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  • THIS CD HAS BEEN PRODUCED FOR TEACHERS TO USE IN THE CLASSROOM. IT IS A CONDITION OF THE USE OF THIS CD THAT IT BE USED ONLY BY THE PEOPLE FROM SCHOOLS THAT HAVE PURCHASED THE CDROM FROM DIALOGUE EDUCATION. (THIS DOES NOT PROHIBIT ITS USE ON A SCHOOL’S INTRANET).

Page 3 – Fling the Teacher -Ethical Theory

  • Page 3 – Fling the Teacher -Ethical Theory
  • Page 4 - Video Presentation An Introduction to Ethics
  • Page 5 - Normative Ethics
  • Pages 6 to 10 - Introductory information about Theoretical Ethics
  • Pages 11 to 16 - Consequentialist Approaches
  • Pages 17 to 24 - Deontological Approaches
  • Page 25 - Internalism vs externalism
  • Pages 26 to 28 - Moral Relativism
  • Page 29 - Moral Nihilism
  • Page 30 - Enough Rope Interview with Australian Philosopher Julian Savulescu
  • Page 32 – Grade or No Grade Game –Utilitarianism (See online resources for more Games)
  • Page 33 - Bibiography

Click on the image above for a game of “Fling the Teacher”. Try playing the game with your students at the start and the end of the unit. Make sure you have started the slide show and are connected to the internet.

  • Click on the image above for a game of “Fling the Teacher”. Try playing the game with your students at the start and the end of the unit. Make sure you have started the slide show and are connected to the internet.

Click on the image to the left. You will need to be connected to the internet to view this presentation.

  • Click on the image to the left. You will need to be connected to the internet to view this presentation.
  • Enlarge to full screen
  • Normative ethics is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when we think about the question “how ought one act morally speaking?” Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts. Normative ethics is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned to determine what proportion of people believe that killing is always wrong, while normative ethics is concerned to determine whether it is correct to hold such a belief. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes said to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive.

Broadly speaking, normative ethics can be divided into the sub-disciplines of moral theory and applied ethics. In recent years the boundaries between these sub-disciplines have increasingly been dissolving as moral theorists become more interested in applied problems and applied ethics is becoming more profoundly philosophically informed.

  • Broadly speaking, normative ethics can be divided into the sub-disciplines of moral theory and applied ethics. In recent years the boundaries between these sub-disciplines have increasingly been dissolving as moral theorists become more interested in applied problems and applied ethics is becoming more profoundly philosophically informed.

Traditional moral theories were concerned with finding moral principles which allow one to determine whether an action is right or wrong.

  • Traditional moral theories were concerned with finding moral principles which allow one to determine whether an action is right or wrong.
  • Classical theories in this vein include utilitarianism, Kantianism, and some forms of contractarianism. These theories offered an overarching moral principle to which one could appeal in resolving difficult moral decisions.

In the 20th century, moral theories have become more complex and are no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but are interested in many different kinds of moral status. This trend may have begun in 1930 with D. W. Ross in his book, The Right and the Good. Here Ross argues that moral theories cannot say in general whether an action is right or wrong but only whether it tends to be right or wrong according to a certain kind of moral duty such as beneficence, fidelity, or justice (he called this concept of partial rightness prima facie duty). Subsequently, philosophers have been questioned whether even prima facie duties can be articulated at a theoretical level, and some philosophers have urged a turn away from general theorizing altogether, while others have defended theory on the grounds that it need not be perfect in order to capture important moral insight.

  • In the 20th century, moral theories have become more complex and are no longer concerned solely with rightness and wrongness, but are interested in many different kinds of moral status. This trend may have begun in 1930 with D. W. Ross in his book, The Right and the Good. Here Ross argues that moral theories cannot say in general whether an action is right or wrong but only whether it tends to be right or wrong according to a certain kind of moral duty such as beneficence, fidelity, or justice (he called this concept of partial rightness prima facie duty). Subsequently, philosophers have been questioned whether even prima facie duties can be articulated at a theoretical level, and some philosophers have urged a turn away from general theorizing altogether, while others have defended theory on the grounds that it need not be perfect in order to capture important moral insight.

