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Unformatted text preview: ETHICAL PRINCIPLES ETHICAL PRINCIPLES AND MORAL THEORIES DESCRIPTIVE ETHICS Describing how people act in moral situations and giving an objective analysis of the case is known as descriptive ethics. This approach ignores the issue whether the subjects of the study acted unethically or whether selfishness is unethical. It does not prescribe or attempt to assess the moral soundness of any ethical systems; rather, it objectively describes what kind of values people have. Psychological Egoism Theory Everybody always does what pleases him and the only thing people ever want is their satisfaction. This is not an ethical doctrine but a theory concerning human motivation. It says nothing about what is good or bad, right or wrong. Cultural Relativism Theory Cultural Relativism Theory What is good or bad, moral or immoral is relative to the people’s own culture or sets of cultural beliefs and practices. The theory does not prescribe how people should act, rather, it describes how people, when grouped and observed in their own cultural realities. It proves that there are no objective or discoverable moral imperatives but only sets of arbitrarily determined moral rules, which differ from one culture to another. PRESCRIPTIVE ETHICS PRESCRIPTIVE ETHICS Prescriptive ethics or normative morality prescribes how people should act. It seeks to discover norms or principles that ought to guide man’s actions. It tries to prescribe practical knowledge about how one should conduct his/her life by understanding better his/her moral assumptions. CONSEQUENTIALIST or CONSEQUENTIALIST or Teleotological Ethics This is a body of normative ethical theories that tries to measure the morality of the action based solely on its consequences. If the consequence is good, regardless whether or not the motive is good, the act is always morally good. Hedonism­ views that only pleasure (mental, physical [sensual]) is the only good as an end. Utilitarianism­ claims that the greatest happiness or good of the greatest number of persons is the test of right or wrong. Perfectionism or self­realizationism­ an action is moral if it leads toward the full development or perfection of the self. Ethical Egoism­an action is good only if it promotes the good or the best interests of the one performing the act. NON­CONSEQUENTIALIST or NON­CONSEQUENTIALIST or Deontological Ethics This is a body of ethical theories that tries to measure the morality of an action based on the nature of its motives and not on its consequences. If the motive or the intention of the act is good, and as long as the means employed are good, regardless of whether or not the consequence results in good, then the act is always good. Kantian Ethics or Kantianism Kantian Ethics or Kantianism An action is morally right subject to the following conditions: The act must be willed to be done by everyone under the same conditions. (An act is good if I everybody is doing it.) It respects the dignity of the person. (An act is good if it did not use a person as a means to achieve selfish ends.) Theological Ethics Theological Ethics The will of God determines the rightness and wrongness of an act. What determines the moral worth of an act is based solely on whether it is performed in accordance with the will of God or not. MORAL ANALYSIS MORAL ANALYSIS A conceptual tool used in moral philosophy to solve moral dilemmas. Like other formsof analyses, moral analysis breaks problems down into its components. However, it is limited to only one special problem, the morality of human acts . This problem has four components: motive, end, means and consequence. Moral dilemma­ a difficult moral case which calls for choosing between two or more unfavorable options. It is not simply about conflict of possible choices, like simply choosing between lying and telling the truth, rather, it is essentially about conflicts of obligation. Moral Theory­ An organized system of moral principles that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain the morality of human actions. It provides criteria for distinguishing good from evil or right from wrong. Moral Principle­ is a generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as basis for reasoning or conduct. For instance, the principle, “When forced to choose between two evils, always choose the lesser evil.” Moral Judgment­ refers to the conclusion or decision one derives from performing a moral analysis. Example: The moral judgment that I ought to help a stranger or that I should not steal or that killing is wrong, etc. KANTIAN ETHICS KANTIAN ETHICS Morality is a system of: Absolute commands to act in certain ways. Categorical imperatives or unyielding rules of human conduct If performing an act is a matter of duty