Week 04--HowEthicalTheoryCanBeUseful

Week 04--HowEthicalTheoryCanBeUseful - How Moral Theory Can...

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How Moral Theory Can Be Useful In Applied Ethics
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Four Levels of Moral Thinking 1. Particular Moral Judgments Moral judgments about particular acts. “Engineer Mike should not have specified these bolts from a firm in which he has a vested interest.”
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Particular moral judgments can classify an action as – Obligatory Permissible but not mandatory Impermissible Supererogatory – Not obligatory, but praiseworthy if done
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2. Moral Principles Statements about classes of actions. “A professional should not engage in undisclosed conflicts of interest” “Wherever possible, engineers should specify recyclable materials in their design.”
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They classify classes of actions as Permissible Impermissible Obligatory Sopererogatory
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3.Moral Rules W.D. Ross’ prima facie duties: Fidelity (includes keeping promises) Make Reparations for wrongs done Gratitude Justice Beneficence Self-improvement Non- Malfificence
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Bernard Gert’s Moral Rules Don’t Kill Don’t Cause Pain Don’t Disable Don’t Deprive of Freedom of Opportunity Don’t Deprive of Pleasure Don’t Deceive Keep Your Promises Don’t Cheat Obey the Law Do Your Duty
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4. Moral Standards “Those actions are right that maximize human well-being.” (Utilitarianism) “Those actions are right that respect the moral agency of individuals.” (RP Theory)
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Claims of Moral Theories 1 Provide criteria (standards) for explaining the moral judgments, principles, and rules of common morality (the moral beliefs that most people hold). 2 Explain the basic function of morality in society - Utilitarianism: The function of morality is to promote human well-being. - RP Morality: The function of morality is to protect people from others who might interfere with their ability as moral agents to pursue their own goals and purposes.
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Problems with the Theories Both accounts of the function of morality seem plausible Both theories have problems explaining some of the judgments of common morality
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Problems with Utilitarianism 1. Intention - In common morality, a person’s intention is crucial. Whether an action is punished as murder or manslaughter is to a great extent a matter of intention. RP theorists can explain the importance of intention by pointing out that intention brings moral agency (and hence praise and blame) into play. Utilitarians can argue that evil intent makes it more likely that actions with bad consequences will be performed. But is this factual claim true? And is the utilitarian account the most convincing account of why intention is important?
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This note was uploaded on 09/11/2010 for the course ENGR 482 taught by Professor Russell during the Fall '08 term at Texas A&M.

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Week 04--HowEthicalTheoryCanBeUseful - How Moral Theory Can...

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