Questions tagged [ethics]

For questions about ethics, a branch of philosophy dealing with morality, justice, virtue, vice, good and evil.

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Am I morally obligated to pursue a career in medicine?

I am a high school student who has no formal training in philosophy, so I apologize if this question seems naïve. However, it is one that I am currently facing in a life decision, and I would like a ...
David Zhang's user avatar
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80 votes
16 answers
21k views

Is it immoral to download music illegally?

I should first point out that the title is more to capture a common occurrence of the broader idea I want to address in this question. It is also somewhat incorrect in that—at least in the US—I'm not ...
stoicfury's user avatar
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66 votes
11 answers
17k views

Does human life have innate value over that of other animals?

Does human life have innate value over that of other animals? If so, why? And is it wrong to murder another human, but morally permissible to hunt or fish?
user37214's user avatar
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60 votes
17 answers
25k views

Why is a lion not evil?

One often hears the claim that animals who kill and such, are not in fact evil. The typical example is that of a lion or a tiger that kills a prey. The argument is more or less that the animal acts ...
Deoro's user avatar
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49 votes
18 answers
17k views

What are the ethical problems with flipping a coin to decide in the trolley problem?

My understanding is that John M. Taurek suggests that, in the trolley problem we should flip a coin when deciding between saving 5 lives versus 1 life (assuming we do not know any of these people). He ...
user32889's user avatar
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45 votes
6 answers
15k views

Is there a term for the belief that "if it's legal, it's moral"?

Sometimes I hear arguments that seem to appeal to the fact that something is morally permissible because it is legally permitted. For example: Abortion is moral because it's legally permitted. ...
Thunderforge's user avatar
42 votes
18 answers
10k views

How can one rebut the argument that atheism is inherently immoral?

It not uncommon to see religious people arguing that without the moral center of a religious text, true ethics are impossible. The reasoning goes that, without a fixed moral center, atheists are ...
Bob Tway's user avatar
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40 votes
11 answers
14k views

What are the ethics of having children today?

Please receive this question as having come from a young person who wants to have children, but given the state of affairs (climate change, growing costs of living and wealth inequality, "technology", ...
TCP's user avatar
  • 668
39 votes
17 answers
16k views

Should I respect other people's religions?

My point of view is that there is no reason to believe any god exists without evidence. So I find religions a very irrational idea and I mostly heard people saying We have to respect other ...
Danowsky's user avatar
  • 508
38 votes
9 answers
6k views

Does happiness motivate every action?

Pascal wrote: All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the ...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
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36 votes
18 answers
16k views

Why do atheist euthanasia proponents consider nothingness preferable to suffering? [closed]

I have heard some atheists support euthanasia, on the grounds that death is preferable to agony. But I don't understand this; if there is no afterlife, death isn't a relief. It's true nothingness, the ...
Ryan_L's user avatar
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35 votes
8 answers
41k views

What would Kant do when two categorical imperatives conflict? Could he ever justify lying?

Suppose a German SS officer knocked on my door, asking me whether I had any Jews. And suppose further that I had two Jews in a secret compartment in the attic that he'd never be able to find. ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 1,333
32 votes
5 answers
3k views

Does humanism's rejection of God necesitate relativism?

I had the following discussion on Programmers.SE: @Peter Turner, Which is a good example of how religion warps morality, leading people to imagine their concerns are moral when they are profoundly ...
Peter Turner's user avatar
31 votes
16 answers
17k views

Was Robin Hood's point of view ethically sound?

The story of Robin Hood was a favourite of mine as a child. But as an adult, I am beginning to change my mind for a couple of reasons. The first being that if we assume a free market exists, ...
Adam Ledger's user avatar
28 votes
12 answers
11k views

Evil thoughts without actions?

Can a thought without a corresponding action be morally wrong? More fully, under which approaches to morality do thoughts, in and of themselves, carry moral significance? In particular I'm looking ...
Dave's user avatar
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28 votes
6 answers
6k views

I work from home as a software engineer and my job is happy with my performance. But I'm putting in little effort. Am I a bad person or employee? [closed]

I used to be a Senior Software Engineer at another company but recently I took a lower level 2 position at another company remotely. I am very good at what I do. I can usually take a well groomed ...
ogpk545's user avatar
  • 229
27 votes
12 answers
5k views

What arguments would support a secular pro-life position?

I've been thinking about the pro-life position (by "pro-life" I mean the position that abortion should be illegal. I.e. on par with murder) for awhile, and it is normally presented as a religious ...
yters's user avatar
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27 votes
10 answers
10k views

What are some arguments against violence?

