Best Ethicist?

Blog: Who is the most appealing (or the most unappealing, or the most provocative, or the most awesome) ethicist we’ve discussed throughout the semester??

I think out of all the ethicist, I found Mill the most appealing. Maybe the only reason I find that is because he is the easiest to understand. All together though every ethicist made one point where we just “had to take their word for it” to understand something. For Utilitarianism we just had to believe that there was a cloud of veracity that we must not taint and for Kant’standards we have to believe fear is the only way to uphold peace and motivate people to act morally. For Aristotle we had to believe there was some sort of intermediate of emotions that differed in people. No one could base every aspect of their philosophy on something we could observe. Morality is sometimes something we can feel in our gut and maybe one day we will be able to put a though pattern to that simple feeling of “hey that’s not right” or “that was good”. From this class at least now we can think a little more of the everyday feelings in a new light and with more intellect.

Published in: on December 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aristotelian Account for Moral Worth of Murder

Blog: Give an Aristotelian account for the moral worth of murder. Remember, this is perhaps a little trickier than it sounds, since Aristotle is focused not as much on the value of actions as on the value of individuals.

I think the Aristotelian account for the moral worth of murder would consider a murder moral or not according to the individual. Aristotle would first say that a virtuous action are actions defined by virtuous people who practice  virtue. Virtue is a mean or an average in relation to an emotion relative to a person. Murdering can be to extreme in regards to the emotion of anger. Though a police officer may have to kill someone for the sake of safety his average is allowed to be a little closer to the emotion that drives one to murder. Murder is immoral if someone is doing it because of an emotion that is too extreme or low. If someones sympathy or “caring” emotion was to low and murdered someone then it would be considered immoral. This is what I believe the Aristotelian account would be on this matter.

Published in: on December 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Social Contract

Blog about the question of who, precisely, is a party to the social contract. Can we rightfully say that the sovereign has made an agreement to give up some rights? How about a child? Or a person who, because of material limitations, cannot easily opt out of the contract by moving away? If these people are only parties to the contract in a limited way, is their subjectivity to moral judgment also limited?

It is hard to say that because one is somewhat forced to live under the government that they are forced to follow the rules but that is the only way morality can be kept above all else and sacred. The fact that it MUST be followed and obeyed even when you don’t want to.  Morals are something that we must learn to live up to and work at. A child may not be capable of understanding the social contract and that makes him or her able to receive leniency in judgement in certain circumstances. The sovereign must give up some rights because they can not interfere with the Constitutional amendments that protect us from a government with absolute rights and power.

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 8:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Morality and The Government

Blog about the connection that Hobbes posits between morality and government. What’s the connection? Are governments/sovereigns subject to moral judgment?

Hobbes states that a government must be put in power to enforce the law and protect morality. Without a government we have the right to EVERYTHING but because “everything” is finite or wanted by others as well there will be conflict. People will lower themselves to The State Of Nature and The State of War without a government system. Hobbes says that in essence we give some of our rights to the government and the government uses those rights to keep everyone in line and adhering to the social contract. Governments can be subject to moral judgement because we can clearly see how the Nazi rule and government Hitler set up was immoral. We can also see the rights given to the government by the people being abused in fascist governments and communist governments. These actions are deemed as immoral and just not right.

Published in: on November 19, 2008 at 9:15 pm  Comments (4)  

Hobbes on Human Nature and The State of War

Is Hobbes right that human nature, combined with the finiteness of the world’s resources, will necessarily lead to a state of war? Is he right that the state of war described would really be the worst situation imaginable?

It is true when we really dive into it that it is human tendency to look out for themselves. Hobbes calls this human nature. We never knowingly try to harm ourselves (in common cases) but we always knowingly AND unknowingly do what we want and need to survive. As we discussed in class one of the only things that prevent us from buying more and more is lack of money, space and/or the knowledge of the items usefulness or how long it will last (e.g. The usefulness of a mop that make something more dirty or food that goes bad). Those are the only reasons I can see holding us back from wanting everything for ourselves.

This selfish desire will lead to war if everyone is only looking out for themselves BUT we must remember that it is also human nature to desire peace and safety. Knowing this a man or women may give up other desires to fulfill this one because it is more “desirable” than the others. If this desire is NOT more desirable for someone government, Hobbes says, is the only way to enforce peace.

