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Spring Break Review. Crito: Background Some background is necessary here. Socrates is the teacher of Plato. Plato wrote Socrates into his Dialogs and.

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Presentation on theme: "Spring Break Review. Crito: Background Some background is necessary here. Socrates is the teacher of Plato. Plato wrote Socrates into his Dialogs and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Spring Break Review

2 Crito: Background Some background is necessary here. Socrates is the teacher of Plato. Plato wrote Socrates into his Dialogs and it is unclear how much Socrates is merely a mouthpiece for Plato or how much is Socrates actual positions (maybe a bit of both).

3 Euthyphro the “Pious” man Euthyphro is a prosecutor prosecuting his father for manslaughter. Murder was considered a religious offense by the Athenians, hence Socrates questioning about what piety is (which he could use in his own defense). All Socrates tells us about Piety is that it is a part of Justice. Piety is a type of just behavior.

4 Socratic Method Socrates schtick is to question experts to answer the simplest questions about the nature of their expertise. Socrates merely asks questions but leads his “teacher” to see the contradictions in their position. Euthyphro, as a prosecutor, should know all about justice and piety.

5 The Forms Plato doesn’t speak explicitly about the forms here except the mention of a “sign.” Plato believed the Good, the Just, and so forth, were ideal Forms existing in a realm we had access to before our birth. Their shadow in this realm is Virtue. Plato would presumably have piety as a part of the Just form.

6 The First Attempt Euthyphro’s first attempt at a “definition:” – Piety is doing as Euthyphro does: prosecuting even ones own father for murder. – Socrates notes that this “definition” fails to point out essential nature of piety. In other words, Euthyphro is just giving an example. – A real definition gives us the necessary characteristics of a thing, its “essence.”

7 Euthyphro’s Second Attempt Euthyphro then embarks on trying to explain various versions of the theory that piety is what the gods love. At first, Euthyphro leaves it ambiguous whether only some of the gods have to love something to be pious. Socrates points out that the gods disagree, so the same act could be considered both pious and impious by this definition.

8 Euthyphro’s Modifies His Answer Euthyphro ignores his chance to introduce moral relativism (Euthyphro could have said that piety is relative to a god, so that say drinking to excess may be pious to Dionysus but impious to Apollo). Assuming (like Socrates/Euthyphro does) that piety is universal. Euthyphro redefines piety as “what all the gods love.” Socrates then presents Euthyphro with a dilemma.

9 Euthyphro’s Dilemma The dilemma goes like this. Horn 1: Piety is defined as “What the gods love.” Horn 2: The gods love things because they are pious Socrates basically points out that together (because you can replace piety with its definition “what the gods love”) both premises amount to saying that “The gods love things because they are what the gods love.”

10 Divine Command Ethics Euthyphro wouldn’t be very interesting except philosophers see this dilemma in Divine Command ethics – Divine Command ethics defines the “right” as the “god-commanded.” The question arises as to why God commanded something. The Euthyphro dilemma shows that it cannot be “because it’s right” – Also, isn’t that “why” a more interesting question? If you wanted to know what was right, wouldn’t it be nice to have the principles God used, rather than rely on vague and highly disputable prophetic texts?

11 The Theological View Traditionally, many theologians such Thomas Aquinas and most Jewish Philosophers were Virtue Ethicists. Virtue Ethics defines the ethical as what naturally makes for human flourishing. What flourishing (GK: eudaimonia) and will be discussed today.

12 The Theory of Forms Socrates offers a that piety is a “part of Justice,” but the question remains “what part?” Socrates believes that Justice is a form that exists in an ideal realm, which this world is a mere shadow of. The shadow of Justice in this realm turns out to be Virtue. Piety would be a virtue and as such would reflect part of the ideal form of justice.

13 Virtue Ethics While Plato talks about virtue, it is Aristotle who is seen as the father of Virtue Ethics. Aristotle defines virtue as that which makes for eudaimonia ( “the good life,” or “flourishing”). While the virtuous do not necessarily flourish, they are the sort of people who deserve to flourish. Flourishing can be thought of as happiness, but “happiness” is often associated with hedonism. Which is not what Aristotle is getting at.

14 The Golden Mean Aristotle says two rather vague things about how to learn what is virtuous (and admits they are vague, but says that is the nature of a social science). The first is that a virtue is found by taking the mean of two extremes. For example, courage is the mean between cowardice and recklessness. Temperance is the mean between indulgence and self-denial.

