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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral, legal, and aesthetic reasoning. PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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12-1. Analyzing and Evaluating Moral, Legal, and Aesthetic Arguments. The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral, legal, and aesthetic reasoning. Go To Next Slide. 12-2.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral, legal, and aesthetic reasoning.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Analyzing and Evaluating Moral, Legal, and Aesthetic Arguments

The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral, legal, and aesthetic reasoning.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Like all other arguments, moral, legal, and aesthetic arguments try to prove a conclusion by offering premises which, if true, support the truth of the conclusion.

Before we can evaluate an argument, we need to analyze it. We need to be clear what the argument is trying to prove, what evidence it uses, and how it relates this evidence to its conclusion.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Moral Evaluations

Moral reasoning is distinguished from other kinds of reasoning in that the conclusions it tries to establish are moral value judgments.

Typically, moral value judgments employ such words as “good,” “bad,” “right,” “wrong,” “should,” “should not,” etc.

They are about what out to be, and what ought not to be.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Not all claims involve moral issues.

Moral claims express positive or negative moral value.

They are about what is moral or ethical, versus what is immoral, or unethical. Nonmoral claims merely state facts.

Which of the following claims are

moral and which are nonmoral?

(1) He kicked the dog

(2) How could he kick that dog!

(3) It is wrong to abuse animals.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Question (1) is nonmoral. It simply states a fact.

Question (2) is moral. It implicitly expresses that this particular instance of dog kicking is wrong.

Question (3) is moral. It explicitly expresses a general moral principle.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Deriving Moral Value Judgments

Moral arguments begin with nonmoral statements of fact and conclude with a value judgment. But deriving an “ought” from an “is” is illogical. It’s a type of non sequitur called the naturalistic fallacy.

An argument may escape the above fallacy by adding a value-premise that ties the fact-stating premise with the value-judging conclusion. A general moral principle can be either explicitly stated, or implicitly assumed, as the value-premise.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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What value-premise could you add

to the following non sequitur in order

to make it an argument?

“It is unnatural for people to fly. After all, if God had wanted us to fly, he’d have given us wings. Therefore, people ought not use airplanes.”

You could add the general moral principle, “Whatever is unnatural ought not be done,” as a value-premise.

Now that a value-premise is added and the full argument is available for evaluation, the next step is determining whether it is valid or strong (is the form of argument okay?) and sound or cogent (are all the premises true?).

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Consistency and Fairness

Inconsistency is a common mistake in moral reasoning. It is treating similar cases as if they were different, applying the old “double standard.” The result of inconsistency is often unfair.

When the founders of the Constitution stated, “All men are created equal,” by “men” they meant male, Caucasian landowners. Were they being inconsistent, or is there a relevant difference between “men” who are male vs. female, Caucasian vs. another race, or landowners vs. non-landowners? Are these “other cases of mankind” different in a way that warrants their being treated unequally?

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Relativism and Subjectivism

Moral relativism is the idea that what is right and wrong is determined by a group or culture. There are no moral absolutes.

Moral subjectivism is the idea that what is right and wrong is a matter of subjective opinion, meaning that my thinking that something is right or wrong makes it so for me.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Moral Deliberation

There are different systems of moral thought and action. These systems differ in perspective and form the basic structure from which moral deliberations are made. We mention four.

Utilitarianism is based on the principle of utility, or the greatest good for the greatest number. The focus is on consequences. Utilitarian deliberation aims for maximizing happiness and minimizing pain for the majority.

Deontologism is based on the principle of duty, doing the right thing. The focus is not on consequences, but on the intentions of the moral agent. The authority on which something is judged to be the right thing to do is reason.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Divine Command Theory is based on the principle of duty to God, following the commandments set by God. Morality is discovered through interpretation of religious texts or, rarely, direct revelation. The authority on which something is judged to be the right thing to do is God.

Virtue Ethics is based on how to be, rather than on what to do. The focus is on developing a good character. The idea is to work on the inner self and virtuous behavior will follow.

Moral deliberation often involves a mixture of perspectives, such as considering what is right, what kind of person we ought to be, and what ought we do, while weighing duties, obligations, and rights, as well as considering our own happiness and how acting to achieve that might affect the pursuit of happiness of others.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Legal Reasoning

Legal claims, just like moral claims, are prescriptive. They tell us what we ought to do. But legal prescriptions carry the weight of the law behind them, whereas moral prescriptions, by themselves, do not.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Justifying Laws vs. Interpreting Laws

There are two kinds of legal studies:

(1) justifying laws, i.e. what should be legal and illegal

(2) interpreting what the law is and how it should be applied

There are four main grounds on which to justify a law:

(1) justifying a law forbidding X on the grounds that doing X is immoral

(2) justifying a law forbidding X on the grounds that doing X is harmful to someone

(3) justifying a law forcing X (by instituting a penalty for not doing X) on the grounds that doing X is for a person’s own good

(4) justifying a law forbidding X on the grounds that X is offensive

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Legal Moralism is the position that anything immoral should also be illegal.

The Harm Principle is the basis for justifying forbidding X, if and only if X causes harm to others.

Legal Paternalism is the view that laws ought to be instituted to protect people from themselves.

The Offense Principle is the basis for outlawing anything that causes offense to others.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Appeal to Precedent

The appeal to precedent is a variety of argument by analogy in which the current case is said to be sufficiently like the previous case to warrant deciding it in the same way.

It would be illogical, and unfair, to treat similar cases, in which the relevant aspects of the target case and the sample case are similar, in different ways.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Aesthetic Reasoning

Critical judgments about art rely on a conceptual framework that integrates fact and value.

Judgments come in two parts:

(1) Is it art, at all?

(2) Is it good art?

There are principles that are commonly used in the creation and judgment of art. We mention eight:

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Objects are aesthetically valuable if…

1. They are meaningful or teach us truths.

2. They have the capacity to convey values or beliefs that are central to the cultures or traditions in which they originate or are important to the artist who made them.

3. They have the capacity to help bring about social change.

4. They have the capacity to produce pleasure in those who experience or appreciate them.

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5. They have the capacity to produce certain emotions we value (at least when the emotion is brought about by art rather than life).

6. They have the capacity to produce non-emotional experiences.

7. They possess a special aesthetic property or exhibit a special aesthetic form.

8. No reasoned argument can conclude that objects are aesthetically valuable or valueless.

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The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to analyze and evaluate arguments involving moral legal and aesthetic re

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Relevance and Truth in Aesthetic Reasoning

The principles of art one adopts function as a conceptual framework that distinguishes relevant from irrelevant reasons for evaluating a piece of art. Even a relevant reason is useless if it is not true of the artwork to which it is applied. Art appreciation is enhanced by reasoned argument about aesthetic value.

This is the end of the tutorial.


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