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ETHICS: DISCOVERING RIGHT AND WRONG

Louis Pojman, James Fieser

Book Outline to Seventh Edition
Prepared by James Fieser with additions by Sandra Dreisbach

1. WHAT IS ETHICS
1) Introduction
i) Kitty Genovese example
2) Ethics and its subdivisions
i) Philosophy
a) Clarify concepts, analyze and test propositions and beliefs b) Major task is to analyze and construct arguments ii) Ethics vs. morality
a) Both terms derive their meaning from the idea of “custom”, that is, normal behavior b) Moral: Latin word “mores”
c) Ethical: Greek “ethos”
iii) The study of ethics draws on three subdivisions
a) Descriptive morality: actual beliefs, customs, principles, and practices of people and cultures b) Moral philosophy (ethical theory): the systematic effort to understand moral concepts and justify moral principles and theories c) Applied ethics: deals with controversial moral problems, e.g., abortion, premarital sex, capital punishment, euthanasia, and civil disobedience 3) Morality as compared with other normative subjects

i) Religion
a) Morality can be independent of religion
b) The practice of morality need not be motivated by religious considerations c) Moral principles need not be grounded in revelation or divine authority d) Limitation: we don’t agree about the authority behind religious rules ii) Law

a) Many laws are instituted in order to promote well-being, resolve conflicts of interest, and promote social harmony, just as morality does b) Ethics may judge that some laws are immoral

c) Some aspects of morality are not covered by law 1. e.g., helping others in need
2. It is impractical to have laws against bad intentions, but bad intentions are still immoral d) Limitation: you can’t have a law against every social problem, or enforce every desirable rule iii) Etiquette

a) Etiquette determines what is polite behavior rather than what is right behavior in a deeper sense b) Limitation: it doesn’t get to the heart of what is vitally important for personal and social existence 4) Traits of moral principles

i) Prescriptivity: the practical, or action-guiding, nature of morality; involves commands ii) Universalizability: moral principles must apply to all people who are in a relevantly similar situation iii) Overridingness: moral principles have predominant authority and override other kinds of principles iv) Publicity: moral principles must be made public in order to guide our actions v) Practicability: moral principles must be workable and its rules must not lay a heavy burden on us when we follow them 5) Domains of ethical assessment

i) Action
a) Right act: permissible
1. Obligatory act: morality requires you to do 2. Optional act: neither obligatory nor wrong to do i. Neutral act
ii. Supererogatory act: exceed what morality requires b) Wrong act: you have an obligation, or a duty, to refrain from doing c) Deontological ethical ethics: something is inherently right or good about such acts as truth-telling and promise-keeping and inherently wrong or bad about such acts as lying and promise-breaking 1. e.g. Ten Commandments, Golden Rule, Kant’s Categorical Imperative ii) Consequences

a) If the consequences are on balance positive, then the action is right; if negative, then wrong b) Teleological ethical theories: focus primarily on consequences in determining moral rightness and wrongness iii) Character: moral assessment based

a) Virtue theories: moral assessment is based on good or bad character traits of people iv) Motive
a) Two acts...
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