Most Appealing Ethicist we discussed throughout the semester?

I would have to say the most appealing ethicist we discussed this semester was Aerostotle.  Morality is a way we “ought” to live and why we “ought” to live these ways.  There are many theorists who tried to prove how we are supposed to act but they never told us how to be an individual acting within a society with so many definitions of morality.  After reading Aerostotle it seemed more realistic that morality would come from people not the actions of people, and our actions are part of who we are however, they are not what we are.  Aerostotle made it clear that when we identify with someone that we look at the individual because for each individual there is a different mean.  There are no universialities when it comes to morality, it all depends on the person we want to be. If we can find that perfect intermediate within ourselves and avoid the excess and defects relative to us and appropriate for us then, we can define our moral character.


Aristotle and the moral worth of Murder

Murder is a voluntary act through reason of  ignorance and results in harming another individual, with no regret or pain.  Aristotle would say an action done with no regret or no pain owing to ignorance should not be identifiable in any person.  Even murder through self defense is a concious involuntary act that involves identifying with a murderer and has no moral worth if no guilt is brought about from the act.  If we said murder was an art that people should master in orderto be virtuous there would be no intermediate.  Murder as an excess, defect, or intermediate would not relate to anyone but a murderer, and would not be the same for all individual murders.  Aristotle would not applaud it on any account and would say murder is not a fine quality of man  and we should not identify with the act in any form because it is immoral.

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?

According to Hobbes the “people” are the parties of a social contract because promises are made between them and the government regulates them.  But, who are the “people” children, the mentally ill, and animals are not capable of the same things we are because they can not rationalize and there subjectivity to moral judgement are limited.  However, a person who is not capable because of material limitations who cannot opt out of a contract so easily, is subject to the same moral judgements we are.  A person who is too poor to move and cannot abide by our government and our moral judgements, is going to be subject the same social contract we are.  I do not think materialism has to do with keeping a promise and not acting unjust.  Just because a person is  financially limited does not mean there covenants have to be.

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

The connection between morality and the government is the role of an external guarantee with the threat of punishment.  A social contract without the government cannot exist because there would be no enforcement of a contract and in the absence of a social contract there is no such thing as  morality.  In order for a social contract to exist and the idea of morality we must keep our promises- if we give up certain rights and promise not to take them back we are moral, if we do we are immoral and unjust. Injustice is the act not to perform a covenant and because covenants are of mutual trust and compel men equally to the performance of there covenants their must be a higher power in place to enforce them.  However, Sovereigns and governments are also subject to moral judgement but, only when playing a role as a citizen.  When actions are performed as a sovereign or government they are outside of moral judgement and the government is the enforcer because they did not make up the social contracts or promises, those are between the people.

Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature. Is he 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?

I think its true that people could act in a state of war against one another when there are not enough of the same resources of the world to go around.  If this is something that could actually happen when governments collapse like Hobbes says, it could very well be a bad situation.  No laws, no government, would lead to a chaotic threatened, society with armed and distrustful neighbors, and people living desperately to survive. It could definitely be the worst situation imaginable.

If I had to choose Kant or Mill based on the least troubling problems which would it be? Am I bothered by the shortcommings of either Kant or Mill?

If I had to choose I would choose Kant’s theory.  I am not saying his theory is correct I just find it to be better than Mill’s theory.  Kant believes in rationality and that our actions be in accordance with duty, and the fact that the duty exists is why you are performing such an act.  To find out if an action is right or wrong all we have to do is test its universal ability, we apply the maxim to apply to all people at all times, if its contradictory or is an action only the willer would will it for himself we must not act on that maxim which could not without contradiction simultaneously will to be a universal law.  This is where I am bothered and I find Kant has his shortcommings  If there is a murder looking for my grandmother, I am going to lie.  According to Kant lying to the murder is wrong and because it would be undermining its universal practice and I am performing an action for my own will and ends.  What about when there is reasoning involved in my actions and my circumstances require me to lie as such? Therefore I find the theory to be imperfect and bothersome.

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

The connection between rationality and self-interest according to Kant is our ability to reason as human beings allows us to determine solutions based on morality.  Morality according to Kant should follow the categorical imperative (to act according to the same standard) Kant connects rationality with morality, and sees any contradictory or hypothetical imperative (an act performed for a deliberate end) behavior as immoral.  Morality can only be determined through reason and our actions must NOT be based upon our own desires.

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

The Categorical Imperative states that without exception the law applies to every single person therefore if everyone follows the maxim of cheating on the test in this situation it can not be a universal law and tests would be abolished, and if there are no tests the maxim would no longer stand it is contradictory.  Kant concludes that it is immoral to cheat on tests-it is only moral to cheat, if you can will the maxim into a universal law but in this situation that it is impossible therefore it is immoral. 

Another example may be the maxim of it is always morally right to steal.  Kant would argue that in order for this maxim to exist at all, personal property must exist because you can’t steal something that is not owned by someone else.  If personal property does exist, but it is a universal law that stealing is permissible, then personal property cannot exist. Again there is a contradiction and the maxim would not stand.

Does happiness have any intrinsic value?

Happiness, according to Kant does not have any intrinsic value.  Happiness is not a good in itself because for something to be good in itself it must fulfill our definitive characteristic of reason, and what we do best.  Happiness is not something we do best, according to Kant “Now a being that has reason and will, if the proper end of nature were its preservation, its welfare, in a word its happiness, then nature would have hit upon a very bad arrangement in selecting the reason of the creature to carry out this purpose.”  Since we do have reason its purpose is not to bring us happiness but to bring us to the good in itself.

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

The one question I would ask Mill is why does he think we live life without paying any regard to others in our society?  To make myself more clear, to every objection we have raised to the theory, your defenses have been as if you did not consider the inner self motivation and goodness of citizens who independently make up our civilization.

True, there are few of us that’s minds are not morally right, and pay no regard to others except for their  own interests.  But, the majority of us work together to care for others, and everyday make sacrifices and moral choices to live virtuous lives for our own well being and our close encounters.

Mill should respond that the Utilitarianism Theory is a principle that likes us to think of others feelings, and make fair righteous decisions, however, their are exceptions of good faith but, he wants humanity to be one and live by one set of rules.  Although the Utilitarianism Theory may seem of high rigid standards we should think of Utilitarianism as a goal rather than a principle that is written.  We should work with each other and build strong characters with thoughtfulness and sensitivity at all times and reach the highest points of goodness when attainable on the scale of morality and move furthest away from immorality at all times.  We should not consider the world in every action but make our personal independent actions virtuous and for our own well being and of others that constitute the world.

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