ETHICS INVENTING RIGHT AND WRONG PDF
J. L. Mackie. Ethics. Inventing Right and Wrong. Penguin Books. 4. find the presenting of such a thesis in what purports to be a book on ethics. initial implausibility in a view that gave the one a merent status from the other. J.L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. (New York: Penguin Books, ). J. L. Mackie - Ethics~ Inventing Right and Wrong (, ) - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.
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Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong [J. L. Mackie] on myavr.info *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This title presents an insight into moral skepticism of the. [email protected] Page 1 of J. L. Mackie – Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. Preface. • Ethical judgements divide into first and second orders. Mackie's “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong”. The argument you've given is very close Mackie's argument from queerness, posited in "Ethics: Inventing Right.
I mean rather that it was discussed vigorously in the nineteen thirties and forties, but since then has received much less attention. But was there ever a genuine problem? Hare has said that he does not understand what is meant by objectivity of and that he has not met anyone who does.
We all know how to recognize the activity called thinking it to be so, that some act is and he thinks it is to this activity that the subjectivist and the objectivist are both alluding, though one calls it attitude and the other moral these are only different names for the same thing.
It is true that if one person says that a certain act is wrong and another that it is not wrong the objectivist will say that they are contradicting one another, but this yields no significant dis- crimination between objectivism and subjectivism, because the subjectivist too will concede that the second person is negating what the first has said, and Hare sees no difference between contradicting and negating. Again, the objectivist w i l l say that one of the two must be wrong; but Hare argues that to say that the judgement that a certain act is wrong is itself wrong is merely to negate that judgement, and the subjectivist too must negate one or other of the two judgements, so that still no clear difference between objectivism and subjectivism has emerged.
He sums up his case thus: T h i n k of one world into whose fabric values are objectively built; and think of another in which those values have been annihilated. A n d remember that in both worlds the people in them go on being concerned about the same things - there is no difference in the concern which people have for things, only in their "objective" value.
Now I ask, "What is the difference between the states of affairs in these two worlds? Now it is quite true that it is logically possible that the sub- jective concern, the activity of valuing or of thinking things wrong, should go on in just the same way whether there are objective values or not. But it does not follow, and it is not true, that there is no difference whatever between these two worlds.
In the one there is something that backs up and validates some of the subjective concern which people have for things, in the other there is not.
Hare's argument is similar to the claim that there is no difference between a phenomenalist or Berkeleian world in which there are only minds and their ideas and the commonsense realist one in which there are also material things, because it is logically possible that people should have the same experiences in both.
If we reject the positivism that would make the dispute between re- alists and a we can reject Hare's similarly supported dismissal of the issue of the tivity of values. In any case, Hare has minimized the difference between his two worlds by considering only the situation where people already have just such concern; further differences come to light if we consider how subjective concern is acquired or changed.
If there were something in the fabric of the world that validated certain kinds of concern, then it would be pos- sible to acquire these merely by finding something out, by let- ting one's thinking be controlled by how things were.
But in the world in which objective values have been annihilated the ac- quiring of some new subjective concern means the development of something new on the emotive side by the person who ac- quires it, something that eighteenth-century writers would put under the head of passion or sentiment. The issue of the objectivity of values needs, however, to be distinguished from others with which it might be confused. To say that there are objective values would not be to say merely that there are some things which are valued by everyone, nor does it entail this.
There could be agreement in valuing even if valuing is just something that people do, even if this activity is not further validated. Subjective agreement would give inter- subjective values, but intersubjectivity is not objectivity.
Nor is objectivity simply universalizability: Of course if there were objective values they would presumably belong to kinds of things or actions or states of affairs, so that the judgements that reported them would be universalizable; but the converse does not hold.
A more subtle distinction needs to be made between objec- tivism and descriptivism. Descriptivism is again a doctrine about the meanings of ethical terms and statements, namely that their meanings are purely descriptive rather than even partly prescriptive or emotive or evaluative, or that it is not an essential feature of the conventional meaning of moral state- ments that they have some special force, say of commending rather than asserting.
It contrasts with the view that commendation is in principle distinguishable from descrip- tion however difficult they may be to separate in practice and that moral statements have it as at least part of their meaning that they are commendatory and hence in some uses intrin- sically action-guiding.
But descriptive meaning neither entails nor is entailed by objectivity. Berkeley's subjective idealism about material objects would be quite compatible with the ad- mission that material object statements have purely descriptive meaning. Conversely, the main tradition of European moral philosophy from Plato onwards has combined the view that moral values are objective with the recognition that moral judgements are partly prescriptive or directive or action-guid- ing.
Values themselves have been seen as at once prescriptive and objective. In Plato's theory the Forms, and in particular the Form of the Good, are eternal, extra-mental, realities. They are a very central structural element in the fabric of the world. But it is held also that just knowing them or them will not merely tell men what to do but will ensure that they do it, overruling any contrary inclinations.
The philosopher-kings in the Republic can, Plato thinks, be trusted with unchecked. Being acquainted with the Forms of the Good and Justice and Beauty and the rest they will, by this knowledge alone, without any further motivation, be impelled to pursue and promote these ideals. Similarly, Kant believes that pure reason can by itself be practical, though he does not pretend to be able to explain how it can be so. Again, Sidgwick argues that if there is to be a science of ethics - and he assumes that there can be, indeed he as science of - what ought to be in another sense have objective exist- ence: But perhaps when Hare says that he does not understand what is meant by objectivity of values' he means that he cannot understand how values could be objective, he cannot frame for himself any clear, detailed, picture of what it would be like for values to be part of the fabric of the world.
This would be a much more plausible claim; as we have seen, even Kant hints at a similar difficulty. Indeed, even Plato warns us that it is only through difficult studies spread over many years that one can approach the knowledge of the Forms. The difficulty of seeing how values could be objective is a fairly strong reason for thinking that they are not so; this point will be taken up in Section 9 pp.
I believe that as well as being a real issue it is an important one. It clearly matters for general philosophy. It would make a radical difference to our metaphysics if we had to find room for objective values - perhaps something like Plato's Forms - somewhere in our picture of the world.
Less obviously, how this issue is settled will affect the possibility of certain kinds of moral argument.
For example, Sidgwick considers a dis- cussion between an egoist and a utilitarian, and points out that if the egoist claims that his happiness or pleasure is objectively desirable or good, the utilitarian can argue that the egoist's happiness be more objectively desirable or more a good than the similar happiness of any other person: But Sidgwick correctly stresses what a number of other philosophers have missed, that this argument against egoism would require the objectivity specifically of goodness: If the egoist claimed that it was objectively rational, or obliga- tory upon him, to seek his own happiness, a similar argument about the irrelevance of the fact that he is he would lead only to the conclusion that it was objectively rational or obligatory for each other person to seek his own happiness, that is, to a univer- salized form of egoism, not to the refutation of egoism.