In the middle of the 20th century there was a long hiatus in the development of normative ethics during which philosophers largely turned away from normative questions towards meta-ethics. Even those philosophers during this period who maintained an interest in prescriptive morality, such as R. M. Hare, attempted to arrive at normative conclusions via

  • In the middle of the 20th century there was a long hiatus in the development of normative ethics during which philosophers largely turned away from normative questions towards meta-ethics. Even those philosophers during this period who maintained an interest in prescriptive morality, such as R. M. Hare, attempted to arrive at normative conclusions via
  • meta-ethical reflection. This
  • focus on meta-ethics was in
  • part caused by the intense
  • linguistic turn in analytic
  • philosophy and in part by the
  • pervasiveness of logical
  • positivism.

In 1971, John Rawls bucked the trend against normative theory in publishing A Theory of Justice. This work was revolutionary, in part because it paid almost no attention to meta-ethics and instead pursued moral arguments directly. In the wake of A Theory of Justice and other major works of normative theory published in the 1970s,

  • In 1971, John Rawls bucked the trend against normative theory in publishing A Theory of Justice. This work was revolutionary, in part because it paid almost no attention to meta-ethics and instead pursued moral arguments directly. In the wake of A Theory of Justice and other major works of normative theory published in the 1970s,
  • the field has witnessed an
  • extraordinary Renaissance that
  • continues to the present day.

There are two main divisions in ethical theory. They are Consequentialism and Deontological approaches to ethics.

  • There are two main divisions in ethical theory. They are Consequentialism and Deontological approaches to ethics.
  • JOHN STUART MILL

Consequentialism (Teleology) argues that the morality of an action is contingent on the action's outcome or result.

  • Consequentialism (Teleology) argues that the morality of an action is contingent on the action's outcome or result.
  • Some consequentialist theories include:

Utilitarianism, which holds that an action is right if it leads to the most value for the greatest number of people (Maximizes value for all people). :

  • Utilitarianism, which holds that an action is right if it leads to the most value for the greatest number of people (Maximizes value for all people). :

Egoism, the belief that the moral person is the self-interested person, holds that an action is right if it maximizes good for the self.

  • Egoism, the belief that the moral person is the self-interested person, holds that an action is right if it maximizes good for the self.

Situation Ethics, which holds that the correct action to take is the one which creates the most loving result, and that love should always be our goal.

  • Situation Ethics, which holds that the correct action to take is the one which creates the most loving result, and that love should always be our goal.
  • IMMANUEL KANT

Deontology argues that decisions should be made considering the factors of one's duties and other's rights.

  • Deontology argues that decisions should be made considering the factors of one's duties and other's rights.
  • Some deontological theories include:

Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, which roots morality in humanity's rational capacity and asserts certain inviolable moral laws.

  • Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, which roots morality in humanity's rational capacity and asserts certain inviolable moral laws.

The Contractarianism of John Rawls or Thomas Hobbes, which holds that the moral acts are those that we would all agree to if we were unbiased.

  • The Contractarianism of John Rawls or Thomas Hobbes, which holds that the moral acts are those that we would all agree to if we were unbiased.

Natural rights (law) theories, such that of Thomas Aquinas or John Locke, which hold that human beings have absolute, natural rights.

  • Natural rights (law) theories, such that of Thomas Aquinas or John Locke, which hold that human beings have absolute, natural rights.

Virtue ethics, which was advocated by Aristotle, focuses on the inherent character of a person rather than on the specific actions he or she performs. There has been a significant revival of virtue ethics in the past half-century, through the work of such philosophers as G. E. M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Rosalind Hursthouse.

  • Virtue ethics, which was advocated by Aristotle, focuses on the inherent character of a person rather than on the specific actions he or she performs. There has been a significant revival of virtue ethics in the past half-century, through the work of such philosophers as G. E. M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Rosalind Hursthouse.

Divine Command Theory

  • Divine Command Theory
  • Ethical issues can by decided by reference to a sacred book, person or teaching.
  • Divine Command theory-
  • Things are good or bad by virtue of a command from a God- Divine fiat. e.g. There are 630 Commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures
  • Alms giving, homosexuality and the equality of woman are issues determined by divine command in the scriptures.

Problems

  • Problems
  • Are the moral facts fixed for all times e.g. polygamy was moral in the 5th Century BC but not in the first century AD. Does God change his mind?
  • Does God lay down the moral laws independently of himself or is God constrained by the moral laws? If the later this is a problem for those who believe God is all powerful. If the former could not God have chosen different moral laws. Are the divine commands arbitrary?

