul that must weigh options, decide between alternatives, and "suppress dangerous urges.“ Plato clearly puts reason in control of the soul because it acts as good counsel seeking understanding and insight before acting. Rational individuals possess a strong contemplative faculty. They think before they act and are unlikely to take rash action in any given situation.
17 Know Thyself:Plato contends that each one of us performs/does one thing best. We each have one best skill and it is the development of this skill that is of paramount importance in creating a harmonious existence. If we do not have insight into what we do best, the chances of achieving a balanced soul are likely reduced. Hence the Socratic imperative, "know thyself."Just Society: First ask yourself: is it possible to have a just society? What would it look like? How would we direct education, the economy, leisure, and social resources? What is fair?Plato wrestles with the idea of justice in his most famous work entitled, The Republic.
18 Auxiliaries/Guardians Craftsmen/Artisans/Traders Plato views social justice exactly parallels his notion of individual justice. There are three parts of the soul and three corresponding divisions in the social order. The social order is constructed as follows:SOULSOCIETYReasonPhilosopher-KingSpiritAuxiliaries/GuardiansAppetiteCraftsmen/Artisans/Traders
19 Three Elements in the Soul that are distinguished by their functions, goal, and activities: Reason-calculation calculates: calculation is concerned with the good (i.e., with the best course of action);Appetite-Desire desires: Desire is concerned with pleasure;Spirit gets spirited: spirit reacts to perceived slights or wrong.When you revisit these elements in Books 8-8, they no longer look like faculties (as they did in book 4); they now seem more like drives. The desiring element is specified as the drive toward material satisfaction; spirit as the drive to win and to amount to something; calculation as the drive to discover truth.
20 Interestingly…By Book 9 the calculative element has a goal of its own: seeks wisdom. “Wisdom is a good, of course, arguably the highest good. But this element seeks wisdom because it is wisdom, not because it is good. It has turned out to be the philosophical element in the soul. For this reason we should not be content for the calculative element merely to supervise within us, not if we want to be happy. Its natural passion is directed at something different and better than this. Certainly, it is better that this element in each person should be supervisor than that it should fall under the control of the other elements of the soul and be reduced to a tool in their service, as described in Books 8 and 9. But although it is appropriate that the calculative element should supervise the others (44Ie), this is not what it loves to do. As the philosophical element in the soul, it takes on the job of ruling the soul with a reserve comparable in some respects to that with which philosophers take on the job of ruling the city. Even with the soul, ruling is work….the philosophical element is divine and immortal, the other elements are mortal and animal, and only the necessity of incarnation thrusts them together.”~ Cambridge Companion to Plato’s Republic, “Three-Part Soul” by G. R. F. Ferrari, pg. 166.
21 An Ideal CityPlato attempts to show that on justice is so great a good that it is worth any sacrifice. He portrays an ideal political community: there we will see justice writ large, and so we will be better able to find justice in the individual soul. An ideal city must make radical innovations. It should be ruled by specially trained philosophers, since their understanding of the Form of the Good will give them greater insight into everyday affairs. Their education is compared to that of a prisoner who, having once gazed upon nothing but shadows in the artificial light of a cave, is released from bondage, leaves the cave, eventually learns to see the sun, and is thereby equipped to return to the cave and see the images there for what the are. Everything in the rulers’ lives is designed to promote their allegiance to the community: they are forbidden private possessions, their sexual lives are regulated by eugenic considerations, and they are not to know who their children art. Positions of political power are open to women, since the physical differences between them and men do not in all cases deprive them of the intellectual or moral capacities needed for political office. The works of poets are to be carefully regulated, for the false moral notions of the traditional poets have had a powerful and deleterious impact on the general public. Philosophical reflection is to replace popular poetry as the force that guides moral education.
22 An Ideal CityWhat makes this city ideally just is the dedication of each of its components to one task for which it is naturally suited and specially trained. The rulers are ideally equipped to rule; the soldiers are best able to enforce their commands; and the economic class, composed of farmers, craftsmen, builders, etc. are content to do their work and to leave the tasks of making and enforcing the laws to others.
23 What makes the soul of person just? What makes the soul of a human being just is the same principle: each of its components must properly perform its own task. The part of us that is capable of understanding and reasoning is the part that must rule; the assertive part that makes us capable of anger and competitive spirit must give our understanding the force it needs; and our appetites for food and sex must be trained so that they seek only those objects that reason approves. It is not enough to educate someone’s reasons, for unless the emotions and appetites are properly trained they will overpower it. Just individuals are those who have fully integrated these elements of the soul.
24 What makes the soul of person just? Just individuals are those who have fully integrated these elements of the soul. They do not unthinkingly follow a list of rules; rather, their just treatment of others flow from their own balanced psychological condition. And the paradigm of a just person is a philosopher, for reason rules when it becomes passionately attached to the most intelligible object there are: the Forms (which are eternal, changeless, and imperceptible). It emerges that justice pays because attachment to these supremely valuable objects is part of what true justice of the soul is. The worth of our lives depends on the worth of objects to which we devote ourselves. Those who think that injustice pays assume that wealth, domination, or the pleasures of the physical appetite are supremely valuable; their mistake lies in their limited conception of what sorts of objects are worth loving.
25 The Forms:1. Phaedo is the first dialogue in which Plato decisively posits the existence of the abstract objects that he often called “Forms” or “Ideas”-which exist independently of thought (eidos and idea).Forms are eternal, changeless, and incorporeal. Since they are imperceptible we can come to have knowledge of them only through thought.a. Beautiful roses is not Beauty itself.b. What every rose has in common with every other is that it bears a certain relationship-called “participation”-to one and the same thing, the Form of Beauty. Thus, what makes roses beautiful is the unchanging Form-beauty.3. For Plato the Forms are not merely an unusual item to be added to our list of existing objects. Rather, they are a source of inspiration and their discovery is a decisive turning point in one’s life.
26 Example from Symposium: Love. According to Diotima’s account, those who are in love are searching for something they do not yet understand; whether they realize it or not, they seek the eternal possession of the good, and they can obtain it only through productive activity of some sort. Physical love perpetuates the species and achieves a lower form of immortality, but a more beautiful kind of offspring is produced by those who govern cities and shape the moral characteristics of future generations.
27 Example from Symposium: Love. Best of all is the kind of love that eventually attaches itself to the Form of Beauty, since this is the most beautiful of objects and provides the greatest happiness to the lover. One develops a love for this Form by ascending through various stages of emotional attachment and understanding. Beginning with an attraction to the beauty of one person’s body, one gradually develops an appreciation for the beauty present in all other beautiful bodies; then one’s recognition of the beauty in people’s souls takes on increasing strength, and leads to a deeper attachment to the beauty of customs, laws, and systems of knowledge; and this process of emotional growth and deepening insight culminates in the discovery of the eternal and changeless beauty of Beauty itself.
28 Aristotle Rejection of Plato: Plato’s chief contribution consists in his conception of the observable world as an imperfect image of a realm of unobservable and unchanging “Forms,” and his conception of the best life as one centered on the love of these divine objects.Aristotle rejects Plato’s transcendental Form of the Good as irrelevant to the affairs of persons, and in general, had little sympathy with the notion of the absolute good. Rather, the goal of choice and action is the human good, namely, living well.
29 Aristotle Rejection of Plato: Plato’s general theory of knowledge, i.e., the “theory of forms” has much in common with the theories of innate ideas. What is known, at the highest and most general level, is a collection of objects, with which we have all had direct acquaintance prior to birth (the “forms” or “ideas”). All of us, therefore, may have some inkling of general truths; but only those whose rational capacities are especially well developed-in short, philosophers-can fully reactivate their memories.Aristotle rejects Plato’s theory of knowledge. He locates the source of ethical insight in experience of life itself. Aristotle argues that we need to know how to act, possess practical wisdom (have an “eye” for solutions)—and that can only be developed through a combination of training in the right habits and direct acquaintance with practical situations.
30 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: Read in this way, Aristotle is engaged in a project similar in some respects to the one Plato carried out in the Republic. One of Plato's central points is that it is a great advantage to establish a hierarchical ordering of the elements in one's soul; and he shows how the traditional virtues can be interpreted to foster or express the proper relation between reason and less rational elements of the psyche. Aristotle's approach is similar: his “function argument” shows in a general way that our good lies in the dominance of reason, and the detailed studies of the particular virtues reveal how each of them involves the right kind of ordering of the soul.
31 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: Aristotle's goal is to arrive at conclusions similar to Plato's, but without relying on the Platonic metaphysics that plays a central role in the argument of the Republic. He rejects the existence of Plato's forms in general and the form of the good in particular; and he rejects the idea that in order to become fully virtuous one must study mathematics and the sciences, and see all branches of knowledge as a unified whole. Even though Aristotle's ethical theory sometimes relies on philosophical distinctions that are more fully developed in his other works, he never proposes that students of ethics need to engage in a specialized study of the natural world, or mathematics, or eternal and changing objects. His project is to make ethics an autonomous field, and to show why a full understanding of what is good does not require expertise in any other field.
32 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: There is another contrast with Plato that should be emphasized: In Book II of the Republic, we are told that the best type of good is one that is desirable both in itself and for the sake of its results (357d-358a). Plato argues that justice should be placed in this category, but since it is generally agreed that it is desirable for its consequences, he devotes most of his time to establishing his more controversial point—that justice is to be sought for its own sake. By contrast, Aristotle assumes that if A is desirable for the sake of B, then B is better than A (1094a14-16); therefore, the highest kind of good must be one that is not desirable for the sake of anything else.
33 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: To show that A deserves to be our ultimate end, one must show that all other goods are best thought of as instruments that promote A in some way or other. Accordingly, it would not serve Aristotle's purpose to consider virtuous activity in isolation from all other goods. He needs to discuss honor, wealth, pleasure, and friendship in order to show how these goods, properly understood, can be seen as resources that serve the higher goal of virtuous activity. He vindicates the centrality of virtue in a well-lived life by showing that in the normal course of things a virtuous person will not live a life devoid of friends, honor, wealth, pleasure, and the like.
34 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: Virtuous activity makes a life happy not by guaranteeing happiness in all circumstances, but by serving as the goal for the sake of which lesser goods are to be pursued. Aristotle's methodology in ethics therefore pays more attention than does Plato's to the connections that normally obtain between virtue and other goods. That is why he stresses that in this sort of study one must be satisfied with conclusions that hold only for the most part (1094b11-22). Poverty, isolation, and dishonor are normally impediments to the exercise of virtue and therefore to happiness, although there may be special circumstances in which they are not. The possibility of exceptions does not undermine the point that, as a rule, to live well is to have sufficient resources for the pursuit of virtue over the course of a lifetime.
35 Aristotle’s Differences with Plato: Difference over what is virtue and vice.Aristotle differs with Plato’s notion (early dialogues) that virtue is nothing but a kind of knowledge and vice is nothing more but a lack of knowledge.The significance of Aristotle's characterization of these states as hexeis is his decisive rejection of that thesis. Aristotle insists that virtues differ from crafts and all branches of knowledge for they involve appropriate emotional responses rather than pure intellectual conditions.
36 Some Similarities between Plato & Aristotle: Aristotle sees the human body as complex of soul and body whereas Plato sees souls temporarily united with bodies (Plato), they are like other things in the world for they have a “function” or “activity” which is peculiar to them.The good life, eudaimonia, will consist in the successful performance of that function.Nothing can perform its peculiar function successfully unless it possess the relevant “arete”, i.e., unless it is good of its kind (two platonic examples: the only horses that will be able to win races; the only pruning-knives which can successfully be used to cut vines-will be good ones).For both Plato and Aristotle the content of arete depends on some prior notion of what it is to be human.
37 What is the function of human beings and what is the arete which relates to that? 1. Plato’s answers are, respectively, “governing and the like” (i.e., the governing of the soul by its union with the body), and “justice.”2. “An active life of that which possesses reason, and the best of the “arete.”
38 Overview of Ethical Systems: Aristotle (384-322 B.C.): Though we are naturally suited to moral goodness, we don’t automatically develop such inclinationsYour habits & inclinations develop with practice; what you sow is what you reap.Carefully cultivate moral goodness by rigorous practice.Ideal of virtue is doing the right thing because you want to do the right thing: you desire to act virtuously.In order to desire to act virtuously you must carefully and consistently practice doing right until it becomes habitual & natural.If you act selfishly then you will become a selfish person. Eventually what feels right to you may be very wrong.With practice & diligence you can develop the habits & inclinations of a virtuous person.Thus, choose to be virtuous. Desire + judgment must agree.
39 Closer Look at Virtue:“A virtue such as honesty or generosity is not just a tendency to do what is honest or generous, nor is it to be helpfully specified as a "desirable" or "morally valuable" character trait. It is, indeed a character trait — that is, a disposition which is well entrenched in its possessor, something that, as we say "goes all the way down", unlike a habit such as being a tea-drinker — but the disposition in question, far from being a single track disposition to do honest actions, or even honest actions for certain reasons, is multi-track. It is concerned with many other actions as well, with emotions and emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interests, expectations and sensibilities. To possess a virtue is to be a certain sort of person with a certain complex mindset. (Hence the extreme recklessness of attributing a virtue on the basis of a single action)” ~ Stanford Encyclopedia
40 Why do you want to be happy? For Aristotle, the ultimate aim of the best life is eudaimonia. If someone asks why you want to go to college, buy a car, or get a divorce, it makes sense to answer that you are doing these things as part of a long-term plan to achieve happiness. But if someone asks why you want to be happy, there is no answer because happiness is not a means to anything further. Happiness is valuable solely for its own sake. Now, the claim that everything else is valued for the sake of happiness is somewhat more controversial:Mill agrees with Aristotle, but Kant thinks that duty is desirable solely for its own sake.There is much disagreement about what “happiness” is. Some people think happiness is sensual pleasure; others think it is wealth, honor, good action, or contemplation.
41 Virtue Ethics: What kind of person should I be? What is a virtue?A virtue is a habit of excellence, a beneficial tendency, a skilled disposition that enables a person to realize the crucial potentialities that constitute proper human flourishing (eudaimonia).What is a habit? A disposition to think, feel, desire, and act in a certain way without having a tendency to consciously will to do so.What is a character: The sum-total of one’s habits, tendencies, and well-being.Four cardinal virtues: temperance, courage, prudence, and justice. Piety (reverence to the gods) is sometimes considered a fifth virtue.
42 On Becoming Agathos & Eudaimon From Aristotle’s Point of View: Cited from Michael Boylan, Basic Ethics (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000), 52.Step 1: Master the functional requirements within a given type of task or behavior.Step 2: Possess the habitual mastery of the functional requirements to an appropriate degree.Step 3: Steps 1 & 2: excellence in that task or behavior.Step 4: Possess habitual excellence in a number of key tasks or behavior.Step 5: Possess habitual excellence in those tasks or behavior that the common opinion judges to be the most worthy.Step 6: Steps 4 & 5 leads to agathos.Step 7: Possessing Agathos leads to eudaimon.Thus, on balance, excellent traits in human character generally produce excellent actions.
43 What is Virtue: Aristotle characterizes virtue as follows: Virtue, then, is a state of character, concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e., the mean relative to us, this being determined by principle, that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it (1106b-1107).
44 The good for man, then, is activity in accordance with virtue or the highest virtue. Just like the excellence of an lies in cutting, a thing’s excellence is a master of how well it performs its characteristic functions or, we might say, how well it realizes it nature.The natural functions of persons reside in their exercise of their natural cognitive faculties, most importantly, the faculty of reason. So human happiness consistence in activity in accordance with reason. However, persons can exercise reason in practical or in purely theoretical matters. The first suggest that happiness consists in the practical life of moral virtue, the second that is consists in the life of theoretical activity.Most of Nicomachean Ethics is devoted to moral virtues but final book appears to favor theoretical activity (theoria) as the highest and most choice-worthy end. It is man’s closest approach to divine activity.The fully virtuous do what they should without a struggle against contrary desires; the continent have to control a desire or temptation to do otherwise.
45 Character:When Aristotle says that a virtuous person’s virtuous acts proceed from a firm character, he means to distinguish virtue from other sorts of character. Consider…The acts of a virtuous person do not arise out of some quirk of circumstances. Rather, a virtuous person’s acts are typical of that person because virtue is his/her set of habits of passion, desire, pleasure, thoughts, & the like. Therefore, he/she is not out-of-character. In other words, the virtuous person can be counted on to perform such acts.
46 Character3. The acts are not the result of outside pressure or persuasion but come instead from within the person.The act should not be performed by an effort of will against temptation. The virtuous person is not conflicted-not pulled one way be desire and another by duty. He or she is in harmony with himself or herself. Thus even though the continent person is reliably good and internally motivated, his/her act does not “proceed from a firm character.”Consider the following chart of 6 different types of character:
47 Aristotle’s Descriptions of the Various Sorts of Characters: Character Passion/Desires Principles/Choices ChoicesHeroically virtuous very right very right very rightVirtuous right right rightContinent wrong right rightIncontinent wrong right wrongVicious wrong wrong wrongBrutish very wrong very wrong very wrong1. Heroic person possesses supererogatory virtue, acting & feeling even better than ordinary virtuous people2. Virtuous person has right passions & desires, makes right choices based on right principles, & reliably performs right acts.3. The continent person overcomes temptation by will power. He has wrong passions & desires but makes right choices & performs right acts.The incontinent: fails to overcome temptation because of weakness of will: he has wrong passions & desires & makes right choices but performs wrong acts (1150a15).5. The vicious & brutish characters need no further explanation.
48 Character:Aristotle goes onto characterize virtue further when he states [1106b-1107]:Virtue, then is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e., the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.
49 Character: A State of Character is a set of: 1. Habits, 2. Passion, 3. Pleasure,4. Thoughts, &5. the like.Thus to say that virtue is a a state of character is to say that a virtuous person not only reliably performs virtuous acts but also feels the right passions, desires the right objects, enjoys the right things, and holds the right beliefs in the each situation.Consider the following example…
50 Character:A courageous person will not only stand firm in battle but will also feel the right amoun of fear and confidence and have the right goals. He will not be thinking, “I can’t run because I am so terrified that my legs are off-line, and besides if I stand firm, I may get to appear on CNN.” Instead, he will be thinking, “The situation is perilous, but I have a reasonable chance of surviving if I keep alert, and besides I must stand firm to keep my city free. It is the brave thing to do.”
51 Character:Is Aristotle demanding an unreasonably high level of perfection from his virtuous person?1. Virtue is a matter of degree and Aristotle is sketching a perfect virtue. He is describing an ideal person so that we can have a mark at which to aim and a standard for judgment.2. A person can be reasonably less than ideal and still be a virtuous person.The bottom line is that your passions and desires are under your control. To be sure, you can’t change them quickly or easily, but over time you can modify your passions and desires. In fact, Aristotle says that you should use your reason to determine which passions and desires to have and then go on to develop these passions and desires. You should cultivate a taste for virtue, just as some people cultivate a taste for gourmet coffee (1113a-1114b).
52 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: Aristotle describes ethical virtue as a “hexis” (“state” “condition” “disposition”)—a tendency or disposition, induced by our habits, to have appropriate feelings (1105b25-6).Defective states of character are hexeis (plural of hexis) as well, but they are tendencies to have inappropriate feelings.The significance of Aristotle's characterization of these states as hexeis is his decisive rejection of the thesis, found throughout Plato's early dialogues, that virtue is nothing but a kind of knowledge and vice nothing but a lack of knowledge.Although Aristotle frequently draws analogies between the crafts and the virtues (and similarly between physical health and eudaimonia), he insists that the virtues differ from the crafts and all branches of knowledge in that the former involve appropriate emotional responses and are not purely intellectual conditions.
53 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: Every ethical virtue is a condition intermediate between two other states, one involving excess, and the other deficiency (1106a26-b28).1. Virtues are no different from technical skills: every skilled worker knows how to avoid excess and deficiency, and is in a condition intermediate between two extremes.2. For example, the courageous person, for example, judges that some dangers are worth facing and others not, and experiences fear to a degree that is appropriate to his circumstances. He lies between the coward, who flees every danger and experiences excessive fear, and the rash person, who judges every danger worth facing and experiences little or no fear.
