Moral Philosophy by l50J1n6c


									Moral Philosophy

  Weber State University
      Spring 2007
     PHIL 1000-00
       What is moral philosophy?

   Ethics (Moral Philosophy) is the philosophic
    study of right and wrong conduct.

   It asks: what should we do, and why ought we
    do that?
          Normative v. Descriptive
   Moral philosophy is a normative inquiry, not a
    descriptive one.
       Moral philosophy wants to prescribe norms, standards, or
        principles for evaluating our actual practices.

   Descriptive morality refers to the actual practices of
    people or a culture and its beliefs about which
    behaviors are good and bad.
       E.g., Sir George James Frazer, The Golden Bough
          Taxonomy of Moral Philosophy

                                       Objectivism                                                          Nonobjectivism

                                                                                                   Cultural Relativism    Individual Relativism
          Consequentialism Non-consequentialism                       Other Theories                 (Benedict, Ladd)     (Nietzsche)

               Utilitarianism       Deontological Ethics                                          Historical Relativism
             (Bentham & Mill)             (Kant)                                                                (Marx)
                                                       Divine Command Virtue Ethics         Egoism
                                                            Theory   (Aristotle, Driver)

                                   Revised Kantian Ethics
Act-Utlitarianiasm     Rule-Utilitarianism                               Psychological Egoism     Ethical Egoism
    Objectivism v. Non-objectivism

   Objectivism claims that there is at least one
    moral principle. For e.g., “murder is wrong.”

   Non-objectivism claims that there are no moral
      Non-objectivism, in general

   Thesis: For any two agents, A and B, what
    counts as morally correct for A does not
    necessarily count as morally correct for B.
    Some Kinds of Non-objectivism
   Historical relativism – moral principles are relative
    to the time period in which you live.

   Cultural relativism – moral principles differ for
    different cultures.

   Individual relativism – moral principles are
    different for each person.
      Ruth Benedict’s Argument for
           Cultural Relativism

1.   Normality is a function of culture. (premise)
2.   Habitual behavior within a society is normal.
3.   When we say ‘x is moral’, we mean ‘x is
     normal or habitual’. (2)
4.   Thus, morality is a function of culture. (1,3)
     Argument against Premise 1 of
         Benedict’s Argument

1.   There is an origin of normality. (premise)
2.   The genealogy will involve an origin in an
     individual or cross-cultural influence. (premise)
3.   Thus, normality is not a function of culture.
4.   If normality is not a function of culture, then
     cultural relativism is false. (premise)
5.   So, cultural relativism is false. (3,4)
     Argument Against Premise 2 of
         Benedict’s Argument

1.   Habitual behavior means doing something
     constantly, e.g., wearing socks, opening doors,
     etc. (premise)
2.   ‘Normal’ behavior includes conforming to a
     standard. (premise)
3.   When we say ‘x is habitual’, we don’t mean ‘x is
     normal. (1,2)
       William Ladd’s Argument for
            Cultural Relativism

1.   Diversity thesis: Apparent moral beliefs and
     practices are different in different cultures.
2.   Dependency thesis: Moral practices and beliefs
     depend on our cultural background. (premise)
3.   Thus, cultural relativism is true. (1,2)
     Argument against Premise 1 of
          Ladd’s Argument

1.   Practices differ from culture to culture, e.g.,
     the way we treat our parents/grandparents
     when they get older. (premise)
2.   But we engage in different practices for the
     same principled reason, e.g., respect for our
     elders. (premise)
3.   So, the moral beliefs of different cultures do
     not differ, even though the practices do. (1,2)
     Argument against Premise 2 of
          Ladd’s Argument
1.   Slavery and racism are a part of our cultural background.
2.   Assume that moral beliefs and practices depend on our
     cultural background. (premise)
3.   So, slavery and racism are acceptable moral beliefs and
     practices of our culture. (1,2)
4.   Slavery and racism treats others unequally. (premise)
5.   Moral theories should attempt to treat everyone equally.
6.   Thus, cultural relativism should find slavery and racism
     morally permissible and impermissible. (3-5)
7.   6 is a contradiction. (6)
8.   Thus, we should not accept cultural relativism. (7)

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