chapter 14 - ethics

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Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues Third Edition:

Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues Third Edition Bruce N. Waller

Chapter 14:

Chapter 14 Freedom, Moral Responsibility, and Ethics

Types of Responsibility:

Types of Responsibility Role Responsibility Responsibility based on your role in a given situation Taking Role Responsibility You can take (or elect to have) role responsibility but not moral responsibility When assessing whether someone deserves credit for taking role responsibility, we cannot rely on moral responsibility But if we do not take role responsibility for our own lives, then we cannot be full moral beings Moral responsibility is very different from taking role responsibility for living a moral life

Moral Responsibility and the Utility of Punishment:

Moral Responsibility and the Utility of Punishment When considering moral responsibility, we must distinguish it from role responsibility. What justifies claims of moral responsibility? Is the action useful ? Does not completely answer the question of whether it is morally responsible Punishment and reward may be useful in a given context, but not necessarily just or morally responsible

Conditions for Moral Responsibility:

Conditions for Moral Responsibility Could You Do Otherwise? Moral responsibility requires, at the very least, freedom C.A. Campbell The only account of free will that can support moral responsibility is the libertarian view – you act freely if and only if you could have actually done otherwise How can we blame someone for acting wrongly if they could not have done otherwise? Ex. Patty Hearst

Strawson’s Social Justification of Moral Responsibility:

Strawson’s Social Justification of Moral Responsibility Peter F. Strawson Proposed a new justification for moral responsibility Many of our basic social practices and human relations involve participant reactive attitudes attitudes of natural human social reaction (ex. resentment, gratitude, forgiveness, anger, love) These reactive attitudes presuppose belief in moral responsibility In contrast, we can take an objective stance toward someone, in which case we treat them as not being morally responsible Instead, we regard that individual as an object that may potentially cause harm and which we can try to understand or control – not as someone that we can reason with

Strawson’s Social Justification of Moral Responsibility:

Strawson’s Social Justification of Moral Responsibility Regarding someone with objective perspective is useful when that person is insane or otherwise not fully rational. Therefore, they are not an appropriate subject for our reactive attitudes. Strawson suggests that we could not abandon reactive attitudes all together and adopt a universal objective perspective. Our basic social relations and interactions require reactive attitudes Since we cannot give up basic human social relations and interactions, we cannot give up reactive attitudes

Moral Responsibility and Ethics:

Moral Responsibility and Ethics What is the relation between moral responsibility and ethics? Many believe without moral responsibility there would be no ethics C.A. Campbell Denial of justly deserved praise and blame would destroy “the reality of the moral life”

Ethics Without Moral Responsibility:

Ethics Without Moral Responsibility If morality comes from God, who controls everyone’s actions and attitudes, then there can be morality without moral responsibility Moral Judgments and Moral Responsibility Some moral judgments are impossible without moral responsibility Ex. Praise for good acts and blame for bad ones But we can still judge acts as good or bad. Can we judge the actions of those shaped by forces beyond their control?

Ethics Without Moral Responsibility:

Ethics Without Moral Responsibility Retribution A powerful motive, we feel justified in taking revenge when we are wronged But are those feelings good moral guides? Moral feelings are important (widely accepted with the exception of Kant) Because of the strength of our feelings, they can sometimes benefit from guidance How would wider knowledge of the causes of character and behavior affect our retributive feelings?

Freedom, Moral Responsibility, and Ethics:

Freedom, Moral Responsibility, and Ethics Thomas Nagel Modern philosopher and a leading Kantian Known for raising serious philosophical perplexities with only tentative solutions Moral Luck

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