Glossary of Philosophy Moral Theories
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- What is the formula for the Divine Command Theory?
- Act X is right because God commands us to do X.
- What is the formula fo the Infallible Guide Theory?
- God commands us to do act X because X is right.
- What is the formula for Individual Relativism?
- Act X is right for person S iff X conforms to the standards of behavior which S accepts.
- What is the formula for Ethical Relativism?
- Act X is right for person S iff X conforms to the standards of behavior generally accepted by the social group to which S belongs.
- What is Cultural Relativism?
- A descriptive theory which maintains that different moral standard are accepted by different social groups.
- What is the formula for Hedonistic Utilitarianism?
- Act X is right for person S iff of all actions available to S, act X maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain for all those affected by the action.
- What is preference utilitarianism? I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS ON THE TEST
- Act X is right for person S iff, of all the actions available to S, act X maximizes the satisfaction of interest of all those affected by the action. I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS ON THE TEST.
- State Kant's Categorical Imperative: The Universal Law Formulation.
- Act only on those maxims which you could will to be universal law.
- State Kant's Categorical Imperative: The Respect for Persons Formulation.
- Always treat person as ends in themselves and never as a means merely.
- What is the formula for Rule Utilitarianism?
- Act X is right for person S iff X conforms to rules whose universal adoption would maximize utility for all affected.
- What is philosophy, (activity)?
- Radically Reflective Theoretical Thinking
- What is philosophy, (discipline)?
- Discipline which tries to solve or at least improve our understanding of certain intellectual problems that resist easy solution
- What is ethics?
- The philosophical study of morality
- What are normative ethics?
- how things should be; prescriptive language, right and wrong
- What are applied ethics?
- critical evaluation of one’s own moral judgments; Determining which actions are right and wrong
- What is moral skepticism?
- i. View that no moral standards are morally justified and hence no moral standards can be know to be true
- What is ethical nihilism?
- The view that there are no universally correct moral standards
- What is moral dogmatism?
- Uncritical, unreflective, unquestioning acceptance of the moral beliefs one has bee taught
- It has been suggested that we really only have two choices when it comes to ethics: (1) We can study ethics in which case we will become moral skeptics or ethical nihilists, or (2) we can refuse to study ethics in which case we will remain moral dogmatis
- Open-minded absolutism…keeping an open mind, seeking the best argument in order to make your decision
- What are the four reasons why one might want an ethical theory, i.e. a theory which answers the question: “What is it about right actions which makes them right and wrong actions which makes them wrong?”
- · To provide guidance in controversial cases
· To help us answer questions of applicability
· To help us answer questions about exceptions
· To help us answer questions concerning conflicts
- What is the interpretation adopted by Divine Command Theory for “Whatever God commands us to do is right.”
- ii. Act X is right because God commands us to do X.
- What is the interpretation adopted by Infallible Guide Theory for “Whatever God commands us to do is right.”
- God commands us to do act x because x is right.
- What objections have philosophers raised against Divine Command Theory?
- i. Problems in determining what is right
ii. Leaves morality to the capriciousness of God
iii. Obviously wrong actions could turn out to be right
iv. God could have no moral reason for issuing the commands God issues
- Why isn’t Infallible Guide Theory an ethical theory?
- i. Not a moral theory, because it does not tell us what is righ
- What are 3 reasons why religion is thought to be necessary for morality?
- i. Motivationally necessary- some claim that religion is necessary to motivate people to do what is right
ii. epistemically necessary-some claim that religion is necessary to help us determine/know what is right and what is wrong
iii. ontically necessary-some claim that religion is necessary for there to even be right and wrong
- What are two devestating objections to individual relativism?
- i. Unable to change anyone to change her/his moral views since those views are automatically right for that person
ii. Joe Rapist- if Joe thinks rape is right…universal
- What are four major objections that have been raised against ethical relativism?
- i. Problems determining the relevant social group
ii. Conflicts within the group
iii. Easy minority deunion within a given society would automatically be mistaken
iv. Could never consistently criticize the practices of another group.
- Why is ethical relativism still so widely accepted?
