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Jewish Ethics. Fundamental Questions Why be ethical? What does it mean to be ethical? How do you decide what is ethical? Are there Jewish and non-Jewish.

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Presentation on theme: "Jewish Ethics. Fundamental Questions Why be ethical? What does it mean to be ethical? How do you decide what is ethical? Are there Jewish and non-Jewish."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jewish Ethics

2 Fundamental Questions Why be ethical? What does it mean to be ethical? How do you decide what is ethical? Are there Jewish and non-Jewish ethics?

3 Imagine all the people… Thought experiment: –What if there were no ethics? What would happen to society?

4 Prisoner’s Dilemma Prisoner B Stays SilentPrisoner B Betrays Prisoner A Stays SilentEach serves 6 months Prisoner A: 10 years Prisoner B: goes free Prisoner A Betrays Prisoner A: goes free Prisoner B: 10 years Each serves 5 years

5 Texts and Time Periods 1000BCEKing David 586 BCEDestruction of Temple I 539 BCECyrus the Great – Persian rule 516 BCESecond Temple Built 332 BCEAlexander the Great – Greek rule 164 BCEMaccabean Revolt 150BCE-70CEPharisees 70 CESecond Temple Destroyed 132 CEBar Kokhba Revolt CETannaitic Period 220 CEMishnah & Tannaitic Midrash Compiled CEAmoraic Period 400 CEYerushalmi & Amoraic Midrash Compiled CESavoraim in Babylonia 600 CEBavli Completed

6 Student’s Dilemma Whoever cooperates gets 1 point. Whoever defects gets 20 points. If 5 students defect then nobody gets any more points and the game is over. Student with the most points off is exempt from the quiz.

7 Jeremy Bentham - Utilitarianism “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.” - An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, p. 1. England 1748 – 1832

8 John Stuart Mill – Utilitarianism cont. Utilitarianism is “the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, [and] wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” - “Utilitarianism” England 1806 – 1873

9 Problems with Utilitarianism Not intuitively satisfying – no absolute good Happiness is an elusive term Not possible to calculate future outcomes Can justify euthanasia, genocide

10 Ben Patura vs. R. Akiva Babylonian Talmud Baba Metzia 62a שנים שהיו מהלכין בדרך, וביד אחד מהן קיתון של מים, אם שותין שניהם - מתים, ואם שותה אחד מהן - מגיע לישוב. דרש בן פטורא: מוטב שישתו שניהם וימותו, ואל יראה אחד מהם במיתתו של חבירו. עד שבא רבי עקיבא ולימד: וחי אחיך עמך - חייך קודמים לחיי חבירך. If two men are traveling on a journey and one has a pitcher of water, if both drink they will both die, but if one only drinks, he can reach civilization. Ben Patura taught: “It is better that both should drink and die rather than that one should behold his companion’s death.” But Rabbi Akiba taught: “That your brother may live with you (Lev 25:36). Your life takes precedence over his life.”

11 Systems of Normative Ethics Consequentialism - A morally right action is one that produces a good outcome. “The ends justify the means.” Utilitarianism – producing the most pleasure for the most people is one type. Duty-based ethics (deontology) – Judges actions based on rules and duties. “Do unto others…” Virtue ethics – Judges actions based on how it develops good character traits.

12 Immanuel Kant Kant's three significant formulations of the categorical imperative are: Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law. 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. Act as though you were, through your maxims, a law-making member of a kingdom of ends. - The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals Germany 1724 – 1804


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