PHIL106 Contemporary Ethical Issues Lecture Etiquette • • • • Asking questions Arriving late & leaving early Cell phones Sleeping PHIL106: Contemporary Ethical Issues • The issues – – – – – – – 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?