The Nature of Morality - Youngstown State University

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Transcript The Nature of Morality - Youngstown State University

The Nature of Morality
General Overview
“We are discussing no small matter, but how we
ought to live” (Plato in the Republic ca. 390B.C.)
Motivation vs.
Justification in Ethics
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Moral Motivation: explanation as to
why we behave morally
Motivational Assumption:“The desire
to justify our actions on grounds
others could not reasonably reject.”
Moral Justification: consists of the
reasons in favor of a particular moral
theory or position.
Three Divisions in Ethics
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Meta-ethics – The second-order activity of
investigating the concepts and methods of ethics,
rather than directly engaging with practical (firstorder) issues of what to do and how to behave.
Normative Ethics – The study of the concepts
involved in practical reasoning: good, right, duty,
obligation, virtue, freedom, rationality, choice.
Practical Ethics (Applied Ethics) – The subject
that applies ethics to actual practical problems.
Moral Arguments

-The general form is as follows:
(1) Major premise – General Moral principle
(2) Minor premise – Factual claim
(3) Conclusion – Moral determination
(1) It is wrong to use people as means to other
people’s ends.
(2) Taking Baby Theresa’s organs would be using her
as a means to other people’s ends (specifically, as a
means to benefiting the other infants).
(3) Therefore, taking baby Theresa’s organs would be
wrong.
Example Argument
(1) It is wrong to use people as means
to other people’s ends.
(2) Taking Baby Theresa’s organs would
be using her as a means to other
people’s ends (specifically, as a means
to benefiting the other infants).
(3) Therefore, taking baby Theresa’s
organs would be wrong.
Evaluating Moral
Arguments
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Valid argument- an argument is valid if
it is impossible for its premises to all
be true and its conclusion false.
Sound argument- a sound argument is
a valid argument with premises that
are in fact true.
Minimum Conception of
Morality
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Good Reasons- the morally right thing
to do is determined by the best
reasons for a certain course of action.
Impartiality- the morally right thing to
do should treat each person’s interests
as equally important.