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360 Business Ethics Chapter 4. Moral facts derived from reason Reason has three properties that have bearing on moral facts understood as the outcomes.

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Presentation on theme: "360 Business Ethics Chapter 4. Moral facts derived from reason Reason has three properties that have bearing on moral facts understood as the outcomes."— Presentation transcript:

1 360 Business Ethics Chapter 4

2 Moral facts derived from reason Reason has three properties that have bearing on moral facts understood as the outcomes of rational procedures. – Consistency: the truths of reason can all be true at the same time, else they are not truths of reason. – Universality: the truths of reason are the same for everyone at all times. – A priori: the truths of reason are apprehended independently of experience.

3 Two kinds of imperatives: Hypothetical (conditional) – “If you want to be a great volleyball player, you must practice volleyball.” – Only those who fit the antecedent condition are bound by this imperative Categorical – This imperative applies to all rational beings – Every moral rule should have an appropriately rational form

4 Testing actions Actions themselves can’t be contradictory, and are themselves particular, not universal. So what we test are instead Maxims, or Rules of action, to see if these contain any rational difficulties (such as not being universal or not being consistent) without any appeal to experience (a priori).

5 Is the maxim rationally consistent? Since reason works the same for everyone, and since morality is derived from reason, then morality will work the same for everyone. So, if something CANT be a maxim for everybody, it isn’t moral for anybody. Examples: Lying, killing in anger Note: the problems with these actions are a priori properties of maxims, not a result of the consequences of the actions themselves

6 Does the action treat persons as things? Rational beings recognize other rational beings as those who are worthy of being treated like rational beings. This is a flowery way of saying not to treat people like merely things. In many contexts, we use others as means to our ends, like when we are waited on in a restaurant, or when we hire someone to fix our plumbing, but in these cases, it is moral if they are acting at the same time as free agents.

7 Is the maxim universalizable? If some action would not be accepted by every rational person, whether they were the agents or receivers of the action, it could not be part of the moral law, because the moral law is universal.

8 Some difficulties: Maxims may be presented more or less generally, with seemingly different results on the first test (consistency). See De George’s example concerning bribery (p.67-68) for the details of the reply that at any level of generality, an immoral action will have difficulty with at least one of the three tests.

9 Conflicts of Duties This is the famous “lie to save a life” family of examples Some responses: – Lying to someone with immoral aims is not denying legitimate rights to information, and so therefore is not lying – Moral obligations are ‘prima facie’ binding, so when they conflisct, the more important moral principle applies.

10 Kant’s responses: Lying in order to manipulate someone is wrong for just the same reasons that slavery is wrong. There should be no such thing as moral luck If you tell the truth, you control the only thing that you can control: you. If you lie you are now morally and legally responsible for whatever happens.

11 Ross and Prima Facie Duties It is clear that we are often faced with a variety of moral duties, and that sometimes these duties conflict. There appears to be no easy hierarchy of duties such that one duty always supersedes others. W.D. Ross is the philosopher credited with proposing that we have a large set of duties that often conflict, and that when this occurs the more important duty is the morally binding one.

12 Ross’s Prima Facie Duties: Duty to self (prudence Duties to others – Dependent on past actions: Gratitude Reparation Fidelity – Not dependent on past actions: Benevolence Non-malevolence Justice

13 When duties conflict: Whatever action seems to have less difficulty fitting moral arguments like those we have seen to this point is likely to be the most important duty in each given case. Whenever duties conflict, rights also conflict, and we must determine by the same reasoning which rights are more important than others.

14 Rights Rights are a claim to a moral good, and should be important, normative, and justifiable. Every right held by one entity implies a claim on another entity. That is, every right implies that someone else or everyone else has a duty. – One person’s right not to be killed implies everyone else’s duty not to kill them. – A person’s right to an attorney implies someone’s duty to supply an attorney.

15 Two kinds of rights Positive rights These are rights that come with a corresponding duty of others to do something for the right-holder. Examples: Education (others are duty-bound to provide education for you), Due Process, Health Care Negative rights These are rights that come with a duty of others to refrain from doing something to the right- holder. Examples: Life (others are duty-bound not to kill you), Property, Various Freedoms

16 Principles of Justice: There are many sorts of justice: compensatory, retributive, procedural, commutative, distributive De George specifically addresses distributive justice because it is a major factor in examining economic systems, social structures, and laws that regulate businesses and other organizations

17 The veil of ignorance: Rawls, a famous and influential figure in the philosophy of distributive justice uses a method referred to as the “original position” or “veil of ignorance”. This is akin to Kantian moral reasoning. It asks us to consider the acceptability of a law, or social or economic institution without knowing our place in society, and relies on pure reason to supply the just answer.

18 Rawls’s Principles: Maximize liberty compatible with equal liberty for everyone. Inequalities are to be arranged such that: – They are reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage – They are attached to positions and offices that are open to all

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