Intro to Moral Theory

Intro to Moral Theory - Page 1 of 4 Ch1 An Introduction to...

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Page 1 of 5 Ch1: An Introduction to Moral Theory Moral theory attempts to provide systematic answers to very general moral questions about what to do and how to be. Ex. What makes and act right or wrong? Ex. What makes someone good or bad? Ex. How can we come to correct conclusions about morality of what we ought to do and what persons we ought to be? There are many competing moral theories. 1. A Sample of Moral Controversy: Suicide Giving reasons for some claim that one wants to establish is what philosophers call giving an argument for the claim. To understand and evaluate such arguments, three main tasks must be undertaken: o 1. The conceptual task of clarifying important concepts. Ex. What are we talking about when we make claims about human dignity? o 2. Evaluate various claims being made in the arguments. Is suicide really against God’s will? o 3. Evaluating basic moral assumptions that are often unstated in the giving of such arguments. Ex. When someone argues that suicide is wrong because it goes against God’s will, the unstated assumption is that if an action is contrary to God’s will, then it is wrong. In order to explain the project of moral theory we need to consider: o 1. The main aims of moral theory. o 2. The role of moral principles within a moral theory. o 3. The main categories of moral evaluation. o 4. The structure of such theories. o 5. Questions about the evaluation of moral theories. 2. The Aims of Moral Theory There are two fundamental aims of moral theory: Practical aim: o Has to do with the desire to have some method to follow when, for example, we reason about what is right or wrong. o We want a proper methodology—a decision procedure —that could be employed in moral thinking and debate and which would help to resolve moral conflicts. o Practical aim. The main practical aim of a moral theory is to discover a decision procedure that can be used to guide correct moral reasoning about matters of moral concern. Theoretical aim: o Has to do with coming to understand the underlying nature of right and wrong, good and bad. o We assume that if an action is right or wrong, there is something about the action that makes it right or wrong. o If we suppose that there is some fixed set of underlying features that make an action right or wrong, they will function as standards, or moral criteria, of right and wrong action. o Theoretical aim. The man theoretical aim of moral theory is to discover those underlying features of actions, person, and other items of moral evaluation that make them right or wrong, good or bad. 3. Moral Principles and Their Role in Moral Theory Moral principles are to be understood as very general moral statements that purport to set forth conditions under which an action is right or wrong or something good or bad. Ex.
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This note was uploaded on 05/03/2008 for the course PHIL 107 taught by Professor Kaplan during the Spring '07 term at Berkeley.

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Intro to Moral Theory - Page 1 of 4 Ch1 An Introduction to...

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