A n d of course insisting on the universalizability of moral judgements, as opposed to the objectivity of goodness, would yield only the same result. Standards of evaluation One way of stating the thesis that there are no objective values is to say that value statements cannot be either true or false. But this formulation, too, lends itself to misinterpretation.
For there are certain kinds of value statements which undoubtedly can be true or false, even in the sense I intend, there are no objective values. The classing of wool, the grading of apples, the awarding of prizes at sheepdog trials, flower shows, skating and diving championships, and even the marking of examination papers are carried out in relation to standards of quality or merit which are peculiar to each par- ticular subject-matter or type of contest, which may be ex- plicitly laid down but which, even if they are nowhere explicitly stated, are fairly well understood and agreed by those who are recognized as judges or experts in each particular field.
Given any sufficiently determinate standards, it will be an objective issue, a matter of truth and falsehood, how well any particular specimen up to those standards. Comparative judge- ments in particular will be capable of truth and falsehood: The subjectivist about values, then, is not denying that there can be objective evaluations relative to standards, and these are as possible in the aesthetic and moral fields as in any of those just mentioned.
More than this, there is an objective dis- tinction which applies in many such fields, and yet would itself be regarded as a peculiarly moral one: In one important sense of the word it is a paradigm case of injustice if a court declares someone to be guilty of an offence of which it knows him to be innocent.
More generally, a finding is unjust if it is at variance with what the relevant law and the facts together require, and particularly if it is known by the court to be so. More generally still, any award of marks, prizes, or the like is unjust if it is at variance with the agreed standards for the contest in question: In this way the justice or injustice of decisions relative to standards can be a thoroughly objective matter, though there may still be a subjective element in the interpretation or application of standards.
But the state- ment that a certain decision is thus just or unjust will not be objectively prescriptive: Recognizing the objectivity of justice in relation to standards, and of evaluative judgements relative to standards, then, merely the question of the objectivity of values back to the stan- dards themselves. The subjectivist may try to make his point by insisting that there is no objective validity about the choice of standards.
Yet he would clearly be wrong if he said that the choice of even the most basic standards in any field was com- pletely arbitrary.
The standards used in sheepdog trials clearly bear some relation to the work that sheepdogs are kept to do, the standards for grading apples bear some relation to what people generally want in or like about apples, and so on.
On the other hand, standards are not as a rule strictly validated by such purposes. The appropriateness of standards is neither fully de- terminate nor totally indeterminate in relation to independently specifiable aims or desires.
But however determinate it is, the objective appropriateness of standards in relation to aims or desires is no more of a threat to the denial of objective values than is the objectivity of evaluation relative to standards. In fact it is logically no different from the objectivity of goodness relative to desires. Something may be called good simply in so far as it satisfies or is such as to satisfy a certain desire; but the objectivity of such relations of satisfaction does not constitute in our sense an objective value.
Hypothetical and categorical imperatives We may make this issue clearer by referring to Kant's dis- tinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives, though what he called imperatives are more naturally expressed as than in the imperative mood. The reason for doing Y lies in its causal connection with the desired the oughtness is contingent upon the desire.
But ought to do will be a categorical imperative if you ought to do Y irrespective of any such desire for any end to which Y would contribute, if the oughtness is not thus contingent upon any desire. But this dis- tinction needs to be handled with some care. An statement is not in this sense hypothetical merely because it incorporates a conditional clause. If this rests upon some such further unstated conditional as you want to be trusted another then it is a hypothetical imperative; if not, it is categorical.
Even a desire of the agent's can figure in the antecedent of what, though conditional in grammatical form, is still in Kant's sense a categorical imperative. T f you are strongly attracted sexually to young children you ought not to go in for school is not, in virtue of what it explicitly says, a hypothetical imperative: Of course, it could still be a hypothetical imperative, if the implied reason were a prudential one; but it could also be a categorical imperative, a moral requirement where the reason for the recommended action strictly, avoid- ance does not rest upon that action's being a means to the of any desire that the agent is supposed to have.
Not every conditional ought-statement or command, then, is a hypo- thetical imperative; equally, not every non-conditional one is a categorical imperative. An appropriate may be left unstated. Indeed, a simple command in the imperative mood, say a order, which might seem most literally to qualify for the title of a categorical imperative, will hardly ever be one in the sense we need here.
I f so, such an apparently categorical order will be in our sense a hypothetical imperative. Again, an imperative remains hypothetical even if we change the to the fact that the desire for X is actually present does not alter the fact that the reason for doing Y is contingent upon the desire for X by way of Y's being a means to X. In Kant's own treat- ment, while imperatives of skill relate to desires which an agent may or may not have, imperatives of prudence relate to the desire for happiness which, Kant assumes, everyone has.
So construed, imperatives of prudence are no less hypothetical than imperatives of skill, no less contingent upon desires that the agent has at the time the imperatives are addressed to him. But if we think rather of a counsel of prudence as being related to the agent's future welfare, to the satisfaction of desires that he does not yet have - not even to a present desire that his future desires should be satisfied - then a counsel of prudence is a categorical imperative, different indeed from a moral one, but analogous to it.
A categorical imperative, then, would express a reason for acting which was unconditional in the sense of not being con- tingent upon any present desire of the agent to whose satisfac- tion the recommended action would contribute as a means - or more directly: Now Kant himself held that moral judgements are categorical imperatives, or perhaps are all applications of one categorical imperative, and it can plausibly be maintained at least that many moral judgements contain a categorically im- perative element.
So far as ethics is concerned, my thesis that there are no objective values is specifically the denial that any such categorically imperative element is objectively valid. The objective values which I am denying would be action-directing absolutely, not contingently in the way indicated upon the agent's desires and inclinations. Another way of trying to clarify this issue is to refer to moral reasoning or moral arguments.
Then what I am saying is that somewhere in the input to this argument - perhaps in one or more of the premisses, perhaps in some part of the form of the argument - there will be some- thing which cannot be objectively validated - some premiss which is not capable of being simply true, or some form of argument which is not valid as a matter of general logic, whose authority or cogency is not objective, but is constituted by our choosing or deciding to think in a certain way.
The claim to objectivity If I have succeeded in specifying precisely enough the moral values whose objectivity I am denying, my thesis may now seem to be trivially true. Of course, some will say, valuing, prefer- ring, choosing, recommending, rejecting, condemning, and so on, are human activities, and there is no need to look for values that are prior to and logically independent of all such activities.
There may be widespread agreement in valuing, and particular value-judgements are not in general arbitrary or isolated: But I do not think that this should be conceded so easily. As I have said, the main tradition of European moral philosophy includes the contrary claim, that there are objective values of just the sort I have denied.