54 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: 2. Aristotle holds that this same topography applies to every ethical virtue: all are located on a map that places the virtues between states of excess and deficiency.3. The mean is to be determined in a way that takes into account the particular circumstances of the individual (1106a36-b7).Example: The arithmetic mean between 10 and 2 is 6, and this is so invariably, whatever is being counted. But the intermediate point that is chosen by an expert in any of the crafts will vary from one situation to another. There is no universal rule, for example, about how much food an athlete should eat, and it would be absurd to infer from the fact that 10 lbs. is too much and 2 lbs. too little for me that I should eat 6 lbs. Finding the mean in any given situation is not a mechanical or thoughtless procedure, but requires a full and detailed acquaintance with the circumstances
56 A Character Trait is a Virtue IFF it is conducive to eudaimonia Virtue Excess Deficiency SphereCourage Rashness Cowardice DangerTemperance Self-indulgence Insensibility Sensual pleasureLiberality Wasteful Stinginess MoneyMagnificence Vulgarity Penny pinching Great wealthPride Vanity Humility Honor & self-respectRight Ambition Overly ambitious Lack of ambition HonorGood temper No emotion Quick-temper InsultReady wit Buffoonishness Boorishness HumorTruthfulness Boastfulness Modesty Self-descriptionFriendliness Flattery Quarrelsome Social associationShame Bashfulness Pretense WrongdoingRighteous Spite Envy Fortune of othersJustice Greed ? Scarce goods
57 How does Aristotle Know which Traits are Virtues? It is not by uncritical adoption of values of his time for Aristotle is quite critical of certain institutions within society (e.g., slavery) & is willing to state that certain traits are virtues/vices even though they have not been previously been identified as such by his society.Aristotle says that a character trait is a virtue IFF it is conducive to leading the happy life (eudaimonia).
58 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: It should be evident that Aristotle's treatment of virtues as mean states endorses the idea that we should sometimes have strong feelings—when such feelings are called for by our situation. Sometimes only a small degree of anger is appropriate; but at other times, circumstances call for great anger. The right amount is not some quantity between zero and the highest possible level, but rather the amount, whatever it happens to be, that is proportionate to the seriousness of the situation. Of course, Aristotle is committed to saying that anger should never reach the point at which it undermines reason; and this means that our passion should always fall short of the extreme point at which we would lose control. But it is possible to be very angry without going to this extreme, and Aristotle does not intend to deny this.
59 2 Distinct Theories Regarding the Doctrine of the Mean: 1st: There is the thesis that every virtue is a state that lies between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency.2nd: There is the idea that whenever a virtuous person chooses to perform a virtuous act, he can be described as aiming at an act that is in some way or other intermediate between alternatives that he rejects. ISecond is more objectionable. A critic might concede that in some cases virtuous acts can be described in Aristotle's terms. If, for example, one is trying to decide how much to spend on a wedding present, one is looking for an amount that is neither excessive nor deficient. But surely many other problems that confront a virtuous agent are not susceptible to this quantitative analysis. If one must decide whether to attend a wedding or respect a competing obligation instead, it would not be illuminating to describe this as a search for a mean between extremes—unless “aiming at the mean” simply becomes another phrase for trying to make the right decision. The objection, then, is that Aristotle's doctrine of the mean, taken as a doctrine about what the ethical agent does when he deliberates, is in many cases inapplicable or unilluminating.
60 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: A defense of Aristotle would have to say that the virtuous person does after all aim at a mean, if we allow for a broad enough notion of what sort of aiming is involved. For example, consider a juror who must determine whether a defendant is guilty as charged. He does not have before his mind a quantitative question; he is trying to decide whether the accused committed the crime, and is not looking for some quantity of action intermediate between extremes. Nonetheless, an excellent juror can be described as someone who, in trying to arrive at the correct decision, seeks to express the right degree of concern for all relevant considerations. He searches for the verdict that results from a deliberative process that is neither overly credulous or unduly skeptical. Similarly, in facing situations that arouse anger, a virtuous agent must determine what action (if any) to take in response to an insult, and although this is not itself a quantitative question, his attempt to answer it properly requires him to have the right degree of concern for his standing as a member of the community. He aims at a mean in the sense that he looks for a response that avoids too much or too little attention to factors that must be taken into account in making a wise decision.
61 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: Perhaps a greater difficulty can be raised if we ask how Aristotle determines which emotions are governed by the doctrine of the mean. Consider someone who loves to wrestle, for example. Is this passion something that must be felt by every human being at appropriate times and to the right degree? Surely someone who never felt this emotion to any degree could still live a perfectly happy life. Why then should we not say the same about at least some of the emotions that Aristotle builds into his analysis of the ethically virtuous agent? Why should we experience anger at all, or fear, or the degree of concern for wealth and honor that Aristotle commends? These are precisely the questions that were asked in antiquity by the Stoics, and they came to the conclusion that such common emotions as anger and fear are always inappropriate. Aristotle assumes, on the contrary, not simply that these common passions are sometimes appropriate, but that it is essential that every human being learn how to master them and experience them in the right way at the right times. A defense of his position would have to show that the emotions that figure in his account of the virtues are valuable components of any well-lived human life, when they are experienced properly. Perhaps such a project could be carried out, but Aristotle himself does not attempt to do so.
62 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: He often says, in the course of his discussion, that when the good person chooses to act virtuously, he does so for the sake of the “kalon”—a word that can mean “beautiful,” “noble,” or “fine.” (See for example 1120a23-4.) This term indicates that Aristotle sees in ethical activity an attraction that is comparable to the beauty of well-crafted artifacts, including such artifacts as poetry, music, and drama. He draws this analogy in his discussion of the mean, when he says that every craft tries to produce a work from which nothing should be taken away and to which nothing further should be added (1106b5-14). A craft product, when well designed and produced by a good craftsman, is not merely useful, but also has such elements as balance, proportion and harmony—for these are properties that help make it useful. Similarly, Aristotle holds that a well-executed project that expresses the ethical virtues will not merely be advantageous but kalon as well—for the balance it strikes is part of what makes it advantageous. The young person learning to acquire the virtues must develop a love of doing what is kalon and a strong aversion to its opposite—the aischron, the shameful and ugly. Determining what is kalon is difficult (1106b28-33, 1109a24-30, and the normal human aversion to embracing difficulties helps account for the scarcity of virtue (1104b10-11).
63 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: It should be clear that neither the thesis that virtues lie between extremes nor the thesis that the good person aims at what is intermediate is intended as a procedure for making decisions. These doctrines of the mean help show what is attractive about the virtues, and they also help systematize our understanding of which qualities are virtues. Once we see that temperance, courage, and other generally recognized characteristics are mean states, we are in a position to generalize and to identify other mean states as virtues, even though they are not qualities for which we have a name. Aristotle remarks, for example, that the mean state with respect to anger has no name in Greek (1125b26-7). Though he is guided to some degree by distinctions captured by ordinary terms, his methodology allows him to recognize states for which no names exist.
64 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: So far from offering a decision procedure, Aristotle insists that this is something that no ethical theory can do. His theory elucidates the nature of virtue, but what must be done on any particular occasion by a virtuous agent depends on the circumstances, and these vary so much from one occasion to another that there is no possibility of stating a series of rules, however complicated, that collectively solve every practical problem. This feature of ethical theory is not unique; Aristotle thinks it applies to many crafts, such as medicine and navigation (1104a7-10). He says that the virtuous person “sees the truth in each case, being as it were a standard and measure of them” (1113a32-3); but this appeal to the good person's vision should not be taken to mean that he has an inarticulate and incommunicable insight into the truth.
65 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: Aristotle thinks of the good person as someone who is good at deliberation, and he describes deliberation as a process of rational inquiry. The intermediate point that the good person tries to find is “determined by logos (“reason,” “account”) and in the way that the person of practical reason would determine it” (1107a1-2). To say that such a person “sees” what to do is simply a way of registering the point that the good person's reasoning does succeed in discovering what is best in each situation. He is “as it were a standard and measure” in the sense that his views should be regarded as authoritative by other members of the community. A standard or measure is something that settles disputes; and because good people are so skilled at discovering the mean in difficult cases, their advice must be sought and heeded.
66 Relationship between Virtue and Vice: Although there is no possibility of writing a book of rules, however long, that will serve as a complete guide to wise decision-making, it would be a mistake to attribute to Aristotle the opposite position, namely that every purported rule admits of exceptions, so that even a small rule-book that applies to a limited number of situations is an impossibility. He makes it clear that certain emotions (spite, shamelessness, envy) and actions (adultery, theft, murder) are always wrong, regardless of the circumstances (1107a8-12). Although he says that the names of these emotions and actions convey their wrongness, he should not be taken to mean that their wrongness derives from linguistic usage. He defends the family as a social institution against the criticisms of Plato (Politics II.3-4), and so when he says that adultery is always wrong, he is prepared to argue for his point by explaining why marriage is a valuable custom and why extra-marital intercourse undermines the relationship between husband and wife. He is not making the tautological claim that wrongful sexual activity is wrong, but the more specific and contentious point that marriages ought to be governed by a rule of strict fidelity. Similarly, when he says that murder and theft are always wrong, he does not mean that wrongful killing and taking are wrong, but that the current system of laws regarding these matters ought to be strictly enforced. So, although Aristotle holds that ethics cannot be reduced to a system of rules, however complex, he insists that some rules are inviolable.
67 Aristotle’s Starting Point We have seen that the decisions of a practically wise person are not mere intuitions, but can be justified by a chain of reasoning. (This is why Aristotle often talks in term of a practical syllogism, with a major premise that identifies some good to be achieved, and a minor premise that locates the good in some present-to-hand situation.) At the same time, he is acutely aware of the fact that reasoning can always be traced back to a starting point that is not itself justified by further reasoning. Neither good theoretical reasoning nor good practical reasoning moves in a circle; true thinking always presupposes and progresses in linear fashion from proper starting points. And that leads him to ask for an account of how the proper starting points of reasoning are to be determined. Practical reasoning always presupposes that one has some end, some goal one is trying to achieve; and the task of reasoning is determine how that goal is to be accomplished. (This need not be means-end reasoning in the conventional sense; if, for example, our goal is the just resolution of a conflict, we must determine what constitutes justice in these particular circumstances. Here we are engaged in ethical inquiry, and are not asking a purely instrumental question.) But if practical reasoning is correct only if it begins from a correct premise, what is it that insures the correctness of its starting point?
68 Aristotle’s Starting Point Aristotle replies: “Virtue makes the goal right, practical wisdom the things leading to it” (1144a7-8). By this he cannot mean that there is no room for reasoning about our ultimate end. For as we have seen, he gives a reasoned defense of his conception of happiness as virtuous activity. What he must have in mind, when he says that virtue makes the goal right, is that deliberation typically proceeds from a goal that is far more specific than the goal of attaining happiness by acting virtuously. To be sure, there may be occasions when a good person approaches an ethical problem by beginning with the premise that happiness consists in virtuous activity. But more often what happens is that a concrete goal presents itself as his starting point—helping a friend in need, or supporting a worthwhile civic project. Which specific project we set for ourselves is determined by our character. A good person starts from worthwhile concrete ends because his habits and emotional orientation have given him the ability to recognize that such goals are within reach, here and now. Those who are defective in character may have the rational skill needed to achieve their ends—the skill Aristotle calls cleverness (1144a23-8)—but often the ends they seek are worthless. The cause of this deficiency lies not in some impairment in their capacity to reason—for we are assuming that they are normal in this respect—but in the training of their passions.
69 Nicomachean Ethics was written “not in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good.” The choices and actions will be free of the conflict & pain that inevitably accompanies the aktratic and enkratic agent. This is because the part of the soul that governs choice and action is so disposed that desire and right judgment coincide. Thus, acquiring a stable disposition (hexis) of this sort amounts to acquiring moral virtue (ethike arete). This disposition is concerned with choices as would be determined by the person of practical wisdom (phronesis); these will be actions lying between extreme alternatives.
70 In the virtuous person, desire and judgment agree whereby the choices and actions will be free of the conflict and pain that inevitably accompany those who are akratic and/or enkratic:The enkratic:The enkratic is the morally strong person who shares the akratic agent’s desire to do other than what he knows ought to be done, but acts in accordance with his better judgment.The akratic:The akratic is the morally weak person who desires to do other than what he knows ought to be done and acts on this desire against his better judgment.In neither kind of choice are desire and judgment in harmony. In the virtuous desire and judgment agree.
71 Why does desire and judgment agree for the virtuous? The reason why the choices and actions will be free of the conflict and pain that inevitably accompanies those of the akratic and enkratic agent is because the part of their soul that governs choice and action is so disposed that desire and judgment coincide. The disposition is concerned with choices as would be determined by the person of practical wisdom (phronesis); these will be actions lying between extreme alternatives. They will lie in a man-popularly called the “golden mean”-relative to the talents and stores of the agent.
72 Why does desire and judgment agree for the virtuous? Choosing in this way is not easily done. It involves, for instance, feeling anger or extending generosity at the right time, toward the right people, in the right way, and for the right reasons. Intellectual virtues, such as excellence at mathematics, can be acquired by teaching, but moral virtues cannot. I may know what ought to be done and even perform virtuous act without being able to act virtuously. Nonetheless, because moral virtue is a disposition concerning choice, deliberate performance of virtuous acts can, ultimately, instill a disposition to choose them in harmony and with pleasure, and hence, to act virtuously.
73 What does it take to be fully virtuous? The fully virtuous do what they should without a struggle against contrary desire; possess practical wisdom (phronesis) which is the knowledge or understanding that enables its possessor to do just that in any given situation. Most contend that phronesis comes out of at least two sources:1. Comes only with the experience of life. The virtuous are mindful of the consequences of possible actions. How could they fail to be reckless, thoughtless and short-sighted if they were not?2. They have the capacity to recognize some features of a situation as more important than others, or indeed, in that situation, as the only relevant ones. The wise do not see things in the same way as the nice adolescents who, with their imperfect virtues, still tend to see the personally disadvantageous nature of a certain action as competing in importance with its honesty or benevolence or justice.These aspects coalesce in the description of the practically wise as those who understand what is truly worthwhile, truly important, and thereby truly advantageous in life, who know, in short, how to live well. In the Aristotelian "eudaimonist" tradition, this is expressed in the claim that they have a true grasp of eudaimonia.
74 What does it take to be fully virtuous? 1. No struggle against contrary desires.The fully virtuous do what they should without a struggle against contrary desires; the continent have to control a desire or temptation to do otherwise. But if what makes it hard is an imperfection in one’s character such (e.g., temptation to keep what is not yours or indifference to those who are hurting), then it is not.
75 What does it take to be fully virtuous? 2. Practical Wisdom:Practical wisdom is the knowledge or understanding that enables its possessor, unlike the nice adolescents, to do just that, in any given situation. The detailed specification of what is involved in such knowledge or understanding has not yet appeared in the literature, but some aspects of it are becoming well known. Even many deontologists now stress the point that their action-guiding rules cannot, reliably, be applied correctly without practical wisdom, because correct application requires situational appreciation — the capacity to recognize, in any particular situation, those features of it that are morally salient. This brings out two aspects of practical wisdom. Stated negatively, one can easily fall short of full virtue is through lacking phronesis — moral or practical wisdom
76 Eudaimonia:These aspects coalesce in the description of the practically wise as those who understand what is truly worthwhile, truly important, and thereby truly advantageous in life, who know, in short, how to live well. In the Aristotelian "eudaimonist" tradition, this is expressed in the claim that they have a true grasp of eudaimonia.
77 EudaimoniaThe concept of eudaimonia, a key term in ancient Greek moral philosophy, is central to any modern neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and usually employed even by virtue ethicists who deliberately divorce themselves from Aristotle. It is standardly translated as "happiness" or "flourishing" and occasionally as "well-being.“ Nevertheless, each translation has certain disadvantages:1. Eudaimonia = “flourishing” is that animals and plants can flourish but eudaimonia is possible only for rational beings.2. Eudaimonia = “happiness” is that connotes something which is subjectively determined; I can deceive myself into thinking that I have eudaimonia because I feel happy. In this case, flourishing is a better translation than happiness.3. Eudaimonia = living well might be confused with hedonistic physical pleasures or luxury. But this is not eudaimonia; it is a wasted life.
78 EudaimoniaThere is a conceptual link between virtue and eudaimonia, further links are matters of dispute and generate different moral versions:1. For Aristotle, virtue is necessary but not sufficient — what is also needed are external goods (which are a matter of luck). In other words, the exercise of the virtues is necessary but not sufficient for eudaimonia.2. For Plato, and the Stoics, virtue is both necessary AND sufficient. On the Stoical view that it is both necessary and sufficient, a eudaimon life is a life that has been successfully lived (where "success" of course is not to be understood in a materialistic way)3. Modern versions of virtue ethics disagree further about the link between eudaimonia and what gives a character trait the status of being a virtue.Given the shared virtue ethical premise that "the good life is the virtuous life" we have so far three distinguishable views about what makes a character trait a virtue.
79 EudaimoniaThere is a conceptual link between virtue and eudaimonia, further links are matters of dispute and generate different moral versions:For Aristotle, virtue is necessary but not sufficient — what is also needed are external goods which are a matter of luck.For Plato, and the Stoics, virtue is necessary and sufficient.Modern versions of virtue ethics disagree further about the link between eudaimonia and what gives a character trait the status of being a virtue.
80 Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the virtues: His account proceeds through three stages:1st: Virtues as qualities necessary to achieve the goods internal to practices;2nd: Considers virtues as qualities contributing to the good of a whole life;3rd: Relates the virtues to the pursuit of a good for human beings the conception of which can only be elaborated and possessed within an ongoing social tradition (i.e., the goods of particular lives have to be integrated into the overall patterns of a tradition informed by a quest for the good and the best).“Rather it is the case that no human quality is to be accounted a virtue unless it satisfies the conditions specified at each of the three stages” (After Virtue, pg. 275). This is important because there are qualities which are derived from this notion of practice, but which are not virtues, qualities which survive the tests of the first stage, but fail at the second or third” (pg. 275).
81 Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the virtues: “Why begin with practices: Other moral philosophers after have begun from a consideration of passions or desires or from the elucidation of some conception of duty or goodness. In either case the discussion is all too apt to be governed from then on by some version of the means-end distinction according to which all human activities are either conducted as means to already given or decided ends or are simply worthwhile in themselves or perhaps both. What this framework omits from view are those ongoing modes of human activity within which ends have to be discovered and rediscovered, and means devised to pursue them; and it thereby obscures the importance of the ways in which those modes of activity generate new ends and new conception of ends. The class of practices, defined as I defined it, is the class of those modes of activities and the shortest answer…as to why some items are included in that class and other excluded…is that those items excluded are not such modes of activity” (pg. 273).
82 Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the virtues: “The importance therefore for beginning from practices is any consideration of the virtues is that the exercise of the virtues is not only worthwhile for its own sake-it turns out that you cannot be genuinely courageous or just or whatever without caring for those virtues for their own sake-but has further point and purpose, and indeed that it is in grasping that point and purpose that we characteristically initially came to value the virtues. Yet the virtues are not related to the goods which provide them with further point and purpose in the way in which a skill is related to the ends that its successful exercise procures or in the way in which a skill is related to those objects of our desire that its successful exercise may enable us to possess.
83 The Happy Life is the Natural Life: Aristotle characterizes lives in two ways:1st: Well-organized life has an ultimate aim. An ultimate aim is a good that is desirable solely for its own sake. Eudaimonia is that ultimate aim because eudaimonia there is no greater goal; it is valuable solely for its own sake; it is not a means to another goal.
84 The Happy Life is the Natural Life: Aristotle characterizes lives in two ways:2nd The happy life is a life that appropriately exercises all essential human abilities. Thus, for Aristotle, the happy life is the natural life.But that now leads us to give an account of Aristotle’s notion of human nature.
85 Aristotle’s Account of Human Nature: Plants are characterized by the abilities to take nourishment, grow, & reproduce.Animals have the abilities of plants plus the higher-level abilities to desire, move, and sense.Humans are rational animals, so humans have all of the animal abilities plus rationality.What is Aristotle’s account of rationality?
86 Aristotle’s Account of Human Nature: Reason has to 2 aspects:Practical reason: the ability to do means-ends reasoning, to work out the best way to accomplish one’s goals.Theoretical reason: the ability to do rule-case reasoning, to understand things by subsuming them under general principles.
