Jamieson Short Questions - Method and Moral Theory

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  • Created by: EllieHS
  • Created on: 28-04-16 11:10

¨       What does Jamieson mean when he claims that ‘moral theorizing is something that real people do in everyday life’? Is this true? Give reasons for your answer.

Jamieson simply means that everyone uses moral theorizing in their lives without consciously thinking about it. Throughout Jamiesons’ paper we are repeatedly reminded that everyone does moral thinking, hence why we are told why we must understand it, within the 16th and 17th paragraphs of his essay Jamieson is reinforcing this point by using the examples of ‘role reversal tests’ and asking ‘children how they would feel if they were treated as they have treated others’, both examples clearly demonstrate the ways in which people in everyday life use the ethics of Jesus’ Golden Rule and Fletcher’s situation ethics to  make moral decisions without consciously examining the theory behind those moral theories.


¨       In what way, if at all, do fragments of moral theory impact on our moral practices?

As I have said above, our everyday moral theorizing is often based on the moral theories in different fields of ethics that, sometimes, many people aren’t even aware they are using as they can sometimes not even be aware of the existence of the moral theory, just simply the practice. This is easily seen where children, utterly oblivious to the workings of Immanuel Kant and deontology, and yet they are able to ‘condemn a friend for not acting as a friend’ as deontology’s rule on duty would also condemn.


¨       Explain what is meant by ‘foundationalism’.

Foundationalism, or a foundational belief, is described by Jamieson “justified in virtue of the logical relations” which means that a person’s beliefs are built on top of each other, all stemming from a single ‘foundation’ belief that is both self-evident and self-justifying. Self-evident is somewhat an obvious belief, a tautology of sorts, where the belief need not be explained as it is its own evidence. Whereas self-justifying is self-explanatory, in literally meaning that there is no justification needed for that belief.


¨       Could ethical beliefs be either, or both self-justifying or self-evident?

According to Jamieson a self-justifying and a self-evident belief is a possibility, however he does not believe that a belief that is both self-evident and self-justifying can be built upon to create a set of beliefs in a foundationalist system. In the case of a self-evident belief, you cannot have both an interesting and certain self-evident belief because if a belief is certain, for example ‘ravens are ravens’, it cannot be built upon to form a moral theory because there is nothing interesting in that certain self-evident logical fact. Whereas if a self-evident belief is interesting, for example


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