4 We Live in Communities (London, England at night from space) Courtesy of NASA
5 The Ethical Point of View Most everyone shares “core values”, desiring:LifeHappinessAbility to accomplish goalsTwo ways to view worldSelfish point of view: consider only own self and its core valuesEthical point of view: respect other people and their core values
6 Defining Terms Society Morality Ethics Association of people organized under a system of rulesRules: advance the good of members over timeMoralityA society’s rules of conductWhat people ought / ought not to do in various situationsEthicsRational examination of moralityEvaluation of people’s behavior
8 Example of a conflict between ethics and morals One professional example of ethics conflicting with morals is the work of a defense attorney. A lawyer’s morals may tell her that murder is reprehensible and that murderers should be punished, but her ethics as a professional lawyer, require her to defend the client to the best of her abilities, even if she knows that the client is guilty.
9 Note..A person strictly following Ethical Principles may not have any Morals at all. Likewise, one could violate Ethical Principles within a given system of rules in order to maintain Moral integrity.
10 Why Study Ethics? Ethics: a way to decide the best thing to do New problems accompany new technologies“Common wisdom” may not exist for novel situations brought about by new technologies
11 More on Ethics Ethics: rational, systematic analysis “Doing ethics”: answers need explanationsExplanations: facts, shared values, logicEthics: voluntary, moral choicesWorkable ethical theory: produces explanations that might be persuasive to a skeptical, yet open-minded audience
12 Good Ethical Theory Supports Persuasive, Logical Arguments
14 What Is Relativism? Relativism Subjective relativism No universal norms of right and wrongOne person can say “X is right,” another can say “X is wrong,” and both can be rightSubjective relativismEach person decides right and wrong for himself or herself“What’s right for you may not be right for me”
15 Case for Subjective Relativism Well-meaning and intelligent people disagree on moral issuesEthical debates are disagreeable and pointless
16 Case Against Subjective Relativism Blurs distinction between doing what you think is right and doing what you want to doMakes no moral distinction between the actions of different peopleSR and tolerance are two different thingsDecisions may not be based on reasonNot a workable ethical theorytolerance == تسامح
18 Cultural Relativism in a Nutshell What is “right” and “wrong” depends upon a society’s actual moral guidelinesThese guidelines vary from place to place and from time to timeA particular action may be right in one society at one time and wrong in other society or at another time
19 Case for Cultural Relativism Different social contexts demand different moral guidelinesIt is arrogant for one society to judge anotherarrogant == متغطرس
20 Case Against Cultural Relativism Because two societies do have different moral views doesn’t mean they ought to have different viewsIt doesn’t explain how moral guidelines are determinedWhat if there are no cultural norms?It doesn’t account for evolution of moral guidelines.It provides no way out for cultures in conflictExistence of many acceptable practices does not imply all practices are acceptable (many/any fallacy)Societies do, in fact, share certain core valuesOnly indirectly based on reasonNot a workable ethical theory
25 Definition of Ethical Egoism Each person should focus exclusively on his or her self-interestMorally right action: that action that provides self with maximum long-term benefitA version of this philosophy espoused by Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged
26 Case for Ethical Egoism It is practical since we are already inclined to do what’s best for ourselvesIt’s better to let other people take care of themselvesThe community can benefit when individuals put their well-being firstOther moral principles are rooted in the principle of self-interest
27 Case Against Ethical Egoism An easy moral philosophy may not be the best moral philosophyWe know a lot about what is good for someone elseSelf-interest can lead to blatantly immoral behaviorOther moral principles are superior to principle of self-interestPeople who take the good of others into account lead happier livesBy definition, does not respect the ethical point of viewNot a workable ethical theory
29 Critical Importance of Good Will Good will: the desire to do the right thingImmanuel Kant: Only thing in the world that is good without qualification is a good willReason should cultivate desire to do right thingنوايا الحسنة
30 Categorical Imperative (1st Formulation) Act only from moral rules that you can at thesame time will to be universal moral laws.
31 Illustration of 1st Formulation Question: Can a person in dire straits make a promise with the intention of breaking it later?Proposed rule: “I may make promises with the intention of later breaking them.”The person in trouble wants his promise to be believed so he can get what he needs.Universalize rule: Everyone may make & break promisesEveryone breaking promises would make promises unbelievable, contradicting desire to have promise believedThe rule is flawed. The answer is “No.”dire straits == حالة يرثى لها
32 Categorical Imperative (2nd Formulation) Act so that you treat both yourselfand other people as ends in themselvesand never only as a means to an end.This is usually an easier formulation to workwith than the first formulation of theCategorical Imperative.
