Year 13 Philosophy

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  • Created on: 28-02-18 14:15
An 'excellence', or more specifically, a 'virtue' – a quality that aids the fulfilment of a thing's ergon (Aristotle).
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Affirmation of, or conviction regarding, the truth of a proposition, e.g. 'I believe that the grass is green'.
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Categorical Imperative
Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.' (Kant)
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What we decide upon as a result of deliberation, typically giving rise to voluntary action. Deliberate desire regarding something that is in one's power (Aristotle).
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A cognitivist account of ethical language argues that moral judgements express beliefs, can be true or false and aim to describe the world. So 'lying is wrong' expresses the belief that lying is wrong, and is either true or false.
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An inner awareness, faculty, intuition or judgement that assists in distinguishing right from wrong
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The theory that actions are morally right or wrong depending on their consequences and nothing else. An act is right if it maximises what is good.
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Contradiction in conception
In Kantian ethics, the test for whether we can will a maxim to become universal law can be failed if it would somehow be self-contradictory for everyone to act on that maxim.
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Contradiction in will
In Kantian ethics, the test for whether we can will a maxim to become universal law can be failed if, although the maxim is not self-contradictory, we cannot rationally will it.
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The study of what one must do (deon (Greek) means 'one must'). Deontology claims that actions are right or wrong in themselves, not depending on their consequences. We have moral duties to do things which it is right to do and moral duties not to do
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General / Specific duties
Duties are obligations we have towards someone or something. General duties are those we have towards anyone, e.g. do not murder, help people in need. Specific duties are those we have because of our particular personal or social relationships, e.g.
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Perfect / Imperfect duties
Perfect duties are those we must always fulfil and have no choice over when or how (e.g. do not kill). Imperfect duties are cases in which we have some choice in how we fulfil the obligation (e.g. giving to charity). No specific person can demand tha
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The theory that claims that moral judgements express a feeling or non-cognitive attitude, typically approval or disapproval, and aim to influence the feelings and actions of others.
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What an action seeks to achieve or secure, its aim or purpose.
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Final End
An end that we desire for its own sake, we can't give some further purpose for why we seek it
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'Function' or 'characteristic activity' of something, e.g. the ergon of a knife is to cut, the ergon of an eye is to see.
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Error theory
The theory that ethical judgements make claims about objective moral properties, but that no such properties exist. Thus moral judgements are cognitive, but are all false. Ethical language, as we mean to use it, rests on a mistake.
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The branch of philosophy concerned with the evaluation of human conduct, including theories about which actions are right or wrong (normative ethics) and the meaning of moral language (metaethics).
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Often translated as 'happiness', but better understood as 'living well and faring well'. According to Aristotle, eudaimonia is not subjective and is not a psychological state, but an objective quality of someone's life as a whole. It is the final end
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A mental capacity or ability, such as sight, the ability to feel fear, and reason.
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Felicific calculus
In Bentham's ethics, the means of calculating pleasures and pains caused by an action and adding them up on a single scale. The total amount of happiness produced is the sum total of everyone's pleasures minus the sum total of everyone's pains.
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Formula of humanity
A version of the Categorical Imperative: 'Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end' (Kant).
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Function argument
Aristotle's argument that the human good (eudaimonia) will be achieved by performing our characteristic activity (ergon) well. Traits that enable us to fulfil our ergon, which is rational activity, are virtues (arête).
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In ethics, what is good provides a standard of evaluation and what we should aim at in our actions and lives.
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The claim that pleasure is happiness and the only good.
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A command or order. A hypothetical imperative is a statement about what you ought to do, on the assumption of some desire or goal, e.g. if you want to pass your exam, you ought to study hard. A categorical imperative is a statement about what you oug
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A mental state that expresses a person's choice. It specifies the action they choose and often their reason or end in acting.
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The theory that some moral judgements are self-evident, i.e. their truth can be known just by rational reflection upon the judgement itself. Moral intuitions are a type of synthetic a priori knowledge.
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Jus ad bellum
The justice of resorting to war, e.g. whether it is in a just cause.
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Jus in bello
Just conduct in war, focusing primarily on how the enemy is engaged and treated, e.g. whether the force used is proportional to the end that the war seeks to achieve.
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Jus post bellum
Justice at the end of war, e.g. whether the peace settlement is fair.
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A personal principle that guides our decisions, e.g. 'to get a good education'.
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Doctrine of the mean
Aristotle's claim that virtue requires us to feel, choose and act in an 'intermediate' way, neither 'too much' nor 'too little', but 'to feel [passions] at the right times, with reference to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right
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Descriptive meaning
The aspect of the meaning of a sentence that asserts something about the world and can be evaluated as true or false.
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What is done to achieve an end. Instrumental means are actions done to achieve some further, independent end, e.g. chopping vegetables in order to eat them. Constitutive means are those which are done as achieving the end, e.g. relaxing on the beach
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The philosophical study of what morality is, enquiring into the meaning of ethical language, the metaphysics of moral values, the epistemology of moral judgements, and the nature of moral attitudes.
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The rules, ideals and expectations governing fundamental aspects of human conduct. It concerns right and wrong, good and bad, in human action and character.
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Naturalistic fallacy
According to Moore, the mistake of identifying moral good with any natural property.
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The theory that claims that moral judgements express non-cognitive attitudes. Moral judgements do not make claims about reality and are not true or false (they are not fact-stating).
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Ethical non-naturalism
The theory that claims that moral properties exist, but they are not natural properties.
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Ethical naturalism
The theory that claims that moral properties are identical with certain natural (especially psychological) properties, e.g. the claim that goodness is happiness.
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Open question argument
Moore's argument that identifying the property 'good' with any other property is never correct because whether that property is, in fact, good is an open question (logically, it can receive a yes or no answer), whereas whether good is good is not an
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Higher and lower pleasures
One pleasure is higher than another if almost everyone who is 'competently acquainted' with both prefers one over the other. According to Mill, higher pleasures include thought, feeling and imagination, while lower pleasures involve the body and sens
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Practical reason
Reasons and reasoning concerned with what we can change and making good choices.
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The non-cognitive theory that moral judgements are prescriptive, that is, moral judgements provide commands and recommendations about how to act.
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Moral Realism
The theory that claims that moral judgements are made true or false by objective moral properties that are mind-independent (in some sense).
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Unfair discrimination on the basis of what species something belongs to.
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The theory that moral judgements assert or report approval or disapproval, e.g. 'Murder is wrong' means 'Most people disapprove of murder'.
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The theory that only happiness is good, and the right act (or rule) is that act (or rule) that maximises happiness.
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Value theory
Any theory about what is good, e.g. a utilitarian value theory claims that only happiness is good.
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Verification principle
The principle that all meaningful claims are either analytic or empirically verifiable. A statement is analytic if it is true or false just in virtue of the meanings of the words. A statement is empirically verifiable if empirical evidence would go t
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Traits that enable us to live a morally good life. Aristotle argues that virtues are traits in accordance with reason, and distinguishes virtues of intellect and virtues of character.
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Good will
In Kant, the good will is the will that is motivated by duty, which Kant argues means that it chooses in accordance with reason. It is the only thing that is morally good without qualification.
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Affirmation of, or conviction regarding, the truth of a proposition, e.g. 'I believe that the grass is green'.

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Categorical Imperative


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