then we should do it regardless of the consequences. If we are prohibited by duty to perform a certain act, then we should never do it, regardless of the consequences. KANTIAN ETHICS KANTIAN ETHICS Morality is a system of: Absolute commands to act in certain ways. Categorical imperatives or unyielding rules of human conduct If performing an act is a matter of duty then we should do it regardless of the consequences. If we are prohibited by duty to perform a certain act, then we should never do it, regardless of the consequences. THE KANTIAN CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES THE KANTIAN CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES As rational human beings, man has categorical duties, which are absolute and unconditional . They apply whatever consequences might follow from obeying them. If stealing, for instance, is wrong, then one should never steal regardless of the gravity of the need that pushes one to steal. The Principle of Universalizability The Principle of Universalizability Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (applicable to all). We have a duty to do only those actions whose maxims (underlying reasons) we are willing to let other people use to justify the same proposed actions in similar circumstances. CONCEPTION TEST CONCEPTION TEST This test requires a maxim of a proposed action, which should not contradict itself. STEPS: 1.Determine the maxim of your proposed course of action. (Always do action A when You are in circumstance Y.) 2. Imagine a hypothetical world where all people perform the maxim all at the same time. 3. Decide if the result is desirable. In other words, if you would like the imagined state of affairs actually happening in the real world. 4. If your answer in step three were yes, then it would be fine to do your proposed action. If the answer is no, then it is your categorical duty never to perform it regardless of the consequences. A POOR FATHER’S PLAN A POOR FATHER’S PLAN Mang Jose is a very loving father. A widower, his world revolves around his only child, little angel Lita. Too poor to be educated, Mang Jose supported himself and his daughter by working as a small sidewalk vendor. One night he found little Lita terribly sick. He knew that his meager savings couldn’t allow him to buy even the cheapest medicine, much more, to bring his daughter to the nearest hospital. But Mang Jose is aware that his daughter will die, just like what happened to his wife, if he does not do anything.” I lost my wife because I didn’t have the money”, Mang Jose thought,” now I will not allow to lose my daughter for the same reason.” A POOR FATHER’S PLAN A POOR FATHER’S PLAN Mang Jose went to the kitchen and got the rusty bread knife, which for ages has waited for a bread to cut. He kissed little Lita goodbye and he braved the darkness of the night. Soon Mang Jose quietly stands hidden in a dark corner, blankly looking at the dim­lighted pharmacy. Because he is not a born criminal, Mang Jose is still in his senses asking himself if stealing is the right thing to do. It is not his plan to steal money – he just want to have enough amounts of those precious medicines to save her ailing daughter. If you are Mang Jose, will you steal? ANALYSIS ANALYSIS Step 1. Determine the maxim of your proposed of action. Maxim: To always steal when you are too poor to buy what you want. Step 2. Imagine a hypothetical world where all people perform the maxim all at the same time. (Everybody is looting each other’s property all at the same time). The resulting state of affair would be chaotic­nobody including Mang Jose could guarantee that his act will do him well. Step 3. Decide if the state in the imaginary world is desirable. The chaotic state of affair, which is brought by universalizing the maxim (everyone can do it) of stealing is undesirable. Step 4. If the answer in 3 is undesirable, Mang Jose is duty bound not to steal regardless of the consequence. The Reversalizability Test The Reversalizability Test This test basically asks one simple question: “Will I want other people do my proposed action to me?” The test tells us to imagine reversing the situation­ whereby the “doer” of proposed act, becomes the imagined “receiver” of the act, while the receiver of the proposed act becomes the doer. Based on the Poor Father’s Plan Based on the Poor Father’s Plan If Mang Jose proposed to steal the property of other people because he badly needed it, he should ask himself if he likes other people stealing his property because they also badly need it. One would be violated because someone wrongfully ignored his right over his property. He may have opted to give it, if only he asked for it. Kant claims that man is a rational being whose existence Kant claims that man is a rational being whose existence has in