Internalism vs externalism

  • Internalism vs externalism
  • Internalism
  • An internal reason is, roughly, something that one has in light of one's own "subjective motivational set"---one's own commitments, desires (or wants), goals, etc. Internally reasoned responses to moral issues determine decisions.
  • e.g. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative –
  • Moral decisions are characterised by the maxim that moral decisions should be determined by whether a moral decision can be applied universally.
  • Externalism
  • On the other hand, an external reason is something that one has independent of one's subjective motivational set. For example, suppose that Sally is going to drink a glass of poison, because she wants to commit suicide and believes that she can do so by drinking the poison. Sally has an internal reason to drink the poison, because she wants to commit suicide. However, one might say that she has an external reason not to drink the poison because, even though she wants to die, one ought not kill oneself no matter what—regardless of whether one wants to die.

Moral relativism (c.f. cultural relativism) holds that for a thing to be morally right is for it to be approved of by society; this leads to the conclusion that different things are right for people in different societies and different periods in history.

  • Moral relativism (c.f. cultural relativism) holds that for a thing to be morally right is for it to be approved of by society; this leads to the conclusion that different things are right for people in different societies and different periods in history.

What about the moral issue of whether woman should or should not be allowed to wear the veil or burka?

  • What about the moral issue of whether woman should or should not be allowed to wear the veil or burka?
  • e.g In French secondary schools
  • A moral relativist would say that
  • a moral decision is relative
  • to the culture.

Relativism explains the value of tolerance in our society.

  • Relativism explains the value of tolerance in our society.
  • Logical problems
  • How do you carve up cultures? There are lots of cultural identities within a culture. Pluralistic societies contain many cultures.
  • How do you make sense of moral progress? e.g. abolition of slavery, womens’ rights.
  • Is relativism an absolute?

Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the ethical theory that nothing is morally preferable to anything else. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither morally right nor morally wrong. Moral nihilism must be distinguished from moral relativism which does allow for moral statements to be true or false in a non-objective sense, but does not assign any static truth-values to moral statements. Insofar as only true statements can be known, moral nihilists are moral skeptics.

  • Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the ethical theory that nothing is morally preferable to anything else. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither morally right nor morally wrong. Moral nihilism must be distinguished from moral relativism which does allow for moral statements to be true or false in a non-objective sense, but does not assign any static truth-values to moral statements. Insofar as only true statements can be known, moral nihilists are moral skeptics.

Australian Professor Julian Savulescu who is the Chair of Practical Ethics at the Faculty of Philosophy in Oxford

  • Australian Professor Julian Savulescu who is the Chair of Practical Ethics at the Faculty of Philosophy in Oxford
  • He favours the use of legalizing drug use in sport, thinks cloning is cool and says that if the technology were available then yes we should genetically modify our children.
  • Click here for an interview with him

Cline, Austin "Analytic Ethics (Metaethics)," URL = http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/phil/blfaq_phileth_anal.htm."

  • Cline, Austin "Analytic Ethics (Metaethics)," URL = http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/phil/blfaq_phileth_anal.htm."
  • Garner, Richard T.; Bernard Rosen (1967). Moral Philosophy: A Systematic Introduction to Normative Ethics and Meta-ethics. New York: Macmillan. pp. 215. LOC card number 67-18887. 
  • Jackson, Frank "Critical Notice" Australasian Journal of Philosophy Vol. 70, No. 4; December 1992 (pp. 475-488).
  • Hurley, S.L. (1989). Natural Reasons: Personality and Polity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hurley, S.L. (1985). "Objectivity and Disagreement." in Morality and Objectivity, Ted Honderich (ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 54-97.
  • ^ Couture, Jocelyne and Kai Nielsen (1995). "Introduction: The Ages of Metaethics," in On the Relevance of Metaethics: New Essays in Metaethics, Jocelyne Couture and Kai Nielsen (eds.). Calgary: University of Calgary Press, pp. 1-30.
  • ^ Gibbard, Allan (1993). "Reply to Railton," in Naturalism and Normativity, Enrique Villanueva (ed.). Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview, pp. 52-59.
  • Wikipedia-Normative Ethics- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_ethics


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