Philosophy Notes

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PhilClass No. 1
Today: -Syllabus review -Ethics intro Homework: -Read Chapter 1 in Rachels -Read “Moral Sentiment” article Next time: -Ethics introduction continued -“Moral Sentiment”

9/15/12 9:40 PM

-First assignment distributed (P.E.T.) Personal Essay Topic – Ethical issue that you find interesting and will want to use/refer to throughout the rest of the course.

What is ethics? -Philosophy à 1. Epistemology – what do we know, and how do we know it? 2. Metaphysics – The nature of reality. What exists, why? And what is it like? 3. Ethics – How should we live our lives? What is “right”? What is “wrong”? Why do we need to study ethics? Helps you psychologize towards people Helps you successfully interact and understand people’s thought process Facts: “Humans are social rational animals.” (Aristotle) “Humans do not wish to die prematurely.” Want happy and healthy life Want social interactions People prefer to live in a civilized society * Avoid chaos and anarchy

Q: How do we know what the laws SHOULD be? A: -Possibilities -God/Religion à Some people are atheists à Religious pluralism (many different religions exist) -Dictatorship à But who gets to make the rules? And dictators may become evil -Democratic Vote à Majority does not always know best -Science à Not effective because you cannot touch or feel ideas. Cannot help us at all. Does not discuss abstract ideas. Science deals with measurements and physical things. We want a formal, systematic study of ethics performed by rational thinkers. SINCE ALL NORMAL PEOPLE ARE RATIONAL, ALL RATIONAL PEOPLE CAN ACCEPT AND APPRECIATE THE RESULTS OF THIS FORMAL STUDY. Ethical truths become truths of reason, and so ethics becomes objective, not subjective. Civilized society. ETHICS IS NOT OPINION ONLY!

3 Branches of Ethics: Descriptive Ethics – describes how people ACTUALLY behave. (Psychology, sociology, anthropology). Normative Ethics – study of how people SHOULD behave.

Metaphysics – study of the...
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