C) Ethics

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  • Ethics
    • 1. Creates traditional divide between:
      • Absolutism- There are universal moral standards.
      • Relativism- No moral standards exist universally.
    • 2. Free will vs determinism
      • If everything in the universe obeys unchanging physical laws (determinism), how can we say that humans have free will?
        • And… without free will, how can we be morally responsible for our actions?
      • Incompatibilism- Free will and determinism are incompatible.
      • Compatibilism- Free will and determinism are compatible; free will is not dependent on freedom from physical laws.
    • 3. Normative Ethics
      • Argues for particular standards, or norms, for behaviour.
    • 4. Meta-ethics
      • Studies the nature of morality and questions the abstract meaning of ethical terms.
    • Positions in contemporary ethics
      • Consequentialism
        • Utilitarianism
          • Actions are right if they promote happiness in society and wrong if they produce unhappiness.
        • Pragmatism
          • Whether something is right or wrong is determined by its practical effects; people should test opposing moral positions to see which creates the most desirable practical results.
        • Ethical Egoism
          • An act is right if it promotes the agents' own happiness.
        • Actions are right or wrong by virtue of their consequences.
      • Deontological Ethics
        • We are morally bound to certain duties and obligations irrespective of their consequences.
        • Kant's categorial imperative
          • Act only in such a way that you could want the motivating principle of your own actions to become a universal law.
        • Rights theory
          • Everyone has certain right that cannot be violated by others or by the state.
            • The exercise of one person's liberty cannot infringe upon another's rights.
    • The Euthyphro
      • 1. If the Divine Command Theory is true then either...
        • (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good.
        • (ii) or… morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
      • 2. If (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then they are morally good independent of God's will.
      • 3. It is not the case that morally good acts are morally good independent of God's will...
        • Therefore...
          • 4. It is not that case that 9i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good.
      • 5. If (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God, then there is no reason either to care about God's morally goodness or to worship him.
      • 6. There are reasons both to care about God's moral goodness and to worship him.
        • Therefore...
          • 7. It is not the case that (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
      • 8. Therefore…the Divine Command Theory = false.
      • The Euthyphro dilemma rests on a modernised version of the question asked by Socrates in the Euthyphro:
        • “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?”
          • Each of these two possibilities, the argument runs, leads to consequences that the divine command theorist cannot accept. Whichever way the divine command theorist answers this question, then, it seems that his theory will be refuted.
    • The Divine Command Theory

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