Erick Millama Contemporary Moral Problems 7

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Erick Millama

Contemporary Moral Problems(7th Edition)

James Rachels: Egoism and Moral Sceptism


Review Question

  1. Explain the legend of Gyges. What questions about morality are raised by the story?

The legend of Gyges is about a ring that is found by a shepherd which can make its user invisible. The shepherd used the ring to enter the Palace where he kills the king, seduced the queen and take the throne. A question about morality can by, why does a good man do such an unacceptable act? Can a man change if he is freed from the benefits of being moral and not be accounted on whatever he do?

  1. Distinguish between psychological and ethical egoism.

Psychological egoism is a view about men that are said to be selfish on whatever they do while ethical egoism is about how men do in fact behave, they are not obliged to do anything except what is in their own interest.

  1. Rachels discusses two arguments for psychological egoism. What are these arguments and how does he reply to them?

The first argument is identifying if a person is selfish or unselfish but that person’s response is done because he just wants it better than other option. The second argument is based on being unselfish but the person consciousness is more satisfied by the result.

  1. What three commonplace confusions does Rachels detects in the thesis of psychological egoism?

The three commonplace confusions are confusion of selfishness with self-interest, the assumption that every action is done either from self-interest or from other-regarding motives and the common but false assumption that a concern for one’s own welfare is incompatible with any genuine concern for the welfare of others.

  1. State the arguments for saying that ethical egoism is inconsistent. Why doesn’t Rachels accept the argument?

The argument of Rachels is “To say that any action or policy of action is right entails that it is right for anyone in the same sort of circumstances. I cannot, for example, say that it is right for me to lie to you, and yet object when you lie to me. I cannot hold that it is all right for me to drink your beer and then complain when you drink mine. This is just the requirement that we be consistent in our evaluations; it is a requirement of logic”. Rachels doesn’t accept this argument because the egoist will not accept or the way he acts a certain action.

  1. According to Rachels, why shouldn’t we hurt others, and why should we help others?

The reason why we shouldn’t hurt others is because other people would be hurt. The reason why we should help others is because other people would be benefited. The egoist will not be happy and he will protest his idea.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Has Rachels answered the question raised by Glaucon, namely, “Why be moral? “If so, what exactly is his answer?

Yes because his exact answer is “the majority of mankind is grossly deceived about what is, or ought to be, the case, where morals are concerned”.

  1. Are genuine egoists rare, as Rachels claims? Is it a fact that most people care about others, even people they don’t know?

It is not rare because in our past and present time most of the people care for other people even they do not know them.

  1. Suppose we define ethical altruism as the view the one should always act for the benefit of others and never in one’s own self-interest. Is such a view immoral or not?

That kind of view is not immoral because it is the persons choice to act for the benefit of other and never in his/her own self-interest.

John Arthur: Religion, Morality and Conscience

Review Question

  1. According to Arthur, how are morality and religion different?

According to Arthur, morality involves our attitudes toward various forms of behavior(lying and killing, for example), typically expressed using the notions of rules, rights and obligations. Religion typically involves prayer, worship, beliefs about the supernatural, institutional forms and authoritative texts.

  1. Why isn’t religion necessary for moral motivation?

It isn’t necessary because Arthur stated that “We were raised to be a decent person and that’s what we are period. Behaving fairly and treating others well is more important that whatever we might gain from stealing or cheating, let alone seriously harming another person. So it seems clear that many motives for doing the right thing have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.” I think it means that even if someone doesn’t have a religion that person still can be moral and he/she might have the same level of morality with the person that has religion.

  1. Why isn’t religion necessary as a source of moral knowledge?

It isn’t necessary because morality might doesn’t have any foundation or basis at all, so people do whatever serves our own self-interest.

  1. What is the divine command theory? Why does Arthur reject this theory?

The divine command theory means that God’s commands are moral and it should be followed. The author rejects this theory because if we will follow God’s commands then it possible to do other immoral things as long God did not command it.

  1. According to Arthur, how are morality and religion connected?

God is able to provide objective basis for distinction between right and wrong. It is the same as morality to know what is to do and not to do.