87 Aristotle’s Account of Human Nature: Higher-level abilities infuse and transform lower-level abilities. Reproduction in animals is different from reproduction in plants because animal reproduction is guided by the abilities of desire, motion, and sensation. Similarly, human desires are not simply brute urges. They are channeled and transformed by reason. And so on.Consider the following chart:
89 Type of Life Aim or Goal Abilities Exercised Life of Enjoyment Sensual Pleasure Desire for sensual pleasureMoney-making life Money Desire for money/material goodsPolitical Life Honor Desire for honorEthical Life Virtuous Activity Practical reason and desireContemplative Life Contemplation Theoretical reasonFor example: Aristotle rejects life of money-making for he observes that money can’t be the ultimate of eudaimonia because it is instrumentally valuable; it is desirable only because of what it can buy (1196a).Aristotle rejects the political life because honor depends on the bestowers of honor and is easily lost whereas eudaimonia does not depend on fickle opinions of others and is not easily lost. Moreover, people can be honored even if they do nothing or little and even if they suffer great misfortunes, but eudaimonia requires activity and precludes tragedy (1195b).
90 Type of Life Aim or Goal Abilities Exercised Tyrannical Life Power Desire for PowerReligious Life Love and Obey God SoulCreative Life Novelty ImaginationWhat say ye about these potential candidates?Are these a means to and ultimate goal? Or are your goals too short-sighted?Can you think of any other potential candidates?
91 Type of Life Aim or Goal Abilities Exercised Ethical life & Virtuous activity & practical reason & moral money-making life money virtue & desire for moneyEthical life & virtuous activity & practical reason & moral religious life love & obey God & soul.Ethical life & virtuous activity & practical reason & moral contemplative life contemplation virtue & theoretical reason.1. Combination of ethical and money-making lives does not exercise all essential human abilities. Moreover, there are times when you must choose between profitable and moral paths.2. Combination of ethical and religious seems most promising. But people like Kierkegaard argue that conflicts arise between virtuous activity and obeying God (Abraham ordered to kill Isaac). I personally disagree with this because of the commandment to love God with your mind, to meditate upon Him, etc. (Psalm 19).3. Ethical and contemplative combination exercises all essential human abilities according to Aristotelians (Book X; 1177a-1179 suggest that he thinks contemplative life is supreme & ethical life is secondarily).
92 Overview of Ethical Systems: Care Ethics: Rather than the starting point being rationally derived universal principles, ethics starts in caring relationships. Care ethics is the narrative of relationships that extend through time.Feelings must be schooled, developed, and examined before we use them as the basis of moral behavior; shaping the right sorts of feelings is a difficult, demanding process.If your morals are motivated by impersonal rules rather than personal affection, then you are morally impaired.Feelings are the foundation and motivation for ethical behavior. They are not saying “If it feels good, do it.” Feelings are not be followed blindly.Sometimes are feelings must be subjected to rational scrutiny; not any feeling will do (e.g., racial prejudice).It is different than “Ethics of justice” (masculine) which views moral dilemmas as “math problems for humans”, self-contained problems in moral logic; world is composed of individuals; self is defined through individualism.The world is comprised of relationships, viewing the moral world as a network. Self is defined through connection. Morality and responsibility involves restoring community wherever it is broken (e.g., loneliness).
93 Virtue Ethics: What kind of person should I be Virtue Ethics: What kind of person should I be? Way to memorize: Vast Lacks Self-centered well-being imprecise luck.Criticisms:Vast differences on what constitutes a virtue. Different people, culture, & societies have vast opinions on what constitutes a virtue.Lacks clarity in resolving moral conflicts.Self-centered because its primary concern is the agent’s own character.Well-being is a master-value & all other things are valuable only to the extent the can contribute it.Imprecise: It fails to give us any help with the practicalities of how we should behave.Leaves us hostage to luck: Some will attain moral maturity and others will not.
94 Problems with Aristotelian Ethics by virtue-care ethicists. Aristotelian ethics seems unable to address, much less resolve, certain crucial issues of contemporary moral philosophy. For example, there is no commitment to generalized humanitarianism.Recent ethics have been very much concerned with whether making (large) personal sacrifices for the greater good of needy, but distant others is morally obligatory or merely supererogatory, but because Aristotle never specifically defends the idea of general concern for the well-being of others and because he leaves no room, in addition, for supererogatory degrees of moral excellence, his philosophy appears to be largely irrelevant to this important issue.
95 Meta-ethical Problem: Another problem for virtue ethics (which is also shared by utilitarianism and deontology) is "the justification problem."Deontology: There is the question of how to justify its claims that certain moral rules are the correct ones.Utilitarianism: how to justify its claim that the only thing that really matters morally is consequences for happiness or well-being.Virtue ethics the problem concerns the question of which character traits are the virtues.
96 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 1. Virtue Ethics does not have a peculiar weakness or problem in virtue of the fact that it involves the concept of eudaimonia. While eudaimonia is hard to grasp, it is no more obscure than the concepts of rationality and happiness. While virtue theory has never been dismissed on the grounds of comparative obscurity of this central concept, it has a problem with this which deontology and utilitarianism in no way share. This is false because the concepts “rationality” and “happiness” are rich and difficult concepts (e.g., Mill’s introduction of the higher and lower pleasures in view of what constitutes happiness).
97 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 2. Virtue ethics is not trivially circular; it does not specify action in terms of virtuous agent & then immediately specify the virtuous agent in terms of right action. Rather, it specifies her in terms of the virtues, and then specifies these, not merely as dispositions to right action, but as the character traits (which are dispositions to feel & react as well as act in certain ways) required for eudaimonia.
98 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 3. It does answer the question, “What should I do?” as well as the question “What sort of person should I be?” In other words, it is not, as one of the catchphrases has it, concerned only with Being and not with Doing).
99 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 4. Virtue Theory generates rules/principle for every virtue generates a positive instruction (e.g., act justly, kindly, courageously, honesty, etc) & every vice a prohibition (do not act unjustly, cruelly, like a coward, dishonestly). So, one does not need to imagine what some ideal exemplar would do in order to know what should do in a given situation. Rather, the agent may ask, ‘If I were to do such and such now, would I be acting justly or unjustly (or neither), kindly or unkindly [and so on].’
100 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 5. Virtue ethics is not committed to any sort of reductionism which involves defining all our moral concepts in terms of the virtuous agent. Rather, Virtue ethics relies on a lot of very significant moral concepts (e.g., charity/benevolence is the virtue whose concern is the good of others; good is related to the concept of evil or harm, & they are both related to the concepts of the worthwhile, the advantageous, & the pleasant). If one has the the wrong conception of what is worthwhile, advantageous, & pleasant, then one shall have the wrong conception of what is good for, & harmful to, myself & others, & , even with the best will in the world, still lack the virtue of charity, which involves getting all this right.
101 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 6. Virtue ethics is said to subject to the threat of moral skepticism, pluralism, or cultural relativism. This is too a problem for both utilitarianism & deontologists, esp. in view 2 their second premises.For example:“Rule deontologists know that they want to get “don’t kill’, ‘keep promises’, ‘cherish your children’, and so on as the rules that meet their specification, whatever it may be. They also know that any of these can be disputed, that some philosophers may claim, of any one of them, that it is reasonable to reject it, and that at least people claim that there has been, for each rule, some culture which rejected it. Similarly, the virtue theorists know that they want to get justice, charity, fidelity, courage, and so on as the character traits needed for eudaimonia; and they also know that any of these can be disrupted, that some philosopher will say of any one of them that it is reasonable to reject it as a virtue, and that there is said to be, for each character trait-some culture that has thus rejected it.”She goes on to say, “Each theory has to stick out its neck and say, in some cases, ‘This person/these people/ other cultures (or would be) in error,’ and find some grounds for saying this.
102 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 6. Virtue ethics is said to subject to the threat of moral skepticism, pluralism, or cultural relativism. This is too a problem for both utilitarianism & deontologists, esp. in view 2 their second premises.For example:“Rule deontologists know that they want to get “don’t kill’, ‘keep promises’, ‘cherish your children’, and so on as the rules that meet their specification, whatever it may be. They also know that any of these can be disputed, that some philosophers may claim, of any one of them, that it is reasonable to reject it, and that at least people claim that there has been, for each rule, some culture which rejected it. Similarly, the virtue theorists know that they want to get justice, charity, fidelity, courage, and so on as the character traits needed for eudaimonia; and they also know that any of these can be disrupted, that some philosopher will say of any one of them that it is reasonable to reject it as a virtue, and that there is said to be, for each character trait-some culture that has thus rejected it.”She goes on to say, “Each theory has to stick out its neck and say, in some cases, ‘This person/these people/ other cultures (or would be) in error,’ and find some grounds for saying this.
103 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: 7. There is the rejection that virtue ethics has un-resolvable conflict built into it. ‘It is common knowledge,’ it is said, ‘that the requirements of the virtues can conflict; charity may prompt me to end the frightful suffering of the person in my care by killing him, but justice bids me to stay my hand. To tell my brother that his wife is being unfaithful to him would be honest and loyal, but it would be kinder to keep quiet about it. So which should I do? In such cases, virtue ethics has nothing helpful to say.’ So which should I do? In such cases, virtue ethics has nothing helpful to say.”In other words, virtue ethics does not always answer the question, ‘What should I do?”While this is a problem for virtue ethics, it is not a peculiar problem; it is also found deontology (e.g., preserve life can yield contrary instructions in a particular case.
104 Misconceptions about Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse: VE (most major criticism) is that it can’t get us anywhere in real moral issues because it is bound to be all assertion & no argument: the best it can come up with in the way of action-guiding rules are the ones that rely on virtue/vice concepts.Consider this criticism more fully:
105 Consider the following… “ Virtue theory can’t get us anywhere in real moral issues bcause it’s bound to be all assertion and no argument. You admit that the best it can come up with in this way of action-guiding rules are the one that rely on the virtue and vice concepts, such as ‘act charitably’, ‘don’t act cruelly’, and so on; and, as if that weren’t bad enough, you admit that these virtue concepts, such as charity, presuppose concepts such as the good, and the worthwhile, and so on. But that means that any virtue theorist who writes about real moral issues must rely on her audience’s agreeing with her application of all these concepts, and hence accepting all the premisses in which those applications are enshrined. But some other virtue theorist might take different premisses about these matters, and come up with very different conclusions, and within the terms of the theory, there is no way to distinguish between the two. While there is agreement, virtue theory can repeat conventional wisdom, preserve the status quo, but it can’t get us anywhere in the way that a normative ethical theory is supposed to, namely, by providing rational grounds for acceptance of its practical conclusions” (ibid., 223).
106 Hursthouse admits: When a virtue ethicist discusses real moral issues: 1. One has to assert that “certain actions are honest, dishonest, or neither; charitable, uncharitable, or neither.”2. One has to admit that it is often very a very difficult matter to decide; rules are not always easy to apply.“But this counts as a criticism of the theory only if we assume, as a condition of adequacy, that any adequate action-guiding theory must make the difficult business of knowing what to do if one is to act well easy, that is must provide clear guidance about what ought not to be done which any reasonably clever adolescent could follow if she chose. But such a condition of adequacy is implausible” (ibid., 223-4).
107 Consider the following… “Acting rightly is difficult, and does call for much moral wisdom, and the relevant condition of adequacy, which virtue theory meets, is that it should have built into it an explanation of a truth expressed by Aristotle, namely, that moral knowledge-unlike mathematical knowledge-cannot be acquired merely by attending lectures and is not characteristically to be found in people too young to have had much experience of life. There are youthful mathematical geniuses, but rarely, if ever, youthful moral geniuses, and this shows us something significant about the sort of knowledge that moral knowledge is. Virtue ethics builds this in straight off precisely by couching its rules in terms whose application may indeed call for the most delicate and sensitive judgment.”
108 Consider this issue:Someone hesitating over whether to reveal a hurtful truth, for example, thinking it would be kind but dishonest or unjust to lie, may need to realize, with respect to these particular circumstances, not that kindness is more (or less) important than honesty or justice, and not that honesty or justice sometimes requires one to act unkindly or cruelly, but that one does people no kindness by concealing this sort of truth from them, hurtful as it may be. This is the type of thing (I use it only as an example) that people with moral wisdom know about, involving the correct application of kind, and that people with such wisdom find difficult.”
109 What about virtue theorist’s reliance on concepts such as that of the worthwhile? If such reliance on ‘worthwhile” is to count as a fault in VE, what condition of adequacy is implicitly in play? Well, it must be that any good normative theory should provide answers to questions about real moral issues whose truth is in no way determined by truths about what is worthwhile, or what really matters in human life. Now although people are initially inclined to reject out of hand the claim that the practical conclusions of a normative moral theory have to be based on premises about what is truly worthwhile, the alternative, once it is made explicit, may look even more acceptable. Consider what the condition of adequacy entails (ibid., 225).
110 “Consider what the condition of adequacy entails “Consider what the condition of adequacy entails. If truths about what is worthwhile (or truly good, or serious, or about what matters in human life) do not have to be appealed to in order to answer questions about real moral issues, then I might sensibly seek guidance about what I ought to do from someone who had declared in advance that she knew nothing about such matters, or from someone who said that, although she had opinions about them, these were quite likely to be wrong but that this did not matter, because they would play no determining role in the advice she gave me” (pg. 225).She goes on to say…
111 I should emphasize that we are talking about real moral issues and real guidance; I want to know whether I should have an abortion, take my mother off life-support machine, leave academic life, and become a doctor in the Third World, give up my job with the firm that that is using animals in its experiments, tell my father he has cancer. Would I go to someone who says she has no views about what is worthwhile in life? Or to someone who says that, as a matter of fact, she tends to think that the only thing that matters is having a good time, but has a normative theory that is consistent both with this view and with my own rather more puritanical one, which will yield the guidance I need?”
112 Her response to such thinking… This criticism manifests a failure to understand what an adequate normative theory is. They drastically underestimate the variety of ways in which virtue/vice concepts and others, such as that of the worthwhile, figure in the discussion. In fact, any normative theory which any clever adolescent can apply, or which reaches practical conclusions that are in no way determined by premises about what is truly worthwhile, serious, and so on, is guaranteed to be an inadequate theory.
113 Virtue Ethics is not reductionistic: “The character traits that virtue theory emphasizes are not simply dispositional to intentional actions, but a seamless disposition to certain actions and passions, thoughts and reactions” (pg. 230).“…virtue theory has a sort of built-in indexicality.”
114 Consider the following comparison by MacIntyre: Aristotle's assumption that man is as-he-happens-to-be and that this is distinct from man-as-he-should-be. The Enlightenment, on the other hand, offers no metaphysical framework whatsoever in place of teleology.Aristotle's claim that rules are based on virtues, which are derived from an understanding of the telos. The Enlightenment reversed this and predicated virtues on an understanding of subjective (but purported to be universal) principles.Aristotle's assertion that virtue and morality are integral parts of society, as an understanding of the telos must be social and not individual. In the Enlightenment, however, societies lost their moral authority and the individual became the fundamental interpreter of moral questions.
115 John Dewey’s EthicsPrimary experience is everyday experience as it is found, present and given;He beings with moral experience as it is lived. Theories and beliefs are in ourLives. Experience is always our starting point (middle and end point) for wecannot get beyond it) The choice is not between starting in our outsideExperience but between ways of proceeding within it.Therefore, there are no hardor neutral givens.Dewey was skeptical of any theory that (1) claimed that our primary experience is determined (or conditioned) by one single cohesive factor such as one’s historical period, culture, race, class, or biological make up. These are all reductionistic and, as such, non-empirical theories overlook the complexity and heterogeneity of factors and interactions that are the conditions for human experience. We do not experience ourselves as inside (or as trapped in) our subjectivity, language, or anything else. The notion, for example, that one’s culture or social class solely determines moral experience is itself a theory, rather than we experience when we have moral experiences.Dewey’s starting point in philosophical inquiry that led him to provide one of the most devastating and systematic critiques of modern moral philosophy, and a radically new account of moral experience.For Dewey, then, experience is “a starting point and terminal point, as setting problems and as testing proposed solutions.”The pre-theoretical (i.e., primary experience) is the more primitive level because it encompasses the theoretical and because it encompasses the theoretical and because it is where things are present in their brute and direct qualitative givenness and thereness. We need to begin & end experientially guided inquiries on this level. Thus, there is no reason to think that everything is experienced as moral in our everyday lives is determined by a theory.
116 Overview of Ethical Systems: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): . To act morally you must be motivated exclusivelyby rational commitment to the universal moral law or the categoricalImperative: “Act in conformity with that maxim, and that maxim only,that you can will at the same time be a universal law.”Right actions flow out of right principlesDo the act that is motivated by the sincere belief that what you are doing is the right thing not merely for you, but for anybody seeking to act properly in any situation.To act morally requires the rational power to recognize absolute moral laws that transcend our natural world.To act morally requires the power of the will to rise above all natural feelings and inclinations. This raises us above our natural world.Second form of categorical imperative:“Act in such a way that you always treat humans not merely as a means to an end but also as an end.”
117 Deontological Framework: An action is right if and only if (iff) it is in accordance with a moral rule or principle.This is a purely formal specification, forging a link between the concepts of right and action and moral rule, and gives one no guidance until one knows what a moral rule is.
118 Deontological Framework: So, the next thing the theory needs is a premise about that: A moral rule is one that would have been historically:A. Theistic:1. Given to us by God;2. Is required by Natural Law (theistic connection);B. Secular (though can still be connected to God):1. Is laid on us by reason.2. Is required by rationality;3. Would command universal acceptance;4. Would be the object of choice of all rational beings.
119 Deontological Framework: Therefore, the links between right action, moral rule, and rationality based upon moral rule + given by God or required by natural or laid on us by reason or required by rationality or would command universal rational acceptance or would by the object of choice of all rational being—are all essential aspects to any deontological framework.
120 Basic Terms to Know:1. Deontological Ethics: "rule or duty-based morality; ...emphasizes right action over good consequences“2. a priori: "not in any way derived from experience or dependent upon it"; concepts derived a priori are universal rules that determine, in advance, the conditions for knowledge in a particular domain3. maxim: rule of conduct;4. Hypothetical imperative: an action that is good only as a means to something else;5. Categorical imperative: an action that is good in itself and conforms to reason; categorical imperatives act as universal rules governing a situation regardless of circumstance
121 Summary:Thus, Kantian ethics states an action is right iff it is in accord with the Categorical Imperative (the supreme principle of morality). Right actions flow from right principles.From using our capacity to reason Kant believes the Categorical Imperative can be formulated in at least three ways; they are all equivalent with the first formulation being the basis. Though they bring out various aspects of the moral law, they cannot tell us more than what the first formula does.
122 Categorical Imperative: The CI does not depend on a logically prior condition though it assumes the predisposition that one wishes to be rational and will follow what rationally determined duty dictates (in contrast to hypothetical imperatives which means that the consequent depends upon the antecedent: If p, then q). Thus, morality is a function of human reason. Human reason is governed by Logic. Q.E.D., to be irrational is to be inhuman. To be sure, there are perfect and imperfect duties. Actions are characterized as perfect because they follow directly from an application of the universalization of the Categorical Imperative in contrast to imperfect duties that follow from CI only after considering other factors (e.g., seeking our own happiness). An imperfect duty is just as strong in its action guiding force as a perfect duty. Thus, their point of origin highlights their differences.
123 Three Formulations of the Categorical Imperative: First formulation: “Act in conformity with the maxim and the maxim only, that you can will at the same time a universal law.” This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal); it is replacing individual preferences with purely universal terms.Second formulation: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always an end and never as a means only.” In essence, every person has intrinsic value and that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action.Third formulation: “Therefore, every rational being must act as if he were though his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends.” In other words, we have to will what is consistent with the operations of the kingdom as a whole. In sum, all people should consider themselves as both members and heads
124 Major Points to Consider: 1. What gives an act moral worth is our motives because we can’t necessarily control the consequences of our act or/and things do not always turn out as we want. He calls this motive “the good will.” Therefore, we are responsible for our motives to do good or bad, and thus it is for this that we are held morally accountable.2. What is the right motive is acting out of a will to do the right thing; only an act motivated by this concern for the moral law is right.Consider the following Shopkeeper illustration:
125 Major Points to Consider: 3. Kant’s Shopkeeper illustration: A shopkeeper charges her customers a fair price and charges the same to all. But what is the shopkeeper’s motive?A. If the shopkeeper’s motive for charging a fair price is that it serves her own best interest, then this motive is not praiseworthy.B. If the shopkeeper’s motive for charging a fair price is because she is sympathetic toward her customers, then this motive is still not praiseworthy.C. If the shopkeeper’s motive is to do the right thing because it is the right thing, then her motive is indeed praiseworthy. Only doing that which is morally right is praiseworthy.We do not always know when our acts are motivated by self-interest, inclination or pure respect for morality. Also, we often act from mixed motives. However, we are certain that the motive is pure when we do what is right regardless how we feel or/and the consequences.