I have referred already to Plato, Kant, and Sidgwick. Kant in particular holds that the cat- egorical imperative is not categorical and imperative but objectively so: Aristotle begins the Ethics by saying that the good is that at which all things aim, and that ethics is part of a science which he calls whose goal is not knowledge but practice; yet he does not doubt that there can be knowledge of what is the good for man, nor, once he has identified this as well-being or happiness, that it can be known, rationally determined, in what happiness consists; and it is plain that he thinks that this happiness is intrinsically desirable, not good simply because it is desired.
The rationalist Samuel Clarke holds that. Even the sentimentalist Hutcheson defines moral goodness as quality apprehended in actions, which procures ap- probation while saying that the moral sense by which we perceive virtue and vice has been given to us by the Author of nature to direct our actions.
Hume indeed was on the other side, but he is still a witness to the dominance of the objectivist tradition, since he claims that when we that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv'd by this subvert all the vulgar systems of A n d Richard Price insists that right and wrong are characters of actions', not of our minds', and are perceived by the understanding; he criticizes the notion of moral sense on the ground that it would make virtue an affair of taste, and moral right and wrong in the objects he rejects Hutcheson's view because perhaps mistakenly he sees it as collapsing into Hume's.
But this objectivism about values is not only a feature of the philosophical tradition. It has also a firm basis in ordinary thought, and even in the meanings of moral terms. This point can be illustrated by reflection on the conflicts and swings of opinion in recent years between non- cognitivist and naturalist views about the central, basic, mean- ings of ethical terms. If we reject the view that it is the function of such terms to introduce objective values into discourse about conduct and choices of action, there seem to be two main alternative types of account.
One which has importantly different subdivisions is that they conventionally express either attitudes which the speaker purports to adopt towards whatever it is that he characterizes morally, or prescriptions or recom- mendations, subject perhaps to the logical constraint of univer- salizability.
Different views of this type share the central thesis that ethical terms have, at least partly and primarily, some sort of non-cognitive, non-descriptive, meaning. Views of the other type hold that they are descriptive in meaning, but descriptive of natural features, partly of such features as everyone, even the non-cognitivist, would recognize as distinguishing kind actions from cruel ones, courage from cowardice, politeness from rude- ness, and so on, and partly though these two overlap of re- lations between the actions and some human wants, satis- factions, and the like.
I believe that views of both these types capture part of the truth. Each approach can account for the fact that moral judgements are action-guiding or practical. Yet each gains much of its plausibility from the felt inadequacy of the other. It is a very natural reaction to any non-cognitive analysis of ethical terms to protest that there is more to ethics than this, something more external to the maker of moral judgements, more authoritative over both him and those or to whom he speaks, and this reaction is likely to persist even when full allowance has been made for the logical, formal, constraints of full-blooded prescriptivity and.
Ethics, we are inclined to believe, is more a matter of knowl- edge and less a matter of decision than any non-cognitive analysis allows. A n d of course naturalism satisfies this demand. I t will not be a matter of choice or decision whether an action is cruel or unjust or imprudent or whether it is likely to produce more distress than pleasure. But in satisfying this demand, it introduces a converse deficiency. On a naturalist analysis, moral judgements can be practical, but their practicality is wholly relative to desires or possible satisfactions of the person or persons whose actions are to be guided; but moral judgements seem to say more than this.
This view leaves out the categorical quality of moral requirements. In fact both naturalist and non- cognitive analyses leave out the apparent authority of ethics, the one by excluding the categorically imperative aspect, the other the claim to objective validity or truth. The ordinary user of moral language means to say something about whatever it is that he characterizes morally, for example a possible action, as it is in itself, or would be if it were realized, and not about, or even simply expressive of, his, or anyone else's, attitude or re- lation to it.
But the something he wants to say is not purely descriptive, certainly not inert, but something that involves a call for action or the refraining from action, and one that is absolute, not contingent upon any desire or preference or policy or choice, his own or anyone else's. Someone in a state of moral perplexity, wondering whether it would be wrong for him to engage, say, in research related to bacteriological warfare, wants to arrive at some judgement about this concrete case, his doing this work at this time in these actual circumstances; his relevant characteristics will be part of the subject of the judge- ment, but no relation between him and the proposed action will be part of the predicate.
The question is not, for example, whether he really wants to do this work, whether it will satisfy or dissatisfy him, whether he will in the long run have a pro- attitude towards it, or even whether this is an action of a sort that he can happily and sincerely recommend in all relevantly Similar cases. Nor is he even wondering just whether to recom- mend such action in all relevantly similar cases.
He wants to. Something like this is the everyday objectivist concept of which talk about non-natural qualities is a philosopher's recon- struction. The prevalence of this tendency to objectify values - and not only moral ones - is confirmed by a pattern of thinking that we find in existentialists and those influenced by them. The denial of objective values can carry with it an extreme emotional reac- tion, a feeling that nothing matters at all, that life has lost its purpose.
Of course this does not follow; the lack of objective values is not a good reason for abandoning subjective concern or for ceasing to want anything. But the abandonment of a belief in objective values can cause, at least temporarily, a decay of subjective concern and sense of purpose. That it does so is evidence that the people in whom this reaction occurs have been tending to objectify their concerns and purposes, have been giving them a fictitious external authority.
A claim to objectivity has been so strongly associated with their subjective concerns and purposes that the collapse of the former seems to undermine the latter as well. This view, that conceptual analysis would reveal a claim to objectivity, is sometimes dramatically confirmed by osophers who are officially on the other side. Bertrand for example, says that propositions should be expressed in the optative mood, not in the he defends himself effectively against the charge of inconsistency in both holding ultimate ethical valuations to be subjective and expressing em- phatic opinions on ethical questions.
Yet at the end he admits:. Certainly there seems to be something more. Suppose, for example, that some one were to advocate the introduction of bull- fighting in this country. In opposing the proposal, I should feel, not only that I was expressing my desires, but that my desires in the matter are right, whatever that may mean. As a matter of argument, I can, I think, show that I am not guilty of any logical inconsistency in holding to the above interpretation of ethics and at the same time expressing strong ethical preferences.
But in feeling I am not satisfied. But he concludes, reasonably enough, with the remark: T can only say that, while my own opinions as to ethics do not satisfy me, other people's satisfy me still I conclude, then, that ordinary moral judgements include a claim to objectivity, an assumption that there are objective values in just the sense in which I am concerned to deny this.
A n d I do not think it is going too far to say that this assumption has been incorporated in the basic, conventional, meanings of moral terms. Any analysis of the meanings of moral terms which omits this claim to objective, intrinsic, prescriptivity is to that extent incomplete; and this is true of any non-cognitive analysis, any naturalist one, and any combination of the two.
