Moral Choices notes

Moral Choices notes - Moral Choices August 28, 2007 What is...

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Moral Choices August 28, 2007 What is Philosophy? Study of fundamental questions in: - Metaphysics - Epistemology - Ethics What is ethics Ethical theory address such questions as: - What makes actions right or wrong? - What is a good life? - Moral rights and obligations - What are virtues and vices and why these? - Why should we be moral? Applied ethics- the subject of the course Making Moral Judgments Is this a bad thing? (No) Making moral judgments (normal) v. being moralistic (ignorant) Why some people think morality is subjective Morality is just a matter of opinion August 30, 2007 The case for claiming that morality is subjective Morality is just a matter of opinion - Fact: Different people and different cultures in different ages have different opinion about morality Opinion v. Certainty Is certainty possible in any area? Are not some areas controversy-free e.g. mathematics? - No Every Discipline has disputes and controversies - Disagreement is not evidence of being subjective Opinion v. Fact Is there a rigid distinction? - Example: Having triplets is a lot of work - Agreed upon standards - No Another approach- the problem of method When there’s disagreement in objective fields (law, science etc.) there’s agreement on how to reach the truth
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- No Agreement on what counts as evidence There’s no agreement in ethics on hot to resolve disputes - So ethics is subjective Not clearly true in other disciplines Lawyers disagree about “what the law is” - A constitutional right to abortion Historians disagree about what happened, etc. Does that lack of consensus about method make these disciplines subjective? Method in ethics A characteristic of a moral claim that its supported by reason - Factual - Consistency - Principled If there can be moral progress (not just change) then there must be objective standards - Slavery, Jim crow, treatment of the mentally ill, cruelty to animals September 4, 2007 Why this case? Opinions backed by reasons - Her majesty the queen v. tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens Timeline - July 5- shipwrecked w. 2 tins turnips - July 16- no food - July 22- discuss sacrifice - July 25- Stephens assented, brooks dissented, all 3 eat - July 29- rescued Parker was unconscious, easier, didn’t want to draw lots Made sense, least likely to survive, instead of wasting life Jury in seafaring community- sympathetic The Jury’s Question? Was the killing murder - Consequences of - 9 days w.o food, 7 with out water - No boats in sight, no prospect of rescue No intention or desire Unavoidable necessity (extreme duress)
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Why it was murder- Intention Consequences Stronger prayed up the weak September 6, 2007 On Liberty John Stuart Mill On Liberty - The harm principle (p. 359) The only justification for limiting liberty is… To prevent harm to others (permanent, physical) Provides only justification for state coercion
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Moral Choices notes - Moral Choices August 28, 2007 What is...

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