126 Major Points to Consider: 4. In order for our action to have moral worth we must not only act out of a right motivation but we must also do what is right.Right MotiveRight ActThe motive and the act must be morally right!We must not only act of duty (have the right motive) but also “according to duty” or as “duty requires” (do what is right).
127 5. How we are to know what the right thing to do is to test our motives and actions against the categorical imperative. If our motive and acts meets the criteria of the categorical imperative we are obligated to do it.CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE:“Oughts” that tell us what we ought to do no matter what, under all conditions, and are universally binding (categorical imperative).1st form of Categorical Imperative:“Act only on that maxim which can will as a universal law.”This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal).Right MotiveRight Act
128 According the first formula: According to the first formula: the agent must be willing to eliminate all individual reference from the maxim of her action. The most significant exclusion from the maxim is oneself. Therefore, in order to pass the test of the categorical imperative in the first formulation, one must be prepared to go on willing even if it contains no reference to oneself.
129 6. Thus, whatever I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept all do. A law by its very nature has a degree of universality. Act only on that maxim which you can will as a universal law.Maxim: is a description of the action that I will put to the test.7. How do I know what I can and cannot will as a universal practice?As a rational being I can only will what is non-contradictory
130 8. First Two Forms of the Categorical Imperative: 1st form of Categorical Imperative:“Act only on that maxim which can will as a universal law.”This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal); it is replacing individual preferences with purely universal terms.2nd form of Categorical Imperative:“Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.”This means that every person has intrinsic value & that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action.
131 1st Categorical Imperative: 1st Categorical Imperative is a decision procedure for moral reasoning. 4 Steps:1. Formulate a maxim that enshrines your reasoning for acting as you propose.2. Recast maxim as universal law of nature governing all rational agents-all people will act upon.3. Consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this law of nature.4. Ask whether you would or could rationally will to act on this maxim in such a world.
132 9. Second Form of the Categorical Imperatives: Explains how we ought to treat ourselves.2nd Categorical Imperative:“Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.”This means that every person has intrinsic value & that humanity is a limit or constraint in our action.Treat ourselves & other as ends rather than merely as means.The moral conclusions should be the same whether we use the 1st or 2nd form of the categorical imperative.
133 Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 4:436/104. 10. Third Formulation of the Categorical Imperative: Hypothetical Kingdom of Ends“All maxims as proceeding from our own law-making ought to harmonize with a possible kingdom of ends as a kingdom of nature."Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 4:436/104.Key Points:Think of ourselves as members of a society of beings whose permissible ends are to be respected.2. Test our maxims by asking, whether, supposing the maxims were natural laws, there would be a society of that kind. In other words, we are obligated to act only by maxims which would harmonize a possible kingdom of ends.3. We have a perfect duty not to act by maxims that create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs when we attempt to universalize them;We have an imperfect duty not to act by maxims that promote unstable or greatly undesirable states of affairs.“Kant seems to assume that those who apply the categorical imperative to their maxims will come out with answers that agree when the maxims tested are alike.” J.B. Schneewind, “Autonomy, Obligation, & Virtue,” pg. 338.
134 Third Categorical Imperative introduces a social dimension to Kantian Morality The formulation of the CI states that we must “act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends” (4:439).It combines the others in that (i) it requires that we conform our actions to the maxims of a legislator of laws (ii) that this lawgiver lays down universal laws, binding all rational wills including our own, and (iii) that those laws are of ‘a merely possible kingdom’ each of whose members equally possesses this status as legislator of universal laws, and hence must be treated always as an end in itself.The intuitive idea behind this formulation is that our fundamental moral obligation is to act only on principles which could earn acceptance by a community of fully rational agents each of whom have an equal share in legislating these principles for their community.
135 Summary of first three categorical imperatives: The Categorical Imperative requires that I act only on maxims that I can will as universal law.The categorical imperative is supposed to give us a test for maxims.Maxim is the is “subjective principle of an action.” The principle of an action is that prescription from which the action follows.If the maxim meets the test, the action that follows from it has moral worth; if the maxim does not meet it, the action does not have moral worth.
136 1st Categorical Imperative: 1st Categorical Imperative requires willingness to continue to the subscription to the maxim of an action even if all individual or singular reference is excluded from it. Eliminating individual or singular reference requires eliminating reference to me. In other words, think of replacing individual references with purely universal terms.
137 1st Categorical Imperative: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”Rather than thinking that humanity is the goal or proper end of our action, he presupposes that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action.This kind of constraint can be seen mostly clearly by tracing the connection with the first formula, the Formula of Universal Law. Remember, the agent must be willing to eliminate all individual reference from the maxim of her action. The most significant exclusion here is that of herself. Therefore, be prepared go on willing the maxim even if it contains no reference to herself.The constraint that the second formula imposes is that the maxim of an action must be such that any other free and rational person can adopt it. Treating humanity as an end in itself is, for Kant, respecting our capacity for free and rational choice; in his term, it is respecting our autonomy. I am constrained, according to this first formula, by the consideration that is wrong, other things being equal, to impede the agency of others. To treat another human being as merely a means is to ignore the other as a center of agency. The clearest cases here are those of coercion and deception.For example: If I take the hand of one of my students in my class and with it I strike the neighbouring student’s face, I have bypassed the first student’s agency. I have treated her merely as a means, as though she were merely an organic hitting implement. The same is true when I deceive somebody, because if I conceal the nature of the situation, I impede her ability to make a free and rational choice for that situation.
138 1st Categorical Imperative: The constraint that the second formula imposes is that the maxim of an action must be such that any other free and rational person can adopt it. Treating humanity as an end in itself is, for Kant, respecting our capacity for free and rational choice; in his term, it is respecting our autonomy. I am constrained, according to this first formula, by the consideration that is wrong, other things being equal, to impede the agency of others. To treat another human being as merely a means is to ignore the other as a center of agency. The clearest cases here are those of coercion and deception.For example: If I take the hand of one of my students in my class and with it I strike the neighbouring student’s face, I have bypassed the first student’s agency. I have treated her merely as a means, as though she were merely an organic hitting implement. The same is true when I deceive somebody, because if I conceal the nature of the situation, I impede her ability to make a free and rational choice for that situation.
139 What is the connection between the categorical imperative is the following: If I cannot will maxim X as universal law, then I am acting for reasons that it is not possible for everyone to share. But to act toward people on the basis of reasons they cannot possibly share is to use them, to treat them as a mere means to my goals. In fact, all people should consider themselves both members and heads because we have a perfect duty not to act in maxims that create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs for it will lead to unstable or greatly undesirable states of affairs. See, the truly autonomous will is not subject to any particular interest. Kant’s idea here is that one should not treat others in ways they couldn’t rationally assent to.
140 10. Perfect and Imperfect Duties: Are those duties that don’t whole heartily conform to the categorical imperative.e.g., If I were an egoist and concerned only about myself, no one could accuse me of using other people; I would simply leave them alone. But this attitude & practice is inconsistent with the duty to treat others as persons. As persons, they also have interests and plans, and to recognize this I must at least sometimes and in some ways seek to promote their ends and goals.Perfect Duties: Perfect duties are absolutes & necessary; they conform to the categorical imperative.eg., We can and should absolutely refrain from making false or lying promises.
141 The following are 4 examples famously used by Kant.
142 1st example: Suicide“Whenever continuing to live will bring more pain than pleasure, I shall commit suicide out of self-love.”1. Suicide can’t be a universal law for one can’t will that would be universal will.2. Remember, suicide would be morally right if and only if the person who is thinking about suicide can consistently will that suicide be a universal law.
143 1st Example: Suicide:A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels wearied of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can ask himself whether it would not be contrary to his duty to himself to take his own life. Now he inquires whether the maxim of his action could become a universal law of nature. His maxim is: 'From self-love I adopt it as a principle to shorten my life when its longer duration is likely to bring more evil than satisfaction.' It is asked then simply whether this principle founded on self-love can become a universal law of nature. Now we see at once that a system of nature of which it should be a law to destroy life by means of the very feeling whose special nature it is to impel to the improvement of life would contradict itself and, therefore, could not exist as a system of nature; hence that maxim cannot possibly exist as a universal law of nature and, consequently, would be wholly inconsistent with the supreme principle of all duty." (Quoted from the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott)
144 2nd example: Lying & Not Keeping Promise: “Whenever I need money, then I shall borrow the money and promise to repay, even though I know I will not repay.”1. Lying and not keeping promise can’t be a universal law for one can’t will that would be universal will.2. Remember, lying and not repaying would be morally right if and only if the person who is thinking about lying and not keeping promise can consistently will that lying and not keeping promise be a universal law.
145 3rd Example: Developing One’s Habits "A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of some culture might make him a useful man in many respects. But he finds himself in comfortable circumstances and prefers to indulge in pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging and improving his happy natural capacities. He asks, however, whether his maxim of neglect of his natural gifts, besides agreeing with his inclination to indulgence, agrees also with what is called duty. He sees then that a system of nature could indeed subsist with such a universal law although men (like the South Sea islanders) should let their talents rest and resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness, amusement, and propagation of their species- in a word, to enjoyment; but he cannot possibly will that this should be a universal law of nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural instinct. For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that his faculties be developed, since they serve him and have been given him, for all sorts of possible purposes." (Quoted from the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott)
146 3rd example: Developing One’s Habits “When I’m comfortable as I am, I shall let all my talents rust.”1. Everyone necessarily wills that some of his or her talents be developed.2. If everyone necessarily wills that some of his or her talents be developed, then no one can consistently will that his non-use of talents to be a universal law.3. Non-use of talents is morally right if and only if the agent thinking about non-use of talents can consistently will that non-use of talents be a universal law. (The Categorical Imperative)4. Therefore, allowing one’s talents to rust is morally wrong.
147 4th Example: Helping Others. A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others have to contend with great wretchedness and that he could help them, thinks: 'What concern is it of mine? Let everyone be as happy as Heaven pleases, or as be can make himself; I will take nothing from him nor even envy him, only I do not wish to contribute anything to his welfare or to his assistance in distress!' Now no doubt if such a mode of thinking were a universal law, the human race might very well subsist and doubtless even better than in a state in which everyone talks of sympathy and good-will, or even takes care occasionally to put it into practice, but, on the other side, also cheats when he can, betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates them. But although it is possible that a universal law of nature might exist in accordance with that maxim, it is impossible to will that such a principle should have the universal validity of a law of nature. For a will which resolved this would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases might occur in which one would have need of the love and sympathy of others, and in which, by such a law of nature, sprung from his own will, he would deprive himself of all hope of the aid he desires." (From the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott)
148 4th example: Helping Others: “When I am flourishing and others are in distress, I shall give nothing to charity.”Everyone necessarily wills that he or she be helped in desperate circumstances.2. If everyone necessarily wills this, then no one can consistently will that non-help be a universal law.3. Not helping others is morally right if and only if the agent thinking about not helping others can consistently will that not helping others be a universal law. (The Categorical Imperative)4. Therefore, not helping others is not morally right.
149 11. Advantages of Kant’s Moral Theory: Fairness, Consistency, and morally equal treatment of all people for they are intrinsically valuable.Emphasizes the Law of Non-contradiction; we would not will anything that is not rational.Emphasizes doing what is morally right (it is our duty).It is universally binding and Impartial for in order for an action toBe morally permissible, we should be able to will it for all.
150 12. Criticisms against Deontological Ethics: Duty centered ethics stressing obedience to rules, as opposed to result-centered or utilitarian ethics.1. No clear way to resolve moral duties when they come into conflict with each other.2. Deontological ethics are consequential moral systems in disguise enshrined in customs and law have been known to give the best consequences.3. Do not readily allow for gray areas because they are based on absolutes.4. Which duties qualify given time or location: Are old duties still valid?5. Human welfare and misery: Some principles may result in a clash with what is best for human welfare & prescribe actions which cause human misery.6. Rule worship: The refusal to break a generously beneficial rule in those areas in which it is not most beneficial is rule worship.7. Exclusive focus on “rationality” ignores our relations to & with other human beings.
151 There is no clear way to deal with moral conflicts consider the following: a. Killer comes to the door: If a killer comes to the door and ask for a friend of yours inside whom he intends to kill, you must tell the truth (illustration by Kant).But there is only one exceptionless rule in Kant’s philosophy and that is given in the categorical imperative: We are never permitted to do what we cannot will as a universal law or what violates the requirement to treat persons as persons.Kant may not give us adequate help in deciding what to do when moral conflicts are involved because in the above example, both to tell the truth and preserve life are moral obligations.
152 Regarding Impartiality & Rationality: b. Kant’s moral philosophy is its belief in impartiality; in order for an action to be rally permissible, we should be able to will it for all.However, persons do differ in significant ways (gender, race, age, and talents). In what way does morality require that everyone be treated equally and in what does it perhaps require that different person be treated differently (e.g., gender).c. Kant’s stress on rationality may be considered to be too male-oriented, too Westernized. It is subject to the continental critique of structure (Foucault).
153 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Kant defines virtue as “the moral strength of a human being's will in fulfilling his duty” (6:405) and vice as principled immorality. (6:390) This definition appears to put Kant's views on virtue at odds with classical views such as Aristotle's in several important respects.First, Kant's account of virtue presupposes an account of moral duty already in place. Thus, rather than treating admirable character traits as more basic than the notions of right and wrong conduct, Kant takes virtues to be explicable only in terms of a prior account of moral or dutiful behavior. He does not try to make out what shape a good character has and then draw conclusions about how we ought to act on that basis. He sets out the principles of moral conduct based on his philosophical account of rational agency, and then on that basis defines virtue as the trait of acting according to these principles.
154 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Second, virtue is for Kant a strength of will, and hence does not arise as the result of instilling a ‘second nature’ by a process of habituating or training ourselves to act and feel in particular ways. It is indeed a disposition, but a disposition of one's will, not a disposition of emotions, feelings, desires or any other feature of human nature that might be amenable to habituation. Moreover, the disposition is to overcome obstacles to moral behavior that Kant thought were ineradicable features of human nature. Thus, virtue appears to be much more like what Aristotle would have thought of as a lesser trait, viz., continence or self-control.
155 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Third, in viewing virtue as a trait grounded in moral principles, and vice as principled transgression of moral law, Kant thought of himself as thoroughly rejecting what he took to be the Aristotelian view that virtue is a mean between two vices. The Aristotelian view, he claimed, assumes that virtue differs from vice only in terms of degree rather than in terms of the different principles each involves. (6:404, 432) But prodigality and avarice, for instance, do not differ by being too loose or not loose enough with one's means. They differ in that the prodigal acts on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of enjoyment, while the avaricious act on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of possessing them.
156 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Fourth, in classical views the distinction between moral and non-moral virtues is not particularly significant. A virtue is some sort of excellence of the soul , but one finds classical theorists treating wit and friendliness along side courage and justice. Since Kant holds moral virtue to be a trait grounded in moral principle, the boundary between non-moral and moral virtues could not be more sharp. Even so, Kant shows a remarkable interest in non-moral virtues; indeed, much of Anthropology is given over to discussing the nature and sources of a variety of character traits, both moral and non-moral.
157 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Fifth, virtue cannot be a trait of divine beings, if there are such, since it is the power to overcome obstacles that would not be present in them. This is not to say that to be virtuous is to be the victor in a constant and permanent war with ineradicable evil impulses. Morality is ‘duty’ for human beings because it is possible (and we recognize that it is possible) for our desires and interests to run counter to its demands. Should all of our desires and interests be trained ever so carefully to comport with what morality actually requires of us, this would not change in the least the fact that morality is still duty for us. For should this come to pass, it would not change the fact that each and every desire and interest could have run contrary to the moral law. And it is the fact that they can conflict with moral law, not the fact that they actually do conflict with it, that makes duty a constraint, and hence virtue essentially a trait concerned with constraint.
158 Kant’s View of Virtue/Vice Sixth, virtue, while important, does not hold pride of place in Kant's system in other respects. For instance, he holds that the lack of virtue is compatible with possessing a good will. (6: 408) That one acts from duty, even repeatedly and reliably can thus be quite compatible with an absence of the moral strength to overcome contrary interests and desires. Indeed, it may often be no challenge at all to do one's duty from duty alone. Someone with a good will, who is genuinely committed to duty for its own sake, might simply fail to encounter any significant temptation that would reveal the lack of strength to follow through with that commitment. That said, he also appeared to hold that if an act is to be of genuine moral worth, it must be motivated by the kind of purity of motivation achievable only through a permanent, quasi-religious conversion or “revolution” in the orientation of the will of the sort described in Religion. Kant here describes the natural human condition as one in which no decisive priority is given to the demands of morality over happiness. Until one achieves a permanent change in the will's orientation in this respect, a revolution in which moral righteousness is the nonnegotiable condition of any of one's pursuits, all of one's actions that are in accordance with duty are nevertheless morally worthless, no matter what else may be said of them. However, even this revolution in the will must be followed up with a gradual, lifelong strengthening of one's will to put this revolution into practice. This suggests that Kant's considered view is that a good will is a will in which this revolution of priorities has been achieved, while a virtuous will is one with the strength to overcome obstacles to its manifestation in practice.
159 Overview of Ethical Systems: Social Contract Ethics: Ethical principles are made, not found. Ethics are constructed by social group, and exists for the benefit of those groups: 2 Types: Contractarianism & Contractualism:Both models stress reciprocity and mutual consent.Morality is modeled on a kind of agreement or contract.Hobbes: Would you prefer social contract or state of nature?People cooperate when they forgo the pursuit of their own independent interests & follow rules or roles, the collective following of which promotes everyone’s interests better than would have been done by everyone pursuing her own interests independently.State of Nature:Hobbes says we need strong social contract because our natural tendencies are “every man for himself.”Rousseau says we are basically good; it is pity for ourselves & others that holds us in checkLocke believes we have relatively peaceful & gentle state of nature:Rawls has different S.P.: Original position & veil of ignorance.Contractarianism: morality is a set of social practices that self-interestedly rational actors can “adopt” in their common interests (you are born into this model). Underlying motive is rational self-interest. Thomas Hobbes:Contractualism: Morality consists of principles that mediate relations of mutual respect between free and equal persons. Underlying motive is mutual respect between equals: Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls.John S. Mill:Cultural, intellectual, & spiritual pleasures are of greater values than mere physical pain or pleasure.The Collective Action Problem is where the collective pursuit of self-interest leads to an outcome that is worse for each person pursuing his or her respective desires and interests.John Locke insists on preserving the individual rights of citizens against the temptation of social rulers to become tyrants.
160 Overview of Ethical Systems: Utilitarianism: A theory of moral reasoning within teleological ethics or consequentialism that looks to the principle of utility, i.e., the degree to which an act is helpful or harmful in order to determine the rightness or wrongness of an act.R.M. Hare’s 2-level utilitarianism: The logic of moral terms & facts about human nature & condition) leads to a 2 level version whereby both rule & act utilitarianism are bridged: intuitive level (simple, general rules) & critical level (act utilitarianism.J.J. C. Smart:Preference Utilitarianism: Maximize the achievements of people’s priorities; it is for each person to decide what counts as being happy.Negative Utilitarianism by K. Popper in The Open Society & Its Enemies (1945): Promote the least amount evil or harm; prevent the greatest amount of harm for the greatest number:J. Bentham:Only 2 intrinsic values: “Good is whatever brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number.”Motive Utilitarianism (Robert Adams): Inculcate motives within ourselves that will be generally useful across the spectrum of the situations we are likely to encounter.John S. Mill:Cultural, intellectual, & spiritual pleasures are of greater values than mere physical pain or pleasure.John S. Mill: Though still hedonistic utilitarianism Mill argues that cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures are of greater values than just mere physical plain or pleasure.Ideal Utilitarianism by G.E. Moore: The rightness or wrongness of acts is determined by their actual consequences; our duty: produce the best possible consequences.
161 A Closer look at Consequentialism: Classic utilitarianism is a complex combination of many distinct claims, including the following claims about the moral rightness of acts (even though it reduces all morally relevant factors to consequences):
162 Issues of Formulation: How utility is to be defined and whether it can be measured in the way utilitarians requires:1. Consequentialism = whether an act is morally right depends only on consequences (not circumstances, the intrinsic nature of the act, or anything that happens before the act).2. Actual Consequentialism = whether an act is morally right depends only on the actual consequences (not foreseen, foreseeable, intended, or likely consequences).3. Direct Consequentialism = whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act itself (not consequences of the agent's motive, of a rule or practice that covers other acts of the same kind, and so on).