If second order ethics were confined, then, to linguistic and conceptual analysis, it ought to conclude that moral values at least are objective: But it is precisely for this reason that linguistic and conceptual analysis is not enough.
The claim to objectivity, however ingrained in our language and thought, is not It can and should be ques- tioned. But the denial of objective values will have to be put forward not as the result of an analytic approach, but as an a theory that although most people in making moral judgements implicitly claim, among other things, to be pointing to something objectively prescriptive, these claims are all false.
It is this that makes the name appropriate. But since this is an error theory, since it goes against assump- tions ingrained in our thought and built into some of the ways in which language is used, since it conflicts with what is some- times called common sense, it needs very solid support.
It is not something we can accept lightly or casually and then quietly pass on. If we are to adopt this view, we must argue explicitly for it. The argument from relativity The argument from relativity has as its premiss the well-known variation in moral codes from one society to another and from one period to another, and also the differences in moral beliefs between different groups and classes within a complex com- munity.
Such variation is in itself merely a truth of descriptive morality, a of anthropology which entails neither first order nor second order ethical views. Yet it may indirectly support second order subjectivism: But it is not the mere occurrence of disagreements that tells against the objec- tivity of values. Disagreement on questions in history or bio- logy or cosmology does not show that there are no objective issues in these fields for investigators to disagree about. But such scientific disagreement results from speculative inferences or explanatory hypotheses based on inadequate evidence, and it is hardly plausible to interpret moral disagreement in the same way.
Disagreement about moral codes seems to reflect people's adherence to and participation in different ways of life. The causal connection seems to be mainly that way round: Of course, the standards may be an idealization of the way of life from which they arise: This is not to say that moral judgements are purely conventional.
Of course there have been and are moral heretics and moral reformers, people who have turned against the established rules and practices of their own communities for moral reasons, and often for moral reasons that we would endorse. But this can usually be understood as the extension, in ways which, though new and unconventional, seemed to them to be required consistency, of rules to which.
In short, the argument from relativity has some force simply cause the actual variations in the moral codes are more readily explained by the hypothesis that they reflect ways of life than by the hypothesis that they express perceptions, most of them seriously inadequate and badly distorted, of objective values.
But there is a well-known counter to this argument from relativity, namely to say that the items for which objective val- idity is in the first place to be claimed are not specific moral rules or codes but very general basic principles which are recognized at least implicitly to some extent in all society - such prin- ciples as provide the foundations of what Sidgwick has called different methods of ethics: It is easy to show that such general principles, mar- ried with differing concrete circumstances, different existing social patterns or different preferences, will beget different specific moral rules; and there is some plausibility in the claim that the specific rules thus generated will vary from community to community or from group to group in close agreement with the actual variations in accepted codes.
The argument from relativity can be only partly countered in this way. To take this line the moral objectivist has to say that it is only in these principles that the objective moral character attaches immediately to its descriptively specified ground or subject: A n d despite the prominence in recent philosophical ethics of universalization, utilitarian principles, and the like, these are very from constituting the whole of what is actually affirmed as basic in ordinary moral thought.
The argument from Even more important, however, and certainly more generally applicable, is the argument from queerness. This has two parts, one metaphysical, the other epistemological. If there were ob- jective values, then they would be entities or qualities or rela- tions of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. Correspondingly, if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else.
These points were recognized by Moore when he spoke of non-natural qualities, and by the intuitionists in their talk about a of moral Intuitionism has long been out of favour, and it is indeed easy to point out its What is not so often stressed, but is more im- portant, is that the central thesis of intuitionism is one to which any objectivist view of values is in the end committed: Of course the suggestion that moral judge- ments are made or moral problems solved by just sitting down and having an ethical intuition is a travesty of actual moral thinking.
But, however complex the real process, it will require if it is to yield authoritatively prescriptive conclusions some input of this distinctive sort, either premisses or forms of argu- ment or both.
Indeed, the best move for the moral objectivist is not to evade this issue, but to look for companions in guilt. For example, Richard Price argues that it is not moral knowledge alone that such an empiricism as those of Locke and Hume is unable to account for, but also our knowledge and even our ideas of essence, number, identity, diversity, solidity, inertia, substance, the necessary existence and infinite extension of time and space, necessity and possibility in general, power, and causation.
If the understanding, which Price defines as the faculty within us that discerns truth, is also a source of new simple ideas of so many other sorts, may it not also be a power of immediately per- ceiving right and wrong, which yet are real characters of actions?
This is an important counter to the argument from queerness. The only adequate reply to it would be to show how, on em- piricist foundations, we can construct an account of the ideas and beliefs and knowledge that we have of all these matters.
I cannot even begin to do that here, though I have undertaken some parts of the task elsewhere. I can only state my belief that satisfactory accounts of most of these can be given in empirical terms. If some supposed metaphysical necessities or essences resist such treatment, then they too should be included, along with objective values, among the targets of the argument from queerness.
Indeed, J would not only reject the principle but also deny the con- clusion commonly drawn from it, that moral judgements lack descriptive meaning.
The assertion that there are objective values or intrinsically prescriptive entities or features of some kind, which ordinary moral judgements presuppose, is, I hold, not meaningless but false.
Plato's Forms give a dramatic picture of what objective values would have to be. The Form of the Good is such that knowledge of it provides the with both a direction and an overriding motive; something's being good both tells the person who knows this to pursue it and makes him pursue it. An objective good would be sought by anyone who was acquainted with it, not because of any contingent fact that this person, or every person, is so constituted that he desires this end, but just because the end has to-be-pursuedness somehow built into it.
Similarly, if there were objective principles of right and wrong, any wrong possible course of action would have doneness somehow built into it. Or we should have something like Clarke's necessary relations fitness between situations and actions, so that a situation would have a demand for such- and-such an action somehow built into it. The need for an argument of this sort can be brought out by reflection on Hume's argument that - in which at this stage he includes all sorts of knowing as well as reasoning - can never be an motive of the Someone might object that Hume has argued unfairly from the lack of influencing power not contingent upon desires in ordinary objects of knowledge and ordinary reasoning, and might main- tain that values differ from natural objects precisely in their power, when known, automatically to influence the w i l l.
To this Hume could, and would need to, reply that this objection in- volves the postulating of value-entities or value-features of quite a different order from anything else with which we are acquainted, and of a corresponding faculty with which to detect them. What is the con- nection between the natural fact that an action is a piece of deliberate cruelty - say, causing pain just for fun - and the moral that it is wrong? It cannot be an entailment, a logical or semantic necessity. Yet is not merely that two features oc- cur together.
