Seeking a Standard

Ch 2

Three levels of ethical Judgement

God's command against slavery- No argument

Nature gives reason for right and wrong actions

1. Particular case eg Mary's abortion is wrong

Mary has blond or long hair - no relevance

2. Principle

Abortion is wring except to save mother,s life

 killing another is wrong except in self defense.

3. The general principle - What makes a morally right - Theory


The morally right act  - best result- Totally future orientated.

General enough. It can apply to all acts. But is it correct?

Are any actions good or bad in themselves(breaking promise is bad) adultery? Theory against Consequentiallism.

Some actions are bad, no matter what the consequences.

Rights based theory - No Consequentiallist. agrees.

Rule based, same as rights based

Violate rights - Breaking promises

Base actions on past not future results.


Consequentiallism.            NonConsequential.

The only thing that       Are of several       are unrespond

determines the            Primo facia rules      

morality of an action     of primo facia rights   absolut rules

are the results.          non absolute rule    Kantian ethics

                                                 remain silent

                                                 do not lie



primo facie -first view

Stronger right may overrule other rights

I am an Consequentialist.

Do y have the right principles?

Do we have moral rights?

Freedom of speech - free enterprise capitalism

even if consequences are bad( wage march)?

Claim a right - absolute right

Searches for truth using reasoning

Reasoning about normative data.

Apply consequences

Kill one child to save 10 others

Best total value of the act for good

Must consider long term and subtle consequencesas well (eg precedent set)

This is to show that case is wrong

Keep secret to make right

Consequentialist. "in practice"

If act is right - for who?

for everyone

Consequentialist.God's eye view

If act is right - What is good?

Consequentialist. is good in itself (not act as NonConsequentialist.

(Money is good - for what?)

Death denies experience

Living is good for happiness

Benthen - Quantity of pleasure.

Mill - quality as well as quantity of pleasure

Government leaders - more pleasure less pain

Mill high and low pleasure

Determine quality of pleasure by people who experience each


Getting an education - More on higher pleasure

Trust in human growth

Consequentialist. balance pleasure of all concerned

Something closer influence us more than something distant

More modern

Satisfaction of preferences as the good

(less paternalistic)

- Goes with capitalism- people choose

-Preferences utilitarian make people genuinely happy

Restrictive freedom for the better good

Must choose best possible act

How are points determined

+ 15   +9    +8


-10     -3    -1


5      6      7


No of people vs how much you like


Likelihood of effect

Homeland security -play odds 

Value of event now verses future event

Falsely assume that as good ethical theory must be simple and easy to apply

How does utilitarianism theory get applied as cost value analysis.

"Plus point"

Lives saved

Redirect dying

Suffering avoided


Workers safety in the work place

Look at lives lost verses freedom

Problems of cost benefit analysis

Dwarfing of soft variables

Define the value of human life in dollar terms

Expected earnings

Willingness to pay  for redistribution  of risk

Wording of surveys

Irrationality of popular principles of risk

Preference utilitarianism

How much you would spend

Put highways in poor neighborhoods

Less to satisfy poor

Problems differ from criticism.