RL-Nanoethics-2

RL-Nanoethics-2 - Ethical Theories: Introduction Nanoethics...

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Ethical Theories: Introduction Nanoethics Lecture II Roderick T. Long Auburn Dept. of Philosophy
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What Are Ethical Theories? Explain what makes an action right or wrong Ethical theories vs. particular ethical judgments Analogy with scientific theories and observations
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Some Kinds of Ethical Theory Consequentialism Deontology Virtue Ethics Contractarianism Natural Law Relativism Divine Command Ethics
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Consequentialism The rightness/wrongness of an action is determined by its consequences
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Consequentialism Example: utilitarianism The right action is the one that promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number (maximizes social utility)
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Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) THESE GUYS AGAIN!
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Consequentialism Another example: ethical egoism The right action is the one that promotes the greatest happiness of the agent (maximizes the agent’s utility)
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Two Ethical Egoists Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
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Deontology The rightness/wrongness of an action is determined by inherent features of the action itself, or by an inherently valid rule
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Deontology If an action is of the wrong kind, it is forbidden, no matter how good its consequences are Rejects both Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism “The end doesn’t justify the means.”
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Deontology Example: Kantianism Right actions must be universalizable and must treat rational agents as ends, not mere means (trade-offs forbidden) Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804)
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Kant’s Deontology Universalizability : must be possible to will the principle of your action for everybody without inconsistency. Lying violates universalizability because lying presupposes and exploits a general practice of telling the truth
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Ends, not mere means : don’t treat rational agents (others or yourself) as mere objects to be used or exploited. Personhood is the basis of
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RL-Nanoethics-2 - Ethical Theories: Introduction Nanoethics...

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