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TaK - Ethics Do we all have an intuitive feel for ‘fairness’? A sense of what is right and what is wrong? “Leave him alone - he isn’t hurting anyone!” “There is a queue here – you can’t just push in!” “But you said you would help me!”
TaK - Ethics Which is worse – to lie to a friend, or to a teacher? Which is worse – to take a bar of chocolate from someone's desk, or some money? Consider this story…..
The characters …. Jessamyn – a young woman Mandango – her lover Sinbad – the ferryman Arunta – Jessamyn’s childhood friend Rank the characters - from the most at fault to the least at fault, according to moral values, giving reasons for each choice.
Jessamyn and Mandango were lovers. They were perfectly matched and conscious of the fine pair they made. They planned to marry soon. Jessamyn was in fact rushing down to the river to cross the bridge to meet Mandango. He would become impatient and jealous if she was late. Jessamyn took this as a sign of his great passion for her. But it had been raining for two days and she found the bridge washed out when she got to the river. Desperately she ran along the swollen river looking for a place where it might be possible to cross. At a great burst of lightning she ran into Ferryman Sinbad’s hut. Sinbad lived there alone since his wife died two years before. He welcomed her in and she warmed herself at his fire and begged his help. Sinbad shook his head and told her it was death to try to cross the river in flood. But as he took in her young body under her wet clothes an offer appeared in his eyes. Jessamyn was horrified. But her anxiety over Mandango’s displeasure began to arise again. He was really a good catch for her – the richest man in the valley. Sinbad was lower class of course, but his strong body was attractive – the thunder clapped – and the lightning snaked across the sky – and the rain poured down torrentially … and she had always been highly sexed … and it was, after all, for Mandango. An hour later she was running into Mandango’s arms glowing with the fulfillment of having reached him against all odds. When he finally got her to tell him how she had succeeded, he thrust her away with revulsion. “You slut,” he shouted. “You slept with the boatman? I never want to see you again! I cannot imagine marrying you or that you would be the mother of my children.” Although she wept bitterly and pleaded, he left her. Poor Jessamyn, her sacrifice for love rejected, lay there till Arunta, her childhood friend, came and lifted her gently. Jessamyn told him of the price she had paid for love. Arunta, who had loved and lost Jessamyn to Mandango, was outraged. He ran down to Mandango’s house and dragged him out and broke his jaw. He ran back to comfort Jessamyn and soon persuaded her to take shelter in his house … out of the rain and cold.
The Study of Human Action • Ethics studies not how human beings do act (human sciences) ... • nor how they have acted in the past (history) ... • but how they should act • ________ • Seeks to give general perspectives that • can apply to particular cases • All public and private actions (whether of thought, speech or deed) have a moral and ethical dimension …. TaK - Ethics
“What should I do?” “How do I know what is the right thing to do?” “How should human beings treat each other?” TaK - Ethics
Definitions: • Morality is our sense of right and wrong • Ethics is the area of knowledge that examines that sense of morality and • the moral codes we develop from it • _________ • Both words, ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morality’ have their roots in words that mean ‘Custom’ TaK - Ethics
TaK - Ethics Sources of Morality • 1. The source of morality is human nature: • Human beings are naturally good and tend toward cooperation with others or… • Human beings are naturally selfish and find that cooperation with others maximizes their own benefit
TaK - Ethics Sources of Morality • 2. The source of morality is religion: • Both theist and non-theist religions teach codes of morality • ___________ • Can be arbitrary depending on interpretation • What if there are multiple divine authorities? • What if there are conflicting religiously sanctioned moral values
TaK - Ethics Sources of Morality • 3. The source of morality is reasoning and observation: • Some have used reasoning as a way to recognize moral obligations and • Others have used observation and prediction as a way of anticipating the effects of our actions on others • Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative • John Stuart Mill’s principle of utility • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism
TaK - Ethics Sources of Morality • 4. The source of morality is emotional empathy: • Seeking moral guidance not in the reasoning that leads to concepts of justice but in the emotional concern and development of relationships that leads to nurturing and care for others
TaK - Ethics Sources of Morality • 5. The source of morality is social and political: • The traditions and laws of a society (anthropology and history give us perspectives on cultural traditions and change) • International Human Rights law • National justice systems • The unwritten codes which guide social action
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Self-interest theory • 1. Definitional argument • You are being selfish when you do what you want to do, and you always end up doing what you want to do! • __________ • Does this suggest that Altruism is impossible? • Necessary to distinguish between self-regarding desires, and other-regarding desires
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Self-interest theory • 2. Evolutionary argument • Human beings are naturally selfish and are programmed to pursue their own interests • ____________ • But there is evidence that empathy and altruism are part of our biological inheritance. For example?
