ethics = moral philosophy

download report

Transcript ethics = moral philosophy

• Ethics = inquiry into the nature of morality,
codes and principles of moral action.
• Morality = actual practice of living according
to certain rules of conduct or moral behavior.
• Absolutism vs. Subjectivism (moral relativism)
• Cultural relativism and moral relativism
• Are religious beliefs reducible to ethics?
• First-order/second-order desires/volitions
ARISTOTLE (384 - 322 B.C.E.)
• Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every
action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some
• Now, as there are many actions, arts, and
sciences, their ends also are many.
If, then, there is some end of the things we do,
which we desire for its own sake (everything
else being desired for the sake of this), and if
we do not choose everything for the sake of
something else (for at that rate the process
would go on to infinity, so that our desire
would be empty and vain), clearly this must be
the good and the chief good.
• all knowledge and every pursuit aims at some
good, what it is that we say political science
aims at and what is the highest of all goods
achievable by action.
• If we declare that the function of man is a certain form of life,
and define that form of life as the exercise of the soul's
faculties and activities in association with rational principle,
and say that the function of a good man is to perform these
activities well and rightly, and if a function is well performed
when it is performed in accordance with its own proper
excellence--from these premises it follows, that the Good of
man is the active exercise of his soul’s faculties in conformity
with excellence or virtue, or if there be several human
excellences or virtues, in conformity with the best and most
perfect among them.
• Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual
and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes
both its birth and its growth to teaching (for
which reason it requires experience and time),
while moral virtue comes about as a result of
habit, whence also its name (ethike) is one
that is formed by a slight variation from the
word ethos (habit).
Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice,
lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being
determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by
which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now
it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess
and that which depends on defect; and again it is a mean
because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is
right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and
chooses that which is intermediate. Hence in respect of its
substance and the definition which states its essence virtue is
a mean...
• That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what
sense it is so, and that it is a mean between
two vices, the one involving excess, the other
deficiency, and that it is such because its
character is to aim at what is intermediate in
passions and in actions, has been sufficiently
stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be
Ethics - Human Nature
Chicken-egg question: which came first ?
zoon logon /animal rationale  zoon politikon
Rationality  Sociability
Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s theory of Forms:
Universal Goodness / empirical, particular
instances of good (people, constitutions, etc.)
• In order to achieve a state of well-being or
happiness (eudaimonia), proper social, political
institutions are necessary.
• Moral virtues – Ethos – Perfectionism
Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)
Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
The Groundwork of the Met. of Morals (1785)
Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
Critique of Judgment (1790)
The Metaphysics of Morals (1797)
1. What can I know? – Truth
2. What ought I to do? – Good
3. What can I hope for / judge? – God / Art
4. What is “human” ?
Kantian Ethics of Duty = Deontological
1. There are objective moral values
2. These principles can be known a priori
3. Moral principles must hold universally
4. Reason alone can deliver knowledge of
principles that hold universally as duties
• 5. Duties are not hypothetical but categorical
imperatives (nonconditional, nonempirical)
• 6. Autonomy of the will = moral principle
Foundations / Groundwork
• … therefore, the basis of obligation must not be
sought in the nature of man, or in the
circumstances in the world in which he is placed,
but a priori simply in the conception of pure
reason; and although any other precept which is
founded on principles of mere experience may be
in certain respects universal, yet in as far as it
rests even in the least degree on an empirical
basis, perhaps only as to a motive, such a
precept, while it may be a practical rule, can
never be called a moral law.
Pure Practical Reason
• For in order that an action should be morally
good, it is not enough that it conform to the
moral law, but it must also be done for the
sake of the law, otherwise that conformity is
only very contingent and uncertain; since a
principle which is not moral, although it may
now and then produce actions conformable to
the law, will also often produce actions which
contradict it.
The supreme principle of morality
• The present treatise is, however, nothing more
than the investigation and establishment of the
supreme principle of morality, and this alone
constitutes a study complete in itself and one
which ought to be kept apart from every other
moral investigation.
• Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world,
or even out of it, which can be called good,
without qualification, except a good will.
Good Will = Freedom
• A good will is good not because of what it
performs or effects, not by its aptness for the
attainment of some proposed end, but simply
by virtue of the volition; that is, it is good in
itself, and considered by itself is to be
esteemed much higher than all that can be
brought about by it in favour of any
inclination, nay even of the sum total of all
Will (Wille) vs. Choice (Willkür)
• We have then to develop the notion of a will
which deserves to be highly esteemed for itself
and is good without a view to anything further, a
notion which exists already in the sound natural
understanding, requiring rather to be cleared up
than to be taught, and which in estimating the
value of our actions always takes the first place
and constitutes the condition of all the rest. In
order to do this, we will take the notion of duty,
which includes that of a good will, although
implying certain subjective restrictions and
Categorical Imperative
• Freedom of the Will = Autonomy = To act from
Duty (as opposed to “according to duty”)
• Maxim = the subjective principle of volition
• The moral law = the objective principle (that
which would also serve subjectively as a
practical principle to all rational beings if
reason had full power over desire)
• Duty = to act out of respect for the moral law
1st Formula: Universalizability
• There is therefore but one categorical imperative,
namely, this: “Act only on that maxim whereby
thou canst at the same time will that it should
become a universal law.”
• … if there is a categorical imperative (i.e., a law
for the will of every rational being), it can only
command that everything be done from maxims
of one's will regarded as a will which could at the
same time will that it should itself give universal
• Formal, universalizable conception of freedom
2nd Formula: Humanity as an End
• “So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own
person or in that of any other, in every case as an end
withal, never as means only.”
• This principle, that humanity and generally every
rational nature is an end in itself (which is the supreme
limiting condition of every man's freedom of action), is
not borrowed from experience, … because it is
universal, applying as it does to all rational beings, …as
an objective end, which must as a law constitute the
supreme limiting condition of all our subjective ends,
… it must therefore spring from pure reason.
• Material, relational conception of equality
3rd Formula: Realm of Ends
• The conception of the will of every rational being
as one which must consider itself as giving in all
the maxims of its will universal laws, so as to
judge itself and its actions from this point of
view- this conception leads to another which
depends on it and is very fruitful, namely that of
a kingdom of ends.
• “Act according to the maxims of a member of a
merely possible kingdom of ends legislating in it
• Self-contained system conception of community