Philosophical Ethics Study Guide

Topics: Morality, Immanuel Kant, Categorical imperative Pages: 5 (1277 words) Published: October 31, 2014
Philosophical Ethics: Part A

1.Name and briefly describe the four main aspects of the AU decision-making process.

i.Scope → Includes all those affected by the act, either directly or indirectly ii.Duration → Considers the length of time of each effect iii.Intensity → Considers the force or strength of each resulting experience iv.Probability → Considers how likely each effect might be, given that we don’t know ahead of time which of the many possible effects will actually occur.

2.Define what act utilitarianism is (your definition should also include a brief description of what utility means vs. disutility).

i.Act Unitarianism → States that the morally right act in any given situation is the act that would produce the greatest overall utility in its consequences to that person. ii.Utility → Desirable consequences which are said to have positive utility iii.Disutility → Undesirable consequences, often associated with pain and suffering, are said to have negative utility

3.What is the moral saints problem? Which moral theory does it object to?

i.Moral Saints Problem → Since utilitarianism requires us to do whatever produces the greatest overall utility, we can never settle for anything less than that. ii.Moral Confirmation → The Moral Saints Problem objects moral confirmation by placing demands upon us that extend beyond what even the best of us normally take to be our moral duty.

4.Consider person A, who acts to help person B, who is in need. Would Kant say that A’s helping B is wrong because A gets good feelings from helping B? Briefly explain your reply.

i.Kant believed that if any action is not done with the motive of duty, then it is without moral value. Kant believed that every action should have pure intention behind it or else it was meaningless. Kant did not think that the final result was the most important aspect of an action, but how the person felt while carrying out the action was the time at which value was set to the result.

5.Describe how a hypothetical imperative differs from a categorical imperative.

i.Hypothetical Imperative → Tells us what we must do to achieve some type of goal. These commands are conditional and usually are “If / Then” statements. ii.Categorical Imperatives → An unconditional command that holds the same for every person in every situation without exception. These commands tell us what we can or cannot do, regardless of what the goals or purposes of that person are.

6.Give an example, which illustrates the moral permissiveness objection. Which moral theory is typically faced with this objection?

i.Moral Permissiveness Objection → Act Utilitarianism can approve any sort of action (i.e. lying, stealing, etc.) could turn out to be my moral duty in the right circumstances. ii.Moral Confirmation → Moral confirmation is the theory faced by this objection because in AU any sort of act could be the morally right thing to do. iii.Example → Breaking a promise or lying to achieve the greatest utility for yourself.

7.What is the first formulation of the categorical imperative?

i.Formula of Universal Law → Act only in accordance with a maxim that you can at the same time will to be a universal law or principle. ii.Maxim → A rule of conduct or behavior.

8.What is the second formulation of the categorical imperative?

i.Principle of Ends → Act so as to treat every person affected by your action (including yourself) as an end and never as a means only. ii.End → The goal that is valued for its own sake and that is to be attained by employing some means. iii.Means → Something that is used as a tool or way of attaining some desired end.

9.What is the justice/human rights objection? Against which moral theory is this an objection?

i.Justice/Human Rights Objection → Since the majority interests can easily overshadow minority interests, AU requires some individuals to be treated unfairly or have their...
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