The wrongness must somehow be or it is wrong because it is a piece of deliberate cruelty. But just what in the world is signified by this A n d how do we know the relation that it signifies, if this is something more than such actions being socially condemned, and condemned by us too, perhaps through our having absorbed attitudes from our social environment?
It is not even sufficient to postulate a faculty which the wrongness: H o w much simpler and more com- prehensible the situation would be if we could replace the moral quality with some sort of subjective response which could be causally related to the detection of the natural features on which the supposed quality is said to be consequential.
It may be thought that the argument from queerness is given an unfair start if we thus relate it to what are admittedly among the wilder products of philosophical fancy - Platonic Forms, non-natural qualities, self-evident relations of fitness, faculties of intuition, and the like.
Is it equally forceful if applied to the terms in which everyday moral judgements are more likely to be expressed - though still, as has been argued in Section 7, with a claim to objectivity - must do can't do or talk about good reasons for or against possible actions?
There is nothing queer about any of these, and under cover of them the claim for moral authority may pass unnoticed. But if I am right in arguing that it is ordinarily there, and is therefore very likely to be incorporated almost automatically in philosophical ac- counts of ethics which systematize our ordinary thought even in such apparently innocent terms as these, it needs to be exam- ined, and for this purpose it needs to be isolated and exposed as it is by the less cautious philosophical reconstructions.
Patterns of Considerations of these kinds suggest that it is in the end less paradoxical to reject than to retain the common-sense belief in the objectivity of moral values, provided that we can explain how this belief, if it is false, has become established and is so resistant to criticisms. This proviso is not difficult to satisfy. On a subjectivist view, the supposedly objective values will be based in fact upon attitudes which the person has who takes himself to be recognizing and responding to those values.
If we admit what Hume calls the mind's to spread itself on external objects', we can understand the supposed objectivity of moral qualities as arising from we can call the projection or objectification of moral attitudes.
This would be analogous to what is called the the tendency to read feelings into their objects. If a fungus, say, fills us with disgust, we may be inclined to ascribe to the fungus itself a non-natural quality of foulness. But in moral contexts there is more than this propensity at work. The attitudes that are objectified into moral values have indeed an external source, though not the one assigned to them by the belief in their absolute authority.
Moreover, there are motives that would support objectification. We need morality to regulate interpersonal relations, to control some of the ways in which people behave towards one another, often in opposi- tion to contrary inclinations. We therefore want moral judgements to be authoritative for other agents as well as for ourselves: Aesthetic values are logically in the same position as moral ones; much the same metaphysical and considerations apply to them.
But aesthetic values are less strongly objectified than moral ones; their subjective status, and an with regard to such claims to objectivity as are incorporated in aesthetic judgements, will be more readily accepted, just because the motives for their objectification are less compelling.
But it would be misleading to think of the objectification of moral values as primarily the projection of feelings, as in the pathetic fallacy. More important are wants and demands. As Hobbes says, is the object of any man's Appetite or Desire, that is it, which he for his part calleth and cer- tainly both the adjective and the noun are used in non-moral contexts of things because they are such as to satisfy desires.
We get the notion of something's being objectively good, or having intrinsic value, by reversing the direction of dependence here, by making the desire depend upon the good- ness, instead of the goodness the desire.
A n d this is aided by the fact that the desired thing will indeed have features that make it desired, that enable it to arouse a desire or that make it such as to satisfy some desire that is already there. It is fairly easy to confuse the way in which a thing's desirability is indeed objective with its having i n our sense objective value.
The state- ment that someone or, more strongly, do such- and-such may be backed up explicitly or implicitly by reference to what he wants or to what his purposes and objects are.
Again, there may be a reference to the purposes of someone else, perhaps the speaker: The action in question is still required in something like the way in which it would be if it were appropri- ately related to a want, but it is no longer admitted that there is any contingent want upon which its being required depends.
Again this move can be understood when we remember that at least our central and basic moral judgements represent social demands, where the source of the demand is indeterminate and diffuse.
Whose demands or wants are in question, the agent's, or the speaker's, or those of an indefinite multitude of other people? A l l of these in a way, but there are advantages in not specifying them precisely.
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The speaker is expressing demands which he makes as a member of a community, which he has developed in and by participation in a joint way of life; also, what is required of this particular agent would be required of any other in a relevantly similar situation; but the agent too is expected to have internalized the relevant demands, to act as if the ends for the action is required were his own.
By suppressing any explicit reference to demands and making the imperatives cat- egorical we facilitate conceptual moves from one such demand relation to another. The moral uses of such words as and and all of which are used also to express hypo- thetical imperatives, are traces of this pattern of objectification.
But it can hardly be denied that moral thinking starts from the enforcement of social codes. Of course it is not confined to that. But even when moral judgements are detached from the mores of any actual society they are liable to be framed with reference to an ideal community of moral agents, such as Kant's kingdom of ends, which but for the need to give God a special place in it would have been better called a com- monwealth of ends.
Another way of explaining the of moral values is to say that ethics is a system of law from which the legislator has been This might have been derived either from the positive law of a state or from a supposed system of divine law.
There can be no doubt that some features of modern European moral concepts are traceable to the theological ethics of Christianity. The stress on quasi-imperative notions, on what ought to be done or on what is wrong in a sense that is close to that of are surely relics of divine commands.
A d - mittedly, the central ethical concepts for Plato and Aristotle also are in a broad sense prescriptive or intrinsically action- guiding, but in concentrating rather on than on they show that their moral thought is an objectification of the desired and the satisfying rather than of the commanded. Elizabeth Anscombe has argued that modern, non-Aristotelian, concepts of moral obligation, moral duty, of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of are survivals outside the of thought that made them really intelli- gible, namely the belief in divine law.
She infers that has a word of mere mesmeric with only a appearance of and that we would do better to discard such terms and concepts altogether, and go back to Aristotelian ones.
There is much to be said for this view. As and Clarke and Price, for example, show, even those who still admit divine commands, or the positive law of God, may believe moral values to have an independent objective but still action-guiding authority. Responding to Plato's Euthyphro dilemma, they believe that God commands what he commands because it is in itself good or right, not that it is good or right merely because and in that he commands it.
Otherwise God himself could not be called good. Price asks, can be more preposterous, than to make the Deity nothing but w i l l ; and to exalt this on the ruins of all his The apparent objectivity of moral value is a widespread phenomenon which has more than one source: There are several different patterns of ob- jectification, all of which have left characteristic traces our actual moral concepts and moral language. The general goal of human life The argument of the preceding sections is meant to apply quite generally to moral thought, but the terms in which it has been stated are largely those of the Kantian and post-Kantian tradi- tion of English moral philosophy.
To those who are more fam- iliar with another tradition, which runs through Aristotle and Aquinas, it may seem wide of the mark. For them, the fun- damental notion is that of the good for man, or the general end or goal of human life, or perhaps of a set of basic goods or primary human purposes.