34 Plagiarism Scenario Carla History class Single motherWorks full timeTakes two evening courses/semesterHistory classRequires more work than normalCarla earning an “A” on all work so farCarla doesn’t have time to write final reportCarla purchases report and submits it as her own work
35 Kantian Evaluation (1st Formulation) Carla wants credit for plagiarized reportRule: “You may claim credit for work performed by someone else”If rule universalized, reports would no longer be credible indicator’s of student’s knowledge, and professors would not give credit for reportsProposal moral rule is self-defeatingIt is wrong for Carla to turn in a purchased report
36 Kantian Evaluation (2nd Formulation) Carla submitted another person’s work as her ownShe attempted to deceive professorShe treated professor as a means to an endEnd: passing the courseMeans: professor issues gradeWhat Carla did was wrong
37 Case for Kantianism Rational Produces universal moral guidelines Treats all persons as moral equalsWorkable ethical theory
38 Perfect and Imperfect Duties Perfect duty: duty obliged to fulfill without exceptionExample: Telling the truthImperfect duty: duty obliged to fulfill in general but not in every instanceExample: Helping others
39 Case Against Kantianism Sometimes no rule adequately characterizes an actionSometimes there is no way to resolve a conflict between rulesIn a conflict between a perfect duty and an imperfect duty, perfect duty prevailsIn a conflict between two perfect duties, no solutionKantianism allows no exceptions to perfect dutiesDespite weaknesses, a workable ethical theory
40 Utilitarianismthe proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering
41 Principle of Utilitythe moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome
42 Principle of Utility (Greatest Happiness Principle) An action is right (or wrong) to the extentthat it increases (or decreases) thetotal happiness of the affected parties.
43 Principle of Utility Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill An action is good if it benefits someoneAn action is bad if it harms someoneUtility: tendency of an object to produce happiness or prevent unhappiness for an individual or a communityHappiness = advantage = benefit = good = pleasureUnhappiness = disadvantage = cost = evil = pain
45 Act Utilitarianism Utilitarianism Act utilitarianism Morality of an action has nothing to do with intentFocuses on the consequencesA consequentialist theoryAct utilitarianismAdd up change in happiness of all affected beingsSum > 0, action is goodSum < 0, action is bad
46 Highway Routing Scenario State may replace a curvy stretch of highwayNew highway segment 1 mile shorter150 houses would have to be removedSome wildlife habitat would be destroyed
47 Evaluation Costs Benefits Conclusion $20 million to compensate homeowners$10 million to construct new highwayLost wildlife habitat worth $1 millionBenefits$39 million savings in automobile driving costsConclusionBenefits exceed costsBuilding highway a good action
48 Case for Act Utilitarianism Focuses on happinessDown-to-earth (practical)ComprehensiveWorkable ethical theory
49 Case Against Act Utilitarianism Unclear whom to include in calculationsToo much workIgnores our innate sense of dutySusceptible to the problem of moral luck
50 Moral luck a problem associated with act utilitarianism. According to act utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action depends solely on its consequences.If the consequences are out of the control of the moral agent, an action that should have had a good effect may end up having a harmful effect.In this case, the action is deemed to be wrong, even though it was no fault of the person performing the action.
52 Applying Principle of Utility to Rules We ought to adopt moral rules which, if followed by everyone, will lead to the greatest increase in total happinessAct utilitarianism applies Principle of Utility to individual actionsRule utilitarianism applies Principle of Utility to moral rules
53 Anti-Worm ScenarioAugust 2003: Blaster worm infected thousands of Windows computersSoon after, Nachi worm appearedTook control of vulnerable computerLocated and destroyed copies of BlasterDownloaded software patch to fix security problemUsed computer as launching pad to try to “infect” other vulnerable PCs
54 Evaluation using Rule Utilitarianism Proposed rule: If I can write a helpful worm that removes a harmful worm from infected computers and shields them from future attacks, I should do soWho would benefitPeople who do not keep their systems updatedWho would be harmedPeople who use networksPeople who’s computers are invaded by buggy anti-wormsSystem administratorsConclusion: Harm outweighs benefits. Releasing anti-worm is wrong.