  1. Dewey says that morality is social. What does this mean, according to Arthur?

It is because our conscience can see the perspective of other upon us if our action will be moral or immoral.

Discussion Question

  1. Has Arthur refuted the divine command theory?

No because it doesn’t generalize morality. The divine command theory also helps us to right and wrong.

  1. If morality is social, as Dewey says, then how can we have any obligations to nonhuman animals?

Our obligation to nonhuman animals is to respect their life as possible but it is in human nature to eat the animals in order to live. By giving value to the animals life, only chosen animal are being eaten by humans.

  1. What does Dewey mean by moral education? Does a college ethics class count as a moral education?

According to Dewey, moral education is an importance sense in which morality not only can be taught but must be. Yes, college ethic classes count as moral education because some morality that are taught and learned in society are not enough.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Master- and Slave-Morality

Review Question

  1. How does Nietzsche characterize a good and healthy society?

Society belongs to the nature of the living being as a primary function which is will to power or will to live.

  1. What is Nietzsche’s view of injury, violence, and exploitation?

His view may result in a certain rough sense in good conduct among individuals when the necessary conditions are given (namely, the actual similarity of the individuals in amount of force and degree of worth and their co-relation within one organization.

  1. Distinguish between master-morality and slave-morality.

In master-morality the ruler despises them while in slave-morality the insignificant are being despised.

  1. Explain the Will to Power.

It is the drive in being on top where a person wants to be inferior to others.

Discussion Question

  1. Some people view Nietzsche’s writings as harmful and even dangerous. For example, some have charged Nietzsche with inspiring Nazism. Are these charges justified or not? Why or why not?

It is justified because it is all about power and inferiority among other people for example slaves.

  1. What does it mean to be “a creator of values”?

It means to honor whatever he recognizes in himself: such morality is self-glorification

Mary Midgley: Trying out one’s new sword

Review Question

  1. What is “moral isolationism”?

Someone will have no right to criticize other culture if that person do not belong.

  1. Explain the Japanese custom of tsujigiri. What questions does Midgley ask about this custom?

The word tsujigiri means crossroads-cut. I think his question is if the samurai fails and offend his ancestors, we are still not qualified to criticize it because we are not members of that culture. His point is people extend some principle to cover other cultures.

  1. What is wrong with moral isolationism, according to Midgley?

Morality will only depend on culture which means that other culture should not interfere.

  1. What does Midgley think is the basis for criticizing other cultures?

The basis of criticizing other culture is through judging in our own culture.

Discussion Question

  1. Midgley says that Nietzsche is an immoralist. Is that an accurate and fair assessment of Nietzsche? Why or why not?

Midgley said that Nietzsche is immoralist but Midgley specify that Nietzsche is just a specialized sect of moralist.

  1. Do you agree with Midgley’s claim that the idea of separate and unmixed cultures is unreal? Explain your answer.

Yes because in every culture everything from it do not originally came from their culture. Some culture in a particular place can be seen in other culture because in our time the culture are mixed.

John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism

Review Question

  1. State and explain the Principle of Utility. Show how it could be used to justify actions that are conventionally viewed as wrong, such as lying and stealing.

Principle of utility states that an action is right if it can may a person happy and wrong if an action will result into unhappiness. In lying, it can be used by a person to keep a big secret to a friend and not to tell anybody because it will benefit their happiness and friendship.

  1. How does Mill reply to the objection that Epicureanism is a doctrine worthy only of swine?

Mills objected the Epicureanism. Humans are more addicted to pleasure than swine have.

  1. How does Mill distinguish between higher and lower pleasures?

For Mill, higher pleasures can lead to satisfaction with knowledge that it is still not enough while lower pleasures can fully satisfy a person with such a simple things.

  1. According to Mill, whose happiness must be considered?

Happiness must be considered by others who are the majority of people. It must be given to the majority of people so they can be free from unhappiness or disappointment.