163 Issues of Formulation: How utility is to be defined and whether it can be measured in the way utilitarians requires:4. Evaluative Consequentialism = moral rightness depends only on the value of the consequences (as opposed to other features of the consequences).5. Hedonism = the value of the consequences depends only on the pleasures and pains in the consequences (as opposed to other goods, such as freedom, knowledge, life, and so on).6. Maximizing Consequentialism = moral rightness depends only on which consequences are best (as opposed to satisfactory or an improvement over the status quo).7. Aggregative Consequentialism = which consequences are best is some function of the values of parts of those consequences (as opposed to rankings of whole worlds or sets of consequences).
164 Issues of Formulation: How utility is to be defined and whether it can be measured in the way utilitarians requires:8. Total Consequentialism = moral rightness depends only on the total net good in the consequences (as opposed to the average net good per person).8. Universal Consequentialism = moral rightness depends on the consequences for all people or sentient beings (as opposed to only the individual agent, present people, or any other limited group).9. Equal Consideration = in determining moral rightness, benefits to one person matter just as much as similar benefits to any other person (= all who count count equally).10. Agent-neutrality = whether some consequences are better than others does not depend on whether the consequences are evaluated from the perspective of the agent (as opposed to an observer).
165 Issues of Formulation: How utility is to be defined and whether it can be measured in the way utilitarians requires:These claims could be clarified, supplemented, and subdivided further. What matters here is just that these claims are logically independent, so a moral theorist could consistently accept some of them without accepting others. Yet classic utilitarians accepted them all. That fact makes classic utilitarianism a more complex theory than it might appear at first sight.It also makes classic utilitarianism subject to attack from many angles. Persistent opponents posed plenty of problems for classic utilitarianism. Each objection led some utilitarians to give up some of the original claims of classic utilitarianism. By dropping one or more of those claims, descendants of utilitarianism can construct a wide variety of moral theories. Advocates of these theories often call them consequentialism rather than utilitarianism so that their theories will not be subject to refutation by association with the classic utilitarian theory.
166 John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): Hedonistic Utilitarianism: Greatest Happiness Principle: “Acts are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness (intended pleasure), wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (pain and privation of pleasure). Cultural, intellectual, & spiritual pleasures are of greater value than mere physical pleasure, because the former would be valued more highly by competent judges than the latter. A competent judge, according to Mill, is anyone who has experienced both the lower pleasures and the higher.Pleasures differ from each other qualitatively as well as quantitatively, a “higher” pleasure being intrinsically better than a “lower” pleasure.”“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” Bentham treats all forms of happiness as equal: “a pushpin is as good as opera.” Some desires are primitive: others the result of experience, training, self-discipline, & special associations.Mill was an advocate of rule utilitarianism: you obey those rules which experience has shown will produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number. When you always know what people will do you get predictability and security.Mill reaffirmed though developed the hedonistic theory of Bentham from strict hedonistic path by saying that some kinds of pleasure, whatever their quantity, are intrinsically superior to others..Qualitative differences easily recognizable whereas quantitative differences are difficult to determine.He also differed with Bentham by denying that human motivation implies egoism. Even though we are by nature pleasure-seekers, we can be trained through proper development of our feelings to find pleasure in the pleasure of others.We ought to choose the action which looks most likely to produce most happiness. In order to do so we should usually be guided by those general rules which have been formulated as a result of the long experience of men in society:The beliefs that have come down are the rules of morality for the multitude, and or the philosopher, until he has succeeded in finding better.”A rule is valid only because it passes the utilitarian test: and it is difficult to believeJohn S. Mill:Cultural, intellectual, & spiritual pleasures are of greater values than mere physical pain or pleasure.The only justification society has in interfering with the liberty of action of an individual is self-protection; People should be allowed to think & do whatever they like. Mill was worried about the “tyranny of the majority” in his Essay On Liberty.
167 John Stuart Mill: Essential Terms: 1. higher pleasures: "pleasures of the intellect, ...relating to our feelings and imagination"; also those relating to our moral values.2. lower pleasures: bodily and physical pleasures3. inferior type: persons who find enjoyment by indulging in the lower pleasures (88-89)4. superior type: persons who find enjoyment by indulging in the higher pleasures5. altruism: personal sacrifice; "putting other's interests before one's own"6. incommensurable: (in this case) two things that are incomparable because they are essentially different. Mill uses this word to describe the comparison of pleasure and pain.
168 John Stuart Mill:10. Although Mill was heavily influenced by Bentham, there are two specific points of the latter's utilitarian theory that are rejected in Mill's version:Mill did not regard all pleasures equally. He made a distinction between higher and lower pleasures.Mill rejects Bentham's hedonic calculus because he believes that pleasures and pains are incommensurable.11. Higher pleasures are such because they:offer a sense of human dignity,offer greater permanency, safety, and un-costliness, andchallenge us to develop our intellectual capabilities.12 The only persons qualified to judge the relative merit of pleasures are those acquainted with the higher pleasures. Mill inserts this qualification so that his ethics can overcome the charge the it is an ethics for pigs and because he argues that anyone who is acquainted with both types or pleasures will certainly affirm the superiority of the higher type.
169 Egoism vs. Altruistic Utilitarianism: Enlightened self-interest is rejected in favor of consider the greatest happiness of all concerned.Persons responsible for making ethical decisions should do so from a disinterested, benevolent perspective.The value of personal sacrifice or altruism takes center stage over that of psychological egoism.If one can see that personal interests are bound up with communal interests, then the conflict between ego and community will be minimized.
170 Other Points on Mills:13. Human Suffering: Mill argues that "we have ... a moral duty to prevent or to reduce to human suffering.“Selfishness and a want of mental cultivation are the greatest causes of unhappiness.Individuals who have not taken the time to develop their intellectual capabilities are unlikely to share the view that the improvement of the human condition is of paramount importance.On Democracy:Although he favored democracy, Mill sees the possibility for domination of the minority by the majority under a strict system of "mob rule.“Accordingly, Mill argues that safeguards be put in place to protect the interests and viewpoints of minorities in the political process. Note that the term minority is not meant to denote racial minorities, but rather all types of political and social minorities that do not share majority/mainstream views.
171 Utilitarianism vs. Deontological Ethics: Utilitarian Ethics:Consequential Outcomes-Based.Case-by-Case.Hypothetical Imperative.4. Happiness (Greatest Happiness Principle)Deontological Ethics:One universal law for each situation.All times, all places, & all people.Categorical Imperative (Maxim-rule)4. Duty, Obligation, & Good will.
172 G. E. Moore’s Ethics 1st Argument: George Edward Moore ( ) was an English philosopher who spearheaded the attack on idealism and was a major supporter of realism in all its forms. In sum, he appealed to and offered a defense of common sense, arguing that any view which opposed common sense was either factually false or self-contradictory. In his major work in ethics, Principia Ethics (1903), Moore maintained that the central problem in ethics is ‘What is good?-meaning by this, not what things are good, but how “good” is to be defined.Regarding how good is to be defined, Moore contends that there can be only one answer: good is good or good is indefinable;Thus, good denotes a “unique, simple object of thought” that is indefinable and un-analyzable.1st Argument:To identify good with some other object (i.e., to define good) is to commit the naturalistic fallacy. To commit this fallacy is to reduce ethical propositions to either psychological propositions or reportive definitions as to how people use words.2nd Argument:Suppose good were definable. Then the result would be even worse that that of reducing ethical propositions to non-ethical propositions-ethical propositions would be tautologies! For example, define good as pleasure. Then suppose you maintain that pleasure is good. All you would be asserting is that pleasure is pleasure, a tautology.Why is this naturalistic fallacy? Because good is a non-natural property. But even it were a natural one, there would still be a fallacy: Definist fallacy. The Definist fallacy is attempting to define good by any means. This argument is often known as the open question argument because whatever purported definition of good anyone offers, it would always be an open question whatever satisfies the definition really is good.In last portion of book Moore discusses what sorts of things are the greatest goods which we are acquainted. He argues for the view that they are personal affection and aesthetic enjoyments.
173 Moore’s Threefold Contribution: “Good” is the name of a simple indefinable, non-natural property.Moore takes it that to call an action right is simply to say that of the available alternative actions is the one which does or did as a matter of fact produce the most good. Moore is a utilitarian: every action is to be evaluated solely by its consequences, as compared with the consequences of alternative possible courses of action. No action is ever right or wrong as such. Anything whatsoever may under certain circumstances be permitted.Propositions declaring this or that to be good are what Moore called “intuitions”; they are incapable of proof or disproof and indeed no evidence or reasoning can be adduced in their favor or disfavor.
174 Moore’s Threefold Contribution: 2. Moore takes it that to call an action right is simply to say that of the available alternative actions is the one which does or did as a matter of fact produce the most good. Moore is a utilitarian: every action is to be evaluated solely by its consequences, as compared with the consequences of alternative possible courses of action. No action is ever right or wrong as such. Anything whatsoever may under certain circumstances be permitted.
175 Moore’s Threefold Contribution: 3. In the sixth and final chapter of Principia Ethica, that “‘personal affections and aesthetic enjoyments include all the greatest, and by far the greatest goods we can imagine…’ This is the ultimate and fundamental truth of Moral Philosophy.’ The achievement of friendship and the contemplation of what is beautiful in nature or in art certainly almost the sole and perhaps the sole justifiable ends of all human action.” MacIntyre, After Virtue, 15.
176 Moore’s Threefold Contribution: Critique by MacIntyre:All three central positions are logically independent of each other. There is no breach in consistency if one were to affirm any one of the three and deny the other two.“…the first part of what Moore says is plainly false and the second and third parts are at the very least highly contentious” (pg. 16).3. The fallout: An impoverished concept of the “good” which contributed to rise of “emotivism.”
177 Overview of Ethical Systems: Act vs Rule Utilitarianism: Rule Utilitarianism states we ought to consider the consequences of the act performedas a general practice: What if everyone did that? What results would be this were ageneral practice?Act utilitarianism states we ought to consider the consequences of each act separately.The consequences of the act under consideration determine what one ought to do.They are alike in requiring us to produce the greatest amount of happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of peopleThey differ in what they believe we ought to consider in estimating the consequences.Act Utilitarians can claim that ought to consider only what will or is likely to happen, not what would happen if we acted in certain ways but is not going to happen because we are not going to act.Rule Utilitarians can claim that acts are similar to one another and so can be thought of as practices. Since we should make the same judgment in similar cases, we should judge this act by comparing it with results of the actions of everyone in similar situations.Best Proof offered for Utilitarianism is experienceJust as the only way in which we know that something is visible is its being seen, and the only way we can show that something is audible is if it can be heard, so, also, the only proof that we have that something is desirable is its being desired. Because we desire happiness, we thus know it is desirable or good. In fact, happiness is the only thing we desire for its own sake. All else we dire because we believe it will lead to happiness. J.S. Mill
178 Act-Utilitarian Framework: Act-utilitarian model begins with a premise that provides a specification of right action:An action is right iff it promotes the best consequences.It thereby forges the link between the concepts of “right action” and “consequences.”The best consequences are those in which happiness is maximized.
179 Act-Utilitarianism vs. Rule-Utilitarianism Act-utilitarianism is the view that rightness or wrongness of an action is to be judged by the consequences, good or bad, of the action itself.Rule-utilitarianism is the view that rightness or wrongness of an action is to be judged by the goodness and badness of the consequences of a rule that everyone should perform the action in like circumstances.Individual action are evaluated, in theory, not just in practice, by whether actions conform to a justified moral rule, and the utilitarian standard is applied only to general rules.Some rule utilitarians hold that actions are right provided that are permitted by rules the general acceptance of which would maximize utility in the agent’s society, and wrong only if they would be prohibited by such rules.There are a number of forms of rule utilitarianism.
180 Act-Utilitarianism vs. Rule-Utilitarianism There are two sub-varieties of rule-utilitarianism according to whether one construes “rule” as “actual rule (S. E. Toumlin)” or “possible rule (Kant).”On using Kant as possible rule we would do the following: “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” as “Act only on that maxim which you as a humane and benevolent person would like to see established as a universal law.”
181 Act-Utilitarianism vs. Rule-Utilitarianism Two arguments are offered against rule-utilitarianism by J.C.C. Smart via David Lyons:1st: Rule-Utilitarianism collapses into act- utilitarianism:“Suppose that an exception to a rule R produces the best possible consequences. Then this is the evidence that the rule R should be modified so as to allow this exception. Thus we get a new rule of the form ‘do R except in circumstances of the sort C’. That is, whatever would lead the act-utilitarian to break a rule would lead the Kantian rule-utilitarian to modify the rule. Thus, an adequate rule-utilitarianism would be extensionally equivalent to act-utilitarianism.
182 Act-Utilitarianism vs. Rule-Utilitarianism Two arguments are offered against rule-utilitarianism by J.C.C. Smart via David Lyons:2nd Argument: Lyons is interested in “threshold effects”:A difficulty for rule-utilitarianism is on rules like “do not walk on the grass” or “do not fail to vote at an election” or “do not fail to vote at an election.”In these cases it seems that it is beneficial if some people, though not too many, to break the rule (pg. 11).Lyon points out that we can distinguish the act of doing something (e.g., walking on the grass) after some largish number n other people have done it from the action of doing it when few or no people have done it (pg. 11).When these circumstances are written into the rule, Lyons holds that the rule will come to enjoin the same circumstances as would the act-utilitarian principle (pg. 11).
183 Act-Utilitarianism vs. Rule-Utilitarianism Smart thinks that an adequate rule-utilitarianism is not only extensionally equivalent to the act-utilitarian principle but it would consist of one rule only: the act-utilitarian rule: “Maximize probable benefit” (pp ).This is because any rule which can be formulated must be able to deal with an indefinite number of unforeseen types of contingency (pg. 12).No rule, short of the act-utilitarian one, can therefore be safely regarded as extensionally equivalent to the act-utilitarian principle unless it is that very principle itself (pg. 12).Thus, act-utilitarianism must become “one-rule” rule-utilitarianism which is identical to act-utilitarianism (pg. 12).
184 R. M. Hare’s Two Level Utilitarian Model: Two-level utilitarianism or Kantian Utilitarianism is an attempt to accommodate deontological intuitions (Kantian universalizability) within the framework of utilitarianism by synthesizing both act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.In summary, a person's moral decisions should be based on a set of 'intuitive' moral rules (derived from the logical feature of moral knowledge, common preferences of humanity, etc) except in certain rare situations (e.g., prima facie principles conflict, unusual cases) where it is more appropriate to engage in a 'critical' level of act utilitarianism.Act utilitarianism states that in all cases the morally right action is the one which produces the most pleasure.rule utilitarianism states that the morally right action is the one that is in accordance with a moral rule whose general observance would create the most happiness.In terms of two-level utilitarianism, act utilitarianism can be likened to the 'critical' level of moral thinking, and rule utilitarianism to the 'intuitive' level.
185 Basic Argument: 1. The logic of moral terms like "ought” a. Moral judgments are by their nature universalizable (they are more than simple imperatives, they commit one to making the same ought judgment in all circumstances that share the same universal features; moral thinking is a rational pursuit).2. Facts about human nature and commonly held human preferences (human condition):a. Human basic preferences tend to be uniformb. Humans vary on their ability to think critically and act on what they determine to be moral principles.3. Warrants a two-level version of utilitarianism.
186 Regarding the Intuitive Level (Kantian/Rule): The Intuitive Level is composed of prima facie principles or rules derived from the logical features of moral language (universalizable ought claims) and general facts & commonly held moral preferences. They are also informed by 2nd level principles. Thus, a morally right action is an accordance with a moral rule whose general observance would create the most happiness. Prima facie principles are beneficial when there isn't time for critical thinking, or when one can't trust one's critical thinking.These rules are generated by the logical features of moral language; they are by nature universalizable. This means that moral judgments are more than simple imperatives for they commit one to making the same ought judgment in all circumstances that share the same universal features (e.g., let no one _________ at least, under such and such experience).The Intuitive level is also informed by Critical Level when it comes to unusual cases, etc (rule utilitarianism).The Intuitive level also involves general facts & preferences commonly held by humanity.
187 Three Kinds of Intuitive Principles: According to Dr. Gary Varner, a proponent of this view, notes:Common MoralityProfessional EthicsPersonal Morality
188 Three Kinds of Intuitive Level Principles: Common Morality emerges when members of society face similar problems. This is expected because of the universal features of the human condition as evidenced in the common moralities of various cultures at different times and places.Professional Ethics emerge because of the similar kinds of situations repeatedly certain roles experience; agreements on basic standards of conduct take place.Personal Morality. Dr. Varner writes, “And insofar as individuals differ in their abilities to reason critically under various circumstances, critical thinking will lead different individuals to train themselves to adhere to different sets of intuitive level rules, including "metaprinciples" for deciding when to engage in critical thinking and when to stick unquestioningly to one's intuitive level principles.”
189 Regarding the Critical Level (Act Utilitarian): When you encounter (1) an unusual situation, (2) determine that two prima facie rules contradict each other, (3) or where the normal rules would specify a course of action that is clearly not the most beneficial, changing one’s mode of moral thinking to the critical act utilitarian level is necessary (utility needs to be maximized).Act utilitarianism is a necessary compliment to rule utilitarianism because in some cases an individual might pursue a course of action that would obviously not maximize utility. Conversely, act utilitarianism is criticized for not allowing for a 'human element' in its calculations, i.e. it is sometimes too difficult (or impossible) for an ordinary person with imperfect knowledge to calculate the action of maximal utility
190 Description of Model: Each person shares the traits of the following to limited and varying extents at different times:Prole:1. Human weaknesses to an extreme degree.2. Must rely upon intuitions and sound prima facie principles all of the time.Incapable of critical thought.The set of intuitive moral rules must be simple, general, easy to memorize, and use.Archangel:Only uses critical moral thinking; no intuitive principles are needed.Superhuman, god-like powers of knowledge, thought, and no human weaknesses.Unbiased, ideal observer who can immediately scan all potential consequences of all possible actions in order to frame a universal principle form which it could decide an appropriate action for the situation.
191 Objections against 2-Level Utilitarianism Apart from the criticisms that are commonly made of utilitarianism:Undermines an agent's commitment to act in accordance with his moral principles for he knows that his everyday set of moral rules is merely a guideline (less guilt for breaking an intuitive principles).It is problematic for one's thinking in the way the two-level account requires — to simultaneously think like a utilitarian and act in a non-utilitarian way.Weakness of Will: Problems arise when we try to keep critical thinking separate from intuitive (acting against one’s own judgment).
192 How do we know what intuitive principle or prima facie rules to follow? According to Dr. Gary Varner:Ideally: Engage in critical thinking which an archangel would use to choose such principles for people like us.In practice: Default setting is an acceptance of common morality and professional ethic which we fine-tune in order to arrive at a distinctive personal morality.How do we decide when to override an intuitive principle:1. Ideality: Engage in critical thinking which an archangel would do.2. Practice: Only override when the aggregate harm to be prevented by doing so is both clear and great and the situation is the kind in which you can really trust your critical thinking.
193 Advantages of Two-Level Utilitarianism It is an integrated model which attempts to bypass objections to act and rule utilitarianism by borrowing the best features of both theories and combining them, and as a way of solving the problem of what to do when moral rules conflict.It accounts for "the non-consequentialist (or deontological) feel" of the principles of common morality.It relies on linguistic intuitions (intuitions about the logic of the moral terms) rather than intuitive moral judgments. Reason is not just random, subjective, or emotional.It is compatible with consequentialism because it occurs at critical level and is the source of those “guides” at the lower level.
194 A. Advantages of Utilitarianism: BCPB: 1. Banishes mystery from moral decision-making; questions become engineering problems.2. Clear practical method of resolving moral conflicts.3. Pleasure and pain are in fact considerations even if onecan’t capture it.4. Benefits in view of being incorporated into public policy (inner-city school vs. new turf in football stadium).
195 Arguments for Consequentialism: 1. Most people begin with the presumption that we morally ought to make the world better when we can. The question then is only whether any moral constraints or moral options need to be added to the basic consequentialist factor in moral reasoning. (Kagan 1989, 1998)2. Even if every possible objection is refuted, we might have no reason to reject consequentialism (but still no reason to accept it).3. Attacks opponents. If the only plausible options in moral theory lie on a certain list (say, Kantianism, contractarianism, virtue theory, pluralistic intuitionism, and consequentialism), then consequentialists can argue for their own theory by criticizing the others. This disjunctive syllogism or process of elimination will be only as strong as the objections to the alternatives, and the argument fails if even one competitor survives. Moreover, the argument assumes that the original list is complete. It is hard to see how that assumption could be justified.
