Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 Powered By Docstoc
					Moral Wisdom or prudence may be
defined as the proper connection
among the end or goal of an action,
the means to achieve it, and the
judgment to act upon it, such that
the result is a morally satisfying

    MORAL               VISION
   MORAL         C    JUDGEMENT
  STRENGTH       E
Wisdom is the perfection of the various
    aspects of moral competence

 It perfects the desire to do the good
  by developing a robust sense of the
  good life, a moral vision.
   It perfects virtuous behavior by
    guiding it deliberatively towards
   the proper moral ends and means.
     It perfects moral strength by helping
     to making the right decisions.
   The General Characteristics of Wisdom

               Reasoning ability
A clear, logical mind, a storehouse of infor-
mation and learning, with an ability to apply
these to the solution of a particular problem

   A good understanding of themselves
   and others.
              Learning capacity
They attach importance to ideas;
they learn from other people’s mistakes, as
      well as their own;
they seek out detailed information;
they change their mind on the basis of
      experience and knowledge;
they feel they can learn from others;
they are not afraid to admit mistakes;
they correct their mistakes, learn,
      and then go on;
they seek the counsel of others.
Good intuitions, discernment and insight;
they offer solutions that are on the side of
right and truth.

              Good character
They are self-honest, considerate of others,
and have genuine concern for people; they
are fair, and listen to all sides of an issue;
they are modest.
              Good judgment
They are sensible, and think before they
act, speak or make decisions; they are
able to take the long view into consideration.
   How is prudence or wisdom acquired?

1. one must have acquired a virtuous character.
  2. maturity of the faculties of
   judgment and understanding.
     3. experience in making moral
      deliberations and decisions.
      4. an understanding of the
      ways of the world; a savoir-faire.
         5. intellectual insight, intuition,
          observation and discernment.
    Prudence and practical reasoning is
    concerned with connecting means
    and ends in a manner that leads to
    good moral outcomes.

Practical reasoning is concerned, then, with:

   The end of an action

           The means to an end
                     The decision to act, to
                     initiate those means.
  In its most general sense, wisdom and
  practical reasoning are concerned with:

Vision--the ends of action

     Deliberation--or the consideration of
          means to ends.
         Judgement--or decisions about when
             and what to do in light of some
             end or goal.
 This helps to characterize the various aspects
 of moral wisdom:

Deliberation is concerned     Moral Vision is a
with determining the          sense of the good life.
 best moral means to
attain a good end.                JUDGMENT

 Judgement is               DELIBERATION
 choice concerning
 the best moral course
 of action.                 MORAL
The person who is morally wise, then,
is someone who has the proper vision
of the good life, knows the best moral
means for attaining it, and has the
right character and strength of will
to act upon what must be done.
Moral vision is one part of wisdom
of wisdom or prudence.
               Moral Vision is concerned with
               articulating a sense of the
               good life.
Deliberation is concerned         JUDGMENT
with determining the
 best moral means to         DELIBERATION
attain a good end.

 Judgement is             MORAL
 choice concerning        VISION
 the best moral course
 of action.
                Some characteristics of Moral Vision:

 1. According to Aristotle it is the sense of the good life, a
 view of what is best in our lives, or an idea of happiness.

    2. According to Plato, without moral vision one is
    direction-less, and interested in only satisfying our
    lower needs.

3. Thomas Sowell calls visions maps; they are
cognitive, but pre-analytic --it is what we sense about
the world before we have constructed any systematic
reasoning about it.
A Moral Vision is layered. It
typically consists of a Cosmic
Vision, that is, a sense of the
moral order of the cosmos.        COSMIC VISION
 It also involves a
Public Vision, a
sense of the common good,         PUBLIC VISION
themoral quality of the origin,
history and direction of
the society one lives in.
                                  SENSE OF THE
Finally, it consists in an         GOOD LIFE
individual sense of the
good life, as set in the
context of these other two
aspects of moral vision.
                                Cosmic Vision

1. In most cultures a cosmic vision of the world is ex-
pressed primarily in terms of myths and stories.
2. A cosmic vision attempts to explain how things came to
be the way they are, and how they continue to be ordered.
3. A myth is a narrative, and a narrative conveys
certain moral qualities by:
      a. the order of events in the story.
      b. the outcome of the story.
      c. the various roles agents play in the story.
      d. the character of the agents relative to these
                              Cosmic Vision