I had repercussions over an argument in class of the inevitability of war, and violence in some instances. I was on the side that was arguing that violence is never necessary. My opponent said ...
Lucian09474's user avatar
26 votes
11 answers
7k views

I'm being drafted to the military but I have the option to refuse (legally), would it be immoral for me to serve? [closed]

I’m set to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces but I have the option to exempt from the military if I wish to. So I’m in a big moral dilemma on whether I should serve or not, I’m currently leaning ...
Mimikyu's user avatar
  • 231
24 votes
15 answers
12k views

Are there any non-divine objective standards of good/evil?

This question is a step backwards because I've run into trouble with definitions on my original question: What would be the logical consequences of human will/nature being corrupt? Is there any way ...
Caleb's user avatar
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24 votes
9 answers
3k views

Does the existence of psychopaths pose a problem for moral realists who argue we have a moral intuition?

Psychopathy is not universally agreed upon in psychology, but among some there is a consensus that psychopathy is highly heritable, and that psychopaths are lacking in conscience and empathy. ...
Ruben's user avatar
  • 614
24 votes
7 answers
3k views

Does any philosophy designate thoughts (independent of expression or action) as a subject of morality?

Most moral philosophers consider only physical actions, speech and thoughts that may have an impact on others as within the scope of morality, while many religion believers who suppose the omniscience ...
James Young's user avatar
23 votes
21 answers
7k views

Should I put my dog down to help the homeless?

I have a dog, and it costs $200 a month to sustain it, in terms of dog food and other miscellany. He's 2.5 years old, a very good boy and I value him as a great companion. Recently my friend mentioned ...
Jessica's user avatar
  • 410
23 votes
12 answers
6k views

Is it morally wrong to enjoy art created by a heinous criminal?

Is it morally wrong to enjoy art [co]-created by someone who later turns out to be a terrible criminal? I see arguments both for and against: Arguments for "wrong": Broad appreciation of ...
Bennet's user avatar
  • 341
22 votes
11 answers
10k views

My CO2 emissions in the light of Russia burning thousands of tons of it a day

According to the news, Russia is burning off, or "flaring," about 4.34 million cubic meters of gas a day because it does not sell it to Europe. That's apparently an equivalent of 9,000 ...
user avatar
22 votes
8 answers
8k views

Is it ethical to convince someone to get vaccinated?

I'm currently writing about the ethics of vaccinations, and I have two long-standing concerns about the matter. "Is refusing vaccination a morally justifiable position?" will be my question. ...
Ericleast992's user avatar
22 votes
7 answers
3k views

When are semantically non-hostile expressions equivalent to pragmatically hostile ones?

An example being the phrase "White lives matter" (or even "All lives matter") as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Another example would be: "I'm straight and I'm ...
Samuel Novelinka's user avatar
22 votes
12 answers
141k views

What did Nietzsche mean by monsters and the abyss?

What do you think Nietzsche meant by "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." (...
Michael Lee's user avatar
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22 votes
12 answers
5k views

How can animals be objects of ethics without being subjects as well?

Most people seem to agree that animals cannot act immorally, even when they inflict suffering. They are thus completely excluded from being subjects of any kind of ethical framework. At the same time,...
user37552's user avatar
  • 237
22 votes
4 answers
23k views

What, if anything, is the difference between ethics and moral philosophy?

Are the terms 'Ethics' and 'Moral Philosophy' different in extension as terms in philosophy? Some Departments of Philosophy have courses with titles like "Introduction to Ethics" and others with ...
vanden's user avatar
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22 votes
13 answers
1k views

Does the idea of being created imply the necessity for obedience to a creator?

If a scientist created intelligent life (biological, AI software, etc.), would that scientist have the right to dictate to that life a moral framework? Does the act of creation give implicit rights ...
Beofett's user avatar
  • 441
21 votes
7 answers
2k views

Could a sentient machine suffer?

I was considering this closed question very intently, and I found that I'm not at all fluent in the idea of modern slavery. Many philosophers have spoken on slavery. On this forum, someone has already ...
davidlowryduda's user avatar
21 votes
5 answers
2k views

What responses are there to Singer's "Should this be the last generation?"?

The article can be found here. It deals with many issues, but what I would really like to see a response to is the following paragraph: [W]hy don’t we make ourselves the last generation on earth? ...
Xodarap's user avatar
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20 votes
10 answers
7k views

When is violence appropriate?