15 How to Learn Virtue Aristotle says that we learn virtue by watching how virtuous people act. This is obviously question begging (how do we know who the virtuous people are in the first place?) but Aristotle (who largely takes gentlemanly Athenian values for granted) thinks that this circle can help us refine our already held notions of virtue.

16 The Virtues The four classic Greek virtues (first mentioned in Plato) are: Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice Other important (but less cardinal) virtues are fortitude, generosity, self-respect, good temper, and sincerity. Christians tacked on Faith, Charity, and Hope

17 On Moral Luck and Virtue To Aristotle, the virtues generally lead to flourishing but quite a bit of luck is involved as to whether or not you actually flourish. Aristotle accepts this. Aristotle, in fact, accepts that you need to be fortunate to have a certain sort of upper-class Greek upbringing (and be over 30) in order to even have a remote chance of being virtuous.

18 How Virtue Requires Luck Young people are incapable of virtue because they are ruled by their passions. However, only adults who were properly brought up have the potential to be virtuous. Virtue is a practice (not an academic study). One becomes virtuous by acquiring a habit which has become automatic. Since most of human habits are acquired while young, only people with the right upbringing can perfect themselves by becoming virtuous. It is the habit and not the act itself that is virtuous (but through action we acquire habits).

19 Utilitarianism Many philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill, thought that morality wasn’t a matter of having the right personality traits but instead on acting to bring about the best end. Utilitarianism is a Consequentialist ethic in which morality is dependent on the ends being good. Virtue ethics is instead concerned with internal psychological traits. Classical Utilitarians held that the good end in question was pleasure. So the moral act that is “most good for the most people” is Hedonic.

20 Rule Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is criticized for allowing the rights of minorities to be trampled, if it would benefit the majority. – Example: false convictions have beneficial social consequences, so we should convict innocents if we can’t find a culprit.

21 Ends and Means The end is the purpose of an action*. That is the purpose is the intended effect of the action. Means are the way the results are brought about, the action itself. Utilitarian's appear to hold that the “end justifies the means” but rarely accept the charge.

22 Deontological Ethics (or Kant) Deontologists believe that morality is not based on acts that are justified by their ends but is rather based on rules that spring from some other source. Kant claims that moral rules come from our “good will” (itself the only unqualified good). Moral rules (the Categorical Imperative) obey two maxims “act as you can will to be universal law” and “treat others as an end and not as a means” – What it means that you will that moral rules are universal law is that you apply these rules to everyone in all circumstances.

23 Problems posed for Deontology The problem is that its very hard to formulate a rule you would truly want to apply to everyone in all circumstances. Kant does write about the problem with the moral rule “Do not lie.” If you will universally that no one lies then what do you do if the mad axmen comes trying to kill someone taking refuge in your home? Kant himself answers “equivocate”

24 Deontologists typically accuse Utilitarians of saying, in effect, that “the end justifies the means.” One could counter that Deontologists believe that “the means justifies the end.”

25 Moral Realism (Natural Law Ethics) Realists in ethics locate ethics in the natural world. Natural law ethicists believe that Nature contains the moral laws. Aristotle could be said to be both a Natural Law ethicist and a Virtue Ethicist

26 Natural Law Ethics and Purpose How could Nature be the source of ethical principles? Aristotle held that the purpose of a thing (in other words the things teleology) is its natural function in its environment. The natural function of animals is to flourish. This same notion of purpose is used by us when speaking about organs of the body (as in the purpose of the heart is the pump blood).

27 Crito Plato claims he had made “implied agreement” that he was to obey the law, even unto death. What theory, introduced in the Crito, is the basis of much of political philosophy? – Social Contract Theory Who would agree with Plato on this point? Hobbes? Locke? Hume?


29 Thomas Hobbes: Background Thomas Hobbes lived in 17 th century England during a tumultuous period following the Parliamentary rebellion that killed Charles I and established a Republic. Hobbes wrote Leviathan in 1651, advocating the return of absolute monarchy just as the Republic was at the height of its power.

