Ch. 3 - Ch. 3 Notes One of the merits of utilitarianism and...

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Ch. 3 Notes One of the merits of utilitarianism and rights theory is that they offer us a decision-procedure , that is, a kind of rule or principle that can be applied in a wide variety of contexts and circumstances to guide action. o These principles function very similarly to the Golden Rulle—they provide a kind of general standard to consult when you’re in an ethical conundrum and aren’t sure how to proceed Virtue ethicists thinks that those rules are fine in some cases, but they are not what is really at issue in doing, thinking about and developing ethical practices o The aim of virtue ethics is to discover and justify those character traits (virtues) that lead to and constitutes worthwhile, excellent human life Core Idea What constitutes a “worthwhile” or “excellent” life? That’s a tough question o Most virtue ethicists don’t worry too much about it, because they think it’s pretty clear to any reasonable person that some ways of living are better than others o Again, they are relying on “widespread agreement” among people, and they downplay radical relativism and skepticism about what constitutes an excellent life o Honesty, compassion, loyalty, courage, integrity, responsibility, etc.— these are the kinds of virtues that are widely agreed upon as being central to human excellence o Once these basic virtues are identified, we structure our societies to encourage and teach people to make these virtues almost automatic, habitual From the perspective of many business ethicists, it is precisely such virtues that are missing when we examine many corporate scandals (ex. Enron) o There is a culture that surrounds corporate life that makes excellence synonymous with profit o Virtue ethicists think this is a narrow and irrational view of human excellence and doesn’t mesh with our most carefully considered ideas about what makes us good human beings But what to do when responsibilities conflict, what to do when the virtuous thing in certain situations is unclear? Can virtue ethics handle these kinds of situations o Virtue ethicists don’t worry too much about this either—they believe a sufficiently virtuous person can be trusted to use his or her judgment o By contrast, utilitarians and right theorists argue that there are too many influences that can get in the way of virtuous judgments (among the most powerful of which is egoism ) o So, they argue that we need an explicit decision-procedure in order to avoid fudging things in our favor and in order to be consistent
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This note was uploaded on 05/03/2008 for the course PHIL 320 taught by Professor Calarco during the Spring '08 term at CSU Fullerton.

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Ch. 3 - Ch. 3 Notes One of the merits of utilitarianism and...

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