In what situations would violence be appropriate? The way I see it, the only excuse is as a response to violence (self-defense). Am I missing anything?
Joe Flynn's user avatar
  • 321
19 votes
14 answers
9k views

Is religion necessary for the good life?

According to Aristotle, you will be deemed as living well if you experience worldly pleasures while still being morally upright and virtuous. How can you identify what is morally right without the ...
Fortunato Ultado's user avatar
19 votes
7 answers
7k views

Is immorality just irrationality?

If someone acts immorally - assuming some sort of free will - then they are doing so despite it being demonstrably wrong, i.e. it is a mistake as surely as 1+1=3 is a mistake. Doesn't this then give ...
riemann_lebesgue's user avatar
19 votes
6 answers
6k views

Is God either amoral or not omnipotent?

The usual (Christian) justification for suffering/evil in the world created by a benevolent God is freedom of the will. However, the more interesting question is not about the source of evil (which ...
Conifold's user avatar
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18 votes
17 answers
3k views

Is the existence of free will even important?

I don't see the existence/non-existence of free will as meaningful, ethically speaking. I'll explain what I mean. Let's say we have some agent, and the agent takes an action we think is bad. In a ...
philosodad's user avatar
  • 3,296
18 votes
2 answers
6k views

What was Kant's view on lies by omission?

I was going to ask this question as a comment in response to @Chad's answer to What would Kant do when two categorical imperatives conflict? Could he ever justify lying?, however I figured it merits ...
dimo414's user avatar
  • 1,137
18 votes
5 answers
75k views

Accepted Interpretation of Machiavelli's "the ends justify the means."?

Prior to reading The Prince, I had heard of the aphorism: The ends justify the means This was Machiavelli's identifying line to many people, and in my conversations with them, I got the impression ...
commando's user avatar
  • 7,339
18 votes
3 answers
3k views

What impact has Douglas Hofstadter's superrationality had in terms of philosophy?

Superrational decision making is a type of rational decision making in which the players cooperate in a one-shot prisoner's dilemma without coordination, punishment, or magical thinking. The idea is ...
Ron Maimon's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
406 views

What are some good books about computational ethics?

Gert-Jan C. Lokhorst has written a paper on "computational metaethics" (Computational Meta-Ethics: Towards the Meta-Ethical Robot), which explores the ability of formal systems (i.e. ...
Xodarap's user avatar
  • 2,778
17 votes
5 answers
4k views

On what grounds can a democratic state prohibit pornography?

On what grounds can a democratic state interfere to prohibit or limit its citizens from producing, distributing and consuming pornography? Does the state have any right to prohibit pornography or ...
user avatar
17 votes
5 answers
4k views

Does an education that teaches relativism alone result in students who can not make ethical decisions?

This is a followup to a previous question that suggests that skepticism leads inevitably to moral relativism. In this question, I'd like to look further down the slippery slope and think of the ...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
  • 7,239
17 votes
4 answers
6k views

How much ethics did Machiavelli convey in The Prince?

My philosophy teacher and I are having a little disagreement regarding The Prince: He argues that although the book's context is a letter to Lorenzo de' Medici advising him and recommending a course ...
commando's user avatar
  • 7,339
17 votes
6 answers
3k views

What fallacy dismisses criticism of a bad law with "just don't break it"?

Let's say someone is criticizing the government for instituting some draconian policy, and/or for persecuting people for doing something minor. And the response is:"Just don't do it and you'll be fine"...
Legend of Overfiend's user avatar
16 votes
9 answers
11k views

Is absolute ethical veganism an irrational position?

I have a handful of friends who are strictly vegan, and I talked with each of them before about their views. At least 3 of them have said to me that under no circumstance would they eat an animal or ...
stoicfury's user avatar
  • 11.6k
16 votes
7 answers
2k views

Is there an advantage of a theistic account in terms of being able to define goodness?

I have been watching some debates about the existence of god, such as Peter Singer vs. Dinesh D'Souza, or Christopher Hitchens vs. John Lennox. On the religious side, one argument comes up ...
Doc's user avatar
  • 386
16 votes
4 answers
5k views

For a utilitarian, is a lie morally equivalent to a mistake?

As far as I know, utilitarians consider that only the consequences should be considered as the calculation of the morality of an action. Since a mistake and a lie differ only in their intent, are ...
user avatar
16 votes
7 answers
8k views

Why would Aristotle argue that "a mechanic or a mercantile life" is "ignoble and inimical to virtue"?

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. (Aristotle) UPDATE: As Michael notes below, a better translation of the above is in Rackham (reproduced from Michael's citation): This isn't a better ...
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