Definitions: Values and Moral Values

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1 Definitions: Values and Moral Values 1. Values those things that we care about; those things that matter to us; those goals or ideals to which we aspire and by which we measure ourselves and others in our society. e.g. scientific = knowledge, truth, experimentation aesthetic = beauty, art, attractiveness economic = production, efficiency 2. Moral Values those values that give voice to the needs and legitimate expectations of others as well as ourselves. e.g. moral = equality respect responsibility reducing/suffering pursuit of happiness

2 Ethics and Religion 1. Religion s Contribution to Ethics contributes to moral training provides content for some moral beliefs/commitments religious leaders are often ethics advocates religious leaders often play moral leadership role (exemplars; support for community) 2. Religion s Limits in Ethics (e.g. appeal to religious authority) conflicting pronouncements of different religions disagreements among a) a religion s experts b) experts and laypeople ambiguity in religious texts vagueness of commandments/prescriptions ***********EACH OF US DECIDES FOR OURSELVES*************

3 Ethics and Law Though law and morality do sometimes overlap, they nevertheless are distinct: law abiding person is not necessarily morally sensitive or virtuous legally acceptable does not automatically mean morally acceptable because something is moral, doesn t mean that the law should permit it if something does not involve a legal violation, it may nonetheless involve a moral violation because something is immoral, doesn t necessarily mean that it should be illegal law takes things into account besides morality: law involves issues of legal liability, costs to the system, practicality, the litigation process, questions of compensation

4 1. Utilitarianism Proponents: Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill Goal of Morality: to make the world a better place Supreme Moral Value: good = happiness/pleasure bad = unhappiness/pain Method for Choosing Right Action: greatest happiness principle = the right action is the one that, on balance, promotes the most happiness/pleasure, everyone considered Features of Utilitarianism: 1. consequentialist 2. monistic (=one fundamental value) 3. maximizing Attractions: 1. happiness/pleasure and unhappiness pain = important goals 2. in principle, action-guiding 3. impartial 4. focuses on long-term as well as short term effects Shortcomings: 1. problems of measurement and commensurability 2. not feasible/practical 3. problem of responsibility 4. there are moral values independent of and not reducible to happiness/pleasure or unhappiness/pain

5 2. Kantianism Proponent: Immanuel Kant Goal of Morality: to live according to our natures as rational agents Supreme Moral Value: follow the dictates of reason Method for Choosing Right Action: categorical imperative 1) universalize: can I, as a rational agent, will that everyone in a similar situation act this way? 2) respect for persons: respect people as ends in themselves, and never only as means Features: 1. nonconsequentialist 2. intention matters Problems: 1. less action-guiding 2. too rationalistic 3. consequences matter sometimes

6 3. Principalism Proponents: W.D. Ross, and Beauchamp and Childress Goal of Morality: promote all values expressed in moral experience e.g. happiness, autonomy, justice Method for Determining Right Action: using personal judgment Features: 1. many fundamental moral values (not reducible to one another) 2. these fundamental values are prima facie values 3. moral judgement is used to make decisions in cases of conflict Problems: 1. not very action-guiding 2. no rational resolution to conflicts

7 4. Virtue Theory Proponent: Aristotle Purpose of Morality: to act virtuously, exercise good moral judgement Features: 1. moral education 2. influence of role models 3. habitual exercise of character traits Problems: same as principalism

8 5. Feminist Ethics Goal of this Approach to Morality: 1) overcome the oppression/subordination of women (and other oppressed groups) 2) take the experiences and interests of women seriously Features: 1. contextual 2. concerned with relationships and their preservation 3. more political 4. attention to the private sphere 5. greater role for emotions Divisive Issues: 1. is virtue gendered? 2. meaning of sexual equality 3. is morality objective or relative?

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