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Ethics: an introduction

Ethics: an introduction

The first slideshow for a course on ethics.

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GeorgeMatthews

June 11, 2016
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Transcript

  1. Philosophical Ethics an introduction to the course George Matthews CC

    2016 Creative Commons, attribution. Caspar David Freidrich, “Gebirge”
  2. the runaway boxcar

  3. the runaway boxcar You are standing next to a switch

    on a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. If you throw the switch, the boxcar will not hit the children but will hit and kill one man working on the other track.
  4. the runaway boxcar You are standing next to a switch

    on a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. If you throw the switch, the boxcar will not hit the children but will hit and kill one man working on the other track. " What would you do?
  5. the runaway boxcar You are standing next to a switch

    on a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. If you throw the switch, the boxcar will not hit the children but will hit and kill one man working on the other track. " What would you do? " What should you do?
  6. the runaway boxcar You are standing next to a switch

    on a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. If you throw the switch, the boxcar will not hit the children but will hit and kill one man working on the other track. " What would you do? " What should you do? ! Why?
  7. descriptive ethics

  8. descriptive ethics

  9. descriptive ethics ! How do people actually respond to ethical

    problems?
  10. descriptive ethics ! How do people actually respond to ethical

    problems? ! What psychological and sociological explanations account for our ethical thinking and behavior?
  11. descriptive ethics ! How do people actually respond to ethical

    problems? ! What psychological and sociological explanations account for our ethical thinking and behavior? ! How does ethical thinking and behavior change with individual development, education, cultural background?
  12. descriptive ethics ! How do people actually respond to ethical

    problems? ! What psychological and sociological explanations account for our ethical thinking and behavior? ! How does ethical thinking and behavior change with individual development, education, cultural background? " Cases like the runaway boxcar dilemma have been studied extensively by moral psychologists.
  13. descriptive ethics ! How do people actually respond to ethical

    problems? ! What psychological and sociological explanations account for our ethical thinking and behavior? ! How does ethical thinking and behavior change with individual development, education, cultural background? " Cases like the runaway boxcar dilemma have been studied extensively by moral psychologists. " One result: most people say they would throw the switch.
  14. normative ethics

  15. normative ethics

  16. normative ethics ! How should we respond to ethical dilemmas

    and problems?
  17. normative ethics ! How should we respond to ethical dilemmas

    and problems? ! What justifications are there for our moral claims and assumptions?
  18. normative ethics ! How should we respond to ethical dilemmas

    and problems? ! What justifications are there for our moral claims and assumptions? ! How can we use critical rationality to establish ethical norms?
  19. normative ethics ! How should we respond to ethical dilemmas

    and problems? ! What justifications are there for our moral claims and assumptions? ! How can we use critical rationality to establish ethical norms? " Many of us assume that the consequences of our actions determine their rightness or wrongness.
  20. normative ethics ! How should we respond to ethical dilemmas

    and problems? ! What justifications are there for our moral claims and assumptions? ! How can we use critical rationality to establish ethical norms? " Many of us assume that the consequences of our actions determine their rightness or wrongness. " Is this a correct assumption – do better consequences really make an act morally right?
  21. another runaway boxcar

  22. another runaway boxcar You are standing on a bridge over

    a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. There is a rather large person next to you and if you push that person off the bridge in front of the boxcar the car will derail and the children will be saved, but he will be killed.
  23. another runaway boxcar You are standing on a bridge over

    a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. There is a rather large person next to you and if you push that person off the bridge in front of the boxcar the car will derail and the children will be saved, but he will be killed. " Most people would NOT push the person off the bridge to save the children.
  24. another runaway boxcar You are standing on a bridge over

    a railroad track when a runaway boxcar is speeding down the tracks in your direction. You notice five children playing on the track ahead, too far away to hear you. If you do nothing they will be hit by the train and killed. There is a rather large person next to you and if you push that person off the bridge in front of the boxcar the car will derail and the children will be saved, but he will be killed. " Most people would NOT push the person off the bridge to save the children. " Why not, given that the consequences in each case are the same?
  25. meta-ethics

  26. meta-ethics

  27. meta-ethics ! How do ethical language and ethical thinking differ

    from other ways of speaking or thinking?
  28. meta-ethics ! How do ethical language and ethical thinking differ

    from other ways of speaking or thinking? ! Are ethical statements statements about reality, expressions of our feelings, something else entirely?
  29. meta-ethics ! How do ethical language and ethical thinking differ

    from other ways of speaking or thinking? ! Are ethical statements statements about reality, expressions of our feelings, something else entirely? ! Is there any hope for rationally settling conflicting ethical claims?
  30. meta-ethics ! How do ethical language and ethical thinking differ

    from other ways of speaking or thinking? ! Are ethical statements statements about reality, expressions of our feelings, something else entirely? ! Is there any hope for rationally settling conflicting ethical claims? " When we claim that it is acceptable to throw the switch, but not to push the large person off the bridge are we making a statement about a fact?
  31. meta-ethics ! How do ethical language and ethical thinking differ

    from other ways of speaking or thinking? ! Are ethical statements statements about reality, expressions of our feelings, something else entirely? ! Is there any hope for rationally settling conflicting ethical claims? " When we claim that it is acceptable to throw the switch, but not to push the large person off the bridge are we making a statement about a fact? " Or are we merely expressing our personal feelings about these scenarios?
  32. basic elements of philosophical ethics

  33. basic elements of philosophical ethics

  34. basic elements of philosophical ethics 1. appeal to reason Philosophers

    trust reason as a method of discovering the truth about ethics and for producing genuine conviction.
  35. basic elements of philosophical ethics 1. appeal to reason 2.

    universality Ethics aspires to find principles that transcend individual cases and apply to all relevantly similar situations.
  36. basic elements of philosophical ethics 1. appeal to reason 2.

    universality 3. impartiality Right and wrong do not depend on who you are. We are all presumed equally worthy of consideration.
  37. basic elements of philosophical ethics 1. appeal to reason 2.

    universality 3. impartiality 4. overriding character of ethical principles Since ethics is concerned with what is fundamentally right and wrong, its principles override considerations of personal preference, customary behavior, law, etc.
  38. basic elements of philosophical ethics 1. appeal to reason 2.

    universality 3. impartiality 4. overriding character of ethical principles Yes, all of these claims are subject to debate – that is part of what philosophical ethics does, it examines its own assumptions about ethics and ethical thinking.
  39. our plan of attack

  40. our plan of attack

  41. our plan of attack ! logic: What is involved in

    justifying our claims, about ethics or anything else?
  42. our plan of attack ! logic: What is involved in

    justifying our claims, about ethics or anything else? ! ethical theory: How have philosophers tried to answer the question of right and wrong in general?
  43. our plan of attack ! logic: What is involved in

    justifying our claims, about ethics or anything else? ! ethical theory: How have philosophers tried to answer the question of right and wrong in general? ! applied ethics: How does all of this all play out in the real world?
  44. something to think about What counts as a good reason

    to believe or to do something?