Why be moral
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
Sponsored Links
1 / 28

Why Be Moral? PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • 127 Views
  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Why Be Moral?. Themes in Ethics and Epistemology Shane Ryan [email protected] 16/10/13. Issue. Why be moral? Part I: Why should we be moral? Part II: Should we be as moral as possible?. Structure. Part I 1. The Immoralist's Challenge 2. Possible Objections and Responses Part II

Download Presentation

Why Be Moral?

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript


Why be moral

Why Be Moral?

Themes in Ethics and Epistemology

Shane Ryan

[email protected]

16/10/13


Issue

Issue

Why be moral?

Part I: Why should we be moral?

Part II: Should we be as moral as possible?


Structure

Structure

Part I

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

2. Possible Objections and Responses

Part II

3. Wolf's Challenge

4. Conclusion


1 the immoralist s challenge

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

Glaucon distinguishes between three types of goods and ask which kind of good justice (or morality) is.

A good that we value for its own sake; e.g. pleasure

A good that we value for its own sake and for what comes from it; e.g. being healthy

A good that we value not for its own sake but because of what comes from it; e.g. making money


1 the immoralist s challenge1

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

Justice as being like money, we don't value it for it's own sake but for what it can get us.

“We can see most clearly that those who practice justice do it unwillingly and because they lack the power to do injustice, if in our thoughts we grant to a just and an unjust person the freedom to do whatever they like.”


1 the immoralist s challenge2

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

The Ring of Gyges

Glaucon: Which kind of good is justice?

Glaucon tells the tale of a shepherd who finds a ring that allows it's wearer to become invisible. The shepherd realising its power arranges to become a messenger that reports to the king. He seduces the king's wife and kills the king with her help, taking over the kingdom.


1 the immoralist s challenge3

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

Glaucon claims that anyone who had such power as the shepherd had, the power to get away with any injustice, would steal, have sex with whoever they liked, kill whoever he wished to kill.

People only act justly because they're compelled to do so.


1 the immoralist s challenge4

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

“Someone who didn't want to do injustice, given this sort of opportunity, and who didn't touch other people's property would be thought wretched and stupid by everyone aware of the situation, though, of course, they'd praise him in public...”


1 the immoralist s challenge5

1. The Immoralist's Challenge

We are presented with a challenge. Glaucon has suggested that the shepherd would be thought of as foolish if he acted justly

What reason can we give for saying that the shepherd should behave justly and not kill the king?


2 possible objections and responses

2. Possible Objections and Responses

The example is described such that the shepherd will not face external sanction

He'll become king, so others won't be able to punish him for killing the previous king.

(It's also claimed that he won't face punishment from the gods.)

He'll gain the benefits of being king and without apparently suffering any bad consequences. Why shouldn't he act immorally?


2 possible objections and responses1

2. Possible Objections and Responses

But will he not face any negative consequences?

Internal sanctions. He might feel guilty for murdering another person.

But it's plausible that even if an agent does feel some guilt from an immoral action, that guilt may not be commensurate with the benefits gained from that action, in which case it still seems that the agent has more reason to perform the immoral action.


2 possible objections and responses2

2. Possible Objections and Responses

If he kills the king, then the shepherd may feel guilty. But he'll live in a palace, have the power to live as he pleases, any children he has will likely enjoy comfortable lives.

Won't the benefits of the action outweigh the costs?


2 possible objections and responses3

2. Possible Objections and Responses

In order to say that one should be moral, does one need to appeal to the existence (or merely possible existence?) of a righteous, all knowing, all powerful God?

If there is such a God, then it makes sense for the shepherd not to kill the king. If he were to do so, he would risk eternal damnation.

Making such an argument looks dialectically burdensome; we have to make an argument about the existence of a certain type of God, and only then might we be in a position to say that one should be moral.


2 possible objections and responses4

2. Possible Objections and Responses

This answer by itself, though a theologian may be able to add more, still gives us the result that morality is the third kind of good – something that we do not for its own sake, but for what it brings us.

Might there not be another basis to argue that the shepherd should not kill the king?


2 possible objections and responses5

2. Possible Objections and Responses

A virtue response

So far we have focused on what the shepherd should choose.