   Synopsis of Genesis Creation Story

God (Yahweh) creates the world out of a formless void.
First light is created , then light separated from darkness.
The upper waters are separated from lower waters. Dry
land is separated from water. Vegetation is created by
type. Days and nights follow in ordered sequence. The
sun and the stars are created. Sea, air and land creatures
are created. Human beings are made last.
                              Cosmic Vision
 A Tlingit Creation Tale:

Raven goes to a place where there’s some dirt and rocks.
He tries to put them together, but they don’t stick. That
Raven, he’s got a temper, so he kicked the rocks and swore
because he hurt his toes. But then he had another idea.
This time he mixed in some water with the rocks and dirt.
He worked hard, that Raven did, and had an awful time
of it. The mountains dropped off. The oceans spilled over.
Sometimes he got so mad he just kicked the whole thing to
pieces. Raven’s world was lumpy and bumpy, and it sure
didn’t look like what he had in mind. But he was good and
tired of working on it. So he said the hell with it. And
that’s the way it stayed.
These two stories convey different
norms and values and attitudes
concerning the origin of the cosmos.

      The Genesis story conveys the idea
      that the cosmos was created
      purposely, perfectly and imbued with
The Raven story, on the other hand,
suggests that the cosmos was created
haphazardly, imperfectly, and not
necessarily imbued with either good or
Given the present imperfection and
suffering in the world, the Genesis
myth would suggest that it is basically
our fault that the world has gotten
into such a situation. The Tlingit myth
would suggest that the world is
already inherently flawed.

      These views serve as a background
      to how one understands oneself as
      a moral agent.
                        Cosmic Vision

It is possible to reduce myths to four or
 five narrative types, based on:

1. the sort of conflict involved in the story.

2. the character of the opponents involved.

3. who makes the breach and who resolves it.

4. and how it gets resolved.
           ION                      ?
Stories typically
exhibit this sort of
   Types of
  Narratives                  Romance

Tragedy          Comedy


 each of these types fill out this pattern
 in a somewhat different way.

  A villain causes          The hero resolves
  disruption in the         the conflict by
  order of things.          vanquishing the

The conflict is usually         The sort of
resolved positively, with       conflict is
 good over evil.                one of good
                                versus evil.

The tragic hero        The conflict is
 causes the             resolved with
disruption in          the defeat or
the order of things.   death of the
                        tragic hero
                        by a certain
The sort of conflict
                       order or force.
involved is called

The conflict        The conflict is
is caused by        resolved by
a blocker of        non-violence, and
high status.        the opponent is
                    often incorporated
The sort of of      into the happy ending.
conflict involved
is called

A relatively           The hero’s attempt
weak hero              to disrupt the order
attempts to             fails.
disrupt the
                          The conflict ends
The sort of conflict      with the order
involved is called        in place.

A naïve hero
                    The hero resolves
comes in conflict
                     the conflict by
with an existing
                    divorcing himself
                    from the existing
The blocker is
                    order and returning
someone shown       to a truer, more
to be foolish or    natural order.
In general, each of these narrative types
expresses an implicit norm:

 For Romance or melodrama it is the
 good should prevail over evil, so that
 reward should be given to the good, and
 punishment to the vicious.
      For tragedy, the norms are that loyalty,
      love and cooperation should prevail within
      a group, and only ill consequences result
      from their violation.
 For comedy, the same norms as tragedy
 are implied, except that the comedy
 shows these norms prevailing despite
 the threat of their violation.

Irony, in many respects is opposed to the
implicit norms of the romance, it implies
that there may not be a just order to things,
that people are flawed, the good may not
necessarily prevail.
Thus our moral vision is conveyed
by stories which visualize and
concretize implicit norms for us.

    These norms serve as a background
    to our sense of ourselves as moral
The Good Life
 There are several different
 conceptions of the good life.

Many people think that the good life
should include things such as
happiness, prosperity and success.
                      PROSPERITY is the
                      achievement of a certain
                      level of wealth and security.