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Self-interest theory • 3. Hidden benefits argument • Being kind to other people brings us gratitude, praise, enhanced reputation and a positive image of ourselves • ___________ • There are many examples of apparent selfless, altruistic behaviours. For example?
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Self-interest theory • 4. Fear of punishment argument • “What if I get caught?” • ________ • Is all behavior is motivated by fear?
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Duty ethics • Some acts are just inherently right or wrong • We therefore have a duty to do (or refrain from doing) certain things • ____________ • What are the correct rules which regulate our moral duties? • Religious commandments? • Doctor’s duty to cure; teacher’s to teach
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Virtue ethics • We should strive to become better people by cultivating virtues such as courage, kindness etc. Develop good character traits • Focus is not on how we act but on the kinds of people we should be • ______________ • What sort of person do I want to be? • What virtues are characteristic of the person I want to be? • Do you think it makes more sense to say that people are basically good and are corrupted by society, or that people are basically bad and must be kept in line by society?
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Virtue ethics • The importance of motives/intention: • The moral value of an action is determined by the motive for which it is done rather than the consequences that follow from it • ___________ • If you are trying to be helpful but things turn out badly, we usually don’t blame you.
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Consequentialist ethics • When choosing whether to do something we should consider not the nature of the act itself but whether it will produce desirable consequences • ___________ • If actions have the correct consequences, one has acted morally • But we cannot know the full consequences of our actions
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories: • Utilitarianism: • One supreme moral principle – • We should seek the greatest happiness • of the greatest number • John Stuart Mill • ___________ • But how do we measure happiness? • Does constant pleasure make for a happy life? • How can we predict the consequences of our actions?
TaK - Ethics • Moral Relativism • Arguments for: • Diversity • The sheer variety of moral practices around the world suggests that there are no objective moral values • Lack of foundations • There does not seem to be an independent ‘moral reality’ against which we can test our values to see if they are true or false • Encourages tolerance
TaK - Ethics • Moral Relativism • Arguments against Moral Relativism: • Core values accepted by all cultures • Can we find a culture where people • are proud of cheating on their friends • or where it is considered good to • steal from the poor? • ___________ • Does not provide guidance on how to decide what to do!
TaK - Ethics Environmental Ethics (for ToK Boats)
TaK - Ethics • Environmental Ethics: • Our ethical rights and responsibilities • towards the environment • How do you think of yourself in relation to “all that stuff beyond your skin?” • __________ • Value-based approaches • Psychologically-based approaches
TaK - Ethics • Environmental Ethics: • Value-based approach • Instrumental Value • Useful to human ends • Short-term gain through changing and using nature • Unrestrained resource use leads to depletion
TaK - Ethics • Environmental Ethics: • Value-based approach • Intrinsic Value • Having value in and of itself – regardless of whether of use to humans • Organisms which have moral standing have rights and are owed certain duties • Awareness-based ethics: (“Can it suffer?”) • Life-based ethics: All living things – the entire biosphere is seen as an interconnected system with moral standing • Cosmic purpose ethics: include evolutionary and theological arguments about the ultimate ends of evolution, or the nature of God’s purposes.
TaK - Ethics • Environmental Ethics: • Psychologically-based approach • Sense of identification • Deep ecology • The central problem in human ecology is the relationship of mind to nature. • Concerned with the process of understanding • Concerned with the relationship between thought and action, where actions are informed not so much from a sense of moral duty, as from an inclination arising from an expansive conception of self
TaK - Ethics Reason How important is consistency in moral reasoning? Emotion Is ethics a matter of the head, or of the heart? Perception Is perception colored by values? Religion How have religions shaped people’s moral beliefs? Natural Sciences Are scientists morally responsible for how their discoveries are used? Ethics Arts Do the arts have a moral function? Human Sciences How do ethical factors affect experiments? History Does History show that we have made moral progress?
TaK - Ethics Ethical theories • Consequentialist ethics • Types: • Ethical Egoism • Consequences of the action to the moral agent performing the action. • Ethical Altruism • Consequences of the action to everyone except the moral agent. • Ethical Utilitarianism • Consequences of the action to everyone. • Choose the action that brings the greatest ‘utility’ or happiness to the greatest number of people