Moral reasoning consists partly in achieving a more adequate understanding of this basic goal or of goals , partly in working out the best way of pursuing and realizing it. But this approach is open to two radically different interpretations. According to the other interpretation, to say that something is the good for man or the general goal of human life is to say that this is man's proper end, that this is what he ought to be striving after, whether he in fact is or not.
On the first interpretation we have a descriptive statement, on the second a normative or evaluative or prescriptive one. But this approach tends to combine the two interpretations, or to slide from one to the other, and to borrow support for what are in claims of the second sort from the plausibility of statements of the first sort.
I have no quarrel with this notion interpreted in the first way. I would only insert a warning that there may well be more diversity even of fundamental purposes, more variation in what different human beings will find ultimately satisfying, than the terminology of good for would suggest. Nor indeed, have I any quarrel with the second, prescriptive, interpretation, provided that it is recognized as subjectively prescriptive, that the speaker is here putting forward his own demands or pro- posals, or those of some movement that he represents, though no doubt linking these demands or proposals with what he takes to be already in the first, descriptive, sense fundamental human goals.
In fact, I shall myself make use of the notion of the good man, interpreted in both these ways, when I try in Chapter 8 to sketch a positive moral system. But if it is claimed that some- thing is objectively the right or proper goal of human life, then this is tantamount to the assertion of something that is objec- tively categorically imperative, and comes fairly within the scope of our previous arguments.
Indeed, the running together of what I have here called the two interpretations is yet another pattern of objectification: The argument from. So too does the argument from queerness; we can still ask what this objectively prescriptive of the true goal can be, and how this is linked on the one hand with the descriptive features of this goal and on the other with the fact that it is to some extent an actual goal of human striving.
To meet these difficulties, the objectivist may have recourse to the purpose of God: Actual human strivings and satisfactions have some relation to this true end because God made men for this end and made them such as to pursue it - but only some relation, because of the inevitable imperfection of created beings.
I concede that if the requisite theological doctrine could be defended, a kind of objective ethical prescriptivity could be thus introduced. Since I think that theism cannot be defended, I do not regard this as any threat to my argument.
But I shall take up the question of relations between and religion again in Chapter Those who wish to keep theism as a live option can read the arguments of the intervening chapters hypotheti- as a discussion of what we can make of morality without recourse to God, and hence of what we can say about morality in the end, we dispense with religious.
Conclusion I have maintained that there is a real issue about the status of values, including moral values.
Moral scepticism, the denial of objective moral values, is not to be confused with any one of several first order normative views, or with any linguistic or conceptual analysis. Indeed, ordinary moral judgements involve a claim to objectivity which both non-cognitive and naturalist analyses fail to capture.
As such, it needs argu- ments to support it against But solid arguments can be found. The considerations that favour moral scepticism are: But what if we can establish this negative conclusion, that there are no objective values? How does it help us to say any- thing positively about ethics? Does it not at one stroke rule out all normative ethics, laying it down that all affirmative first order judgements are false, since they include, by virtue of the very meanings of their terms, unwarranted claims to tivity?
I shall take up these questions in Chapter 5; but first I want to amplify and reinforce the conclusion of this chapter by some investigations of the meanings and logical connections of moral terms.
The general meaning of Philosophers have often thought that they could find out more about moral goodness if they could decide what means when used as a moral term. The arguments of Chapter 1 cast doubt on this; but they will themselves be clarified and re- inforced by a better understanding of the meaning of this word. Moore thought that there were just three possibilities: Rejecting the second and third pos- sibilities, he settled for the first, and argued that this simple indefinable something must be a non-natural quality.
Some of his successors agreed with him in rejecting the second possibility but were sceptical also about the first, and escaped the third by pointing out that a word can mean something without standing for any property.
They concluded that in ethics has a primarily non-descriptive, non-cognitive, meaning, though its meaning is perhaps also partly and secondarily descriptive, but variably descriptive, pointing to different features in different contexts. But others have suggested that Moore did not consider a wide enough range of ways in which may something and that even its primary ethical meaning may be descriptive all.
Moore had two main reasons for doubting this. Take some proposed analysis of say to we can surely understand the view of someone who says T admit that such-and-such is conducive to pleasure, but is it The same move holds if we substitute for to any other proposed definition, say or or tune with the or accordance with God's it is still an open question whether what is so described is good, or at least we can understand the view of someone who holds that it is still open.
But if the proposed had been a correct account of the meaning of this question could not still be open. These arguments have been very influential, and they are indeed forceful. We could add to the first that even the qualities that in some sense make something good have to be dis- tinguished from goodness itself. An action may be good be- cause it is generous, but its goodness is not identical with its generousness; this is different from a figure's being square be- cause it has four straight sides equal in length and each of its angles a right angle, where we can hardly distinguish the square- ness from the features that together make the figure square.
These arguments, however, apply particularly to moral good- ness, and it is only with regard to moral and perhaps also aesthetic goodness that Moore's conclusion is at all plausible. Though it is with this that we are mainly concerned, it would be most implausible to give to the word in moral uses a sense quite unconnected with its sense or senses in other con- texts.
There cannot be two or more words mere homo- nyms of one another, like of a river and a financial institution ; for in English has counterparts in many other languages that have much the same range of moral and non-moral uses. Peter Geach has argued that the key to the difficulties about the meaning of is that it is what he calls a logically attributive adjective. Just as is a big flea' is not equivalent to is big and is a flea' or is a to is forged and x is a so is a good - whatever an A may be - is not equivalent to is good and x is an whereas is a red is equivalent to is red and x is a being a logically predicative adjective, not an attributive one.
A t t r i - butive adjectives, we may say, are operators on predicates; they construct new descriptions in systematic ways out of the mean- ings of the nouns to which they are attached. A forged A is something that is not A but has been made so as to pass for one, a big A is roughly an A that is bigger than most and so on.
Second, I the speaker am trying to get you to donate to charity and am essentially giving the command, "Donate to charity! From Hume's day forward, more rationally-minded philosophers have opposed these emotive theories of ethics see non-cognitivism in ethics and instead argued that moral assessments are indeed acts of reason.
Although emotional factors often do influence our conduct, he argued, we should nevertheless resist that kind of sway. Instead, true moral action is motivated only by reason when it is free from emotions and desires.
A recent rationalist approach, offered by Kurt Baier , was proposed in direct opposition to the emotivist and prescriptivist theories of Ayer and others. Baier focuses more broadly on the reasoning and argumentation process that takes place when making moral choices.
All of our moral choices are, or at least can be, backed by some reason or justification. If I claim that it is wrong to steal someone's car, then I should be able to justify my claim with some kind of argument.