SUCCESS is accomplishment
 within a certain practice that     HAPPINESS a
 affords the person a certain       subjective feeling
amount of recognition and           of contentment or
status relative to that practice.   joy; sanguine
FLOURISHING the effect upon
a person of genuine mastery over
a number of practices thought to
be essential to the good life.
   There are different senses of being a
   success and being successful.

If you accomplish any goal you set for
yourself, then you might consider yourself
successful relative to that goal.

However, no matter how many of these
goals you accomplish, the goals themselves
may not count you as being a success.
Being a successful physician, for example,
may require more than accomplishing
one’s own personal goals.

 A successful physician must also
 accomplish certain things as set by
 her colleagues, the profession and the
 public. It cannot be just subjectively
Happiness may be considered to be more
of a psychological state, having to do with
mood and temperament. Consequently,
it may not be correlated with external
Flourishing is something different than

 Flourishing is a condition that results from
 the qualitative exercise and performance of
 certain practices.

 Flourishing has more to do with the
 development of the person toward a more
 perfect way of life.
Success does not necessarily make one
happy, nor does it necessarily lead to
flourishing. There may be a certain
price to success that inhibits flourishing
or diminishes happiness.

          There has to be a delicate balance in
          any worthy practice; striving for
          success rather than excellence may
          corrupt the practice.
 Prosperity creates comfort, security and
 sometimes recognition; but, again, there
 may be a certain price to prosperity that
 inhibits flourishing or diminishes

If one aims at prosperity and success, then one
looks to the extrinsic rewards of the practice,
rather than any intrinsic rewards the practice
or mastery of the practice might have.
               The Good Life

There are various senses of the good life
    promoted by our culture:

 the life of              the American
 enjoyment.               dream.

 the life of            the life of fame
  wealth.               and power.
      The Good Life

          the life of

aims to make life an adventure to
enjoy, and to maximize all those
pleasures which life affords.
Some difficulties with the life of enjoyment:

1. Pleasure has thresholds which require
either larger quantities or higher qualities
of it in order to reach the same level of

   2. It requires a large amount of wealth
    to pursue, and occupations that can
   afford such a lifestyle.
3. Full-blown pursuit of pleasure is
 usually self-destructive.

4. Pursuit of pleasure does not exempt
 one from ordinary problems.
           The Good Life

            the American

The American Dream. This is a life in
 pursuit of a modicum of social-
economic goods, including secure and
safe employment, a nice home, a good
marriage and family life.
   Problems with the American dream:

•Life is not often secure; even in the more
secure environments, danger and tragedy
are constant threats.
•Often duties required to secure such a life
 require that one engage in risks and insecurities.
•Such a life can lead to an isolation from
community, and a rabid form of consumerism.
•To insure security one may have to sacrifice
relations; to insure relations one may have to
sacrifice security and success.
            The Good Life

                the life of

This involves occupations and lifestyles
that are conducive to maximizing
one’s wealth.
          Criticisms of the life of wealth

• wealth is inherently instrumental, unless one
is a miser, it is used for the sake of something else.

    • the pursuit of wealth in and of itself
    does not differentiate between acquiring
     it virtuously or viciously.

     •Wealth can solve only certain sorts of
     problems, and may exacerbate others.
           The Good Life

             the life of fame
             and power.

This involves the pursuit of recognition
and status within one’s community.
  Criticisms of the Life of Fame and Power

• Fame and honor depends on the recognition by
others, which is often insecure and fickle.

• Morally unconstrained pursuit of power
 or fame is notoriously corruptive, and can
 be inherently vicious.
   Aristotle: the good life is a flourishing life, and
   a flourishing life is a virtuous one.
Flourishing is not a
state of mind, but a
                                Flourishing should
 way of life.
                                be understood as the
                                perfection of person.
The virtuous life         Virtue is the
is a flourishing life.     perfection of
                          one’s character,
                          and prudence is
                          the perfection of

  A life is most complete and perfect,
  and persons can be genuinely counted
  as flourishing, when they can enjoy all
  the various sense of the good life as a
   person with a virtuous character.
according to Aristotle

A virtuous person will enjoy the right
sort of pleasures which life can afford
at the right amount and in the right way.
for Aristotle   Wealth would be pursued without
                greed or ruthlessness.
A virtuous person is a safe
companion and neighbor.
         a person with virtuous character
         makes a good spouse, parent and friend.
Those with virtuous character can be
trusted with power to be fair-minded.
DELIBERATION is the second
 aspect of wisdom. Vision is
 concerned with determining
the ends of action, and the best
sense of the good life, but
deliberation is concerned with
 the best moral means to achieve
 that end.
              DELIBERATION is just not
              logical reasoning, but involves
              the whole person.

