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PHIL 2525 Contemporary Moral Issues

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Title: PHIL 2525 Contemporary Moral Issues Author: Ursula Last modified by: Ursula Stange Created Date: 9/28/2008 12:38:10 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: PHIL 2525 Contemporary Moral Issues


1
PHIL 2525Contemporary Moral Issues
  • Lec 5
  • Chapter 3 Subjectivism

2
Ethics in the news
  • Armed with a majority, the Harper government is
    setting out to refashion Canadas justice system
    with a sweeping crime bill to toughen punishments
    for a range of offenders, from drug dealers to
    sexual predators to what Justice Minister Rob
    Nicholson calls out-of-control young people.
  • http//www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/sweep
    ing-conservative-crime-bill-only-the-beginning/art
    icle2173915/

3
Ethics in the news
  • Texas conservatives reject Harper's crime plan
  • 'Been there done that didn't work,' say Texas
    crime-fighters
  • http//www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/10/17/p
    ol-vp-milewski-texas-crime.html?cmprss

4
Ethics in the news
  • "If passed, C-10 will take Canadian justice
    policies 180 degrees in the wrong direction, and
    Canadian citizens will bear the costs.
  • Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the
    Washington
  • based Justice Policy Institute.

5
Ethics in the news
  • Conservatives in the United States' toughest
    crime-fighting jurisdiction Texas say the
    Harper government's crime strategy won't work.
  • "You will spend billions and billions and
    billions on locking people up," says Judge
    Creuzot of the Dallas County Court. "And there
    will come a point in time where the public says,
    'Enough!' And you'll wind up letting them out."

6
The main points of Protagoras moral skepticism
  1. There is no ultimate moral truth
  2. Our individual moral views are equally true
  3. The practical benefit of our moral values is more
    important than their truth
  4. The practical benefit of moral values is a
    function of social custom rather than nature

7
William Graham Sumner
  • We learn the morals of our society as
    unconsciously as we learn to walk and hear and
    breathe, and we never know any reason why the
    morals are what they are. The justification of
    them is that when we wake to consciousness of
    life we find the facts which already hold us in
    the bonds of tradition, custom and habit.

8
(No Transcript)
9
David Hume 1711 - 1776
  • Simple subjectivism...
  • morality is a matter of sentiment rather than
    fact
  • A sense like our other senses...filtering our
    experience...

10
David Hume 1711 - 1776
  • Moral judgements are really only expressions of
    our feelings
  • Morality by tummy ache?

11
  • The agent the person doing (or not doing) the
    action
  • The receiver the person directly affected by
    the action
  • The spectator the person watching and judging
    the action

12
Hume's moral theory
  • Agents perform actions.
  • Receivers experience pleasure or pain.
  • Spectators sympathetically experience the
    pleasure or pain.
  • The moral spectator's sympathetic pleasure or
    pain constitutes a moral assessment of the
    agent's character trait, thereby deeming the
    trait to be a virtue or a vice.

13
Hume's moral theory
  • Agents perform actions.
  • Receivers experience pleasure or pain.
  • Spectators sympathetically experience the
    pleasure or pain.
  • The moral spectator's sympathetic pleasure or
    pain constitutes a moral assessment of the
    agent's character trait, thereby deeming the
    trait to be a virtue or a vice.

14
Hume's moral theory
  • The agent performs an act
  • The receiver either benefits or suffers
  • The spectator judges what he sees
  • If the spectator approves, the act was moral
  • If the spectator disapproves, the act was
    immoral
  • Also important
  • Moral actions stem from character
  • Virtuous
  • Vicious

15
Sympathy is the key...
16
3.3. Hume simple subjectivism...
  • defines virtue to be whatever mental action or
    quality gives to a spectator the pleasing
    sentiment of approbation and vice the contrary.

17
Simple Subjectivism seems good and easy and
tolerant...
  • But it has traps
  • It cannot account for moral disagreement

18
Simple subjectivism seems good and easy and
tolerant...
  • But it has traps
  • It cannot account for moral disagreement
  • It implies that were always right

19
Simple subjectivism seems good and easy and
tolerant...
  • But it has traps
  • It cannot account for moral disagreement
  • It implies that were always right
  • It makes morality itself a useless concept

20
Simple subjectivism seems good and easy and
tolerant...
  • But it has traps
  • It cannot account for moral disagreement
  • It implies that were always right
  • It makes morality itself a useless concept
  • It reduces moral choices to mere likes and
    dislikes

21
3.4.The Second Stage Emotivism
  • Emotivist Thesis
  • moral judgments -- though they have the surface
    grammar of statements -- are really disguised
    commands.

22
3.5 Rachels responds
  • Moral judgments must be
  • supported by reasons...
  • If you like peaches, you dont have to defend
    your preference
  • But if you like torturing cats, you should have a
    reason

23
3.5 Rachels counterproposal
  • There are moral facts...
  • It's a false dichotomy to think
  • Eitherthere are moral facts in the same way that
    there are facts about stars and planets
  • Or"values" are nothing more than the expression
    of subjective feelings.
  • Maybe theres a third way...

24
3.5 Rachels Third Way
  • "Moral truths are truths of reason
  • that is...a moral judgment is true if it is
    backed by better reasons than the alternatives."
    P 41

25
Conventional ethical subjectivism
  • If we are all our own moral arbiters, how can
    there be any morality?
  • Conventionalism tries to blunt the harshness of
    that by requiring social acceptance

26
Traps here also...
  • Hitler had social acceptance for his invasion of
    Poland
  • George Bush had social acceptance for his
    invasion of Iraq

27
3.7 The Question of Homosexuality...
28
Rachels conclusion...
  • moral thinking and moral conduct are a matter of
    weighing reasons and being guided by them
  • in focusing on attitudes and feelings, Ethical
    Subjectivism seems to be going in the wrong
    direction

29
Leopold and Loeb 1924
  • Clarence Darrow for the defence

30
Charles Manson
31
Ashley...
32
Ashley
33
Ashley
34
Ashley
35
Katie Thorpe
36
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