196 Arguments for Consequentialism: 4. Consequentialism also might be supported by an inference to the best explanation of our moral intuitions. This argument might surprise those who think of consequentialism as counterintuitive, but in fact consequentialists can explain many moral intutions that trouble deontological theories. Moderate deontologists, for example, often judge that it is morally wrong to kill one person to save five but not morally wrong to kill one person to save a million. They never specify the line between what is morally wrong and what is not morally wrong, and it is hard to imagine any non-arbitrary way for deontologists to justify a cutoff point. In contrast, consequentialists can simply say that the line belongs wherever the benefits outweigh the costs (including any bad side effects). If consequentialists can better explain more common moral intuitions, then consequentialism might have more explanatory coherence overall, despite being counterintuitive in some cases. (Compare Sidgwick 1907, Book IV, Chap. III.) And even if act consequentialists cannot argue in this way, it still might work for rule consequentialists (such as Hooker 2000).
197 Arguments for Consequentialism: 5. Consequentialists also might be supported by deductive arguments from abstract moral intuitions. Sidgwick (1907, Book III, Chap. XIII) seemed to think that the principle of utility follows from very general principles of rationality and universalizability.6. Other consequentialists are more skeptical about moral intuitions, so they seek foundations outside morality, either in non-normative facts or in non-moral norms. Mill (1861) is infamous for his “proof” of the principle of utility from empirical observations about what we desire (cf. Sayre-McCord 2001). In contrast, Hare (1963, 1981) tries to derive his version of utilitarianism from substantively neutral accounts of morality, of moral language, and of rationality.7. Yet another argument for a kind of consequentialism is contractarian. Harsanyi (1977, 1978) argues that all informed, rational people whose impartiality is ensured because they do not know their place in society would favor a kind of consequentialism. Broome (1991) elaborates and extends Harsanyi's argument.8. Even if none of these arguments proves consequentialism, there still might be no adequate reason to deny consequentialism. We might have no reason either to deny consequentialism or to assert it. Consequentialism could then remain a live option even if it is not proven.
198 B. Objections to Utilitarianism: 1. Moral Problem: Utilitarianism lacks any moral component since it is an engineering problem of calculations (e.g., Anscombe).2. Consequential Problem: Utilitarianism can’t determine the full range of consequences.3. Quantification Problem: Just how much “good” outweighs” evil?4. Justification of evil Problem. Outrageous and horrific acts can be justified (Dostoevsky’s argument in Karamazov Brothers ( ).5. Moore’s Naturalistic Fallacy: Moral goodness cannot be adequately defined by some natural property (G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica). He argues we must have a tacit understanding of moral goodness (though he is consequential). Ross ( ) argues the same.
199 B. Objections to Utilitarianism: 6. Explanation Problem: Unable to explain what is wrong with a wrong action (obliging stranger who cooks himself in an oven).7. Kantian-Inclination Problem: People naturally choose a Kantian-type principle or consequentialism.8. Psychologically False: (e.g., Pleasure Machine).9. Individual Rights Problem. Fails to acknowledge intrinsic value of individual rights.10. Too demanding Problem: Utilitarians demand too much in every action having the best consequences (e.g., going to the movies).
200 B. Objections to Utilitarianism: 11. Utilitarians are divided on what should be calculated:a. Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonistic Utilitarianism: pleasure vs. pain from Bentham as the only 2 intrinsic values: “good is whatever brings the greatest happiness to the great number.”Ross states: Pleasure is not the only thing we recognize as being intrinsically good; we recognize other things such as a good character & an intelligent understanding of the world as having intrinsic value.b. Mill’s hedonistic utilitarianism: Cultural, intellectual & spiritual pleasures are of greater value than mere physical pleasure.c. JJ.C. Smart: Maximize the achievements of people’s priorities; it is for each person to decide what counts as being happy.d. Karl Popper’s Negative Utilitarianism: We are to promote the least amount of evil or harm, or try to prevent the greatest amount of harm for the greatest number (1945 The Open Society & Its Enemies).
201 f. Act Utilitarianism: Consider each act separately. g. Rule Utilitarianism: Consider the consequences of acts performed as a general practice.h. Motive Utilitarianism by Robert Adams who advocates that we inculcate motives within ourselves that will be generally useful across the spectrum of the situations we are likely to encounter.i. R.M. Hare’s 2 Level Utilitarianism whereby he bridges both act and rule utilitarianism.j. Preference Utilitarianism: defines the good to be maximized as the fulfillment of person’s preferences.k. Ideal Utilitarianism: Good is not identified with pleasure. Rather, goodness is discovered by intuitionism; the rightness or wrongness of acts is determined by their actual consequences; our duty is to produce the best possible consequences even though we cannot always predict what the consequences of our acts will be.Ross states: Productivity of maximum good is not what makes all actions right.
202 Counter-Intuitive Objection by Bernard Williams Bernard Williams argues that all versions of Utilitarianism involve a counter-intuitive view of (a) responsibility for acts (b) the virtue of integrity.Suppose Pedro will shoot 20 innocent people unless Jim agrees to shoot 1. Utilitarianism says that Jim should shoot 1. If he does not, then he is responsible for the deaths of 19 people he could have saved. But Williams says that (a) if Jim declines to shoot, then it is obviously Pedro rather than Jim who is responsible for the 20 deaths. Moreover, b) if Jim is the sort of person for whom shooting would be absolutely abhorrent, incompatible with his deepest commitments, then a moral theory requires him to shoot must be wrong.
203 Reply to Utilitarian Objection: A Utilitarian might reply to Williams as follows: (a) if Jim does not shoot, then both he and Pedro are fully responsible for the 20 deaths. There is no “Law of Conservation of Responsibility.” (Pedro is also responsible for setting up the situation, of course.). Moreover, (b) there is nothing sacred about integrity. It is perfectly possible for a person to build a life around morally flawed ideals that should be violated in certain situations. Huck Fin was committed to the institution of slavery, for example. Nevertheless, he had a moral duty to help his enslaved friend escape. Jim may be committed to the ideal of never taking human life, but that commitment does not absolve him from killing, when killing is morally required. His ideal, though hardly as bad as slavery, is morally flawed. Jim is too squeamish.
204 Overview of Ethical Systems: W.D. Ross’ Intuitionism (1877-1971): We directly, intuitively, immediately, objectively, & undeniably moral truths. 7 Prima facie duties are in fact duties which include fidelity, gratitude, reparations, non-injury, beneficence (generosity), self-improvement, & justice.They are different from feelings when you experience them; the truths of intuitions is self-evident. They are objective facts which are applicability dependent.What do you do when these moral principles or truths come into conflict? It is often difficult to be sure what the stronger duty is. Nevertheless that uncertainty doesn’t infect the general principles. Therefore, I carefully consider which duty is more “weighty”; it will then become obvious.Prima facie duties are moral, conditional guidelines which can be overridden, trumped by other duties; they are not rules without exceptions.We apprehend P.F. duties the same way we apprehend mathematics.There is no ranking of priority with P.F. duties but some are more incumbent than others.4 Central Views at the center of Ross’s Intuitionism:Moral Realism (metaphysics): it is built into our everyday ethical discourse & thought.Non-Natural Properties (metaphysics): Transparency argument (we use term “good” without defining it) & open argument (infinite regress on def. of good); it is this worldly (non-natural moral).Irreducible pluralism about the right and good (normative theory).Moral propositions are self evident (epistemological); we have a priori knowledge (no special faculty).Prima facie duties are different than Proper Duties.Proper duties are duties we should perform in the particular situation or choice. You are obligated to do it; you are bound to it. Rightness is not derived from the value of motive form which it is done. Rightness is not wholly determined by the value of the consequences of one’s action. Rightness is determined by a plurality of self-evident prima facie duties. In fact, rightness & goodness are simple non-natural properties.
205 W. D. Ross’ Intuitionism: 1 W.D. Ross’ Intuitionism: 1. Ross, who combines aspects of Aristotle and Kant against utilitarianism, contends for the following: A. We have an intuitive knowledge of the rightness and wrongness of acts. B. Unlike Kantianism, Ross contends that this intuitive knowledge doesn't consist of a set of moral absolutes that can not be overridden. C. Rather, our moral principles present us with prima facie duties (conditional duties). While these duties' value is not upon circumstances, their applicability is so dependent. D. There is no special intuitive faculty. Our sense is highly fallible but it is the only guide we have to duty. E. His moral theory is pluralistic (several duties may make it right; there is no master-value). F. We have at least seven prima facie duties: fidelity, gratitude, reparations, non-injury, generosity, justice, and self- improvement.
206 W.D. Ross’ Intuitionism Objections: The prima facie list is unsystematic & follows no logical principle.Provides no principle for determining what our actual moral obligations are in a particular situation in contrast to both Kant and Mills who do.List of prima facie duties is without justification: how can we be sure it is accurate?Clearly people have different intuitions about moral issues.How can we decide which intuitions to trust?Ross says in our immediate experience we don’t think about consequences, we think about our binding duty (e.g., love for a friend). Hare says that is good thing that you don’t think about this.
207 Overview of Ethical Systems: Ethical Relativism: Ethical values and beliefs are relative to the various individuals or societies that hold them; there is no objective right and wrong. Thus, morality is simply a matter of subjective opinion.INDIVIDUAL OR PERSONAL RELATIVISM:Ethical judgments & beliefs are simply the expressions of the moral outlook & attitudes of individual believers. In essence, I have my ethical views & you have yours; neither are right or wrong.CULTURAL RELATIVISM: Ethical values vary from society to society; the basis for moral judgments lies in these social or cultural values; there are no trans-cultural values.3 Reasons used to support ethical relativism:Diversity of Moral Views: The existence of moral diversity among people & cultures;Moral Uncertainty: the great difficult we in knowing what is morally right or wrong.Situational Differences: The situations and life world of different people vary so much it is difficult to believe that the same things that would be right for one would be right for another. Thus, it seems unlikely that any moral theory can apply in a universal manner.There is no general agreement about what is right and wrong; there can be no agreement regarding morality.Reject moral relativism because we don’t have basis moral disagreements (lying) (but disagreements about facts; did he lie?).People can disagree about what is the right thing to do & yet believe that there is a right thing to do (e.g., be a good steward of environment; Co2 emissions harm or don’t harm? We have different conclusions).3. Because we are uncertain about answer does not prove that it lacks an answer.
208 Overview of Ethical Systems: Moral Realism: Moral Realism is the view that there are real objective moral facts/truths: Reason (Plato; Kant) that can be known special intuitive powers (Moore), by revelation from God (Aquinas), or by careful scientific investigation of moral lives and beliefs of variety of people and culture.4 Types of Moral Realism:1. Natural/Special revelationfrom God;Pure reflective reason;3. Intuitionism4. ContemporaryMoral philosophy.Cont. philosophical realism insist that objective moral facts are possible, & it may be possible to discover them; it is a complicated study. Rather than looking through intuition, pure reflective reasoning, finding real moral facts will require diligent research, including careful inquiry into the moral lives & beliefs of variety of people & cultures. Research will yield evidence of real moral facts (maybe not). But in order to decide we must do the empirical research & investigate in order to see how moral facts are to be established To be sure, It is less certain of itself. While they are not sure that there are objective moral facts, the insist that moral truths have not yet been disproved; Following Kuhn, it can legitimately be one of competing theories; let the facts determine the answer. We may eventually develop consensus. Advocate: Michael Smith.G.E. Moore claims that we can intuit moral qualities such as goodness in people or acts though we can’t observe it through the senses (e.g., taste, touch taste, or sight)Dispositional Ethical Realism:Morality is evident in a relational matter:A certain fit between actions and situations or actions and our innate sensibilities.Two reasons offered by B. Waller why contemporary moral realism may fail: (1) A better theory comes along; (2) Lack of moral consensus.
209 Friedrich Nietzsche“Nietzche’s interprets his thoughts on morality as what he calls “a morality for moralists” (KSA 11, 34 ).“…the power of Nietzsche’s position depends upon the truth of one central thesis: that all rational vindications of morality manifestly fail and that therefore belief in the tenets of morality need to be explained in terms of a set of rationalizations which conceal the fundamentally non-rational phenomena of the will.” ~ Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 117.
210 F. Nietzsche (1844-1900): Life simply is the will to power: Campaign against morality. Greatly troubled by the decline of individuality, the hypocrisy of traditional European morality that has oppressed the unfettered spirit of humanity, proclaims that true morality is that which conforms to nature and condemns as bad whatever is contrary to it. Nature is essentially the will to power; it is brutal, cruel, frightful, tragic, and beautiful. We must say yes to life as it actually is. The moral person lives “lives dangerously” by increasing its mastery. Morality is located in nature-process; it is empirical, what we will, not metaphysical.Genealogy of Morals questions the value of morality.Self-deception is a particularly destructive characteristic of Western culture.Moral phenomena does not exist; there is only a moral interpretation of phenomena. But once freed, realize independence is only for the strong.The greatest power is found in those who can control their passions & use them creatively.Morality is not “located” in forms; it does not have a starting point (no origins) but is a nature- process; it is earthly as opposed to spiritual; it is empirical, not metaphysical. Moral terms become vacuous. In his typology of morals there are 2 types: master morality & slave morality: Moral codes have originated “either among a ruling group whose consciousness of their difference from the ruled group was accomp. by delight or among the ruled, the slaves. Noble proclaimed good out of self-affirmation; evil is the slave’s primary concept. Both types “can have each other.” Every morality is against nature & reason (but not an object.)The essence of the individual is the will-the will to power (Dionysus represents frenzied & passionate); reason (Apollo represents order & reason) is to facilitate by organizing efficiently the conditions of action. The height of Greek civ. blending of both. We are under Apollo & are in need of Dionysus.Our natural desire is to dominate and reshape the world to fit our own preferences & to asset our personal strength to the fullest degree possible. Struggle, through which individuals achieve a degree of power commensurate w/ their abilities is the basic fact of human existence.Regarding asceticism: We could go so far as to say that we are the "inward-looking animal," and that this inward looking has only been generated by a constant struggle against ourselves and our own nature. The greatest triumph is to delight in and affirm this self-torture and struggle, to see it as a willful act of creation, whereby we free ourselves of our instincts and our evolutionary past, and fully create ourselves. The will is the will to truth.There are only verbs; The bird is the will; “their knowing is creating”; "There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective ’knowing’; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our ’concept’ of this thing, our ’objectivity,’ be.“ Absolute truth means that a certain interpretation has become suspiciously compelling (Third Essay of Genealogy of Morals)..
211 Summary from Stanford Encyclopedia: Nietzsche's moral philosophy is primarily critical in orientation: he attacks morality both for its commitment to untenable descriptive (metaphysical and empirical) claims about human agency, as well as for the deleterious impact of its distinctive norms and values on the flourishing of the highest types of human beings (Nietzsche's “higher men”). His positive ethical views are best understood as combining (i) a kind of consequentialist perfectionism as Nietzsche's implicit theory of the good, with (ii) a conception of human perfection involving both formal and substantive elements. Because Nietzsche, however, is an anti-realist about morality, he takes neither his positive vision, nor those aspects of his critique that depend upon it, to have any special epistemic status, a fact which helps explain his rhetoric and the circumspect character of his “esoteric” moralizing. Although Nietzsche's illiberal attitudes (for example, about human equality) are apparent, there are no grounds for ascribing to him a political philosophy, since he has no systematic (or even partly systematic) views about the nature of state and society. As an esoteric moralist, Nietzsche aims at freeing higher human beings from their false consciousness about morality (their false belief that this morality is good for them), not at a transformation of society at large.
212 Nietzsche’s Starting Point: In his preface to his Genealogy of Morals, his “a priori” starting point is to have a “suspicious interest in morality.” He is interested in the following questions:“Under what conditions did man devise these value judgments good and evil? And what value do they themselves possess? Have they hitherto hindered or furthered human prosperity? Are they a sign of distress, of impoverishment, of the degeneration of life? Or is there revealed in them, on the contrary, the plenitude, force, and will of life, its courage, certainty, future? (Genealogy of Morals, preface, 3).”
213 What does he mean by “Genealogy?” On one hand, it points to the investigation and the evolution of a phenomenon: it describes the successive forms the phenomenon adopts, and it is especially interested in the most significant changes or displacements in such an evolution.On the other hand, Genealogy points to the investigation of the psychological, sociological, and physiological conditions, functions, and effects of such an evolution.
214 1. good/evil and good/bad in GM 1. 2. Guilt/bad conscience in GM 2. Outline of Genealogy: Using the genealogical method he examines the constitutive understanding of the two foundations of morality:1. good/evil and good/bad in GM 1.2. Guilt/bad conscience in GM 2.3. The Ascetic ideal in GM 3.“The genealogist knows that life is will to power; this enables him to acknowledge the plurality while at the same time “collecting” it in terms of universal structures” (e.g., “the ascetic ideal” in GM III), and it provides him with a criterion by which he can evaluate what he finds; with this criterion he can evlauate the traditional (moral) criterion” (pg. 391 of “Nietzsche and Ethics”).
215 Central Points:1. His call for a radical reconsideration of everything from life and the world and human existence and knowledge to value and morality:a. The “de-deification of nature;”b. The “translation of values,”c. The tracing of the “genealogy of moral” and their critique;d. The elaboration of “naturalistic” accounts of knowledge, value, morality, and our entire “spiritual nature.”
216 Central Points:2. He insisted upon the interpretive character of all human thought; he insisted on the need for a revaluation of all received values, and for attention to the problems of nature, status, and standards of value and evaluation.3. One form of the inquiry he took to be of great utility in connection with both of these tasks is genealogical inquiry into conditions under which various modes of interpretation and evaluation have arisen.
217 Central Points:4. He emphasizes the perspectival character of all thinking and the merely provisional character of all knowing, rejecting the idea of the very possibility of absolute knowledge transcending all perspectives. However, because he also rejected the idea that things (and values) have absolute existence “in themselves” apart from the relations which he supposes their reality to consist, he held that, if viewed in the multiplicity of perspectives from which various of these relations come to light, they admit of a significant measure of comprehension. This perspectivism thus does not exclude the possibility of any sort of knowledge deserving of the name, but rather indicates how it is to be conceived and achieved. His kind of philosophy, which he characterizes as “cheerful science” proceeds by way of a variety of such “perspectival” approaches to the various matters with which he deals.
218 Central Points:5 Thus for Nietzsche there is no truth in the sense of correspondence of anything we might think or say to “being,” and indeed no “true world of being” to which it may even be imagined to fail to correspond; no “knowledge” conceived in terms of any such truth and reality; and, no further, no knowledge at all-even of our selves and the world of which we are a part-that is absolute, non-perspectival, and certain. But that is not the end of the matter. There are, e.g., ways of thinking that may be more or less well warranted in relation to differing sorts of interest and practice, not only within the context of social life but also in our dealing with our envisioning world.
219 Key Elements to Know:1. The essence of the individual is the will-the will to power.2. Transvaluation of values: Reverse the self-deception of Judeo-Christian religion & Greek Rationalism by implementing a moral revolution that presents a corrected table of virtues for the free spirits, the aristocracy of free spirits (not the common herd who are too weak):a. Humility is replaced with pride;b. Sympathy is replaced with contempt;c. Love your neighbor is replaced with no more than tolerance.
220 Key Elements to Know:3. He exhorts the aristocracy of free spirits to prepare for the highest stage in human development: the Superman.Superman symbolizes the unfettered spirit, reveling in his magnificent strength and his own worth. Although human nature in its present condition may be regarded as the highest form of existence, our dominance over nature is still precarious:“Man is something to be surpassed.”
221 Key Elements to Know:4. The conception of evolution is fundamental aspect of his system. However, his interpretation of it departs from the Darwinian hypothesis.Darwin’s evolution is conceived as passive and mechanical adaptation to the environment, but Nietzsche finds the true meaning of evolution in an aggressive will to power to dominate the environment:“The strongest and highest Will to Life does not find expression in a miserable struggle for existence, but in a Will to War, a Will to Power, a Will to Overpower.”There is in evolution no progress toward a goal: each thing in the universe manifests a ceaseless, blind striving for power, shifting back and forth between success and failure in the competition for master.
222 Key Elements to Know:5. Good is whatever conforms to nature and he condemns as bad whatever is contrary to it.Affirming the values which enhance the will to power: Saying yes to life as it actually is, constitutes true morality.6. All ethical theories which conceal the hard facts of existence and teach the repression of the will to power are insidious. Thus, he believes that Judeo-Christian thought and rationalism of traditional philosophy have had a debilitating influence of Christianity by holding up the ideal of a human being as a rational animal and suppression of our desires.