DELIBERATION is just not
rational calculation
but also the consideration
of which plan will
lead to the best moral
Calculation is simply
determining the most
efficient means to an
end without real regard
for its moral quality.
Deliberation is also not cunning.
Cunning is a kind of calculation
that always aims to maintain
one’s advantage, no matter what
is needed to be done.
The Roman philosopher, Cicero,
outlined an interesting model of

For Cicero deliberation is not
just calculation or cunning, but
concerned with moral means to
good ends.
 For Cicero, deliberation is a matter
 of determining the proper relations
 among efficiency, advantage, and
 the honorable.

Efficiency is concerned with determining
what is necessary for an action, and what
are the most economical means of
attaining an end, in the broad sense of
the term.
Advantage is that which secures our security,
and helps to maintain our position of power,
or to gain more of what we already possess.

    The Honorable is that
    which is virtuous, good
    and decent.
   For Cicero, the honorable should
   always outweigh the advantageous.

The exception to this are
cases where advantage
must be taken in order
to secure the honorable
at a later date.
  Only within the context of what is
  honorable can we choose what is
  to our advantage.

Among those advantages, we should
choose only those that can be efficiently
Besides these general considerations
for deliberation,Cicero also lays outlines
three parameters in which all deliberation
takes place.
 Deliberation involves MEMORY,
which correspond with the three
temporal dimensions of deliberation,
past, present and future.
    DELIBERATION involves



Memory is the use of past experiences,
collected wisdom, cultural training, and
education, and the understanding one’s
own life story, as a basis for making
moral decisions.
Discernment is the perception of
the subtleties, nuances, and
particular circumstances of the
present situation, the situation
for which you must make a choice.
Foresight is the ability to imagine
the future consequences and outcomes
of a proposed decision.
 Memory is the first aspect
 of deliberation, according
 to Cicero’s model.

It is concerned with drawing on
the past, in all its aspects, in
order to make the best moral
judgment concerning the
present situation.

          LIFE STORY

Some general characteristics of

  Memory is the means by which
  we access experience relevant to
  moral deliberation; remember that
  experience is crucial to prudence.
Experience in this regard is often
narratively re-constructed by memory.

 Since moral vision is also
 narratively organized, a blending
 of individual experience and moral
 vision is possible.

 Past moral decisions and dilemmas
 are often organized in story form.
Stories present paradigms for how to or
how not to behave, and allows us to
compare those paradigms with present,
comparable situations.
Memory also provides an
understanding of your life to date,
and prepares the ground for
how the present situation is going
to affect or fit into that life history.
•Memory provides us with a certain
sense of ourselves as a moral actor;

•it allows us to see how one decision
rather than another will affect the
continuity of ourselves as having a
certain moral quality of life. A
decision may therefore negatively
or positively affect this continuity.

discernment is the perception of the
nuances, parameters and peculiarities
of a situation; it is a kind of discrimination
that is concerned with apprehending
distinctions and relations among
concrete particulars.
Discernment is concerned with the
comparison of the particulars in a
 concrete case with any generalities
 involved in a deliberated plan.

If memory supplies us with the insight
 and wisdom of the past, then discernment
helps us to recognize that certain situations
are or are not cases to which
these can be appropriately applied.
discernment is also concerned with the
discovery of something novel in a situation.

 discernment is also concerned with the
 valuative and affective assessment of a
 situation;discernment determines what
  is salient to a situation for the purposes
 of deliberation.
In general, discernment allows what is
deliberated to be addressed to this
situation; discernment allows us to
apply wisdom to the shape of the situation.
Whereas memory is concerned with the general
information we gain from our experience and our
moral vision, discernment is concerned with the
present, particular situation.

