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Final Exam Study Guide

Final Exam Study Guide - Philosophy 1304 Final Exam Study...

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Philosophy 1304 Final Exam Study Guide What exactly is moral relativism , and how does it differ from various other claims that is often confused with? o Moral relativism is the belief that there are no objective moral standards or truths by which to universally judge people’s actions as right or wrong across different cultures or times o It is often confused with things such as moral non-relativism in which there are some truths across cultures and times, but the foundations of moral relativism state that there are absolutely no moral truths across culture and time What is a blastocyst, and what are some common arguments in favor of the claim that a blastocyst possesses moral personhood? What are some problems with those arguments? o A blastocyst is the last stage of development an embryo must reach before it implants itself into the uterine wall o Some common arguments: All human beings have a full right to life Embryos are human beings Therefore, embryos have a full right to life A blastocyst is a potential human being Human beings have a right to life If an X has a right, then a potential X likewise has that right Therefore, a blastocyst has a right to life o The central problem to these arguments is the debate over whether an embryo is actually a human being, because it is not in the same form as what we would consider as human o The fact that all persons were once blastocysts does not prove that all blastocysts are persons. This is faulty reasoning. The fact that every oak tree was once an acorn does not prove that every acorn is an oak tree—or that we should regard the loss of an acorn eaten by a squirrel as equivalent to the loss of an oak tree felled by a windstorm What does Kant mean by a ‘hypothetical imperative’ and by a ‘categorical imperative’? What does he mean by an end-in-itself? o The categorical imperative helps us to know which actions are obligatory and which are forbidden. Hypothetical imperatives are conditional: ‘If I want x then I must do y’. These imperatives are not moral. For Kant, the only moral imperatives were categorical: ‘I ought to do x”, with no reference to desires or needs. 1
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o A categorical imperative is when you act only in such a way that the maxim implicit in your actions is fit to be a universal law A maxim is fit to be a universal law only if it is universalizable without ‘self-destructing’ or becoming ineffectual for its very purpose By a maxim, Kant means a principle expressing policy implicit in your planned behavior This can serve as a test for whether a maxim is morally legitimate. If the maxim is illegitimate, then the action based upon it is morally wrong In order to be legitimate, a maxim must be capable of being universalized, or employed by everyone, without at the same time either leading to a contradiction or undermining the whole point of the action based on that maxim o A hypothetical imperative is a commandment of reason that applies
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