- · Confused with cultural relativism
· Confused with ethical nihilism
· Confused with ethical absolutism/ethnocentrism
- 12. Some anthropologists and sociologists have suggested that there are certain moral principles that are universally accepted by all social groups and that differences in belief about which particular actions are right and wrong can be explained by the
- · Example, colony of people in a far off land who have completely different customs from Western world and or dominant world, such as Inuit tribes who kill their eldest members
- The term ‘right’ (i.e. ‘morally right’) is used in two different senses. What are these two different senses?
- · ACT X is right
i. X is morally required
ii. It would be wrong not to do X
iii. Ex. To not murder is right
· Or Act X is morally permissible (no judgment)
i. It is morally permissible to work on Tuesday
- What is utilitarianism?
- · The right action is the action that maximizes utility for all affected out of all the options available
- What are some of the central features of hedonistic utilitarianism?
- o Monistic theory of good
o May lead to social reform
o Can explain exceptions to moral views
- According to hedonistic utilitarianism, what is the only thing intrinsically good and what is the only thing intrinsically bad?
- · Pleasure- intrinsically good
· Pain- intrinsically bad
- If an act has good consequences for oneself but bad consequences for others, how, according to hedonistic utilitarianism, does one decide whether it is right?
- · Choose the action that maximizes net pleasure
- Most utilitarians think we should appeal to the probable consequences (i.e. the consequences it is reasonable to expect) rather than the actual consequences of actions when determining what we should do. Explain in detail why they do so.
- · Two examples in class, (HOSPITAL) and one in which police officer shoots the deaf camp leader. Actual consequences do not always reflect the most likely outcome, and since humans have no discernable way of discovering the future, than expected outcomes should be used.
- 1. Explain the hedonistic utilitarian’s attitude toward the commonly accepted moral rules, such as those prohibiting killing, injuring, and lying to others. To what extent would a utilitarian accept such rules?
- · Utilitarians believe that human life can be sacrificed or demoralized if only it is for the common good and to the extent it best maximizes the pain/pleasure net in favor of pleasure.
- 2. The hedonistic utilitarian will admit that sometimes an action, considered by itself, can have bad consequences on the whole (i.e. the action can result in net disutility) and still be the right thing to do. Explain how this could happen. [Pay special
- · Sometimes, one is faced in a situation where they only face bad outcomes: i.e save this child or save that child but not both, and the utilitarian must determine which action will not cause the most pain, even though no net pleasure is created.
- Does hedonistic utilitarianism have anything to say about how we should treat (nonhuman) animals? If so, what?
- · Suffering of all kinds may lead to a disbalance in the pain/pleasure equilibrium. If animals are considered beings on par with humans, and equitable in this equation, than our treatment of animals has caused massive suffering.
- Does Mill (a famous utilitarian) think that religious beliefs are necessary for ensuring moral behavior? Explain. How does Mill see the relationship between religion and utilitarianism?
- · Religious beliefs are not necessary for moral behavior. God gave us moral behavior and focused us to bring us happy lives. You don’t need to believe in Him for them to exist.
- What are some of the main virtues of hedonistic utilitarianism?
- · Provides criterion for determining the rightness and wrongness of actions
· Provides criterion for determining the rightness and wrongness of rules
· Explains exceptions to rules
- Critics have claimed that utilitarianism has some unacceptable consequences. Present and explain at least two examples of such unacceptable consequences.
- · We may frame an innocent man for the best consequences to society…
· Torture people’s lives for the benefit of others
- What other objections have been raised against hedonistic utilitarianism? Does the hedonistic utilitarian have a response to these objections? If so, what?
- · Free rider problem
· Promise breaking
· Response to objections: Convicting innocent scapegoats would rarely maximize utility but it if it really would, would it be wrong to sacrifice an innocent scapegoat?
- What is pluralistic utilitariainism?
- Utility is defined in terms of whatever has intrinsic (non-moral) value, not just pleasure and pain--including, for example, knowledge, love, friendship, courage, health, beauty, states of consciousness other than pleasure and pain (e.g., Moore)
- What is consequentialism?
