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Ethics and Morality Theory. Part 3 30 January 2008. Normative Ethical Theories. Deontological: based on the sense of duty Right because of the act Teleological: based on the result Right because of the result. Deontological Theory. What is it? Based on our duties and responsibilities

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ethics and morality theory

Ethics and Morality Theory

Part 3

30 January 2008

normative ethical theories
Normative Ethical Theories
  • Deontological: based on the sense of duty
    • Right because of the act
  • Teleological: based on the result
    • Right because of the result
deontological theory
Deontological Theory
  • What is it?
    • Based on our duties and responsibilities
    • Actions are fundamentally right or wrong
  • Examples
    • Kantianism (Kant)
    • Contractualism (Hobbes, Rousseau)




kantianism ethics of duty
Kantianism: Ethics of Duty
  • Duty as freely imposing obligation on one’s own self
    • Duty is internal
    • We impose duty on ourselves
  • What is fair for one is fair for all
  • Living by rules
    • Most of us live by rules much of the time
  • Imperatives
    • Hypothetical: conditional commands that are applicable in certain conditions (if …then)
    • Categorical: unconditional commands that are binding on everyone at all times
  • Subjective rules that guide actions
    • Relevant act description
    • Sufficient generality
  • All actions have maxims
  • Examples of maxims (not necessarily good)
    • Never lie to your friends
    • Never act in a way that would make your parents ashamed of you
    • It’s ok to cheat if you need to
kant s categorical imperatives
Kant’s Categorical Imperatives
  • Universality: “Always act in such a way that themaxim of your action can be willedas a universal law of humanity.”
  • Respect: “Always treat humanity, whether in yourself or in other people, as an end in itself and never as a mere means.”
  • Are these the same? Which do you prefer?
strengths of kantianism
Strengths of Kantianism
  • Rational
  • Produces universal moral guidelines
  • Treats all people as moral equals
  • Philosophical
    • Moral minimalism: requirements are not heartfelt
    • Moral alienation: alienated from feelings
  • Practical
    • Actions may need to be characterized by multiple rules and there is no way to resolve a conflict between rules
    • Allows no exceptions
  • Social Contract Theory
  • Morality consists in the set of rules, governing how people are to treat one another, that rational people will agree to accept, for their mutual benefit, on the condition that others follow those rules as well.

James Rachel, The Elements of Moral Philosophy

rights and duties
Rights and Duties
  • Duty not to interfere with others rights
  • Negative and positive rights
    • Negative right: duty is to not interfere
    • Positive right: duty is to provide
  • Absolute and limited rights
    • Typically, negative rights are absolute and positive are limited
rawls s principles of justice
Rawls’s Principles of Justice
  • Each person may claim basic rights and liberties as long as these claims are consistent with everyone else having a claim to the same rights
  • Social and economic inequalities must
    • Be associated with positions in society to which everyone has an equal opportunity
    • Be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged


strengths of contractualism
Strengths of Contractualism
  • Framed in terms of rights
  • Explains acting out of self-interest when there is no common agreement
  • Provides framework for moral issues dealing with government (civil disobedience)
  • Doesn’t address actions that can be characterized multiple ways
  • Doesn’t address conflicting rights
comparing the two theories
Comparing the Two Theories
  • Both believe that there are universal moral rules
  • Basis of those moral rules
    • Kant: can be universalized
    • Contract: would benefit the community
moral integration
Moral Integration
  • You do the right thing because you WANT to:
    • Duty and inclination coincide
term projects
Term Projects
  • A thesis needs to be a statement that you are willing to defend
    • It should not be a black or white statement
  • Rework for Monday