itself an absolute worth – something that exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by anyone. Therefore, man should “ act in such a way that he treat humanity whether in his person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means.” The principle is unconditional, that is, regardless of the goodness of the purpose or the consequences, any act that degrades the dignity of human beings (or treat them merely as a means to an end), is always wrong. Hence the expression: “The end does not justify the means.” How do we know if our actions, How do we know if our actions, or those of others are mere means? The Consent Test The Consent Test We use persons as mere means, when we use them without their consent, or when we deceive them to accept doing what we like them to do. The action that we want them to do (them doing the act as our own end) must be something they must hold as their own ends (them consenting to perform what we like them to do). This Kantian criterion rules out options, which depend upon force, coercion, or deception. THE MEDICAL RESEARCHER THE MEDICAL RESEARCHER Mr. Y works as a medical researcher in the government’s Food and Drugs Commission. Because of his credibility and competence, he is tasked to lead a small team of researchers to study the health effect of a popular product, which is suspected to have caused serious health problems among many consumers. After months of study, Mr. Y positively confirmed the suspicion. He thought that it is for the public’s interest to recommend the immediate recall and banning of the product. When Mr. Y is about to prepare the report of his study, a high­ ranking Government official went to see him. The official requested Mr. Y to “reconsider” his findings, so as not to damage the image of a “very benevolent” corporation, which manufactures the product. The official “assured” him that the product is safe and stressed that it must stay that way. Before the official left, he made clear that Mr. Y needs to make a new and “better” report otherwise Mr. Y should start looking for another job. Aware that he badly needs his job, Mr. Y faces the dilemma whether to write a truthful report or to do what the government official wanted him to do: to suppress the truth and write a fallacious report. What should Mr. Y do? ANALYSIS: The Consent Test ANALYSIS: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Pressuring Mr. Y to do an unethical act is a degradation of his human dignity. Mr. Y is deliberately forced to perform an act that is against his will. Mr. Y is treated as means to a selfish end. Ignoring the consequence of his act (losing his job) would make Mr. Y more objective in making his decision. If Mr. Y consents to be held responsible over his own actions, then he should be in charge of making his own his choice. Free consent is free choice. This brings back the sense of dignity that is lost when we are used as means by others. The Means Test The Means Test Even if we give our consent, whether informed or not, voluntary or forced, using ourselves in ways that violates our sense of self­respect, or our dignity as persons, is morally wrong regardless if the end we pursue is morally desirable. There are acts which in themselves degrading to the dignity or humanity of human being Examples: Suicide, mutilation, murder, slavery, prostitution, rape, exploitation of workers, deceptive promises, etc. Giving consent in these cases is insufficient to make them morally justifiable. Example: if a person allows himself to be enslaved and exploited by another, his consent cannot justify his treatment. A BANK EMPLOYEE’S WIFE A BANK EMPLOYEE’S WIFE Mr. Q, a young bank employee, was indicted for embezzlement and the evidence all seemed to point to conviction. But he knew he was innocent, and his wife, Mrs. Q, believed him. Mrs. R was soon informed that Mr. S, another bank employee, knew the whereabouts of documents that would reveal the real embezzler and prove that her husband was innocent. Mrs. Q quickly made decision to get the evidence at whatever cost. She went to Mr. S and tried again to win his cooperation, this time by offering herself sexually available. After spending several nights with Mr. S, Mrs. Q successfully made him oblige. Eventually the documents were forthcoming, her husband was cleared, and the real embezzler was indicted and convicted. Was the action of Mrs. Q, moral? What about Mr. S’s action? ANALYSIS: ANALYSIS: 1. Is Mrs. Q using herself as a means to save her husband moral or immoral? 2. Is Mr. S act justifiable? ...
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This note was uploaded on 12/01/2011 for the course ECON 103 taught by Professor Hero during the Spring '11 term at National Taipei University.

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