'Why Should I Be Moral' Fifteen Mark Questions

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  • Created by: A. Person
  • Created on: 19-04-14 20:05
What reward does a virtuous character provide?
Eudaimonia - the state of human flourishing
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What are virtues?
Morally excellent traits of character
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What argument does Aristotle put forward for virtue?
The function argument - humans need virtues to excel at their function
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What is the human function, according to Aristotle?
To be rational and social
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What is necessary for an action to be considered 'moral'?
It must be performed by someone who has cultivated a fully virtuous character,
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What does Aristotle use as an analogy for acquiring all the virtues?
An archer who, after much practice, finally hits the target
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Why does Plato believe nobody ever knowingly commits an immoral act?
Plato held that we are ignorant of what is right and what is wrong until we have acquired knowledge of the form of 'the good', which can only be obtained through reason
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What is the sound vs leaky jar analogy?
Hedonists have 'leaky' jars - each time they fill the jar, the contents leaks out, leaving them craving more. The virtuous character is able to fill their jar. In other words, hedonists can never be truly fulfilled.
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Which virtue enables a person to make judgments about particular situations?
Practical wisdom.
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What is the 'golden mean'?
The midpoint between an emotionally excessive and deficient response. It is the area where virtue lies.
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Why might virtue actually not be necessary to be fulfilled?
Flourishing is not necessary for fulfillment - for example, the happy torturer is not virtuous, yet feels utterly fulfilled.
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Why might virtues not even exist?!
Sartre - Existence precedes essence. Therefore, we have no function... Therefore, virtues are redundant.
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Why does the 'moral hero' pose a problem for virtue ethics?
Virtue ethics criticizes character extremely harshly. If a 'good' action comes from a 'bad' character, it cannot be truly a moral action. But surely the moral hero who fights against themselves is moral?
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What type of egoist was Hobbes?
An enlightened psychological egoist.
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What did Hobbes believe was the source of morality?
The Social Contract, the rules of which function as morals.
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Why is the fact that the contract is only hypothetical a problem?
If the contract is hypothetical, there must be some kind of tacit agreement that we will co-operate. This implies that moral obligation exists independently of the contract!
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Why does dictatorship/the ruling class pose a problem for the social contract?
Dictators rule only in their own interest; according to Marx, morals are nothing more than expressions of the ideology of the ruling class.
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Why are the weakest in society problematic for the social contract!?
It is likely that the weakest in society would be excluded from the social contract, due to not posing enough of a threat to be worth including.
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How do we determine perfect duties?
The 'contradiction in conception test'. If to universalize a maxim would be inconceivable, it's opposite would become a perfect duty. (Eg. 'I will kill everyone' becomes 'I will not kill anyone.')
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How do we determine imperfect duties?
The 'contradiction in willing test'. If a maxim would not be willingly made universal by anyone, its opposite becomes an imperfect duty. (Eg. 'I won't help others' becomes 'I will help others')
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Why does Kant feel that reason alone should be used when making moral decisions?
Reason is entirely free, it is entirely consistent. When we act according to desires, we are not free, because we are slaves to our emotions.
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What example can be used to illustrate the fact that Kant's theory is too inflexible?
The mad axeman!
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Why are conflicting perfect duties a problem for Kant's theory?
If perfect duties conflict, we cannot turn to reason. Only our emotions can help us to judge how to act. So ultimately, reason is not always adequate in moral decision making.
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In what way does Kant fail to explain what morality actually is?
We can universalize seemingly trivial principles like 'I must always eat with a knife and fork'... So how can we distinguish between social etiquette and morality?
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What example can be used to illustrate the fact that Kant's theory ignores the moral dimension of emotion?
Bernard Williams' dutiful father example - would you rather be visited by your father because he loves you, or because he feels it is his duty to visit?
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List three criticisms of virtue ethics...
1. Flourishing is not necessary for fulfillment. 2. Existence precedes essence. 3. What about moral heroes?!
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List three criticisms of social contract theory...
1. It seems that moral obligation existed prior to the contract. 2. Dictatorship is not morality. 3.The weakest in society would be excluded.
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List four criticisms of Kantian ethics...
1. Too inflexible. 2. Conflicting duties. 3. Trivial things can be made 'moral'. 4. Ignores the moral dimension of emotions.
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Card 4

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What is the human function, according to Aristotle?

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Card 5

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What is necessary for an action to be considered 'moral'?

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