55 Case for Rule Utilitarianism Compared to act utilitarianism, it is easier to perform the utilitarian calculus.Not every moral decision requires performing utilitarian calculus.Moral rules survive exceptional situationsAvoids the problem of moral luckWorkable ethical theory
56 Act utilitarianismrule utilitarianismjudge the value of an action based on the individuals affectedbelieves that the right action makes more people happy.Difficult (impossible) to consider everyoneVery specific to certain situationsjudge the value of an action in terms of lawsbelieves that an action can be morally right if it conforms to the rules that lead to happiness.Easier (practical) to deal with abstract rulesCan be generalized
57 Case Against Utilitarianism in General All consequences must be measured on a single scale.All units must be the same in order to do the sumIn certain circumstances utilitarians must quantify the value of a human lifeUtilitarianism ignores the problem of an unjust distribution of good consequences.Utilitarianism does not mean “the greatest good of the greatest number”That requires a principle of justiceWhat happens when a conflict arises between the Principle of Utility and a principle of justice?Despite weaknesses, both act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism are workable ethical theories
59 Basis of Social Contract Theory Thomas Hobbes“State of nature”We implicitly accept a social contractEstablishment of moral rules to govern relations among citizensGovernment capable of enforcing these rulesJean-Jacques RousseauIn ideal society, no one above rulesThat prevents society from enacting bad rules
60 James Rachels’s Definition “Morality consists in the set of rules,governing how people are totreat one another, that rationalpeople will agree to accept, for theirmutual benefit, on the condition thatothers follow those rules as well.”
61 Kinds of RightsNegative right: A right that another can guarantee by leaving you alone (the right imposes a negative duty on others )Positive right: A right obligating others to do something on your behalf ( eg. the right of healthcare )Absolute right: A right guaranteed without exceptionLimited right: A right that may be restricted based on the circumstances
62 Correlation between Types of Rights Positive rights tend to be more limitedNegative rights tends to be more absolute
63 John Rawls’s Principles of Justice Principle of Equal Liberty:Each person may claim a “fully adequate” number of basic rights and liberties,so long as these claims are consistent with everyone else having a claim to the same rights and liberties
64 Rawls’s First Principle of Justice Each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberties compatible with similar liberties for all. (Egalitarian.)
65 Rawls’s Difference Principle Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity.
66 DVD Rental Scenario Bill owns chain of DVD rental stores Collects information about rentals from customersConstructs profiles of customersSells profiles to direct marketing firmsSome customers happy to receive more mail order catalogs; others unhappy at increase in “junk mail”
67 Evaluation (Social Contract Theory) Consider rights of Bill, customers, and mail order companies.Does customer have right to expect name, address to be kept confidential?If customer rents DVD from bill, who owns information about transaction?If Bill and customer have equal rights to information, Bill did nothing wrong to sell information.If customers have right to expect name and address or transaction to be confidential without giving permission, then Bill was wrong to sell information without asking for permission.
68 Case for Social Contract Theory Framed in language of rightsExplains why people act in self-interest without common agreementProvides clear analysis of certain citizen/government problemsWorkable ethical theory
69 Case Against Social Contract Theory No one signed contractSome actions have multiple characterizationsConflicting rights problemMay unjustly treat people who cannot uphold contractDespite weaknesses, a workable theory
74 Social Contract Theory Perspective Everyone in society bears certain burdens in order to receive certain benefitsLegal system supposed to guarantee people’s rights are protectedEverything else being equal, we should be law-abidingShould only break law if compelled to follow a higher-order moral obligation
75 Social Contract: A Prima Facie Obligation to Obey the Law
76 Kantian Perspective Everyone wants to be treated justly Imagine rule: “I may break a law I believe to be unjust”If everyone acted according to this rule, then laws would be subvertedContradiction: Cannot both wish to be treated justly and allow laws to be subverted
77 Rule Utilitarian Perspective What would be consequences of people ignoring laws they felt to be unjust?Beneficial consequence: Happiness of people who are doing what they pleaseHarmful consequences: Harm to people directly affected by lawless actions, general loss of respect for laws, increased burden on criminal justice systemHarms greater than benefits
79 Insights Offered by Various Theories Kantianism: Interactions with other people should respect them as rational beingsUtilitarians: You should consider the consequences of an action before deciding whether it’s right or wrongSocial contract theory: We should promote collective rights, such as the rights to life, liberty, and property
80 Mixing TheoriesYou can consider duties and rights and consequences when making moral decisionsBut what will you do when you can’t respect rights absolutely and still maximize the total beneficial consequences?Contemplation of what it means to be a person of good character leads to a discussion of virtue ethics (to be discussed in Chapter 9)