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TOK Ethics . “Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour ... If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?” ― Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre. Ethics.

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tok ethics

TOK Ethics

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour ... If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

  • eth·ics /ˈeTHiks/
  • noun
  • plural noun: ethics; noun: ethics
  • 1. moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior. The moral correctness of specified conduct.
  • 2. the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
Genetic EngineeringHow far is too far? What can we modify? What should we modify? What should we leave alone?

What does potential have to do in a situation like this? What are the pros of doing this? What are the cons?

  • Euthanasia in children
  • Q & A
  • “ locked in syndrome”
moral or amoral choices

Possible Criterion:

  • 1. For the choice to be subject to any kind of moral judgment, whether condemned or praised, it has to be a conscious and deliberate choice. (but you can argue that accidents are amoral)
  • 2. For an act to be subject to any kind of moral judgment, it has to affect someone else other than the person acting (but you can argue that self mutilation or taking drugs only affects the person taking them)
Moral or AmoralChoices

First accept the premise and oppose the conclusions that are drawn from it.

Then argue against accepting the criterion

critical perspectives in ethics
Critical perspectives in Ethics
  • 1. did you evaluate the action with emphasis on the moral actor and intensions?
  • 2. Did you evaluate the action with emphasis on features of the act itself, and principles of what is right/wrong?
  • 3. Did you evaluate the act with emphasis on the effect on others- the consequences of the act?
  • 4. Did you evaluate the act with emphasis on the moral code of the surrounding society?
genetic engineering should we do it if we can
Genetic Engineering: Should we do it if we can?
  • New limbs, Genetic engineering article
  • Monsanto
  • (Monsanto is a company that genetically alters seeds to produce a heartier plant that can be grown anywhere. They have patents on the genetically engineered seeds that Farmers are concerned about because it would stop them from reusing seeds they cultivate themselves. No long term studies about the effects of genetically enhanced seeds)
why is ethics important
Why is Ethics important?
  • Ethics is a requirement for human life. It is our means of deciding a course of action. Without it, our actions would be random and aimless. There would be no way to work towards a goal because there would be no way to pick between a limitless number of goals. Even with an ethical standard, we may be unable to pursue our goals with the possibility of success. To the degree which a rational ethical standard is taken, we are able to correctly organize our goals and actions to accomplish our most important values. Any flaw in our ethics will reduce our ability to be successful in our endeavors.
ethical checks and balances
Ethical Checks and Balances:

The authorities


Personal experience (knowledge and feelings)

The majority view

Self-interest and the Golden Rule

Intention and consequences

who s who in ethical philosophy
Who’s Who in Ethical Philosophy
  • Achebe, Chinua (1930 – 2013)
  • Achebe was a Nigerian poet, novelist and academic, who was outspoken on colonialism and racism. He was a supporter of Biafran independence, but ultimately lost faith in politics due to the way in which he felt that power had corrupted those originally seeking freedom.Also helps us to explore Imagination, language, arts, history, NS
  • Ariely, Dan (1967 – )
  • Ariely is a behavioral economist, who studies the way we make decisions, with a particular focus on moral choices. His bestselling book, Predictably Irrational investigated the phenomenon of making decisions that seem entirely illogical.Black Elk (1863 – 1950)
  • Black Elk was a Sioux medicine man and spiritual leader. He spoke of the unity of all men, and tried to emphasize the similarity of spiritual beliefs regardless of the different religious traditions from which they came.Also helps us to explore Faith, SP, IKS, RKS
  • Chomsky, Noam (1928 – )
  • Chomsky is a linguist, philosopher, and, in his role as political activist, one of the most virulent critics of interventionist US foreign policy. Chomsky’s theories on the extent to which language is innate to humans, and his ‘universal grammar’ theory, are of particular interest to TOK students.
a few more of the great ethical thinkers
A few more of the great Ethical thinkers
  • Hume, David (1711 – 1776)
  • Hume was an Edinburgh philosopher and historian, and is regarded as the most important of the British empiricists (along with Locke and Berkeley). Unlike Descartes, he thought that the only knowledge that we should trust is that which we experience directly through our senses. He also emphasized the importance of emotions in allowing us access to truth, by saying ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.’Also helps us to explore TNK, emotion, reason, SP, HSKeller, Helen (1880 – 1968)
  • Keller was an American author, and social and political thinker. The first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, her ideas can be summed up by her famous quote: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”Also helps us to explore SP, arts
  • Kierkegaard, Søren (1813 – 1855)
  • Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, poet, theologian, and social thinker. He is interesting to us as one of the first Existentialist thinkers, and for the way in which he combined philosophy with religious faith. He once said: “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”
  • Wilde, Oscar (1854 – 1900)
  • Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and writer. The archetypal C19th wit, he also wrote widely on art, but was persecuted for his sexuality, and his anti-establishment outlook ensured his downfall.

Animal Farm is a book about Pigs that take over a farm in a rebellion

  • They make 7 commandments, the most important one being “All animals are equal”
  • Napoleon and Snowball step up as leaders, Napoleon educates puppies on Animalism, Snowball teaches all animals to read and write.
  • Snowball wants to make a windmill to make life easier, but Napoleon chases him away and then builds the windmill and takes credit
  • Boxer the workhorse is a big supporter of Animal Farm and works himself to near death after a storm blows down the windmill
  • The neighboring farmer knocks down the windmill again
  • Napoleon sends boxer to the “Vet” to get better, but the truck says butcher to get money to buy whiskey
  • The donkeys can read thanks to snowball and know what is happening, so Napoleon takes his dogs out to rid Animal Farm of the threat
  • Years later, the pigs now look/act like humans, wearing clothes and carrying whips. The 7 commandments has been changed to just 1 “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
  • The other Animals look at the pigs and realize they can’t tell the difference from the pigs and the humans

Orwell, George (1903 – 1950)Orwell was the author of (among many other things) Animal Farm and 1984. In many ways, he is the ‘patron saint of  TOK’, because of his huge range of ideas on so many different topics. Amongst these, were his ideas on language, and the extent to which is governs the way we think. But he also wrote on the power of the state when it comes to representing history.

there is no abstract art p picasso
“There is no abstract art” P. Picasso

Picasso, Pablo (1881 – 1973)

Picasso was a Spanish painter and sculptor, who completely altered the way in which we view reality. He was one of the co-founders of the Cubism artistic movement, and is regarded as one of the most important artistic thinkers ever to have lived.Also helps us to explore Imagination, arts

and now the big taboo
And now the big taboo..

Ethics and Religion

ethics can be understood in 3 ways
Ethics can be understood in 3 ways
  • Those who believe in God
  • Atheism/ Agnosticism
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Social Contract
so now what
So now what?
  • Religion Pro’s and Ethics:
  • Religion Con’s and Ethics:
  • Religion and Historical events
    • The Spanish Inquisition
    • The Witch Trials
and what about karma
And what about Karma?
  • The Idea fundamental in Buddhism that action/inaction has a consequence
  • Karma- Action
  • Vipaka- the result
  • Is Karma destiny? Or something we actually control?
  • Do I have any moral responsibility to inform myself about my society and the world?
  • Do I have any moral responsibility to act for the good of others?