If there really was no rules and restriction from some sort of government or moral code and standard the state of war could in deed be terrible. It is hard to imagine that we can sink so low and have a world of utter chaos but the reason is we have lived with some form of government and moral code for so long. We take these things as givens and look at it as if that was the only way people live and say BUT if we did take away any form of morality and government the state of war would be very very bad.

Published in: on November 16, 2008 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kant Vs. Mill

If you had to choose one of the two theories based solely on which one had the least troubling problems, which would it be?

I think that the problems with both Mill’s view and Kant’s view on morality is troubling. If morality is something we have a sense of and we can figure in a situation what “feels” more morally acceptable we should be able to define it. Both definitions by Mill and Kant leave room for situations where their guidelines seem to be too narrow or to unfair. If we have to lie to save someone’s life Kant will still deem it unmoral and if we give to charity but it ends up funding a serial killer without our knowledge we are to blame. In both situation there is something in our “gut” that says “Hey, that’s not so fair” and we must find out what causes that feeling and derive a theory of morality from it.

If I was put under the gun and asked to pick between Mill and Kant I would go with Kant. Mill’s problem somehow seems to diminish what morality is by saying that even if there was a good motive behind your action and the action left your frame of input and control and out into the world around you it’s consequence is still your doing. How can putting money into a fundraiser claiming to help poor people in Africa be immoral just because you didn’t know it was being stolen for other evil purposes? Your action can not be deemed immoral but just bad luck or crappy situation. Kant is no better but if we told the killer where our grandmother is knowing he would kill her we can make another MORAL effort to stop him and call police. It’s not a great defense of Kant but who am I kidding I think both suck… hard… 🙂

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 11:19 pm  Leave a Comment  


Blog about the issue of rationality. What is the connection between rationality and self-interest or self-love? How does Kant use the notion of rationality to demonstrate our duties? In what ways is categorical imperative dependent on rationality?

Kant relates rationality and self-love by assuming that any rational person will act in accordance with self-love. No person in the “right mind” would not wish to love themselves and take care of their own need. He also says that rational people will adhere to their duties and find it necessary to follow. Categorical imperative is dependent on rationality because only a rational person who adheres to their duty and follows the laws of self love will act only when they can fit their maxium into universal law, “act morally”.

Published in: on November 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  

Categorical Imperative

Explain why, in Kant’s view, it’s immoral to cheat on an exam.

To find out whether or not it is immoral to cheat on an exam in Kant’s view we must follow these steps.

First, we must determine the Maxium. The maxium in this case would be, to receive a good grade on your test cheat.

Second, we must try and universalize it. If everyone wanted a good grade on their test everyone would be cheating.

Third, we must see if there is any contradictions. If everyone was cheating the teachers in the classes wouldn’t have a reason to test and grade students because the purpose of the test would be diminished. Therefore there would be no more grades or testing so cheating would not garner a student a good grade.

Finally we can see because of the contradiction cheating is not acceptable because the maxium does not fit in to universal law. Kant will conclude that this action is immoral.

Published in: on November 9, 2008 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Intrinsic Value of Happiness

Does happiness have any intrinsic value?

I believe happiness does have intrinsic value. It is true that many different things can cause or create happiness but the VALUE of happiness is NOT dependent on relationships with external entities. Anyone who is happy would chose to be happy over being sad because they find greater value in it. The fact that we strive to be happy shows that happiness is valuable but no one can say it is valuable because of something. No one can come up with a formula saying happiness is valuable because of X but everyone can say that there is value to it. Why else would people rather be happy than unhappy?

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm  Comments (3)  

Question to Mill

Blog about the one question you would ask John Stuart
Mill about utilitarianism if you could. This question might be
clarificatory, confrontational, or whatever. Then consider the way that Mill could, should, or would respond.

If I could ask John Stuart Mill one question it would be, how can the ways of Utilitarianism be the ultimate defining factor on whether an action is moral or not considering morality is so complex and uncertain at times? We’ve seen the numerous objections and the grey areas they have brought out about morality and Utilitarianism. Can morality, a thing so perfect and out of reach at times be definable by one theory without ANY flaw here or there?

Mill would probably argue that Utilitarianism takes into account the vast array of different circumstances that could occur which make a moral action hard to be defined and still comes out with a good explanation. Because Mill is such a Utilitarian advocate he would push the idea that Utilitarianism is able to define moral actions 100% perfectly.

The way he should respond in my opinion is that morality is very complex and that there are times it is hard to put a definition on it. He should say that Utilitarianism does the best it can to account for such situations and is the best defining theory out there because of it.

Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment