Ethicaljudgments must apply to everyone in the same way. • Ex. It is wrong for everyone to kill an innocent person. • Ex. It’s always wrong to lie. • Ex. One ought to live a life aimed at artistic excellence if one has the talent, desire, and opportunities to make likely the achievement of such excellence.
You say “This is the way you should behave”. But I say: “No, that is not the way”. You say: “This is right.” But I say: “No, that is wrong and this is right.” You appeal to experience. I appeal to experience against you. You appeal to authority: [but] it is not mine. What is left? If you are strong, you can punish me for behaving my way. But does that prove anything except that you are stronger than I? Does it prove the absurd dogma that might makes right? Is the slavemaster right because he owns the whip*?+ … ” - MacHiver, 1952MacHiver says that the golden rule is the one thing that everyone can agree on because it’svery reasonable: it’s the ethical principle that applies to everybody despite their differences.Universality – this rule is universal.(Ex. owning a gun… or authority, as in religious authority or Bentham’s principle of utility.)
MacHiver: think about the one who would be affected, how would you feel if you werethem?
1. It is mind-expanding in the sense that it asks you to transcend yourself and your situation and see yourself in the position of others (MacHiver)1. Greater likelihood of realizing the accident/luck of each of our circumstances. (MacHiver)2. Greater understanding and empathy with others3. Improved moral perception and reasoning
Do all these say the same thing? …No. "Avoid doing what you would blame "Recognize that your neighbor feels as others for doing." – Thales (c. 624 BC – you do, and keep in mind your own c. 546 BC) dislikes.” —Sirach 31:15 (Judaism) Never impose on others what you "That which is hateful to you, do not do would not choose for yourself." – to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; Confucius (551 BC – c. 479 BC) the rest is the explanation" – Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a (Judaism) Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. – “And as ye would that men should do to Udanavarga 5:18 (Buddhism) you, do ye also to them likewise.” – Jesus (Luke 6:31) One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s “None of you *truly+ believes until he own self. This, in brief, is the rule of wishes for his brother what he wishes dharma. Other behavior is due to for himself.” – Muhammad (An- selfish desires. — Brihaspati, Nawawis Forty Hadith 13 (p. 56) Mahabharata (Hinduism)
MacHiver 1. The Golden rule functions as a validation principle for all moral principles and values. These must be compatible with it. 1. It doesn’t tell us what to do about all of our ethical problems. We will still sometimes disagree. 2. Its greatest ethical contribution is to the spirit of how we should treat others – as having interests as valuable as our own.Ex. the abortion debate…Is this something that I’d wish on others & would like others to wish unto myself…? (huh?)
Literal compliance with the golden rule would sometimes be absurd, wrong, or impossible. This is why people rarely use it. We’re not after just doing what we would want to do in another’s place, but rather doing what we would regard as fair, just, right, or reasonable in another’s person’s place. Deciding when the golden rule is appropriateArchbishop Richard Whately depends on us already having conceptions of (1787-1863) what is fair, just, right, and reasonable.*We can’t truly follow the golden rule when 2 people may want 2 different things.Ex. farmer & landlord
Presents an ethical theory based on the right, rather than the good – more specifically on having the right motive • “the good” = good consequences. The best action to do is that which would bring about the best consequences “Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will.” • Good will = intention/motivation, the only truly good thing in the world because intentions are Immanuel Kant pure/free/the part of the action you can control. We (1724 – 1804) can’t control the consequences.
Sparky doesn’t care if other cats are hungry. He operates by instinct – mainly to eat and avoid punishment Humans have reasons that take us beyond instinct. I can go on a hunger strike to protest injustice and resist my instincts. This freedom – the ability to choose to act from principles is what gives me dignity – what makes me worthy of respect.
