II.A Philosophical Ethics

II.A Philosophical Ethics - II.PhilosophicalEthics...

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II. Philosophical Ethics A. Normative Ethical Theories   n CE  24-51
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Descriptive - Normative  distinction n Descriptive claims state facts n Normative claims are prescriptive; they  say how things should be or how one  ought to behave
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A. Applied Ethics  1. Key question: Which acts are  permissible, impermissible, and  obligatory? 2. Examples a. codes of conduct b. decisions of ethics boards in hospitals
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B. Normative Ethical Theory 1. Key questions:  a.  Why  is act x permissible (impermissible,  obligatory)? b. What establishes my obligation to do x (or to  refrain from x)?
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C. Moral Epistemology 1. Epistemology is the theory of  knowledge a. How do we know that a given statement is  true? b. What are the sources of knowledge?
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2. So  moral  epistemology has to do with  how we come to know or believe moral  statements 3. Possible sources for moral knowledge a. Feelings/Conscience b. Authority/Environment: parents c. Moral sense (intuitionism) n “We hold these truths to be self-evident , that 
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Relativism  n Cultural Relativism : ‘x is right if the  majority of persons in a given culture  approve of x’ n Unlike facts about biology or chemistry,  there is no one set of moral facts for all  people
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n Subjectivism n ‘x is right if I approve of x’ n More radical
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Moral Epistemology n What’s the moral epistemology for a  CR? n What’s the moral epistemology for a  subjectivist?
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Problems with Relativism -1: In the case of  cultural  relativism, one  cannot condemn even the worst  atrocities committed in other cultures -2: No moral progress n Analogous problems for subjectivism
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Conclusions: a. Cultural relativism and subjectivism  are fatally flawed ethic theories n We don’t use the humor theory of medicine or the phlogiston theory of combustion n They don’t fit the data n Likewise, ethicists have discarded  relativism
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b. Relativism is based on a well-known  logical fallacy: the appeal to popularity n Just because everyone believes something does not make it true n Can you think of an historical example? n Key point: What people  believe  about a  claim has no bearing on whether that claim 
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c. One can accept the facts that seem  to support relativism without  accepting relativism itself n I.e., ethical realists also know that  people have different views about ethics
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d. Tolerance: the realist can still be tolerant of  other peoples’ ethical views n I.e., even if you believe  there is  a single right  answer to an ethical question, this does not  entail that you  know  what that answer is with  certainty.
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II.A Philosophical Ethics - II.PhilosophicalEthics...

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