The virtue ethicist can argue that such a choice won’t present itself in the way we have been describing to the virtuous agent.

Part of being virtuous is acting in virtuous ways and also having the appropriate reactive attitudes to good and bad.

The virtuous will be repelled by an evil action, such as killing a king so as to take his place.


2 possible objections and responses6

2. Possible Objections and Responses

A virtue response

Does this mean that an agent would be better off not being virtuous, given that it results in them missing out in particular instances on promoting their interests?


2 possible objections and responses7

2. Possible Objections and Responses

This needn’t be the case. The virtuous person, by being virtuous, is locked into certain ways of behaving, reacting to and seeing the world.

If we grant that being virtuous is a necessary condition for enjoying the good life, then we can say that while being locked into these ways of behaving and seeing the world might mean missing out on one-off opportunities to promote one’s self-interest, being virtuous still comes out as being best for a person overall.


2 possible objections and responses8

2. Possible Objections and Responses

An odd result? We should be moral, because it’s in our self-interest?

“Self-interest” may be misleading. We have reason to be virtuous as it puts us in a position to live well, but becoming virtuous is transformative – it changes an agent’s character.

The virtuous person doesn’t act morally out of a calculation as to what’s in her best interests, the virtuous agent acts morally because, being virtuous, she loves the good.


2 possible objections and responses9

2. Possible Objections and Responses

Being just isn't something we only value for what it can get us, if we're virtuous. If we're virtuous then we love the good and if we love the good then we value justice for its own sake as well as for the benefits it can bring us.


2 possible objections and responses10

2. Possible Objections and Responses

But isn't this dialectically burdensome in just the same way as appealing to the existence of a certain kind of God is?

One has to argue that being virtuous is a necessary condition for the good life.

This may be easier or harder than making the God argument.

What about the vicious person?

How might Glaucon respond?


3 wolf s challenge

3. Wolf's Challenge

Susan Wolf (1982):

“I don't know whether there are any moral saints. But if there are I'm glad that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them.”

Claim: Being morally perfect, i.e. being a moral saint, is not a model of being towards which it is rational or desirable to strive.


3 wolf s challenge1

3. Wolf's Challenge

What exactly is a moral saint?

Someone whose every action is as morally good as possible.

Different possible moral saints

Loving Saint

Rational Saint

Common traits: Charitable, patient, hospitable, etc..


3 wolf s challenge2

3. Wolf's Challenge

The worry: the moral virtues “are apt to crowd out all the nonmoral virtues”.

If the moral saint is devoting all her time to raising money for charity or feeding the hungry, then she's not reading novels or playing games, pursuing romance, enjoying gourmet cooking, etc..


3 wolf s challenge3

3. Wolf's Challenge

The models of moral saints are unattractive, but are they not unsuitable?

Wolf: Maybe us finding them unattractive indicates our own weaknesses, vices and flaws.

But there are non-moral qualities, which the moral saint will lack, that we ought to like.


3 wolf s challenge4

3. Wolf's Challenge

There are non-moral accomplishments that it is appropriate to recognise.

For example, in the fields of exploration, the arts, and the sciences.

In advocating the development of non-moral excellences, we advocate non-moral reasons for acting and “implicitly acknowledge the goodness of ideals incompatible with that of the moral saint.


3 wolf s challenge5

3. Wolf's Challenge

Wolf's deeper point: Morality is important but it shouldn't override all other considerations about how we should act and be.

Response: Wolf's objector might maintain that moral value is the highest value and that it should override.

She may maintain our not valuing the life of the moral saint is an indication of our own moral failing rather than the worth of the life of the moral saint.


4 conclusion

4. Conclusion

The seminar addressed the following questions:

Part I: Why should we be moral?

Part II: Should we be as moral as possible?

We examined the story of Ring of Gyges and it's implications for morality.

We considered a virtue ethical response.


4 conclusion1

4. Conclusion

We examined Wolf's argument that being morally perfect, i.e. being a moral saint, is not a model of being towards which it is rational or desirable to strive.

And her deeper point that morality is important but it shouldn't override all other considerations about how we should act and be.


  • Login