“What is the morally right motive?” Good Will = the morally right motive Central ideas: • The only intrinsic good is the good will • The good will is one that acts out of a sense of duty to do the right thing • Duty is action in accordance with the moral law/ a universal principle
Actions contrary to duty not allowed Actions in accordance with duty but motivated by inclination don’t have any moral worth. An action that is done from duty and against inclination, has more moral worth, than the same action done from duty with inclination.Ex. 2 people drowning, one who you don’t like, the other who’s your friend. Kant’sPOV: the right thing to do would be to save the one you don’t like because it wouldrequire more action against inclination (?) – that’s BS.
Right actions follow from the right principles. How do we know if our moral principle is a good one? Hypothetical imperatives are conditional on something: If I don’t (?) mind going to prison, I’ll stop performing surgery without a license All moral rules must rest on a categorical imperative Kant’s POV: moral principles don’t work in terms of hypotheticalimperatives, but categorical imperativesTo find out whether a moral principle is ok to act from, youcheck if it is compatible with The Categorical Imperative (CI)
2nd formulation: “Never treat a person merely as a means to “don’t use an end, but always treat them as an end in themselves” people” 1st formulation: “Act only according to that maxim that you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (a rule that applies to everybody)Step 1: Formulate a sincere & rational maxim (a subjective principle ofaction that states what you propose to do, and why) (Ex: Make false promises whenever you want/whenever it suits you, or steal from the bookstore whenever you go in, if you can get away with it.)Step 2: Universalize the maxim to everyone, past, present and future.(everyone, as if by a law of nature, does A in C in order to achieve E) (Ex: Everybody can then lie or break promises/steal from the bookstore if they want to.)Step 3: Imagine the social world that would result from conjoining all the lawsof physics, psychology, sociology, etc. with the law you made in Step 2. (Ex: Imagine the world as you know it with the maxim.)
Step 4: test the maxim (Ex: Would you then be able to use this? Would you be able to lie/steal whenever you want to?) The contradiction in Conception test – In the imagined world of step 3 would it be possible to achieve your end by means of the action you proposed in step 1? (Ex: No. Nobody would be trustworthy, there’d be no such thing as promises; there’d be nothing left in the bookstore & it would close.) What makes it bad is that it’s irrational & contradictory. The Contradiction in the Will test - Could I consistently will that this world (in 3) actually exist? (Ex: Is this the sort of world you can rationally/would really want to live in? No. You need to be able to trust people in life.)If a maxim for an action fails either test, you have a duty NOT to act on it!
PERFECT DUTIES IMPERFECT DUTIES Perfect Duties are duties that Imperfect Duties are duties that we are all obligated to meet we should sometimes fulfill, but every time are not required to do all the time. • e.g. do not kill innocent people • e.g. be charitable • e.g. keep all of your promises • e.g. cultivate yourselfKant’s POV:• How are you supposed to get all these ethics/maxims in one world?• Happiness doesn’t fit here.
WHAT KANTIANISM ADDS PROBLEMS WITH THE GOLDEN RULE 1. Literal compliance with the golden rule would sometimes be absurd, A foundation in reason (rather than wrong, or impossible. faith) for morality 2. Deciding when the golden rule is The golden rule is very ambiguous, appropriate depends on us already Kant offers a specific methodology having conceptions of what is fair, for a first principle of morality just, right, and reasonable - Archbishop WhatleyThe Categorical Imperative offers the answer whereas the golden rule doesn’t. For example,the trolley problem. The golden rule says that it’s wrong to sacrifice...? A maxim saying thatit’s okay to sacrifice 1 person for the lives of others doesn’t stand up to the categoricalimperative. Would you want to live in a world where at any moment you can be grabbed &sacrificed? We still need notions of things like justice & the golden rule doesn’t provide that.
1. The system is too absolutist and inflexible2. Some maxims which seem to be ok, fail the CI test.3. Other maxims which seem to be objectionable, pass the CI test.
4. Usually universalizing bad maxims does not lead to contradiction or inconsistency, but to a really bad situation.5. Universalization requires a particular description of the action I’m considering performing. But maxims based on different descriptions can give us contradictory answers.6. Morality should be from the heart, not the head.