Also known as
Religious Studies 120
Professor Marcella Norling
“We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought live.” Socrates, in Plato’s Republic
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of PHILOSOPHY:
•Use of reason and argument in seeking truth and knowledge of reality, especially knowledge of the causes and nature of things and of the principles governing existence •Particular system or set of beliefs reached by this
Branches of Philosophy
•Epistemology: What is knowledge?
•Ontology: What is the nature of existence?
•Aesthetics: What is beauty?
•Ethics: What should I do?
Ethics, or moral philosophy, asks basic questions about the good life, about what is better and worse, about whether there is any objective right and wrong, and about how we know it if there is. An ethical theory is
•a systematic exposition of a particular view about what is the nature and basis of good or right An ethical theory provides reasons or norms for judging acts to be right or wrong and attempts to give a justification DESCRIPTIVE: Factual, describes what IS
NORMATIVE: Evaluative, prescribes what SHOULD BE
You should act in your own best interest
You should act to create the greatest good for the greatest number KANTIANISM
You should do your moral duty by following the Categorical Imperative: •Form 1) Do only that which you would will to be a universal law •Form 2) Treat all people as ends, never as merely means
You should be a good (virtuous) person
NATURAL LAW ETHICS
You should act in accordance with your human nature and with the natural laws of the universe FEMINIST ETHICS
•Recognize and care for all people as equally human, and attend ethically to the full range of human experience however shaped by gender. If NO objective truth exists:
•Relativism: Do what your society says is right
•Subjectivism: Do what you think is right
•Emotivism: Do what you feel is right
•Nihilism: Do whatever. Or not. Doesn’t matter.
•Do what your religion says is right
•A dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro, written by Plato •Socrates questions Euthyphro about the GOOD
•Euthyphro answers repeatedly but his answers do not satisfy Socrates •Socrates asks for a definition of PIETY, or the GOOD, and Euthyphro gives him
•An example (what I am doing, prosecuting my father)
•An attribute (piety is that which is dear to the gods)
Mt. Olympus in Greece
**************************************************************************** Socrates asks:
•Is the pious (good) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious (good) because it is loved by the gods? If it is good because the gods love it, good does not exist independently of the gods. If the gods love it because it is good, good exists independently of the gods Socrates wants to know:
•Does GOOD exist independently of the gods?
•Does good exist independently?
•Does good exist?
If Good exists…
•what is the good?
•what is the source of the good?
What is ethical relativism?
•The view that ethical values and beliefs are relative to the various individuals or societies that hold them. •The view that NO objective right or wrong exists.
Two forms of ethical relativism:
•Cultural ethical relativism
•Individual ethical relativism
Arguments FOR and AGAINST ethical relativism
•There is no agreement on basic moral principles
•Disagreement does not prove there is no truth.
•Some apparent disagreements are factual, not moral
•We just don’t know for sure what is right, or if anything is right or wrong
•Maybe we just don’t know YET
•We may be unsure if we can know, but not knowing does not prove we can’t know...
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