Ethics notes 1.docx - Why Study Ethics Each of us encounters moral questions in our daily lives and some of these are controversial while others are

Ethics notes 1.docx - Why Study Ethics Each of us...

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Why Study Ethics? Each of us encounters moral questions in our daily lives, and some of these are controversial while others are less so. Still, it is important to develop strong theoretical ground on which to reason through important issues. For example: questions arise like why is abortion wrong or why is it wrong to limit free choice , etc., and our study cultivates our critical thinking skills on moral matters so that we can more efficiently handle moral questions. While we learn our ethics from our parents, initially, sometimes our parents may be wrong or disagree about what is moral too. What is Ethics? Ethics is a branch of philosophy that “asks basic questions about the good life, about what is better and worse, about whether there is any objective right or wrong, and how we know it if there is” (p. 3). This branch can be further subdivided into two fields: 1. normative ethics; and 2. meta-ethics. Normative ethics helps us decide what is good or bad, right or wrong, and is applied ethics. Meta-ethics is more theoretical and asks questions about the nature of ethics, and this includes the meaning of ethical terms and language. Ethical and Other Types of Evaluation : This section introduces the distinction between evaluative and descriptive judgments and claims. A description merely describes something that is, so it does not offer an evaluation or imperative. For example, a description of a knife is not the same as judging whether it is a good one to prepare diner with. Evaluative judgments move beyond descriptive claims to offer a “should” or “ought” claim that informs our behaviors. Moral judgments are evaluative, but not all evaluative claims are moral claims. For example, telling someone they should wear a rain coat if they do not want to get wet in the rain is different from saying the capital punishment is permissible. How do we distinguish between these different types of evaluative claims? Our authors suggest that the moral claims are more obligatory than the other evaluative claims, so one way to tell them apart is to focus on which ones take precedence over others. This question deserves further reflection, but granting the distinction we’ll move on to the rest of the chapter. Sociobiology and the Naturalistic Fallacy : This section notes the difference between what is natural and what is good. The common fallacious assumption is that if something is natural, then it must be good, but this is not so. For example, our bodies

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