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RL-Nanoethics-3

RL-Nanoethics-3 - Ethical Theories Conclusion Nanoethics...

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Ethical Theories: Conclusion Nanoethics Lecture III Roderick T. Long Auburn Dept. of Philosophy
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Utilitarianism A consequentialist theory: standard for the rightness of actions is beneficial consequences Differs from ethical egoism (another consequentialist theory) in appealing to beneficial consequences for everybody , not just oneself Claims the virtue of simplicity
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Utilitarian Simplicity We ordinarily think beneficial results are one ethical consideration among others. Utilitarianism offers to explain the same range of ethical phenomena equally well by appealing solely to such results. This would make it a superior theory – IF in fact it explains them EQUALLY WELL . Does it?
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Remember Our Problem Case for Utilitarianism Five patients need five different organ transplants Should we kill healthy patient and redistribute organs? Clash between ethical theory (might seem to say yes) and particular judgment (no)
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Three Approaches to Solving Conflicts 1. Top-down: stick with the theory no matter what particular judgments it yields
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Three Approaches to Solving Conflicts 2. Bottom-up: stick with particular judgments no matter what ethical theory they imply
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Three Approaches to Solving Conflicts 3. Reflective equilibration: mutual adjustment Whatever they may say, in practice philosophers choose RE
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Analogy With Science Top-down science (sticking with theory no matter what observations say) is bad science But bottom-up science is bad too: freshman chemist gets boiling water at 90º Mutual adjustment in science too Difference: philosophy conceptual, not empirical
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Problem Case for Utilitarianism Three possible moves for utilitarian: 1. Reject utilitarianism (in favor of, say, Kantianism – respecting persons as ends) 2. Bite the bullet (accept killing the patient) 3. Reformulate utilitarianism so as to avoid the undesirable implication
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Option 3 Distinguish act- utilitarianism from
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