Moral Decisions: Poverty

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  • Poverty
    • Virtue Ethics
      • A true and reasoned capacity to act with regard to the things that are good and bad for men
      • Emphasizes an individual's character as the key element of ethical thinking
      • Doctrine of the Mean says that it would be wrong to give either too much or too little to get rid of poverty
      • Some of Aristotle's virtues are generosity, kindness and compassion for others
      • A part of eudaimonia is honour, which means working and living for others
      • Context-specific: it might not always be good to give to a poor person, as giving might fuel a drug habit etc
        • Only a virtuous person knows that isn't and what is virtuous and so not everyone can know when to give to poverty (moral elitism)
    • Utilitarianism
      • Preference
        • Our motivation should be to satisfy the preferences of others
        • We should fulfill the preference of poor people to no longer be poor
          • This may be counter productive as their preference may to have money but this may no actually aim to eliminate poverty (actions may be more effective)
        • Distribution of happiness is irrelevant which fails to honor justice of those who need it
      • Act
        • An action is right if it leads to the greatest happiness for the greatest number, which can only be calculated through the sum of pleasure over pain
        • We must give to poor people because it will bring them happiness
          • There is no limit to how much we should give as their happiness will always outweigh ours
        • The 'utility monster' shows that if there was someone rich who got more pleasure than a poor person for getting money then we would have to give the money to the rich person instead
      • Rule
        • An action is only right if it complies with a set of rules by which if everyone followed it would bring about the greatest amount of happiness
        • We only need to give as much as everyone else would need to give to eliminate poverty, and so we should find the average and give that (£150 a year)
          • Foot: too impersonal
          • Rule fetishism: we may become dependent on rules when they are unnecessary
      • Consequentialist
    • Deontology
      • Focus on the acts themselves
      • One of W. D. Ross' prima facie duties is the duty of beneficience
      • Eliminating poverty would be a primary duty because it's a duty that we have generally to people
        • It is not a contradiction in conception and nor a contradiction in will
        • This would mean that if ever there was a clash of duties then this duty would overrule any other and it would permit no exception
      • Morality is a matter of duty: an act is either right or wrong.
      • Could make people into moral machines


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