The relation of memory to discernment, then, is a
connection of the general to the particular case.

Casuistry is an illustration of such a process.

Casuistry was a technique of moral reasoning
developed by 16th century theologians.
Casuistry is concerned with the case; a case is a
confluence of persons and actions in a time and
 a place.

A case is concrete as distinguished from the
abstract, because it represents the confluence
of many circumstances.

Each case is unique in its circumstances,
yet each case is similar in type to other cases;
for that reason it can be compared and
contrasted to others.
         Casuistic reasoning

1. Using memory, one first determines the
“place” of the case, that is, its type. What
 is the moral issue that might be involved:
e.g., love vs. duty, loyalty vs. honor,
immediate pleasures vs. long-term
       one then recalls the various
       arguments of the moral type.
          Casuistic reasoning

2. Using discernment, one determines the
particulars of the case --the who, what, why
 and when of the case.
      who are the particular persons in
      this case,their life-story, character, etc.
      one then qualifies the arguments in (1)
      so they address the particular
      circumstances of the case.
Casuistic reasoning
     3. The final step in the process is the
     comparison of cases.
           one looks for precedents that resemble
           the current case which have been
           resolved satisfactorily.
           These then serve as paradigms by
            which to measure the various
            resolutions to this particular case.
   FORESIGHT is one of three
   aspects of deliberation according
   to Cicero’s model.

These include memory, which concerns
that which we can draw on from our
past experiences, and the wisdom of
others and, discernment, which concerns
the perception of the nuances and
complexities of the present situation.

FORESIGHT is like being an author
of a book.

Given one’s situation, the characters
involved and proposed plans, what
are the likely consequences; how will
people react; what are the probable
just as an author tries to follow out the con-
sequences of certain decisions and actions his
or her characters make, so in foresight you
attempt to follow the train of consequences of
certain actions, given an understanding of the
characters involved, and a decent
understanding of how the world works.
Judgment is the last
aspect of prudence; it
concerns the execution
of a plan or a goal. It
typically follows upon

Once plans and alternatives
have been deliberated, then
a decision must be made about
which will yield the best moral
  Judgments usually occurs
  when there is some
  indecision about the various

 If it is clear what to do, there
 is no need for judgment.

Indecisions or quandaries can
be classified into three basic
Three Types of Judgement

  Moral Temptations
  Right vs. Wrong

   Moral Dilemmas
   Right vs. Right

  Tragic Choices
  Wrong vs Wrong
  Lesser of Two Evils
 In moral temptations, one
 must choose between what
 you believe is right and what
 you believe is wrong.

In the abstract this is an easy
judgment—you should choose the
right thing—but in practice one
often engages in self-deception
and rationalization in such a way
as to justify the wrong choice to
  Tragic choices are the most
  difficult decisions of all.

This requires a choice between
two or more alternatives, all
of which are morally unpalatable.

     If possible, then, you
     must choose between
     “the lesser of two evils.”
Moral dilemmas are also
difficult judgments to make,
since they require you to
choose between two things
you could consider the right
thing to do.
    Common types of Moral dilemmas

Individual vs. Community

       Truth vs. Loyalty

            Short-term vs. Long-term

                 Justice vs. Mercy
   Individual vs. Community

 In this sort of dilemma, one
 must choose between the
 good of a single individual,
 or the good of the group or

Such decisions may require the
sacrifice of the individual’s good,
for the good of the whole.
    Truth vs. Loyalty

In this sort of dilemma, one
is often called upon to choose
between remaining loyal to
a friend, for example, or
being honest to others about
that friend.
Short-term vs. Long-term

In this dilemma, one must
choose between short-term
goals and long-term ones,
both of which may be valuable
to you.
      Justice vs. Mercy

In this sort of dilemma, one
must choose between acting
fairly and consistently or, on
the other hand, to take into
consideration the special
circumstances of the case that
would require leniency or
 Bad judgement occurs when:
 1. someone chooses to do
  something without any      2. someone chooses to
 deliberation; one acts on   do something before
 impulse even though         alternative
  there is adequate time     plans have been fully
 for deliberation.           deliberated
3. someone chooses to do something despite the fact
that foresight has shown it to have undesirable con-

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