For example, I could argue that stealing Smith's car is wrong since this would upset her, violate her ownership rights, or put the thief at risk of getting caught. According to Baier, then, proper moral decision making involves giving the best reasons in support of one course of action versus another. Male and Female Morality A third area of moral psychology focuses on whether there is a distinctly female approach to ethics that is grounded in the psychological differences between men and women.
Discussions of this issue focus on two claims: 1 traditional morality is male-centered, and 2 there is a unique female perspective of the world which can be shaped into a value theory.
According to many feminist philosophers, traditional morality is male-centered since it is modeled after practices that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as acquiring property, engaging in business contracts, and governing societies.
The rigid systems of rules required for trade and government were then taken as models for the creation of equally rigid systems of moral rules, such as lists of rights and duties. Women, by contrast, have traditionally had a nurturing role by raising children and overseeing domestic life. These tasks require less rule following, and more spontaneous and creative action. Using the woman's experience as a model for moral theory, then, the basis of morality would be spontaneously caring for others as would be appropriate in each unique circumstance.
On this model, the agent becomes part of the situation and acts caringly within that context. This stands in contrast with male-modeled morality where the agent is a mechanical actor who performs his required duty, but can remain distanced from and unaffected by the situation. A care-based approach to morality, as it is sometimes called, is offered by feminist ethicists as either a replacement for or a supplement to traditional male-modeled moral systems. Normative Ethics Normative ethics involves arriving at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct.
In a sense, it is a search for an ideal litmus test of proper behavior. The Golden Rule is a classic example of a normative principle: We should do to others what we would want others to do to us. Since I do not want my neighbor to steal my car, then it is wrong for me to steal her car.
Since I would want people to feed me if I was starving, then I should help feed starving people. Using this same reasoning, I can theoretically determine whether any possible action is right or wrong.
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So, based on the Golden Rule, it would also be wrong for me to lie to, harass, victimize, assault, or kill others. The Golden Rule is an example of a normative theory that establishes a single principle against which we judge all actions.
Other normative theories focus on a set of foundational principles, or a set of good character traits. The key assumption in normative ethics is that there is only one ultimate criterion of moral conduct, whether it is a single rule or a set of principles. Three strategies will be noted here: 1 virtue theories, 2 duty theories, and 3 consequentialist theories. Virtue Theories Many philosophers believe that morality consists of following precisely defined rules of conduct, such as "don't kill," or "don't steal.
Virtue ethics , however, places less emphasis on learning rules, and instead stresses the importance of developing good habits of character, such as benevolence see moral character. Once I've acquired benevolence, for example, I will then habitually act in a benevolent manner. Historically, virtue theory is one of the oldest normative traditions in Western philosophy, having its roots in ancient Greek civilization.
Plato emphasized four virtues in particular, which were later called cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Other important virtues are fortitude, generosity, self-respect, good temper, and sincerity. In addition to advocating good habits of character, virtue theorists hold that we should avoid acquiring bad character traits, or vices, such as cowardice, insensibility, injustice, and vanity.
Virtue theory emphasizes moral education since virtuous character traits are developed in one's youth. Adults, therefore, are responsible for instilling virtues in the young. Aristotle argued that virtues are good habits that we acquire, which regulate our emotions.
For example, in response to my natural feelings of fear, I should develop the virtue of courage which allows me to be firm when facing danger. Analyzing 11 specific virtues, Aristotle argued that most virtues fall at a mean between more extreme character traits. With courage, for example, if I do not have enough courage, I develop the disposition of cowardice, which is a vice. If I have too much courage I develop the disposition of rashness which is also a vice.
According to Aristotle, it is not an easy task to find the perfect mean between extreme character traits. In fact, we need assistance from our reason to do this. After Aristotle, medieval theologians supplemented Greek lists of virtues with three Christian ones, or theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
Interest in virtue theory continued through the middle ages and declined in the 19th century with the rise of alternative moral theories below. In the mid 20th century virtue theory received special attention from philosophers who believed that more recent ethical theories were misguided for focusing too heavily on rules and actions, rather than on virtuous character traits. Alasdaire MacIntyre defended the central role of virtues in moral theory and argued that virtues are grounded in and emerge from within social traditions.
Duty Theories Many of us feel that there are clear obligations we have as human beings, such as to care for our children, and to not commit murder.
Duty theories base morality on specific, foundational principles of obligation. These theories are sometimes called deontological, from the Greek word deon, or duty, in view of the foundational nature of our duty or obligation.
They are also sometimes called nonconsequentialist since these principles are obligatory, irrespective of the consequences that might follow from our actions. For example, it is wrong to not care for our children even if it results in some great benefit, such as financial savings. There are four central duty theories. The first is that championed by 17th century German philosopher Samuel Pufendorf, who classified dozens of duties under three headings: duties to God, duties to oneself, and duties to others.
Concerning our duties towards God, he argued that there are two kinds: a theoretical duty to know the existence and nature of God, and a practical duty to both inwardly and outwardly worship God.
Concerning our duties towards oneself, these are also of two sorts: duties of the soul, which involve developing one's skills and talents, and duties of the body, which involve not harming our bodies, as we might through gluttony or drunkenness, and not killing oneself. Concerning our duties towards others, Pufendorf divides these between absolute duties, which are universally binding on people, and conditional duties, which are the result of contracts between people.
Absolute duties are of three sorts: avoid wronging others, treat people as equals, and promote the good of others. Conditional duties involve various types of agreements, the principal one of which is the duty is to keep one's promises. A second duty-based approach to ethics is rights theory.
J. L. Mackie - Ethics~ Inventing Right and Wrong (0140135588, 1991)
Most generally, a "right" is a justified claim against another person's behavior - such as my right to not be harmed by you see also human rights. Rights and duties are related in such a way that the rights of one person implies the duties of another person. This is called the correlativity of rights and duties. The most influential early account of rights theory is that of 17th century British philosopher John Locke , who argued that the laws of nature mandate that we should not harm anyone's life, health, liberty or possessions.
For Locke, these are our natural rights, given to us by God. Following Locke, the United States Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson recognizes three foundational rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson and others rights theorists maintained that we deduce other more specific rights from these, including the rights of property, movement, speech, and religious expression. There are four features traditionally associated with moral rights.
First, rights are natural insofar as they are not invented or created by governments. Second, they are universal insofar as they do not change from country to country. Third, they are equal in the sense that rights are the same for all people, irrespective of gender, race, or handicap.
Fourth, they are inalienable which means that I cannot hand over my rights to another person, such as by selling myself into slavery. A third duty-based theory is that by Kant, which emphasizes a single principle of duty. Influenced by Pufendorf, Kant agreed that we have moral duties to oneself and others, such as developing one's talents, and keeping our promises to others.