30 The State of Nature Hobbes’ philosophy starts by asking: what would life be like without government? What is life like in the state of nature, according to Hobbes? – “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” According to Hobbes none of the trappings of civilization, like agriculture, industry, or trade would be possible in the state of nature – The state of nature is a state of war of “all against all”

31 Hobbes’ reasoning Hobbes reasoning is fairly plausible. 1.He assumes people “shun death” and seek to preserve their lives above all, hence, the “right of nature” 2.People are by nature equals, meaning that everyone is approximately as capable of killing as the next person, and so no one person can dominate all others by force. 3.People are biased and over-reactive to slights

32 The Right of Nature The state of nature is a state were no one man can prevail over the others, where everyone has the right to self-preservation, and where virtually any act might be judged necessary for one's preservation. From here Hobbes concludes that in a state of nature everyone has a right to “all things,” including a right to other peoples’ bodies.

33 What is the consequence of everyone having a right to all things? – The ever-present potential for divisive conflict. In other words, the state of nature is a state of war of “all against all.” How do we leave these nasty conditions and enter a state of peace? – By making a mutual covenant with each other where we give our rights up to an absolute sovereign.

34 Hobbes’ Social Contract Thomas Hobbes’ social contract is based on fear. The fear of a return to the state of nature.

35 Is there a Right of Rebellion? Hobbes is of the opinion that if one’s life is threatened by the sovereign (or if the sovereign fails to protect you adequately) rebellion is justified. No one can willingly give over their very lives. Many think this stance is incompatible with Hobbes insistence on absolute government.

36 Review of Locke Locke believed that humans had God-given natural rights, including a right to life, health, liberty, and property.

37 Departure from Divine Right and Hobbes Both the Divine Right theorists and Hobbes believed in Absolute Monarchy as the best system of government. In contrast, Locke believed in a government whose powers were limited, and were people’s liberty and equality is preserved under the law.

38 Locke’s views on Property Property is central to Locke’s understanding of human rights. Locke states that the government’s role is simply the preservation of property. To Locke anyone can appropriate from the land of nature so long as he does no man injury by doing so, by leaving “enough” and “as good” for the rest of humanity.

39 The Power of Tacit Consent For Locke, the notion of consent is incredibly important. With everyone taking just enough from the state of nature Locke sees everyone as essentially being equal and self sufficient. What caused humanity to depart from this arrangement was the invention of money. It is only by agreement that the accumulation of wealth beyond what is immediately necessary became possible and this created economic inequality. Tacit Consent is critical to Locke’s understanding of many social agreements. The idea is that people, by engaging in an institution like money thereby tacitly give their consent.

40 Locke’s view is that the social contract is made in order to provide for protections not existent in the state of Nature (“so that there be a judge upon this earth”). Everyone must have an equal right to protection, everyone must have an appeal. Locke’s view is that an absolute monarch is in a state of war (by unlawful enslavement) with his subjects and so rebellion is justified.

41 Locke and Natural Law Locke was a natural law ethical theorist. The laws that govern human morality are inherent in nature itself and enforced by God.

42 Recap: Kant Kant’s political philosophy is based on his moral philosophy. Kant derives that there is only one “innate right freedom.” Are there limits to this right of freedom? – Kant says that this is a freedom is a right “insofar as it can coexist with the freedom of every other individual under the law.”

43 The debate is between which of two grounds justify the state. 1.That the state serves the pragmatic interests or happiness of its citizens. 2.That the state is there to protect and preserve individual freedom. Which of these positions would Locke take? What about Hobbes? Hume? What does Kant say about social welfare being the basis of the state? Does the debate between Kant & Hume remind you of anything current?

44 The Original Contract When does Kant say the Original Contract was made? – Trick question, there isn’t a historical document or agreement of the nature Kant is proposing. For Kant the Original Contract is “Formal” or “Ideal” in nature. Does Kant just mean “this is an idea in my head, that I must communicate to others so they have that idea too?”

45 Kant’s views on Property Kant defines property as that “with which I am so connected that another’s use…would wrong me.” The way to acquire property is again this ideal social contract which Kant claims requires a state to exist.

46 Revolution, an incoherent Concept Kant actually says that revolution is itself an incoherent concept, because rights are only found in the actual existence of the state. Here Kant is agreeing with the Divine Right theorists and disagreeing with Locke, Hobbes, and Hume. Kant approves of (but doesn’t insist on) elections as a way of returning sovereignty to the people and avoiding war.

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