223 Key Elements to Know:7. Nietzsche uses the Greek gods, Dionysus and Apollo to dramatize the relationship between the will and reason. Dionysus, the frenzied and passionate, is revered as the symbol of the undisciplined will to power. Apollo, representing rationality and order, must be the instrument by which the will to power can increase its mastery.With the Apollonian element supporting rather than suppressing the Dionysian, humans can defy God and dominate the universe: The moral person “lives dangerously.”
224 Key Elements to Know:8. The distinction of moral values have either originated in a ruling case, pleasantly conscious of being different from the ruled-or among the ruled class, the slaves and dependents of all sorts.a. Master-morality creates the values than honor himself. Therefore, when he helps the unfortunate, but not out of pity, but rather from an impulse generated by the superabundance of power.b. Slave-morality: Te slave has an unfavorable eye for the virtue of the power, suspicious, and skeptical. Thus, those qualities which they generate (helping hand, warm heart, patience, diligence, humility, friendliness, etc) are the most useful qualities: it is a morality of utility.
225 Key Elements to Know: 9. There will always be “weak” types. 10. The worry is that nihilism or “pity” will prevent those who are strong from keeping their strength; that the weak are infecting the strong (e.g., democracy levels precludes the possibility of an over-rising man from rising).11. Man is a kind of type; the over-man is a type; man is a bridge to the overman. The type we are. But I don’t know if I would read it as personified.12. The weak can triumph but that doesn’t make them strong (e.g., his view of Christians).
226 Key Elements to Know:13. Two stories of conscience: The relationship between the creditor and the debtor. If the debtor doesn’t pay back the debts, the creditor will punish him. But on the other hand, there is this attachment to “norms” which is through “cruelty” which we are made to remember how we ought to behave;14. Being in debt is being guilty and you should be made to suffer and so the origin of cruelty there is an element of pleasure the debtor takes; there is pleasure in being cruel.15. Pleasure is involved in receiving the cruelty.16. Bad conscience emerges as a result of urbanization; the hostility and joy in attacking.17. In this moment that our instincts turn upon ourselves we are at war; we level ourselves.18. The weak cannot actualize them.20. We can overcome our nature which gives us the capacity that we can become strong or we can become inward, and thus, weak.
227 Key Elements to Know:21. The aesthetic ideals: poverty, chastity, and humility;22. The aesthetic ideals give an explanation for our suffering. This is where our sin comes in. We can be used in great service but he is concerned with the aesthetic ideals for Christians; for them they are ends in themselves. For Christians Aesthetic ideals have come to absolute. First claim he makes is that the aesthetic ideals show us something of the human will. We need meaning ultimately and aesthetic ideals and the needs that give rise to them, show us that we need meaning (this is in the last section of the genealogy; the aesthetic ideals that we need a human goal; he turns to the aesthetic priest, who re-directs the blame (what is the cause of your suffering? It is your own fault for being bad says the priest). So, the story he tells of the aesthetic ideals is fascinating. The aesthetic ideals de-value life: this life is worth doesn’t matter; only this life does. But how did this come to be? How has this view of sin become widespread? Well, the aesthetic ideals grew out of a need to preserve life.
228 Key Elements to Know:23. The aesthetic ideals in the end de-value life…they help us overcome and give meaning.24. In the twilight of the idols, it is a profound moment in the decadence of Greece whereby Socrates to comes to the scene. These ideals, Christians, who de-value life gives us a reason (you are sinful). He is both appalled and marveled by it.25. Sin is not falsifiable; it has tremendous explanatory power.26. Who can I blame, though a weak disposition itself, says it is your fault-says the aesthetic priest.27. Suffering makes you stronger (for Anselm you are paying off that debt).28. BOTTOM LINE: WE CREATE MEANING FOR OURSELVES!29. The strong person doesn’t resent, so there is no forgiveness.30. The strong says yes (the eternal return); When Zurathrusta; Absolute affirmation of the will; it is an existential compartment; the aesthetic priest wishes to be elsewhere and Nietzsche affirms life as it is.
229 Significant Points by Paul J.M. Van Tongeren on Nietzsche & Ethics 1. One of the most radical critics of morality & ethics in history of philosophy.2. There is an unmistakable moral pathos in his philosophy, criticism of morality, & ethics: Nietzsche himself interprets his thoughts on morality as what he calls “a morality for moralists.” Thus, the critique of morality as well as the morality of his critique are of utmost importance for a correct understanding of his whole philosophy.
230 Significant Points by Paul J.M. Van Tongeren on Nietzsche & Ethics 3. The moral distinctions of “good” and “evil” also lie, according to Nietzsche, at the heart of religious principles, metaphysical categories, and aesthetic appreciation.4. But, in Nietzsche’s critique of those cultural domains morality has an important role to play: the Christian God has been undermined by the morality of truthfulness that unmasked the belief in God a s lie, and the same morality of truthfulness plays an important role in the criticism of science, philosophy, and art.5. Nietzsche himself can’t escape this criticism since his own critique is inspired and molded by the morality he criticizes.Nietzsche can’t escape this criticism since his own critique is inspired and molded by the morality he criticizes.Therefore, Nietzsche resembles all those he criticizes, continually holding them up to an ideal of health and fitness that has an unmistakable moral tone. His own thought is certainly not exception to the rule he formulates in Beyond Good and Evil:
231 Significant Points by Paul J.M. Van Tongeren on Nietzsche & Ethics “Gradually it has become clear to me that every great philosophy so far has been: namely the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant has grown (BGE 6).”
232 Significant Points by Paul J.M. Van Tongeren on Nietzsche & Ethics 8. What is the genealogy? The genealogy is the method of his critique. Nietzsche, in sum, argues in favor of the study of the following:a. The origination of moral categories;b. The functioning of moral categories;c. The critical evaluation of those categories.
233 Significant Points by Paul J.M. Van Tongeren on Nietzsche & Ethics Three crucial elements of his genealogical method:(1) History of origin and evolution;(2) Analysis of function and effectiveness; (3) Critical evaluation.
234 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: Nietzsche’s übermensch, his solution to the lies of the Enlightenment, is “at once absurd and dangerous fantasy,”…it is worth noting how even that construction began from a genuine insight” (pg ).In the Gay Science (section 335) Nietzsche mocks the notion of basing morality on inner moral sentiments, on conscience, the Kantian categorical imperative, universalizability. In five swift paragraphs he disposes the Enlightenment project to discover rational foundations for an objective morality and of the confidence of the everyday moral agent in post-Enlightenment culture that his moral practice and utterance are in good order. The underlying argument is: “If there is nothing to morality but expressions of will, my morality can only be what my will creates. There can no place for such fictions as natural rights, utility, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. I must myself now bring into existence ‘new tables of what is good.’ ‘We, however, want to become those we are-human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves.’ (pg. 266).”
235 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: MacIntyre continues:“The rational and rationally justified autonomous moral subject of the eighteenth century is a fiction, an illusion; so, Nietzsche resolves, let will replace reason and let us make ourselves into autonomous moral subjects by some gigantic and heroic act of the will, and act of the will that by its quality may remind us of that archaic aristocratic self-assertiveness which preceded what Nietzsche took to be the disaster of slave-morality and which by its effectiveness may be the prophetic precursor of a new era. The problem then is how to construct in an entirely original way, how to invent a new table of what is good and a law, problem which arises for each individual. This problem would constitute the core of a Nietzschean moral philosophy. For it is in his relentlessly serious pursuit of the problem, not in his frivolous solutions that Nietzsche’s greatness lies, the greatness that makes him the moral philosopher if the only alternatives to Nietzsche’s moral philosophy turn out be those formulated by the philosophers of the Enlightenment and their successors.”
236 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: MacIntyre opposes Nietzsche's return to the aristocratic ethics of Homeric Greece with the teleological approach to ethics pioneered by Aristotle. Nietzsche’s critique of Enlightenment moral theory does not work against a teleological ethics. For MacIntyre,1. "Nietzsche replaces the fictions of the Enlightenment individualism, of which he is so contemptuous, with a set of individualist fictions of his own.2. Nietzsche’s übermensch, his solution to the lies of the Enlightenment, exposes the failure of the Enlightenment's epistemological project and of its search for a subjective yet universal morality.3. Nietzsche neglects the role of society in the formation and understanding of tradition and morality, and "Nietzsche’s great man cannot enter into relationships meditated by appeal to shared standards or virtues or goods; he is his own only moral authority and his relationships to others have to be exercises of that authority... it will be to condemn oneself to that moral solipsism which constitutes Nietzschean greatness.“
237 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: 4. The attractiveness of Nietzsche’s position lay in its apparent honesty (pg. 258).”5. “Since moreover the language of morality is burdened with pseudo-concepts such as those of utility and of natural rights, it appeared that Nietzsche’s resoluteness alone would rescue us from entanglements by such concepts; but it is now clear that the price to be paid for this liberation is entanglement in another set of mistakes. The concept of the Nietzschean ‘great man’ is also a pseudo-concept, although not always perhaps-unhappily-what I earlier called a fiction. It represents individualism’s final attempt to escape from its own consequences. And the Nietzschean stance turns out not to be a mode of escape from an alternative to the conceptual scheme of liberal individualist modernity, but rather one more representative moment in its internal unfolding. And we may therefore expect liberal individualist societies to breed ‘great men’ from time to time. Alas!” (pg ).
238 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: He continues:“So it was right to see Nietzsche as in some sense the ultimate antagonist of the Aristotelian tradition. But it now turns out to be the case that in the end the Nietzschean stance is only one more facet of that very moral culture of which Nietzsche took himself to be an implacable critic. It is therefore after all the case that the crucial moral opposition is between liberal individualism in some version or other and the Aristotelian tradition in some version or other” (pg. 259).
239 Consider MacIntyre’s Critique: 6. “The differences between the two run very deep. They extend beyond ethics and morality to the understanding of human action, so that rival conceptions of the social sciences, of their limits and possibilities, are intimately bound up with the antagonistic confrontation of these two alternative ways of viewing the human world….Andit will now, I hope, be clear that in the chapters dealing with th the topics I was merely summing up the arguments against the social embodiments of liberal individualism, but also laying the basis for arguments in favor of an alternative way of envisaging both the social sciences and society, one which the Aristotelian tradition
240 A Brief Critique:First, his moral relativism cannot stand against the logical strength of moral absolutism.His basic arguments are self-defeating (in view of his belief in perspectivalism).There is strong evidence for God’s existence.Ramifications of Nietzsche’s ideas have had horrific consequences in 20th Century history.Rather than promoting the welfare of others, he promotes selfishness, harshness, and suspicion.He promotes hatred, bigotry, and discrimination of others.His radical empiricism is also unwarranted.His view isn’t livable (as he himself demonstrated in his own life).His views are counter-intuitive.
241 The Scottish Philosopher David Hume (1711-1776): An Introduction intoHume’s view of Ethics:If you want truth look to science or mathematics; ethics is ultimately based on our feelings; Natural moral sentiments is where moral decision-making is grounded.
242 Consider the following quote… “Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”~ A Treatise on Human Reason, edited by L.A. Selby-Rigge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 416.
243 Consider the following quote… “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office to serve and obey them.”~ A Treatise on Human Reason, edited by L.A. Selby-Rigge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 416.
244 Consider the following quote: “Take any action allowed to be vicious: willful murder, for instance. Examine it in all its lights and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice…. You never can find it, till you turn your affection into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action. Here is a matter of fact; but it is the object of feeling, not of reason. It lies in your self, not in the object. So that which you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it.”~ A Treatise of Human Nature, Everyman’s Library (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1956) 2:177.
245 Consider the following quote… “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume-of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance-let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry [literalism] and illusion.”~ Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding,
246 I. Major Tenets:(1) Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the “slave of the passions.” In other words, reason alone cannot motivate to action; the impulse to act itself must come from moral sentiments.(2) Morals are not derived from reason; they are derived from the experience of people.(3) Morals are generated from moral sentiments: feelings of approbation (approval, esteem, praise) & disapprobation (disapproval, blame) felt by spectators who consider a character trait or action;
247 I. Major Tenets:(4) While some virtues and vices are natural, others, including justice, are artificial.(5) Since the human psychological makeup of man is similar, moral judgments will tend to be similar.(6) Since morals will tend to be similar, moralities may be conceived in terms of “social utility”
248 I. Major Tenets:(7) Hume’s ethics comes out of the worldview of empiricism: only matters of fact are those discernible by the senses.(8) Moral facts do not exist; rules of morality are not derived from reason.(9) Vice and virtue are perceptions in the mind and that is all that is needed to regulate moral behavior.(10) Moral distinctions are constituted by their pleasantness & usefulness (he did not synthesize how the relate to each other).
249 II. Overview of Significant Points: 1. Primacy of feelings over reason as a guide to ethics;2. Human was profoundly influenced by Newtonian scientific revolution;3. Empirical science nor science can offer us ethical truths; only genuine knowledge comes from pure mathematics or empirical science. It is not because reason is flawed, but because basic ethical preferences are generated from feelings passions;4. Factual knowledge arises exclusively from the data supplied by the senses and is extended in usefulness by means of inferences based on a belief in cause-and-effect relations.
250 II. Overview:5. Feelings cannot provide an objective foundation for ethics; In fact, feelings are not subject to reason.6. Hume attacks the idea of a necessary “metaphysical” connection between cause and effect.7. The basis of moral assertion is sourced in feelings of approval (pleasure) or disapproval (pain or uneasiness).8. Hume is a compatibilist regarding free-will and Newtonian determinism (he is a strict empiricist).
251 II. Overview:9. Hume agrees with the moral sense theorists such as Shaftesbury and Hutcheson (moral sense) and Butler (conscience) that all requirements to pursue goodness and avoid evil as consequent upon human nature, which is so structured that a particular feature of our consciousness (whether moral sense or conscience) evaluates the rest.10.Because we are the kinds of creatures we are, with the dispositions for pain and pleasure, the kinds of familial and friendly interdependence that make up our life together, and our approvals and disapprovals of these, Hume believes we can escape radical relativism, generate natural and artificial virtues are socially agreeable.
252 II. Overview:11. This view of moral grounding in “moral sense”, “emotions,” or “passional nature” is contrary to rationalists like Locke, Hobbes, and Clarke, who believed that good and evil were discovered by reason.12. Locke, Hobbes, and Clarke believed, in some moods, that moral standards or requirements are requirements of reason.
253 II. Overview:13. Hume takes an intermediate view regarding whether morality is conventional (Hobbes) or natural (Locke). Hume thinks natural impulses of humanity and dispositions to approve cannot entirely account for our virtue of justice; a correct analysis of that requires the thesis that mankind, an “inventive species,” has cooperatively constructed rules of property and promise.
254 II. Overview: 14.Hume disagrees with Hobbes regarding the following: a. Necessary psychological Egoism;b. Necessary violent view of a state of nature whereby without an organized state “all is in a war against all”
255 II. Overview:15. Hume disagrees with Locke (and Rawls) about the idea of humanity being involved in a highly cooperative domain of law-governing citizens for the following reasons:a It is a hypothetical condition in which we would care for our friends and cooperate with them;b. Self-interest and preference for friends over strangers would make any wider cooperation impossible.One of the central themes of Hume’s political philosophy is that we are both fundamentally loving and selfish.
256 II. Overview:16. Turning from reason to sentiment Hume believes that has avoided radical relativism or mere subjectivism.a. Since people have the same psychological makeup, their moral responses will be similar.b. If provided the same data, people will tend to respond similarly. That does mean that all people will agree about the moral worth of an action.c. Ethical disagreements generally stem not from differences in our “passional” nature or feelings but from (a) misunderstandings regarding circumstantial evidence or from (b) incomplete analyses.
257 II. Overview:17. Study of individual assessments reveal that “socially useful acts are approved while those which are socially detrimental are disapproved.18. Since we judge acts generally by their conformity to social utility (rather than by immediate, personal preferences), impartiality will tend to prevail in moral judgments.
258 II. Overview:19. Conjoined events do not prove they are causally connected any more than there is a causal connection between the “rooster crowing” and the “sun rising.” All one can do is extrapolate based on oft-repeated occurrences. He does not deny the principle of causality; he denies the basis on which some people try to prove causality.20. All objections of human inquiry are relations of ideas (mathematics; definitions) or matters of fact (everything known through one or more of the senses).
259 II. Overview:21. Laws of nature are habits formed in our minds on what has occurred in the past and the expectation of similar experiences will occur in the future.
260 The Nature of Moral Judgment: 3 Textual Interpretations: 1. Non-propositional View: a moral evaluation does not express any proposition or state any fact. Either it gives vent to a feeling, or it is itself a feeling. (A more refined form of this interpretation allows that moral evaluations have some propositional content, but claims that for Hume their essential feature, as evaluations, is non-propositional).
261 The Nature of Moral Judgment: 3 Textual Interpretations: 2. Description of the Feelings of the Spectator: Hume is describing the feelings of the spectator, or the feelings a spectator would have were she to contemplate the trait or action from the common point of view.
262 The Nature of Moral Judgment: 3 Textual Interpretations: 3. Dispositional interpretation: Evaluated trait or action is so constituted as to cause feelings of approval or disapproval in a (suitably characterized) spectator. On the dispositional view, in saying some trait is good we attribute to the trait the dispositional property of being such as to elicit approval.
263 IV. Moral Sentiments:1. Moral sentiments are emotions which possess unique phenomenological quality, and special set of causes.2. Moral Sentiments are caused by contemplating the person or action.3. Moral sentiments tend to be clarified or brought into focus by social utility which is a common moral sentiments or similar responses (collectively).
264 IV. Moral Sentiments:Moral sentiments are the sort of pleasure & uneasiness which are associated with 4 passions:1. Pride;2. humility;3. Love;4. Hatred.Some argue that pleasure and pain cause these 4 passions others believe these 4 passions make up the pleasure or pain.Thus, when we feel moral approval we tend to love or esteem, and when we approve a trait of our own we are proud of it.
265 IV. Moral Sentiments:Because we share a similar psychological makeup, thus share common moral sentiments, we are able to generate or invent artificial virtues because we find them to be pleasant and not painful (e.g.,):1. Justice with respect to property,2. Allegiance to government,3. The laws of nations,4. Modesty, and5. Good manners), which (Hume argues) are inventions c contrived solely for the interest of society.
266 V. Kant vs. Hume1. Similarity: Hume and Kant recognized the difference between pure reason (understanding) from practical reason (work of the will). In other words, they both recognized an important difference between judgments of facts and judgments of value.2. Difference: Kant was a rationalist in his conception of morals; Hume was an empiricist. A rationalist derives principles of morality from metaphysical assumptions. Stated differently, Kant grounds his morality in rationalism and Hume on natural moral sentiments.3. Difference: According to Kant, no matter how unpleasant the command makes you feel, you are obligated to fulfill it according to Kant.
267 VI. Kant vs. Bentham and Mill on “utility” Jeremy Bentham argued that the standard of goodness in the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of persons is intrinsically valuable.1. While Hume and Bentham agree that happiness is good, Hume does not admit that it is the only thing that is good. Human beings are complex organisms, and their total welfare includes more than the satisfaction of the one need for happiness.2. Mill recognizes the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures are of greater value than mere physical pleasure. While Hume will agree that we are complex humans, he would reject Mill’s finite godism and would reject his utilitarianism because he grounds morality not in utility but in moral sentiments which all humans share.
268 VII. Hume on Justice:1. The purposes of justice can be realized only by adapting the methods that are used to the particular situation that is involved.a. Justice is a relative virtue in contrast to a deontological version of justice, one that is not influenced by the situational setting.b. He believes our human understanding of justice does vary from one time to another and that the application of the principles of justice will vary with the circumstances under which they are applied.c. Hume implies that there is an unchanging element in justice: The purpose is always that of meeting the needs of society.
269 VII. Hume on Justice:“As justice evidently tends to promote public utility and to support civil society, the sentiment of justice is either derived from our reflecting on that tendency, or like hunger, thirst, and other appetites, resentment, love of life, attachment to offspring, and other passions, arises from a simple original instinct in the human breast, which nature has implanted for like salutary purposes.”~ An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, (Chicago: Open Court, 1966), 35.
270 VII. Hume on Justice: 2. Justice is “dynamic”: a. Justice is expressed in laws and customs which are generated when the need arises for them.b. The nature of justice varies in view of situational setting (illust. Sexual morality may vary depending upon setting).
