moral theories

Mind Map by samelesedy, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by samelesedy over 7 years ago


moral philosophy Mind Map on moral theories, created by samelesedy on 06/12/2013.

Resource summary

moral theories
1 utilitarianism
1.1 act utilitarianism
1.1.1 jermey bentham created the 'happiness principle' that the best action to take is the one which causes the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, this is what Act Utilitarianism is based on. it is a consequencialist theory as it is based on the consequences of an action.
1.1.2 objections. Mill: happiness is too complex and indefinable to be applied to direct actions. we have learnt over time which actions are the best to take via trail and error, these are called secondary principles and inform us on which action to take. he argued that the happiness principle should only be applied when two secondary principles conflict with each other it can justify immoral act as being moral it can create un-reasnable demands on people as there is always an action which can cause greater happiness, e.g. if i go buy a cd the happiness principle would indicate that the money should go to charity, this can lead to all my money going to charity. it doesn't place my happiness above anyone else's, so if an action causes me unhappiness but others more happiness then i should do it.
1.1.3 how can we figure out the consequences of an action to see if it will maximise happiness? Bentham argues that in fact an action is right if it's in accordance to the 'tendancy which it appears to have' to maximise happiness. so we don't precisely work out which action will cause the greatest happiness we just need to have reasonable effect that it will cause the greatest happiness.
1.2 rule utilitarianism
1.2.1 an action is right if it complies with the rules which everyone has agreed upon, by following these rules the greatest happiness will be caused
1.2.2 advantages over act utilitarianism immoral acts that would be permisable under Act would be considered immoral we don't need to work out which action will cause the greatest happiness each time as this would have previously been done collectivley a rule which allows people toact upon integrity will promote more happiness than any other it is not so demanding on people and rules will permit people t do their 'fair share'
1.2.3 criticism exceptions to rule will occur and as more and more occur it will eventually turn in to Act Utilitarianism Rule response ule utilitarianism is the only theory which provides guidance even though at time it will seem that by creating exceptions we can cause more happiness, by breaking the rules we will cause more unhappiness as it will promote others to break other rules.
1.3 preference theory
1.3.1 people's preferences should be maximised instead of their pleasure being maximised they are easier to gauge and compare than pleasures are. can be right to satisfy some ones preferences even if they don't know about it distinguishes between higher and lower preferences, arguing that not all preferences are the same, some are lower bodily preferences and others are higher preferences, we should aim to satisfy the higher preferences.
1.3.2 objections focuses on maximises happiness not achieving justice is happiness really what matters kant argued that happiness is not always good.
1.4 hedonism
1.4.1 bentham and mill were hedonists as they believed that happiness and avoiding pain is pleasure. bentham argued that happiness can be calulated using the 'felicific calculus' we can calculate who much an action is worth: if pleasure is more intense, will last longer, more certain to occur, happen sooner rather than latter, or will in turn create more pleasure and less pain. mill's preference/pleasure higher/lower divide
2 deontology
2.1 theory based on duty to do something good and to prevent something bad, the actions are not judged on their consequences they are judged in themselves. often when there's a right there's a duty, but there are cases when you have a duty but there's no right, e.g. charity
2.2 there are two classes of duties: 1st general duties towards anyone, they can be prohibiting(i.e. don't kill) or positive (i.e. help people in need). 2nd duties that come as a result of our personal and soicial relationships (i.e. dopn't break a promise). we only have to be concerned with our own duties not anyone else's.
2.3 how do we find out what our duties are?
2.3.1 they can be found by appealing to reason and insight, W.D. Ross argued that there were self-evident duties which were called prima facie's, which are: fidelity (keeping a promise), reperation (when we have done something wrong), gratitude, justice, benefeicience (helping others), self-improvement and non-maleficience.
