THE DISCIPLINE OF ETHICS. What is ethics? . Analysis of concepts such as "ought" "right" and "wrong", "good" and "bad", duty, responsibility, etc. Inquiry into nature of morality or moral acts. The search for the morally good life. Normative Ethics. Non-Normative Ethics.
- United Nations Declaration on Universal Human Rights.
Usually inequalities are allowed when they are the result of relevant differences between persons.
Problem: what are relevant differences?
(Or limited equalitarian thought: all should be equal as far as subsistence needs being met before surplus goods are distributed on any other basis.)
Problem: people differ in all characteristics; and most believe that need, ability and effort are relevant characteristics.
Justice as Contribution (e.g., to the group, society, humanity).
Problem: But this can ignore human needs.Justice-Different understandings
Premise: human potential is realized in creative work in co-operation with other people; it is not realized in consumption.
Therefore, work should be done according to one's creative abilities, and benefits distributed according to needs.
A just society is one free of any coercion, where the freely entered contract is the only norm. (Rights = freedom from the coercion of others.)
Critique: Those without wealth or power enter any bargaining at a disadvantage so they cannot make choices with the same freedom as those already privileged.
Conflicts are to be resolved by procedures upon which rational people will agree
Basic principle: equal treatment.
Each person has a right to the most liberty compatible with the most liberty for all.
Socio-economic burdens/benefits ought to be distributed based on merit, as long as the competition is fair (i.e., as long as there is equal opportunity).
Critiques: It is not proven that disadvantaged persons will or should accept an procedural equality, which empirical evidence does not demonstrate as reality. I.e., why accept a hypothetical (and mythical) equality of opportunity, over a potential equality of condition.
This includes economic factors as well as less tangible ones such as well being (however defined) and happiness.Utilitarianism is about aggregate social benefits.
And Utilitarianism cannot decide whose pleasure and pain counts. Whose does? Only humans?
Rights take precedence (if they are implicated)
Beneficence/utilitarian principles are usually seen as the least important ones
However, many believe utilitarian considerations can override other principles if the gains or the prevention of harm is important enough.
(Re)distributive Justice: redistribute burdens / benefits according to a given moral standard (e.g. economic equality, equal liberty, equal treatment [fair procedures]).
Retributive Justice: When perpetrator knowingly violates moral statute, if punishment is no greater than needed for deterrence.
Compensatory Justice: Theorists have different views about which conditions must be met
1) Injurious action must be wrong or negligent; the person's injury must be the real cause of the injury; and the person must have voluntarily inflicted the injury.
2) Compensation is due if real injury or real privilege is based on the past actions of one's group, otherwise injustice wins.
For this class:
Is nature due compensatory, “restorative” action because humans have harmed her?