275 F2019 Week 7 Class 1.pdf - PHL 275 F2019 WEEK SEVEN CLASS ONE – essays due Friday submit to tutorial group on Quercus instructions on Quercus talk

275 F2019 Week 7 Class 1.pdf - PHL 275 F2019 WEEK SEVEN...

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PHL 275 F2019 WEEK SEVEN CLASS ONE – essays due Friday, submit to tutorial group on Quercus; instructions on Quercus, talk a little about topics, e.g. some easier some harder (Moore, Hume harder; maybe argument from relativity less hard, also maybe ones about Foot, which I hope to talk about today) – discussing utilitarianism as first moral theory, where a moral theory contains general principles that tell you which acts are right and explains why they’re right; utilitarianism has one principle: the right act is always the one that will result, in whatever way, in the greatest total happiness, or greatest surplus of happiness over unhappiness, possible for all beings affected – has three main elements (Hare): consequentialism, welfarism (happiness/pleasure), impartiality/aggregation – relation to non-naturalism/objectivism vs. expressivism/error theory/subjectivism: completely independent, can be combined with either; non-naturalist utilitarians, as in Sidgwick and Moore (though minus the welfarism in his case); expressivist utilitarians: Hume (everyone has a sentiment favouring what will result in the most happiness) and Hare; metaethics and normative ethics independent – common objection to utilitarianism is that it’s impractical – how can you know which act will produce the most happiness? utterly useless as moral guide; started last time to argue that this isn’t a decisive objection; brief summaries of last class’s initial points (a) we often don ’t know what’s right, and utilitarianism explains why: what’s right depends on consequences, and we often don’t know what those will be (b) the objection doesn’t apply just to utilitarianism: surely any moral theory thinks one moral demand is to bring about good consequences, e.g. happiness for other people; so any moral theory faces the same difficulty at least some of the time (c) sometimes we do enough about the consequences of acts to know what is right and what is wrong, e.g. dropping a nuclear bomb on Toronto to see a mushroom cloud, or imprisoning people for ten years for smoking (d) also, when we’re not certain of the outcome of an act, we can assign rough probabilities and make judgements using them; gambling/playing sports; apply to e.g. climate change, e.g. we’re not certain what the outcome of no response would be, but knowing that there’s a substantial probability of bad consequences can be enough (e) finally, we can deal with uncertainty by adopting what Hare calls “2-level” utilitarianism (essay topic) ; utilitarianism applies to everything, including the policy of making every decision about how to act by utilitarian calculation; would the choice of that policy be right by utilitarian standards? no, because of the time that would be wasted, plus danger of bias/special
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pleading, plus unpredictability; so the result of trying consciously to do what produces the most
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  • Fall '11
  • LaurenB.

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