2.3.2 aquinas argued that we use insight to discover what is good and about the insight of human flurishing, we have direct rational insight into what is good and this informs us about human flurishing. what's good id truely desirable and what's bad is truly undesirable. there are things which are self-eidently truly desirable, like: friendship, marriage, life and so on.
2.3.3 an absolute duty is when it allows for no exceptions, this can cause problems though when there is conflict between two absolute duties. some say that a real conflict of duties can never occur, as when it does what has happened is someone has misunderstood the duties. most duties are not absolute so some duties can 'give way'. w.d.ross argued that normal duties are not absolute, but at first sight prima facia are, so in conflict one will have to give way and not become a duty. how do we resolve conflict of duties? w.d.ross argues that there is no criteria for this so we should use our judgement. deontologists argue that this lack of criteria is a strength as life provides choices in which the best option is unclear. to be moral consists of using judgement not knowledge of a philisophical theory
2.4 utilitarians object that to have a duty is not enough as you also need to enforce it, i.e. the duty not to kill also requires you to prevent murder
2.5 Kant
2.5.1 moral principles can be derived from reason alone, we only need to understand what it is to make a decision to be able to discover what decision to make.
2.5.2 the premises put in place: 1st, all decisions have maxims behind them, 2nd morality is a set of rules which apply to everyone, so the maxim chosen had to be able for everyone to do it.
2.5.3 the 'categorical imperative' (Categorical as we can't take it or leave it, and imperative as it's a command)was divsed to see if a particular maxim was morally good. if the maxim can be put as universal law and followed by everyone then it is morally good. this led to the 'two tests' 1st a maxim can fail if it's a 'contradiction in terms', where the maxim would collapse if everybody followed it. 2nd is when it's a 'contradiction in will', when it contradicts itself in the means of it getting carried out, Kant gave the example of the maxim 'nobody should help anyone', this is a contradiction in will because: 1st a will by definition wills its ends, 2nd to truly will the ends would mean to will the means, 3rd we can't will a situation in which it is impossible to achieve our ends. it is based on reason. it is not just morally wrong but also irrational to disobey the categorical imperative. but why should morality be about being rational? morality is supposed to guide our actions, it can only do this if it motivates us. only 2 things motivate us, happiness and reason, but happiness can't motivate us because what makes people happy differs from person to person but morality is the same for everyone, utilitarians would object saying that we're motivated by the greatest happiness but Kant says its only our happiness which motivates us and often utilitarians refer to reason here. happiness is not always morally good, so morality can't be grounded in happiness and has to be grounded in reason. objections to the categorical imperative any maxim can be justified if it's phrased cleverly, but Kant would respond that the categorical imperative only applies to real maxims, so this requires that we're honest with each other. it can deliver some strange results were i can act in a way that isn't immoral but as everyone cant act in that way it's seen as immoral. kant can respond that it's irrational to act in a way that nobody else can act .
2.5.4 the formula of humanity. people are ends in themselves so can't be used soley as a means, you can use them as a mean but you have to respect their humanity.
2.5.5 the idea of good will means that the motivating factor for an act should be duty over anything else, an action isn't moral if it' motivated by want, no matter the outcome, an action is only moral if it's motivated by a sense of duty. objections we are often motivated by feelings rather than duties, according to kant actions out of feelings are immoral, but this seems odd? kant can reply that he isn't trying to stop us being motivated by our feelings, but when there is a choice about what to do are feelings aren't as important as what's morally good.
2.5.6 practical insight involves more than one kind of insight. 1st insight into what is good or bad for man, namely human flurishing. 2nd knowing what's required of you in a general situation in light of what's good.
2.6 there is no formal procedure for decision making, but aristotle uses practical reason, it requires not only a theoretical knowledge but also a capacity to act on that knowledge, the capacity requires: 1st general conception of what's good or bad,, aristotle relates this to a condition of human flurishing. 2nd ability to percieve what's required in a general conception. 3rd ability to deliberate well. 4th ability to act on deliberation. practical wisdom can't be tought as its learnt through experience.
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