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What is Morality?

We are discussing no small


matter, but how we ought to live
-- Socrates.
Morality is, at very least, the effort to guide
one’s conduct by reason -- that is, to do
what there are the best reasons for
doing-- while giving equal weight to the
interests of each individual who will be
affected by what one does -- James
Rachels.
Moral Principles
General moral principles make
some general statement about
what is morally right or wrong, or
good or bad, or what we should or
ought, or shouldn’t or ought not to
do.
Moral Principles
Duties---Obligations
Rights

Human Welfare

Suffering
Characteristics of Moral Principles
1. Prescriptive

2. Universal
3. Overriding
4. Public

5. Practical
Some common moral arguments
or principles
If we can benefit someone, without
harming someone else, we ought to do
so.

If we can prevent harm to someone,


without harming someone else, we
ought to do so.
Some common moral arguments
or principles

It is wrong to use people as


means to other people’s ends.
What is wrong about using people?
It violates their autonomy.

It may be against their


wishes.

What if the person cannot make


decisions for themselves?
Some common moral arguments
It is wrong to kill one person
to save another.

Are there exceptions?


Some common moral arguments
We should save as many as
we can.

Human life is sacred.


Some common moral arguments
Human lives are equally valuable.

Human lives are equally sacred.


What is a moral position?

A moral position is one that I


can support with reasons.
What is moral reasoning?
The morally right things to do is whatever
there are the best reasons for doing.

The facts of the case support our


reasoning for a particular choice being
right.
What is moral reasoning?
The reasoning is impartial.

The arguments supporting the reasoning


are valid.

The arguments supporting the reasoning


are sound.
What is a sound argument
A sound argument is one in
which the facts of the case
support our reasoning and the
arguments supporting the
reasoning are valid.
Dworkin's list of unacceptable reasons to
justify a moral position.
1. Prejudice

2. Personal emotional reaction


3. Proposition of fact that is patently false and/or
implausible
4. Position that relies completely on the beliefs
of others
Ethics as the evaluation of other people's behaviour
Sources of mistrust about moral judgements
Hypocrisy
Knowing other people

The right to judge

Judging and intervention

Judging and caring


Ethics as the search for the meaning of our own lives

How Would You Define Ethics?


The field of ethics (or moral philosophy)
involves systematizing, defending, and
recommending concepts of right and wrong
behavior.

Ethics refers to well based standards of right


and wrong that prescribe what humans ought
to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations,
benefits to society, fairness, or specific
virtues.
Ethics describes the topic, idea, study,
analysis, and discussion, of the hypothetical
criteria for assessing the appropriateness of
behaviors, decisions, actions, and/or
intellectual positions.

Ethics is concerned with what is right or


wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair,
responsible or irresponsible, obligatory or
permissible, praiseworthy or blameworthy.
It is associated with guilt, shame,
indignation, resentment, empathy,
compassion, and care. It is interested in
character as well as conduct.
Ethics refers to principles that define behavior
as right, good, and proper.

Ethics is the study of how we ought to live

Ethics tells us what is right or wrong, or good


or bad, or what we should or ought, or
shouldn’t or ought not to do.