Questions tagged [ethics]

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

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106
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13answers
14k views

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 ...
69
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16answers
16k 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 ...
55
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11answers
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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?
54
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17answers
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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 ...
44
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6answers
13k 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. ...
41
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15answers
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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 ...
37
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15answers
14k 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 ...
36
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19answers
9k 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 ...
36
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9answers
4k 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 ...
32
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8answers
35k 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. ...
31
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5answers
2k 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 ...
26
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12answers
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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 ...
26
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10answers
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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 ...
23
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14answers
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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,...
23
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8answers
2k 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. ...
22
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15answers
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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 ...
22
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4answers
18k 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 ...
21
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7answers
6k 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 ...
21
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13answers
8k 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 ...
21
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13answers
818 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 ...
20
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7answers
1k 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 ...
19
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10answers
5k 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?
18
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2answers
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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 ...
18
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5answers
921 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? ...
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6answers
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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"...
16
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7answers
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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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
16
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4answers
3k 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 ...
16
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6answers
6k 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): But at present we are ...
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5answers
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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 ...
16
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3answers
5k 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 ...
16
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5answers
12k views

What does “You go to women? Do not forget the whip!” mean?

As an Iranian citizen I have read most Nietzsche's books which have been translated in Persian/Farsi language as my mother tongue. There are still debates between translators,philosophers and ...
16
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1answer
305 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. computers/robots) ...
16
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4answers
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Does skepticism inevitably lead to ethical relativism?

In this question, I will make a slippery slope argument. It's probably fallacious, but your task is the identify the point where one step does not inevitablly lead to the next step and explain why ...
15
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6answers
3k views

Is God either immoral 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 ...
15
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9answers
8k 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 ...
15
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10answers
3k views

If a person is discriminated against, and they are not aware, is it truly discrimination and/or unjust?

I began discussing whether sexism was independent of culture, and the topic moved on to women in middle-eastern countries that may be required to wear some type of veil. Someone argued, if they were ...
15
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4answers
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Do “if everybody did it” arguments commit a fallacy?

Who is committing a fallacy in this discussion, and what kind of fallacy is it? A: There's nothing wrong with killing people at random B: If everybody did it, you would too most likely be a random ...
15
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9answers
3k views

Is it ethically correct to be proud of one's country?

It is a very well known phenomena that people feel pride for the country where they were born and/or live, even though the effect seems to be declining slightly nowadays. Frequently, governments also ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Are there any philosophers that argued for knowledge having intrinsic value?

Many (if not most) philosophers agree that knowledge has value. However, does it have intrinsic value, or is its value purely in its ability to affect things outside of the realm of knowledge? Are ...
15
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8answers
18k views

Is it possible to be truly selfless or altruistic?

Is it possible for people to actually be selfless? It seems that in many cases where someone is being kind, they are actually performing in a manner that will benefit them. Either the recipient of the ...
15
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3answers
2k views

What impact has Douglass 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 ...
15
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3answers
2k views

What is the modern view of the validity of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals?

I have been rereading Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals. The prose is moving, inasmuch as one is moved by prose (I am but very little), but the content seems to my eye poorly reasoned (relying ...
14
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8answers
5k views

If you have won the trust of an illegal immigrant, is it ethical to turn him/her over to the authorities?

My question is NOT about the problems associated with secondary consequences of illegal immigration, such as unemployment of the native workforce. Nor is it about the causes of illegal immigration, ...
14
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7answers
2k views

Is the golden rule considered childish in philosophy?

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a moral maxim or principle which may appear as either a positive or negative injunction: One should treat others as one would like others to treat ...
14
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9answers
1k views

Should I vote for what is best for me or what is best for others?

I live and vote in a constituency where the policies of Party A are better for the long-term success of my business, which determines the material conditions of my well-being and that of my family. ...
14
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3answers
3k views

What are the main points of contention between Marxist and capitalist economic philosophies?

What are the main points of contention between Marxist economic philosophy and the various "pro-capitalist" economic philosophies (Labor Theory of Value, Austrian School, Libertarianism, etc.?)
14
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4answers
61k 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 ...
14
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3answers
336 views

Who is responsible for damages of automatic drones?

I had a discussion about drones for civilian use, e.g. self-driving cars without a human at its wheels, transport devices that would fly products you otherwise would buy in the supermarket directly to ...
14
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1answer
342 views

Did Putnam prove Hume wrong about the impossiblity of grounds for ethical claims?

Hume's argument in A Treatise of Human Nature that we can't derive normative judgments from descriptive statements is well known. Recently one of my teachers said that Putnam proved Hume wrong by ...