Ethics Ethical Theory and Applied Ethics Part I
Introduction Part I Part II 1. The turn to applied ethics. 2. Morality, ethics and moral philosophy. 3. Theory and practice 4. Ethics and religion. 5. Ethics and law. 6. Ethics and policy. 7.Ethical nihilism and relativism. 8. Methods of resolving or understanding ethical questions. 9. Ethical theories 10. Utilitarianism 11. Kantian ethics 12. Communitarian ethics
1. Turn to Applied Ethics • Philosophy is the study of ultimate questions. • The central branches of philosophy are (1) Metaphysics, (2) Epistemology, (3) Logic and (4) Ethics. • Applied ethics (a “turn to applied ethics”) • Individualistic vs. Community approach.
Evaluating Ethical Arguments • Facts • Concepts • Values
2. Morality, ethics and moral philosophy • Ethics refers to a set of rules or principles that guide the behavior of a group of people. • Prescriptive vs. descriptive claims • Ethical claims are prescriptive claims. • Prescriptive claims are referred to as “normative claims”.
Why Study Ethics? • Human beings are moral beings/agents. • This means that they have a certain level of understanding and can comprehend the consequences of their actions and how it affects oneself and others, in the short run and long run.
Three parts to Ethics 1) Meta-Ethics 2) Normative Ethics 3) Applied Ethics Individualistic Perspective Community Perspective
Meta-ethics • Meta-Ethics is concerned with whether there is a right or wrong i.e., with the conception of morality as such). • Relativism, skepticism, pluralism and realism are meta-ethical views. • Concerned with the meaning of the concepts right and wrong, and good and bad.
Normative Ethics • Determining what is right and wrong and why it is right or wrong. • Theoretical Ethics: the construction of ethical theories that help determine what is right and wrong (e.g., utilitarianism, naturalism, Kant’s deontology, Communitarian Ethics, etc.)
Applied Ethics • Applied Ethics is the application of ethical theories to concrete issues, such as euthanasia, abortion, etc. • Individualistic Perspective: What is right or wrong for an individual to do? • Communitarian Perspective: what policies are right and wrong for a given community.
3. Theory and Practice • Ethical theory treats ethical questions in an abstract context and sometimes isolates issues from interacting with other issues. • Practical ethics deals with concrete, real-life cases that involve complicated contexts. Complicated contexts include background information, unique facts involved in a case, and a multi-relational (possibly conflicting) values and ethical principles.
4. Ethics and religion • Religion: Divine Command Bible/ Koran/ etc. • Religion also prescribes action (i.e., tells us how one ought to behave), but the support for these claims is divine revelation, faith or some other form of authority. • Ethics is based solely on experience, data determined through scientific investigations, and reason.
5. Ethics and Law • There are many actions that we would consider unethical and not illegal, such as lying to your friend or cheating on your partner. • There are also many actions we would consider ethically permissible (intrinsically) but not legal, such as driving on the left side of the road. • However, there are also actions that are both morally wrong and illegal such as murder.
Ethics and the law • What the previous analysis shows is that, while there is no essential connection between the law and ethics they are related and have some important connections. • It seems to me that ethics is more fundamental and shape the law more so than the law ethics. • Discuss and examples.
6. Ethics and Policy • A similar analysis as the one between law and ethics can be justified between policy and ethics. • We do (and can and should) critique existing or proposed policy based on ethical/ moral considerations.
Ethics and Other Evaluations Prescriptive Descriptive • Legal • Aesthetics • Religion • Law • Custom • Ethics • History • Anthropology • Sociology • Psychology
Ethical Terms and concepts • Ethically Right Acts/Policies • Ethically Wrong Acts/Policies • Ethically permissible Acts/Policies • Morally good person (intentions) • Morally bad person (intentions) • Ought/Duty (Prescriptive/normative) • Rights (positive and negative rights) • Just/unjust/fairness (impartiality, equality)