271 VII. Hume on Justice:3. In view of his appendix on justice in An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals that there are certain principles which may be recognized that can advance justice:A. Avoid giving special privileges to some but not others;B. Take into account the long-range interests of others rather than immediate satisfactions; personal and immediate needs may need to be sacrificed in order to achieve the well-being of society.C. Seek to meet the needs of society as a whole.
272 VII. Hume on Justice: 4. On Distributive Justice: Justice exists for meeting the needs of society;Justice will be stated in general rules of conduct but particular situations and other factors may arise whereby the needs and meeting those needs will mean change (e.g., war).Distributing justice is quite impossible to meet every need.Justice is for the purpose of distributing goods in an equitable manner; there is no exact formula for doing this that will meet the needs of every situations that comes about.Neither extreme wealth or poverty are in the best interests of others.Believes in a moderate view of property rights.Justice is a relative virtue; nothing remains constant about the nature of justice.
273 VIII. Hume on Altruism and Selfishness: 1. Altruism and selfishness are not necessarily opposed to one another.2. We possess a humanitarian sentiment which naturally approves of what is beneficial and useful to society.3. Since we share a common morality derived from our nature, principles of morality are not derived from self-love alone.4. What gains the admiration and respect of others is by acting upon the pleasing moral sentiments that fellow-humans share; this is virtuous and meritorious.Human nature includes both selfish and unselfish sentiments.Human nature is selfish to some extent.Human nature also has the capacity to act beyond one’s selfishness.We can feel the pain of others and their misfortune.Selfishness can over shadow good intentions but does necessarily have to.
274 IX. In Summary:“About Hume's ethics: we have a moral sentiment or feeling of approval or disapproval (approbation or disapprobation) about actions that we find pleasing or agreeable. We find actions agreeable (and thus approve of them) not because of the utility of such actions but because we ‘naturally’ have an inclination to approve of what we are attracted to. In thinking about the pleasures or pains of other people, we (along with all other normal human beings) are attracted to what arouses in us natural sentiments of humanity and benevolence. Such sentiments are not derived from self-love but from a sense of identifying with other human beings. That sense of fellow-feeling, not the perception of the utility of actions, is the basis on which we feel moral obligation. Of course, promoting social utility is in our own self-interest, but acting for the sake of promoting our own self-interest is not a good enough reason for acting in a moral way” ~ Dr. Steve Daniel
275 X. Advantages:1. Some will appreciate the fact that it removes “metaphysical mysteries” from realm of ethics because it grounds morality in moral sentiments which all humans share.2. Pleasure and pain are important considerations in ethical judgments.3. It attempts to balance both selfishness and altruism.4. It seems to avoid pure egoism, utilitarianism, and radical relativism.
276 XI: Objections Raised against Hume: 1. Hume reduces ethics to a matter of taste (e.g., A.J. Ayer & C.L. Stevenson), relativism, and subjectivism.Hume replies: since people have the same psychological makeup, moral responses will be comparable. To be sure, this doesn’t mean everyone will agree about but if provided the same data, they will generally tend to respond similarly:a. Common Natureb. Same Data;= Similar response.Ethical differences stem not from differences in our “feelings or “passional” nature but from misunderstandings about the actual circumstances surrounding a given act or from incomplete analyses of the consequences accruing from the act.
277 “The heart has its reasons that the reason know not” XI. Objections:2. Those who embrace “objectivist feelings” will reject Hume’s account of subjectivist feelings. Some believe feelings can be a source of objective truths of ethics. Consider Blaise Pascal’s famous statement:“The heart has its reasons that the reason know not”For those who embrace objective feelings they would argue that while feelings may not be an infallible guide to ethics, feelings are not distractions on the path to ethical truth. Rather, feelings can be a source of ethical insight.Do you agree? Can ethical feelings be objectively true or are they more like tastes?
278 XI. Objections:3. Moral sentiments cannot provide an adequate basis for moral obligations (e.g., justice).Hume’s response: It is obligatory, for example, to be just…but the reason we adopt the concept of justice and guide our actions in conformity to it is because it comes from the moral sentiments we all share.Hume doesn’t deny a specific instance of injustice could be more beneficial to society than its corresponding instance of justice in some odd case, but by conforming ourselves to the moral sentiments of justice, humanity can be served.Response: Still justice is not absolute, fixed upon absolutes; it is sourced in moral sentiments that can change (justice becomes somewhat relative even if it is not radical relativism).
279 XI. Objections:4. Borrowing the notion of social utility to find a way to maintain social order is using reason. Social utility is powerful enough to incite action to actually do the good.Hume would respond by saying that the source of utility is not reason but “moral sentiment” that we naturally share; we identify with other beings on that sense of “fellow feelings”. Thus, it is not from “social utility” but moral sentiments that ground our morality. Secondly, reasons of social utility is not powerful enough to incite action; it is the “moral sentiments” of feelings of approval or disapproval that motivates action, not the perception of social utility.5. Hume’s skepticism is self-defeating because he did not suspend moral judgments regarding God, miracles, and metaphysics.
280 XI. Objections:6. Metaphysical problem: According to Hume, meaningful propositions are empirical. But this is self-defeating, for the statement that “only analytic or empirical propositions are meaningful” is not itself an analytic statement. If one allows that such statements are meaningful, then why cannot metaphysical statements be meaningful? Stated differently, to say there is no metaphysics is itself a metaphysical statement, namely that you know that metaphysics doesn’t exist.7. Causality can be experienced internally. I am the cause of this sentence I am typing, and I experience that fact. Everyone experiences their own thoughts and actions.
281 XI. Objections:8. Fundamentally to explain what is wrong with a wrong action because it is solely based on human experience. Reason only reveals matters of fact.a. Good in the moral sense of the term is reduced to feelings or moral sentiments.b. Evil in the moral sense of the term is reduced to feelings or moral sentiments.1. Hume’s response is that there is no other way to judge morality. Moreover, we are naturally constituted in such a way that there is present in us a “sense of humanity” which always approves of that which promotes human welfare and is useful in society because we all share it.
282 XI. Objections:9. Hume is subject to the postmodern critique that are our “emotions” are not a product of “moral sentiments”. Rather, we are morally scripted by our sub-culture. How does Hume know that our moral sentiments are natural and not socially inscribed values?10. Doesn’t the idea that we all share a “similar constitution of moral sentiments” beg the question that we are “designed” by God (e.g., Thomas Reid)?
283 An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals An Introduction/Overview:
284 Overview of Enquiry:An Enquiry Concerning the Principle of Morals (1751) is broken down into 9 Units of thought:1. Of the Great Principle of Morals2. Of Benevolence3. Of Justice4. Of Political Society5. Why Utility Pleases6. Of Qualities Useful to Ourselves7. Of Qualities Immediately Agreeable to Ourselves8. Of Qualities Immediately Agreeable to Others9. Conclusion
285 What is the aim of book?Thesis Statement: Moral sense makes the ultimate distinction between vice & virtue; both moral sense and reason play a role in the formation of moral judgments. The basis of virtue lies in its utility (usefulness), fulfilling two requirements for moral sentiments: (1) It is useful to ourselves (agreeable) or (2) to others. Therefore, the purpose of this book is the contributions moral sense and reason make in our moral judgments.
286 What is the aim of book?Complimentary Statement: Reason is important because we make moral judgments about what is useful to us or to others; it plays the role of an advisor, not decision-maker. In other words, reason does not motivate us to action. Rather, the capacity of sympathy (moral sentiments), which is rooted in our human constitution, motivate us to act or ignore those judgments.
287 Central Points to Hume’s Ethics: Hume’s list of virtues are:Qualities useful (pleasurable) to others: benevolence, justice, fidelity.Qualities useful to their possessor: discretion, industry, frugality, strength of mind, good sense.Qualities agreeable (immediately pleasurable) to their possessor: cheerfulness, magnanimity, courage, tranquility.Qualities agreeable to others: politeness, modesty, decency.
288 Hume’s Distinction between artificial & natural virtues: Artificial virtues depend on social structures and include the following:a. Justice and fidelity to promises;b. Allegiance;c. Chastity and modesty;d. Duties of sovereign states to keep treaties, to respect boundaries, to protect ambassadors, and to otherwise subject themselves to the law of nations.Artificial virtues may vary from society to society.
289 Hume’s Distinction between artificial & natural virtues: Natural virtues, originate in human nature, thus tend to be more universal:Compassion Prudence Temperance GenerosityGratitude Friendship Fidelity CharityBeneficence Clemency Cleanliness DecorumTemperance Frugality Pride ModestyGood Sense Wit Humor ArticulatenessPerseverance Patience Good natureSensitivity to poetry Self-assertivenessElusive quality that makes a person lovely or valuableInvoluntary virtues (e.g., good sense)voluntary virtues (e.g., ambition)
290 Related to purpose are three questions (chapter 1): (1) Is morality derived from reason or sentiment?(2) What is the process whereby we obtain knowledge of moral judgments: chain of arguments and induction or by some internal sense?(3) Are moral judgments the same for every rational intelligent person? In his pursuit for the origins of morality he presupposes an anti-supernatural claim, thus dismissing any theological metaphysical perspectives of this matter and advances a utilitarian model.
291 Chapters 2-5:In chapters 2-5 Hume surveys three kinds of conduct that are virtuous; they are virtuous because they are useful:Benevolence;Justice;Political Society.
292 Chapter 2: On Benevolence: “On benevolence,” “nothing can bestow more merit on any human creature than the sentiment of benevolence in an eminent degree; and that a part, at least, of its merit arises from its tendency to promote the interests of our species, and bestow happiness on human society” (2.2.14).
293 Chapter 3: On Justice:“On Justice”, Hume writes, “public utility is the sole origin of justice, and that reflections on the beneficial consequence of this virtue are the sole foundation of its merit” (3.1.15). This particular virtue is the considerable source of merit ascribed to “humanity, benevolence, friendship, public spirit, and other social virtues of that stamp [justice]” ( ).
294 Chapter 4: Of Political Society: “Of Political Society,” the fundamental value of the duty of allegiance is the “advantage, which it procures to so society, by preserving peace and order among mankind” (4. 39). He concludes that “common interest and utility begets infallibly a standard of right and wrong among the parties concerned” (4. 45).
295 Chapters 5-7Chapter 5: Why utility pleases is because we are social beings.Chapter 6: Qualities that are USEFUL to us INDIVIDUALLY include happiness, joy, triumph, prosperity, honesty, fidelity, truth, temperance, patience, perseverance, sobriety, and physical fitness.In chapter 7 what is immediately AGREEABLE to OURSELVES include pleasure accompanied with temperance and decency; greatness of mind, character, philosophical tranquility or magnanimous predisposition, benevolence, and bravery.
296 Chapter 8: Of Qualities Immediately Agreeable to Others: What is immediately agreeable to others: wit, politeness, modesty, decency, or any agreeable quality which one possesses which we characterizes as good manners and character.How one determines those qualities is whether they have a beneficial, useful, extensive, and positive influence; not only will they harmonize with the moral sensibilities of others and ourselves, but will produce pleasure personally and socially.To be sure, no quality is absolutely either blamable or praiseworthy; it is all according to its degree and coherence ( ). But for those that produce public affection, they must be pursued (e.g., self-love vs. community-centered) ( ).
297 Chapter 9: Conclusion: Reason does not cause our actions. Our actions are caused by a combination of utility and sentiment whereby reason is embedded in the passions, desires, habits, and sentiments of mind. In other words, morality cannot be separated from psychology.There is no such thing as good and evil outside of human sentiments.What promotes happiness among our fellow humans “is good” and what tends to their misery “is evil”; we do not need to go any further in our reflection or deliberation on these matters.What is virtuous is useful.
298 Chapter 9: Conclusion: Hume writes: “What more, therefore, can we ask to distinguish these sentiments, dependent on humanity, from those connected with any other passion , or to satisfy us, why the former are the origin of morals, not the latter? Whatever conduct gains my approbation, by touching my humanity, procures also the applause of all mankind, by affecting the same principle in them; but what serves my avarice or ambition pleases these passions in me alone, and affects not the avarice and ambition of the rest of mankind. There is no circumstance of conduct in any man, provided it has a beneficial tendency that is not agreeable to my humanity…” ( ).
299 Central Ideas:1. Moral sentiment is where moral decision-making is grounded.2. Sympathy is the capacity to be moved or affected by the happiness & suffering of others-to be pleased when others prosper and distressed when others suffer.3. The inclination for this capacity is experienced to be a principle of human nature (V.17).
300 Central Ideas:Sympathy is not a virtue but the source of moral approval.When we ascribe moral praise or blame, the praise or blame derives from an attitude of sympathy.6. Sympathy, if not universal, is a feature for any normal human being.7. Hume attempts to describe and explain how we do in fact make moral judgments; he does not tell us how we ought to make them. In other words, he is concerned with judgments about personal qualities rather than judgments about actions.
301 8. Three Stages of Judgments: First Stage: Sympathy induces us to take into account the happiness and suffering others and ourselves.Second Stage: General standards correct the operation of sympathy so that we attach the same moral importance to the happiness or suffering of anyone, ourselves, or others, close to us or remote to us.Third stage: In some cases we need to take into account not merely the utility or particular acts, but the usefulness to society of a whole system of general rules and conventions.
302 8. Three Stages of Judgments: Each of these three is a move from a limited to a more generalized standpoint.Together they challenge the Platonic-Aristotelian view that one’s moral assessments are necessarily made from the standpoint of a concern for one’s own well-being.
303 9. Significant Quotes on Sympathy: “When a man dominates another his enemy, his rival, his antagonist, his adversary, he is understood to speak the language of self-love, and to express sentiments peculiar to himself and arising form his particular circumstances and situation. But when he bestows on any man the epithets of vicious or odious or depraved, he then speaks another language, and expresses sentiments in which he expects all his audience are to concur with him. He must therefore, depart, from his private and particular situation and must choose a point of view common to him with others; he must move some universal principle of the human frame (IX.6).”
304 9. Significant Quotes on Sympathy: “This universal principle is the sentiment of humanity or sympathy. And though this affection of humanity may not generally be esteemed so strong as vanity or ambition, yet, being common to all men, it can alone be the formulation of morals or of any general system of blame or praise (Ibid).”
305 10. Similarities:Hume agrees with Plato and Aristotle on the following:A. Moral judgments are primarily about virtues and vices. We praise people insofar as they exhibit virtues and blame then insofar as they exhibit vices. Only secondarily are our moral judgments concerned with specific actions. We praise or blame others because they reveal morally admirable qualities in the agent.B. Virtues would not be virtues unless possession of them were in some sense an advantage. In fact, Hume, an action is only virtuous if it proceeds from a virtuous motive. So if an action lacks a virtuous motive, that action is not virtuous even if it is the same type of action as a genuinely virtuous action.
306 11. Differences:Hume disagrees with Plato and Aristotle on the following:A. Differences emerges when we look at what Hume counts as virtues.1. For Hume, what makes various qualities “virtues” is that they are useful or agreeable with, either to the possessor or to others.2. For Hume, in contrast to Plato and Aristotle, thinks that not only qualities useful or agreeable to their possessor, but also qualities useful or agreeable to others, are regarded virtues.
307 11. Differences:Hume contends that virtues may be immediately pleasing, in which case he describes the qualities as “agreeable”; or may be an indirect advantage-i.e., possession of such qualities may help to promote states of affairs which in their turn are pleasurable, and these are these are the qualities which Hume describes as ‘useful.’ He parts company from Plato and Aristotle, however, in that he thinks that not only qualities are useful or agreeable to their possessor, but also qualities useful or agreeable to others, are regarded as virtues
308 11. Differences:B. Benevolence also marks a decisive shift from the standpoint of the Greeks.1. Hume states that ‘the epithets [labels] sociable, good- natured, humane, merciful, grateful, friendly, generous, beneficent, or their equivalents… universally express the highest merit which human nature is capable of attaining (II.1).’2. Benevolence is a quality the exercise of which promotes the happiness or well-being of people in general, and because, through sympathy, we take pleasure in this general happiness or well-being, we are led to admire the quality which promotes it.
309 11. Differences:3. Since Hume disagrees with Plato and Aristotle’s metaphysics and believes these virtues are sourced in man’s constitution we understand why he would regard benevolence the highest merit.4. In fact, Hume’s notion of sympathy sets him apart from the egoistic perspective of Plato and Aristotle though he does abandon his reliance on sympathy and revert to self-love in part II of Enquiry’s conclusion.
310 11. Differences:Hobbes:1. Hume rejects Hobbes harsh egoistic depiction of human psychology and strong authoritarianism and states (Hume) that we are not wholly self-seeking; we can take immediate pleasure in the flourishing of others.2. Virtue of justice develops out of the self-regulation of our desire for possessions, in an implicit denial of Hobbes’ view that there can be no justice without external regulations by a stronger ruler. Life in a secular world need not be grim; it can be both enjoyable and free.
311 An Introduction to John Rawls A Theory of Justice: Cambridge: Harvard, 1971) &The Law of Peoples (Cambridge: Harvard, 1999), a book that extends distributive justice to a global context.Lived from ,Dr. Rawls was professor at Harvard University, author of such as works as A Theory of Justice, Justice as Fairness, and Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy.
312 Summary of Rawls Contribution A. American political philosopher who made a tremendous impact in Anglo-American political philosophy in a series of articles that culminated in A Theory of Justice.Rawls opposed utilitarianism with its exclusive concern with aggregate happiness. Rather, Rawls argues that the fundamental or essential political value is individual rights or “justice as fairness.”
313 Summary of Rawls Contribution The most reasonable principle of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position.A fair agreement is one whereby everyone is impartially situated as equals (the original position) and a certain degree of rationality (a certain conception of the good we want to realize and that it requires a certain set of primary goods (all purpose or good needs) to realize a fair agreement) and is situated by a hypothetical veil of ignorance ( no extra bargain powers).E. The veil of ignorance demands that people set aside their knowledge of their particular differences, including knowledge of philosophical, religious & social positions, conception of values, and wealth.
314 Summary of Rawls Contribution 1. Let’s say two parties are disputing the future arrangement of a set of primary goods—income, for example. In what Rawls terms the “original position,” both parties as equals, know the benefits and disadvantages that will flow from a particular distribution of those goods: that a worker will achieve a particular wage, a manager a certain salary, a stakeholder a certain return on investment, and so on. But a veil of ignorance exists for the parties. Neither party in the original position knows their specific place in that future arrangement, they come as equals (original position), setting aside their particular differences (veil of ignorance).Reason should prevail to bring the parties to agree to an arrangement that maximizes the benefits to all.
315 Summary of Rawls Contribution Stated differently, for fairness, you want to ignore your own personal circumstances when you come to the discussion table.3. Theoretically we use the “veil of ignorance” to convey the idea that if you don’t know your own personal situation, you are forced to create laws that can be universally applied. By having this “blind” point of view, you are not motivated by personal or national self-interests, inclinations, desires, etc. All that remains is reason.4. Why? Each person as a rational being wills to enjoy the primary social goods and primary natural goods. Social primary goods include rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income, and wealth are social goods. Primary natural goods include health, vigor, intelligence, & imagination. These goods are desirable for any rational plan of life. Our rationality is flexible in that we are willing to give some of these liberties up to help those who are in need or less fortunate.
316 Summary of Rawls Contribution F. Rawls proceeds by arguing for a “social contract” as articulated in Locke, Rousseau, and Kant.Said differently, the ultimate basis of society is a set of tacit agreements. The question then becomes, what conditions will satisfy all parties.H. In the hypothetical original position everyone would reject utilitarianism & intuitionist views. Rather, everyone would unanimously accept justice as fairness.
317 Summary of Rawls Contribution Justice as fairness consists of two principles:1st Principle: Certain liberties are basic and are to be equally provided to all: Freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, freedom of association, equal political thought, freedom and integrity of the person, and the liberties that maintain the rule of law.They are basic because they are necessary to exercise one’s “moral powers.”.
318 Summary of Rawls Contribution 1. They are basic liberties because they are necessary to exercise one’s “moral powers.” The two moral powers are:a. The capacity to be rational, to have a rational conception of one’s good.b. The capacity for a sense of justice, to understand, apply, and act from requirements of justice.Reason should prevail to bring the parties to agree to an arrangement that maximizes the benefits to all.
319 Summary of Rawls Contribution 1. They are basic liberties because they are necessary to exercise one’s “moral powers.” The two moral powers are:a. The capacity to be rational, to have a rational conception of one’s good.b. The capacity for a sense of justice, to understand, apply, and act from requirements of justice.Reason should prevail to bring the parties to agree to an arrangement that maximizes the benefits to all.