  1. Carefully reconstruct Mill's proof of the principle of utility.

Human actions must result into the happiness and it will benefit most of the people.

Discussion Question

  1. Is happiness nothing more than pleasure, and the absence of pain? What do you think?

I think that happiness do not always need pleasure. Simple things can make a person happy. Pain is possible if a person sacrifices his self for other people which results into that persons happiness for doing something or helping them.

  1. Does Mill convince you that the so-called higher pleasures are better than the lower ones? What about the person of experience who prefers the lower pleasures over the higher ones?

No because I think that both kind of pleasure exist in every person and their response will depends on how pleasure satisfy their demand.

  1. Mill says, “In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility” Is this true or not?

It is true because we want other people do the same thing to us. We are doing things for other people by visualizing our self in their place.

  1. Many commentators have thought that Mill's proof of the principle of utility is defective. Do you agree? If so, then what mistake or mistakes does he make? Is there any way to reformulate the proof so that it is not defective?

I agree that it is defective. Just like my answer in higher pleasure and lower pleasure, every individual has different response to pleasure.

James Rachels: Debate over Utilitarianism

Review Questions

  1. Rachels says that classical utilitarianism can be summed up in three propositions. What are they?

The first preposition is to judge an action if it is right or wrong.

The second preposition is to determine the consequence of an action. The amount of happiness or unhappiness is considered.

The third preposition depends only on the person doing an action whether happiness or unhappiness. Other people are not involved.

  1. Explain the problem with hedonism. How do defenders of utilitarianism respond to this problem?

Happiness is their main focus. Happiness should not only be self-centered because people around should be also considered.

  1. What are the objections about justice, rights, and promises?

Objection about justice is that people should be treated fairly but most of the time it is not followed.

Objection about right is about using self on how to be treated.

Objection about promise is that it should be done but it is always broken

  1. Distinguish between rule- and act- utilitarianism. How does rule-utilitarianism reply to the objections?

Rule utilitarianism depends on actions that are right which is created by society while act utilitarianism focuses on the desire of happiness each individual.

  1. What is the third line of defense?

It is about a small group who are against anti-utilitarian.

Discussion Question

  1. Smart's defense of utilitarianism is to reject common moral beliefs when they conflict with utilitarianism. Is this acceptable to you or not? Explain your answer.

It is not acceptable because I have different belief just like other people. Other people might accept a belief but based on my belief it is wrong.

  1. A utilitarian is supposed to give moral consideration to all concerned. Who must be considered? What about nonhuman animals? How about lakes and streams?

Everything is created by God and everything must be considered. We also should value the life of other creatures.

  1. Rachels claims that merit should be given moral consideration independent of utility. Do you agree?

I agree because each individual wants to do an action where most people will also be happy.

Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative

Review Questions:

  1. Explain Kant’s account of the good will.

His account of the good will means that other action is not good if it has positive effect but the will of doing it must be good for it to be good.

  1. Distinguish between hypothetical and categorical imperatives.

Hypothetical imperative is unable to know what might happen until it is said in the end. Categorical imperative is knowing it at the start.

  1. State the first formulation of the categorical imperative (using the notion of a universal law), and explain how Kant uses this rule to derive some specific duties toward self and others.

The first formulation states "Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." He wants it to be the law in each individual.

  1. State the second version of the categorical imperative (using the language of means and end), and explain it.

The second version states “The end justifies the means”. The result is important and whatever process happens to achieve that is not important.

Discussion Questions

  1. Are the two versions of the categorical imperative just different expressions of one basic rule, or are they two different rules? Defend your view.

I think that both have different rule. The first depends how it can affect the majority of people. The second might affect other people they might suffer for achieving the result.

  1. Kant claims that an action that is not done from the motive of duty has no moral worth. Do you agree or not? If not, give some counterexamples.

I agree because an action is done for the motive of fulfilling the duty.

  1. Some commentators think that the categorical imperative (particularly the first formulation) can be used to justify non moral or immoral actions. Is this a good criticism?

Yes because I think there are some immoral actions that can be used and it will depend on the culture or belief of the person or community.

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