Ethical Theories

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  • Ethical theories
    • Utilitarianism
      • Act
        • We should act so as to maximise pleasure and minimise pain in each specific instance
          • Hedonic Calculus
            • An algorithum that helps us calculate whether an action is right or wrong
              • Seven variables
                • Intensity
                • Duration
                • Fecundidty
                • Purity
                • Propinquity
                • Extent
                • Certainty
          • Issues
            • Hedonic calculus is complex and time consuming
            • Tyranny of the Majority
              • The minority is abused by the majority
            • People become cold and emotionless
              • You have to act for the greater good
                • Personal relationships shouldn't influence you
        • Jeremy Bentham
      • Rule
        • We should follow general rules that maximise pleasure and minimise pain (even if following these rules doesn’t maximise pleasure in every specific instance)
          • Types of pleasure
            • Higher
              • Mentally  or spiritually fulfilling
                • e.g. reading, time spend with loved ones, etc
            • Lower
              • Physically fulfilling
                • e.g. eating, drinking. etc
          • Competant judge
            • Someone who has experience with both types of pleasure.
              • They can judge what is higher and lower
          • Changes from act
            • Qualititive not quantitative
            • Individualistic
              • Allows room for personal preference
            • No hedonic calculus
            • Distinction between types of pleasure
            • Addition of competant judges
        • John Stuart Mill
      • Preference
        • We should act to maximise people’s  preferences  (even if these preferences do not maximise pleasure and minimise pain)
          • Collision of preferences
            • Maximise the number of preferences satisfied
          • Peter Singer
            • Animals should be included in the sum of preferences
              • Chnges the definition to 'sentient beings' as a whole
        • R.M.Hare
    • Kantian Ethics
      • An action is moral if it fulfills our duty
        • The good will
          • To act out of a sense of legal or moral obligation
        • Duty
          • A moral or legal obligation
        • Imperitives
          • Hypothetical
            • Rules or maxims that are qualified bu an 'if' statement
              • e.g. you should study if you want to get good grades
          • Categorical
            • Three parts
              • Formula of Universal Law
                • An action is moral if it can be universalized
              • Formula of Humanity
                • Treat people as a end in themselves
                  • Don't use people as a way to get your own end
              • Formula of the Kingdom of Ends
                • Act as if you are a member of the kingdom of ends
            • Contradiction tests
              • Can the maxim be universalized
                • If yes, it's a perfect duty
              • Can you rationally will the maxim
                • If yes, it's an imperfect duy
                  • You must always prioritize a perfect duty
                    • If yes, it's a perfect duty
        • Maxim
          • Intentions
        • Issues
          • We can make our maxims specific
            • They can then be universalized
              • Kant would say you are lying about your true maxim
          • It ignores consequence
            • It doesn't make sense to completely ignore the consequence of an action
              • As long as you fullfil you perfect duties the consequnce will be good
          • Perfect duties can collide
            • e.g. duty not to steal  and the duty not to lie
              • Whatever choice you make a perfect duty will be violated
      • Kant
    • Aristotlian Virtue Ethics
      • Aristotle
      • Morality lies in moral virtues and their development in our characters
        • The good
          • The aim/goal  of something
            • e.g. the good of medicine is health
          • The final good
            • The reason behind all our actions
        • Habituation
          • Virtues can only become part of our characters if they become habits
        • The Golden Mean
          • The virtue between two extremes
            • Three parts
              • Vice of defciency
                • Cowerdice
              • Vice of excess
                • Recklessness
              • Virtue
                • Courage
            • You must use practical reason to see what is appropriate
              • Being funny is a virtue around friends but not at a funeral
        • Issues
          • Vague
            • No real guidence is provided
              • Most would say that's a good thing as life is unpredictable
                • Having a collection of set rules isn't practical
          • Circulaity
            • Key definitions are circular
              • A virtuous act is done by a virtuous person
                • You can't know either
              • A viruous person is someone who's disposed to virtuous acts
                • You can't know either
          • Competeing virtues
            • Sometimes you have to choose between two virtues
              • e.g. choosing between honesty and kindness
        • Actions
          • Voluntary
            • Acting with full knowledge and intention
          • Involuntary
            • Compulsion
              • Being forced to do something
                • e.g. throwing goods overboard in a storm
            • Ignorance
              • Doing something by accident
                • e.g. tripping and spilling a drink on someone

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