- The right action is the one with the best consequences
- · Kant denies that happiness (or pleasure) is good without qualification. Under that conditions would Kant say that happiness is not a good thing? What, if anything, does Kant regard as good without qualification?
- o Happiness is only good when it is deserved.
o The only thing worse than a person who has happiness but doesn’t deserve it is a person who deserves happiness but doesn’t have it.
- · What, according to Kant, is a good will?
- o A goodwill is a person who does what is right because it is right and for no other reason.
- · Explain Kant’s distinction between acts which are merely right and acts which are morally good.
- o A merely right action is an action merely done in accordance with duty. I tis an action that just happens to conform to duty, but is not done because it is one’s duty.
o A morally good action is an action done from duty (i.e. done out of respect for duty). It is done intentionally because it is one’s duty and for no other reason.
- · What does it mean to say that an act is done from duty?
- o An action done from duty is one that has moral worth (doing your duty because it is your duty and for no other reason). Duty- You know the rule and you do what the rule says because it is the rule. You do what the rule says intentionally
- What is a categorical imperative?
- A universal exception-less command that applies to all rational agents
- What is a hypothetical imperative?
- § Commands you to do something to get something else
§ Do X if you wan to get Y
§ Study hard if you want to get an A
- · According to “Respect for Persons” formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative,how must we treat persons? Explain what it means to treat persons this way.
- o To use someone, to use a person for one’s one own ends with no regard for that other person’s well-being.
§ Making promises you intend to break uses people
o It is not enough not to use people,. We must treat people as ends in themselves?
§ To help people thrive and flourish. To help people reach their own ends.
- . Take two examples of morally wrong acts and show why Kant thinks they are wrong by showing how they violate the universal law formula.
- § Example One: Making promises you don’t intend to keep; not universalizable so wrong
§ Example Two: Refusing to help people in dire need; not universalizable, imperfect people to help people in dire need.
- · This formulation of the categorical imperative has been criticized on the grounds that it is too subjective and, thereby, leads to unacceptable consequences. Explain this criticism and illustrate it using an example.
- o What one person can will another person might not be able to will
o Torture people when you get the chance, sadomasochist may will this maxim to be universal but most people wouldn’t. So torture would be right for the sado masochist, but wrong for most people.
- · This formulation has also been criticized on the grounds that it cannot adequately handle conflicting maxims. Explain and illustrate this criticism.
- o Maxim 1: Always Keep Your Promises
o Maxim 2: Always help those in dire need
o Imagine sitiuations when you can’t do both
o Which maxim takes precedence? Presumably maxim 1, because it is a perfect duty, but it is highly counterintuitive.
- · This Respect for Persons formulation has been criticized on the grounds that it can require behavior which seems to be at odds with treating persons with respect. Give an example which illustrates this criticism.
- o Overcrowded lifeboat example:
§ Can’t draw straws and throw the loser overboard
§ Can’t go overboard oneself
§ So everyone must die as the boat submerges. Th
o Nuclear bomb example
§ Can’t sacrifice innocent girl as a means, but killing the girl would save the entire city
- What are the formal criterion of rightness proposed by rule-utilitarians?
- o The right actions are those that conform to the right rules. The rules that are the rules that which everyone follows, would maximize utility for all effected
- Explain how rule-utilitarianism differs from classical hedonistic (act-)utilitarianism.
- o RU- we should follow the right rules even when on a particular occasion doing so will not maximize utility.
- · There are two main defects of classical hedonistic (act-)utilitarianism which rule-utilitarianism tries to remedy. What are these defects and how does it remedy them?
- o Avoids scapegoat problem, promise breaking problem and free rider problem because if everyone always did these things, utility would not be maximized.
o Avoids the excessive subjectivity of Kant’s universal law formula because it is not a matter of whether YOU can will that everyone act that way. IT is a matter of the consequences of everyone acting that way.
- Explain how rule-utilitarianism tries to account for the special obligation we have to keep our promises.
- o According to RU, we should follow the right rules even when on a particular occasion doing so will not maximize utility.
- · Why have some critics claimed that rule-utilitarianism fails to rule out all cases of injustice? Explain by example.
- o Fails to account for measurement and distribution problems.
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