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Chaffee, 3e Chapter 8.pptx

Oct 30, 2014

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Chaffee, 3e Chapter 8.pptx

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

THE LIFEBOAT DILEMMAIn 1842 a ship struck an iceberg and sank. There were 30 survivors, crowded into a lifeboat designed to hold just 8. With the weather stormy and getting worse, it was obvious that many of the passengers would have to be thrown overboard or the boat would sink and everyone would drown. Imagine that you were the captain of the boat. Would you have people thrown over the side? If so, on what basis would you decide who would go? Age? Strength? Gender? Size? Survival skills? Friendships? Family?Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

THINKING PHILOSOPHICALLY: How Subjective Are Your Ethics? Keeping in mind the issues discussed in this section, how would you

respond to someone making the following statements:

In moral situations, you have to go with what feels right. Whats right for one person may be wrong for someone else. As long as you are being true to yourself, then youre morally right.

In your own words, provide a clear definition of ethical subjectivism.

What is attractive about this ethical theory? What are the fatal flaws that undermine the credibility of this approach? Consider your own moral beliefs. What is the basis for your beliefs? Do any fall into the category of ethical subjectivism? Which moral beliefs do you consider to be based on the needs and interests of others rather than simply your personal feelings? Identify some moral beliefs that you consider to be self-evident, for instance, All people are created equal, and Abusing children is wrong. Then explain why you Copyright your examples to be selfconsider 2011 PearsonEducation, Inc.All rights

Ethics Our English word ethics comes from the

Greek

Ethos Which means character in the singular and

custom in the plural Our word moral comes from the Latin Moralis And was a translation of ethos So there is no difference between ethics and morals

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Ethics II This naturally leads to two questions What is the nature of good/bad persons? What is the nature of good/bad actions? These questions are not independent of each

other

Answering one will give us the answer to the

other If we know what a good person is then we know what good actions are They are the actions a good person would performCopyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Ethics III Similarly if we know what a good action is then

we know what a good person is

A good person is one who performs good actions

The question, then, is which is more

fundamental?

Where should we start?

What we will see is that Ancient ethics is

interested primarily in good personsgood actions

While Modern ethics is interested primarily in

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Ethics IV There are three distinctions to be made here Descriptive ethics: Describing what a group actually believes to be right or wrong Normative ethics: What ought to be the case, the way we should live Metaethics: Questions about the status of normative ethics

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Relativism But there is an assumption here that needs to

be dealt with

The assumption is that there is an answer to

these questions What if there is no such thing as a good person

or action in the first place? If so then trying to give a theory about what

makes a person or action good would be a waste of time So before we deal with particular moral theories we first need to address relativism

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Relativism II Relativism is the view that there is no absolute

moral truth

Or alternatively that what counts as right or

wrong is relative to the individual (subjectivism) or to the culture (cultural relativism) Some things really are relative Preference for chocolate or vanilla Fashion Humor Being large or to the left of

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Relativism III So why think that relativism about morality is

true?

By far the most compelling argument for

relativism is what is called the cultural differences argument This argument goes as follows 1.) If there were an absolute truth about morality then cultures would not vary in their moral beliefs 2.) Cultures do vary in their moral beliefs Therefore, there is no absolute truth about moralityCopyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

The Refutation of Relativism But this argument is no good Consider the following argument If there were an absolute truth about the shape of the Earth then cultures would not vary in their beliefs about its shape Cultures do vary in their shape beliefs Therefore, there is no absolute truth about the shape of the Earth Clearly, from the fact that people disagree

about something it doesnt follow that there is no truthCopyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism II Here is another example If there is an absolute truth about the existence of God then cultures would not vary in their beliefs Cultures do vary in their beliefs Therefore there is no absolute truth about the existence of God This is clearly silly Either God exists or He doesnt The fact that we disagree just shows that we dont know the truthCopyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism III Not that there isnt one to be known The cultural differences argument gives us at

best an epistemological conclusion; We dont know the truth

Not a metaphysical one; There isnt a truth Of course, maybe relativism is true But the mere fact that people disagree doesnt show it

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Other Arguments The cultural difference argument

fails to establish relativism

Are there any other arguments?

One argument starts from the

challenge to find a foundation for moral commands What is it that makes a moral rule

binding? This is a serious challenge but it is not decisive In order to meet Copyright 2011 Pearson this challenge we will Education, Inc.All rights have to look at particular normative

Other Arguments II Another argument points out that

what a person should do is relative to the context they find themselves in So one might think that whether one

should lie or not depends on the situation Thus there is no absolute rule which specifies what a person should do in every situation

But this is not relativism Copyright 2011 Pearson Relativism claims that inInc.All rights Education, the same

Refutation of Relativism IV So the arguments for relativism are

no good, what are the arguments against it? First, if relativism were true we would not be able to say that any moral values are better or worse than any other

We could not say that what Hitler did

was really wrong Or that killing innocent people for fun is really wrong Copyright 2011 PearsonEducation, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism V Secondly there is a problem with

determining who the group is

Cultural relativists want to say that what

is morally right is determined by the culture you come from

But what culture? The U.S.? Corporate culture? Hip-hop culture? What about individuals who dissent

with their culture? Copyright 2011 PearsonEducation, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism VI Thirdly, there is a problem

explaining change and disagreement If what is moral is simply what a culture

thinks is moral then why would a culture ever change? Usually we think happens because we made an error But according to the relativist there was no error

Also, when I am arguing with

someone who thinks women should Copyright 2011 Pearson not be educated we dont really Education, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism VII Fourthly, take a case of seeming

disagreement

Eskimos sometimes leave children out

on the ice to die Is this a case where we disagree over whether murder is wrong?

Arguably not A murder is an unjustified killing What we really disagree about is whether or not the killing is justified That is, we are having a 2011 Pearson normative Copyright disagreement that can only berights Education, Inc.All settled

Refutation of Relativism VIII In fact, some moral values must be

universal

Could there be a society that placed no

value on their children? No, because they would soon die out

Likewise, could there be a value that

allowed any killing?

No, for they too would soon die out

So there must be a set of universal

moral values if there is to be a Copyright 2011 Pearson society at allEducation, Inc.All rights

Refutation of Relativism IX Finally, there is a logical problem Relativism is the claim that there is no absolute truth about morality But is this claim supposed to be

true?

It is a truth about morality, so is it

relative? If so then it is uninteresting But if not then there is an absolute truth about morality

The basic flaw:

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc.All rights

Metaethics vs Normative Ethics The relativist is likely to respond that

relativism is a metaethical claim about morality and not a normative claim It is the claim that all judgments of right and

wrong good and bad are relative to a culture But this raises the same problem When we say that relativism is the right theory we ar