the intro and justification ppt

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PHIL106
Contemporary Ethical
Issues
Lecture Etiquette
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Asking questions
Arriving late & leaving early
Cell phones
Sleeping
PHIL106: Contemporary
Ethical Issues
• The issues
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The morality of advertising
The morality of the death penalty
The morality of euthanasia
The abortion debate
Life boat ethics
The morality of cloning
The morality of genetic engineering
• The method
– Discussion of justified arguments
Is Advertising Immoral?
• Does advertising
manipulate us into
buying things that we
don’t need?
• Does advertising coerce
us into buying things
that are bad for us?
• Does exposure to
advertising make us
unhappy?
The Morality of the Death
Penalty
• The death penalty is
still doled out in
many places around
the world
• Should the death
penalty ever be used
as punishment for
wrong doing?
The Morality of Euthanasia
• Should doctors be able
to kill people if all of
the following criteria
about those people are
met?
– They’re in chronic pain,
– They’ve no chance of
recovery,
– They’ve little time left to
live, and
– They want to die
The Abortion Debate
• Should parents be
allowed to abort their
unborn children if
they choose to?
• Is there a point of the
pregnancy after which
abortion should not be
permitted?
Life Boat Ethics
• What do you do when the life boat
is full to capacity and there are
more people trying to get in?
• They will die if you leave them
• You might all die if you let them on
The Morality of Cloning
• Identical twins (and triplets!) are
effectively genetic clones
• Many animals have been cloned in
the lab (sheep, dogs, mice etc.)
• Should human cloning be banned?
The Morality of Genetic
Engineering
• Some people are born
with genetic diseases or
advantages (better
looking etc)
• Should genetic
engineering of humans
be allowed at all?
– And, if so, what things
should we be allowed to
use it for?
For Next Time
• Read:
– The Course Outline,
– ‘The Debate over Utilitarianism’
(1997) by James Rachels, and
– ‘A Simplified Account of Kant’s
Ethics’ (1997) by Onora O’Neill. – See
PHIL264 - 2008 reader
• Get ready to discuss:
– How to justify ethical claims
PHIL106
Justifying Ethical
Claims
Types of Claims
• Descriptive (usually amoral)
– “Those seats are red”
• Evaluative (can be amoral)
– “Her essay was excellent”
• Moral (never amoral)
– “Dan is a (morally) bad person”
– Assume there are such things
as morally right and wrong
Ethics
• Concerned with justifying
moral claims
• Can use theories
• Should use consistent and
rationally compelling
reasoning
• We are going to apply ethics
to contemporary moral
controversies in this course
Why Do We Need It?
• If we want to make the
world a better place…
• People have different
moral beliefs
• Ethics allows for
better discussion
• And, might help us find
the answer
A Test Case
• 18 year old brother and sister
on holiday together alone
• After much consideration,
they have protected
consensual sex
• They never tell anyone about
it or ever do it again
• They both enjoyed it and
remain very good friends
• Is what they did morally
wrong?
Brother-Sister Incest
• In Germany people are
regularly prosecuted for this
– Sent to jail, fined
– Have their children taken away
• The risk of genetic disease is
similar to two consenting
adults when one has a genetic
disease
– Which is allowed, but incest isn’t
• Article (more info on this couple)
Ethical Theories
• Can be applied to situations
and should provide a moral
verdict
• No theory seems to work
perfectly
– This may be a problem with
our moral beliefs
• No general agreement on a
‘best’ theory
Utilitarianism
• The morally right act is
the one that maximises
overall happiness
– Look at the options
– Try to predict how much
happiness and suffering will
be produced by each option
– Choose the one that should
produce the most ‘net
happiness’
Utilitarianism – E.G.
• You have cheated on your
partner
– Morally speaking, should you
tell them?
• Weigh up the options
– How much happiness and
suffering would you expect to
be produced by each option?
Kantianism
• Always act in a way that
respects the rationality
of others
– Think before you act
– Will this action treat
anyone as a mere means?
– Basically, you mustn’t use
people without their
consent
Kantianism – E.G.
• You have cheated on your
partner
– Morally speaking, should you
tell them?
• Which action would best
respect their rationality?
• Would you be using them as a
mere means?
• If they ask, you mustn’t lie
Argument by Analogy
• To argue that an act is
moral:
– Show that it is the same
as something your
opponent thinks is moral
– It only needs to be the
same in the morally
relevant ways
• Reverse for immoral
acts
Arg. by Analogy – E.G.
• Genetic engineering
kids to be smarter
• Some say it is morally
the same as sending
them to a better school
• Is this a good analogy?
– Are these two acts
morally equivalent?
Divine Command Theory
• An act is moral or immoral
if God thinks it to be so
• E.g. for Catholics:
– GE of people is a sin,
– But good schooling is not
• But, why would God endorse
one and not the other?
– The answer to this question
could be your justification
The Law
• An act is immoral if it breaks
a law
• But, the law is usually
thought to follow morality
Another Test Case
• Mike bought a bunch of
Rugby 7s tickets when they
first went on sale.
• He later auctioned them on
trademe, making $500 profit.
• Is what Mike has done
immoral?
• What factors might your
verdict depend on?

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