However, Kant argued that there is a more foundational principle of duty that encompasses our particular duties. It is a single, self-evident principle of reason that he calls the "categorical imperative.
That is, we should always treat people with dignity, and never use them as mere instruments. For Kant, we treat people as an end whenever our actions toward someone reflect the inherent value of that person.
Donating to charity, for example, is morally correct since this acknowledges the inherent value of the recipient. By contrast, we treat someone as a means to an end whenever we treat that person as a tool to achieve something else. It is wrong, for example, to steal my neighbor's car since I would be treating her as a means to my own happiness.
The categorical imperative also regulates the morality of actions that affect us individually. Suicide, for example, would be wrong since I would be treating my life as a means to the alleviation of my misery. Kant believes that the morality of all actions can be determined by appealing to this single principle of duty. A fourth and more recent duty-based theory is that by British philosopher W. Ross, which emphasizes prima facie duties. Like his 17th and 18th century counterparts, Ross argues that our duties are "part of the fundamental nature of the universe.
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In a classic example, suppose I borrow my neighbor's gun and promise to return it when he asks for it. One day, in a fit of rage, my neighbor pounds on my door and asks for the gun so that he can take vengeance on someone. On the one hand, the duty of fidelity obligates me to return the gun; on the other hand, the duty of nonmaleficence obligates me to avoid injuring others and thus not return the gun.
According to Ross, I will intuitively know which of these duties is my actual duty, and which is my apparent or prima facie duty. In this case, my duty of nonmaleficence emerges as my actual duty and I should not return the gun. Consequentialist Theories It is common for us to determine our moral responsibility by weighing the consequences of our actions. According to consequentialism , correct moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action's consequences: Consequentialism: An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.
Consequentialist normative principles require that we first tally both the good and bad consequences of an action. Second, we then determine whether the total good consequences outweigh the total bad consequences.
If the good consequences are greater, then the action is morally proper. If the bad consequences are greater, then the action is morally improper.
Consequentialist theories are sometimes called teleological theories, from the Greek word telos, or end, since the end result of the action is the sole determining factor of its morality. Consequentialist theories became popular in the 18th century by philosophers who wanted a quick way to morally assess an action by appealing to experience, rather than by appealing to gut intuitions or long lists of questionable duties.
In fact, the most attractive feature of consequentialism is that it appeals to publicly observable consequences of actions. Most versions of consequentialism are more precisely formulated than the general principle above. In particular, competing consequentialist theories specify which consequences for affected groups of people are relevant. Three subdivisions of consequentialism emerge: Ethical Egoism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable only to the agent performing the action.
Ethical Altruism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent. Utilitarianism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone.
All three of these theories focus on the consequences of actions for different groups of people. But, like all normative theories, the above three theories are rivals of each other.
They also yield different conclusions. Consider the following example. A woman was traveling through a developing country when she witnessed a car in front of her run off the road and roll over several times. She asked the hired driver to pull over to assist, but, to her surprise, the driver accelerated nervously past the scene.
A few miles down the road the driver explained that in his country if someone assists an accident victim, then the police often hold the assisting person responsible for the accident itself. If the victim dies, then the assisting person could be held responsible for the death.
The driver continued explaining that road accident victims are therefore usually left unattended and often die from exposure to the country's harsh desert conditions. On the principle of ethical egoism , the woman in this illustration would only be concerned with the consequences of her attempted assistance as she would be affected.
Clearly, the decision to drive on would be the morally proper choice. On the principle of ethical altruism, she would be concerned only with the consequences of her action as others are affected, particularly the accident victim.
Tallying only those consequences reveals that assisting the victim would be the morally correct choice, irrespective of the negative consequences that result for her.
On the principle of utilitarianism, she must consider the consequences for both herself and the victim. The outcome here is less clear, and the woman would need to precisely calculate the overall benefit versus disbenefit of her action.
Types of Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham presented one of the earliest fully developed systems of utilitarianism. Two features of his theory are noteworty. First, Bentham proposed that we tally the consequences of each action we perform and thereby determine on a case by case basis whether an action is morally right or wrong. This aspect of Bentham's theory is known as act-utilitiarianism. Second, Bentham also proposed that we tally the pleasure and pain which results from our actions.
For Bentham, pleasure and pain are the only consequences that matter in determining whether our conduct is moral. This aspect of Bentham's theory is known as hedonistic utilitarianism. Critics point out limitations in both of these aspects.
First, according to act-utilitarianism, it would be morally wrong to waste time on leisure activities such as watching television, since our time could be spent in ways that produced a greater social benefit, such as charity work. But prohibiting leisure activities doesn't seem reasonable.
More significantly, according to act-utilitarianism, specific acts of torture or slavery would be morally permissible if the social benefit of these actions outweighed the disbenefit. A revised version of utilitarianism called rule-utilitarianism addresses these problems.
According to rule-utilitarianism, a behavioral code or rule is morally right if the consequences of adopting that rule are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. Unlike act utilitarianism, which weighs the consequences of each particular action, rule-utilitarianism offers a litmus test only for the morality of moral rules, such as "stealing is wrong.
The same is true for moral rules against lying or murdering. Rule-utilitarianism, then, offers a three-tiered method for judging conduct. A particular action, such as stealing my neighbor's car, is judged wrong since it violates a moral rule against theft. In turn, the rule against theft is morally binding because adopting this rule produces favorable consequences for everyone.
John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism is rule-oriented. Second, according to hedonistic utilitarianism, pleasurable consequences are the only factors that matter, morally speaking. This, though, seems too restrictive since it ignores other morally significant consequences that are not necessarily pleasing or painful. For example, acts which foster loyalty and friendship are valued, yet they are not always pleasing. In response to this problem, G.
Moore proposed ideal utilitarianism, which involves tallying any consequence that we intuitively recognize as good or bad and not simply as pleasurable or painful.
Also, R.First, foregoing surgery appeared to be in the best interests of the infant, given the poor quality of life it would endure. Again this move can be understood when we remember that at least our central and basic moral judgements represent social demands, where the source of the demand is indeterminate and diffuse.
If the understanding, which Price defines as the faculty within us that discerns truth, is also a source of new simple ideas of so many other sorts, may it not also be a power of immediately per- ceiving right and wrong, which yet are real characters of actions?
Kant, and Sidgwick. Since it is with moral values that I am primarily concerned, the view I am adopting may be called moral scepticism. The statement of this thesis is liable to provoke one of three very different reactions. A rare contemporary treatment of moral knowledge can be found in Engstrom As I notion of moral sense on the ground that it would make virtue have said, the main tradition of European moral philosophy an affair of taste, and moral right and wrong 'nothing in the includes the contrary claim, that there are objective values of objects themselves'; he rejects Hutcheson's view because just the sort I have denied.
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