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The Moral Point of View. Why Study Ethics?. Moral concerns are unavoidable in life. Analogy: morality is a lot like nutrition. Principal concern: health The role of experts Disagreement. Ethics as an Ongoing Conversation. Professional discussions of ethical issues in journals.

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the moral point of view

The Moral Point of View

©Lawrence M. Hinman

why study ethics
Why Study Ethics?
  • Moral concerns are unavoidable in life.
  • Analogy: morality is a lot like nutrition.
    • Principal concern: health
    • The role of experts
    • Disagreement

©Lawrence M. Hinman

ethics as an ongoing conversation
Ethics as an Ongoing Conversation
  • Professional discussions of ethical issues in journals.
  • We come back to ideas again and again, finding new meaning in them.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

ethics and morality
Ethics and Morality
  • Morality: first-order set of beliefs and practices about how to live a good life
  • Ethics: a second-order, conscious reflection on the adequacy of our moral beliefs.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

moral health
Moral Health
  • The goal of ethical reflection is moral health.
  • Thus we seek to determine what will nourish our moral life and what will poison it.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

ethical inventory
Ethical Inventory
  • Take the ethical inventory on pp. 8-10 now or on the web at:
    • http://ethics.sandiego.edu/ActiveWebSurvey/theory/ .
  • Return to your answers after finishing each chapter.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

the moral point of view7
The Moral Point of View
  • What makes something a moral issue?
    • Content:
      • duties, rights, human welfare, suffering, character, etc.
    • Perspective:
      • impartial, compassionate, etc.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

example cheating
Example: Cheating

Imagine a situation in which you see a classmate cheating. There are several elements from a moral point of view:

  • Some people are hurt by the cheating
  • There is deception in the situation
  • Cheating seems to be unfair to those who don’t cheat
  • There are conflicting values—honesty, loyalty, etc.
  • There are questions of character.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

the language of moral concerns
The Language of Moral Concerns
  • Some philosophers have argued that moral issues are characterized by a particular kind of language—terms such as duty, obligation, right, and good.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

impartiality
Impartiality

Many philosophers have argued that the moral point of view is characterized by impartiality, that is, I don’t give my own interest any special weight.

  • Immanuel Kant
  • John Stuart Mill

©Lawrence M. Hinman

compassion
Compassion
  • Other philosophers have seen the origin of the moral life to be in compassion, feeling for the suffering of other sentient beings.
  • Josiah Royce: “Such as that is for me, so is it for him, nothing less.”

©Lawrence M. Hinman

universally binding
Universally Binding
  • Moral obligations, some philosophers maintain, are universally binding and that is what gives them their distinctive character.
  • Kant: morality is a matter of categorical imperatives.
    • Distinguish between hypothetical and categorical imperatives.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

concern for character
Concern for Character
  • Philosophers from Aristotle onward have seen the primary focus of morality to be character.
  • Two questions:
    • What ought I to do? (Kant and Mill)
    • What kind of person ought I to be? (Aristotle)

©Lawrence M. Hinman

the focus of ethics
The Focus of Ethics
  • Ethics as the Evaluation of Other People’s Behavior
    • We are often eager to pass judgment on others
  • Ethics as the Search for Meaning and Value in Our Own Lives

©Lawrence M. Hinman

ethics as the evaluation of other people s behavior
Ethics as the Evaluation of Other People’s Behavior
  • Ethics often used as a weapon
  • Hypocrisy
  • Possibility of knowing other people
  • The right to judge other people
  • The right to intervene
  • Judging and caring

©Lawrence M. Hinman

ethics as the search for meaning and value in our own lives
Ethics as the Search for Meaning and Value in Our Own Lives
  • Positive focus
  • Aims at discerning what is good
  • Emphasizes personal responsibility for one’s own life

©Lawrence M. Hinman

what to expect from a moral theory
What to Expect from a Moral Theory

Functions of theory:

  • Describe
  • Explain
  • Give strength (Stockdale)
  • Prescribe
    • Open new possibilities
    • Wonder

©Lawrence M. Hinman

what to expect from a moral theory 2
What to Expect from a Moral Theory, 2

What is ethics like?

  • Physics
    • Clear-cut, definitive answers
  • Engineering
    • Several possible ways of doing things, many ways that are wrong

©Lawrence M. Hinman

the point of ethical reflection
The Point of Ethical Reflection
  • Ethics as the evaluation of other people’s behavior
    • Sources of mistrust about moral judgments
      • Hypocrisy
      • Knowing other people
      • The right to judge
      • Judging and intervention
      • Judging and caring
  • Ethics as the search for the meaning of our own lives

©Lawrence M. Hinman

conclusion ethics good health
Conclusion:Ethics & Good Health
  • Ethics is like nutrition
    • One studies bodily health, the other moral health
    • Significant disagreement in both fields
    • Still there is a significant common ground.

©Lawrence M. Hinman

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