PHIL153  Ethics

Review for first midterm exam


What is “ethics”?

            Distinction between descriptive claims and normative claims

            Why people have a belief vs Whether belief is true

Objectivity in ethics

            Distinguished from cultural relativism

            Distinguished from subjectivism

            Arguments for and against

Why be moral?

            Is there opposition between justice and self-interest?  Between expedience and morality?

            Nietzsche’s “genealogy” of morals – rejection of nihilism and authorship of values

            Plato on rational self-interest

Morality and religion

            Plato: is it good because God loves it or does God love it because it’s good?  A question about whether goodness is intrinsic.

            Natural Law: there are objective truths about morality/justice discoverable by human intellect.  Manmade laws must conform to natural law to be valid.

                        Plato and Cicero on virtues

                        Thomas Aquinas on virtue and knowing the divine

                        Martin Luther King, Jr. – modern use of natural law theory; civil disobedience

Readings:  assigned selections from ch. 1; chapters 3,4,9; Richter handout; Regan handout; Foot handout; King handout

See also: slides