Questions tagged [ethics]

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

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5answers
734 views

Why is murder wrong?

Let's start with the idea that for something to be wrong it has to harm a conscious being, in this case a human. This could involve active harm (punching them), or harm which they remain ignorant of. ...
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4answers
284 views

'What to do?' versus 'Who to be?' and the focus of moral philosophy

In Normative Ethics, Shelly Kagan writes: I have suggested that the central question of moral philosophy as a whole, and of normative ethics in particular, is how one should live. I take this ...
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1answer
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Hume's argument for the subjectivity of morality

I am trying to analyze the following argument by Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature: But can there be any difficulty in proving, that vice and virtue are not matters of fact, whose existence we ...
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1answer
105 views

Utilitarianism revisited

I assume utilitarianism to be the doctrine that one should act to maximize the overall amount of "happiness". Next to the fact that it's not quite clear what happiness is supposed to be and how it ...
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1answer
337 views

Why did Kant condemn masturbation?

That such an unnatural use (and so misuse) of one's sexual attributes is a violation of one's duty to himself and is certainly in the highest degree opposed to morality strikes everyone upon his ...
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1answer
63 views

What would you do? [closed]

To give some background, I'm trained in biology (UCSC) and seem to have a knack for it. My success with software probably gives credibility to my ability with simple logic. I've worked on a long term ...
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2answers
200 views

Can Human Rights = Animal Rights?

Should we care how fish feel? In his 1789 treatise An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham—who developed the theory of utilitarianism (...
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7answers
1k views

What philosophers argued that human rights can be forfeited?

I'm writing an argumentative paper on a controversial topic, and the stance I want to take is that there are certain actions that an individual can take (such as terrorism, child molestation) that ...
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2answers
101 views

Is it less immoral to lie to the less intelligent (moral deceptionism)?

According to Hugo Grotius, it is not immoral to lie to someone who does not possess "the right to exercise liberty of judgment". He then proceeded to give two examples: (i) you cannot lie to a madman (...
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1answer
92 views

Is willful ignorance ethically acceptable? [closed]

Disclaimer: This is an open/opinion based question. Coming from StackOverflow something like this isn't looked fondly upon but I hope it's more commonly accepted practice over here. Also I am not a ...
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1answer
31 views

Why does the ethical doctrine of double effect presume “the bad consequence is not a means to the good consequence”?

I trust it's obvious why this presumption looks as it is supposed to - "the bad consequence IS a means to the good consequence"? Consider Herring's example on p. 169 with the surgeon. If the bad ...
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1answer
56 views

Looking for existing discourse on the category of fallacies exemplified by “paradox of tolerance”

Popper coined the phrase "paradox of tolerance" when discussing how unlimited tolerance is self-contradictory (paradoxical) in that it precludes self-preservation (resisting intolerance). The seeming ...
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2answers
217 views

Amoral argument for god?

Has there been a push for or the development of an amoral argument for a god that is indifferent to the moral practices of humanity, a sort of anti-moral argument for an indifferent god? This idea ...
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5answers
2k views

What is the main message Kierkegaard is trying to deliver in his suicidal quote?

In his journal Kierkegaard wrote: I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away — yes, the dash ...
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Authors on the Credibility and Corruption of Modern Science

During the Renaissance and Industrial eras science was a way to remove superstition, religious misconception, and irrational fears. The scientific method was proved to be valid and available to ...
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13answers
11k 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, ...
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13answers
8k 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 ...
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1answer
90 views

Philosophical term for relativistic moral standards

Consider the following attitudes towards Genghis Khan: He was a murderous monster! He did some bad things, but he also did some good things (e.g. promoting trade). He should be judged by the ...
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2answers
183 views

Is there a non-arbitrary way to choose rules in rule utilitarianism

In act utilitarianism you choose the action that most increases utility, there is no ambiguity (assuming utility can be calculated, etc.). Conversely, in rule utilitarianism rules are chosen that ...
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9answers
912 views

Is altruism a contradiction?

A discussion at work recently involved our CEO (who has a psychology degree and is generally very knowledgable.. I have a lot of respect for his opinion) stating with great confidence that altruism is ...
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1answer
126 views

Which Christian philosophers examine their understanding of Pharaoh hardening his heart? [closed]

I have read many Christian commentaries on Pharaoh and they all assume he had moral responsibility for having hardened his own heart. However did Pharaoh choose his nature and nurture or did his God ...
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3answers
256 views

Does Mill make pain a necessary component of happiness?

In Utilitarianism, ch. 4, Mill's proof of utilitarianism, happiness is defined as: "Not a continuity of highly pleasurable excitement, but moments of such, in an existence made up of few but ...
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9answers
666 views

What are the basis of all or a majority of moral systems?

What are the basis of all or a majority of moral systems? By basis, I intend to say "core principles" of all or a majority of moral systems. After analyzing moral systems, I found that most of them ...
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1answer
104 views

What are ethical rules?

Usually people are thinking of ethical rules as "You must [not] X", where X is simple action that does not require any analysis, like "You must not lie". But if X requires that, is it not a rule ...
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78 views

How much censorship is justified for a free society's survival? [closed]

JFK discusses self-censorship in the interests of "the common good" in the linked speech "that killed him", and it is key to the reasons I have asked this question. What are the positions in ethics ...
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1answer
56 views

Is there any ethical system wherein all obligations are prohibitions against an action?

Is there any ethical system wherein all obligations are prohibitions against an action? So, thou shalt not kill. But never, help those in need of it, or be kind to those you have been unreasonable to,...
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221 views

What does it mean for something to be “evil”?

Is evil a perception or is it something that is objective? Here's my line of thought on it: "If evil were a perception then the law would be moot to some extent. However, if evil were objective then ...
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1answer
117 views

Quantifying Ethics

It seems like a relation like '<' exists in morality, as most ethical systems view moral actions as more evil/good than other actions. Has any philosopher tried to quantify this, e.g. how much ...
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4answers
7k views

What is the difference between Ethics and Social Contract

Ethics refers to society's idea of what is right and wrong and we do it because society says it is the right thing to do. Social contract is the idea that any given society has a set of conventions ...
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1answer
147 views

The Sartre Paradox

"According to Sartre, humans are the only beings that dont have an essence." Do't look a little "weird" J.P Sartre, tells that the "Man is comdemned to be free", in case conjuring that, the freedom ...
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2answers
149 views

How does utilitarianism deal with probabilities?

This is the most frustrating problem I encountered in understanding utilitarianism. If we've chosen the best possible alternative according to the expected value of 'happiness' it brought. Could our ...
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3answers
103 views

Reconciling Utilitarianism and Rawls's Theory of Justice as Fairness

I will argue that John Stuart Mill's greatest happiness principle (GHP) should be revised to avoid problematic implications and to better fit humans' intuitive sense of morality. Furthermore, the ...
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2answers
89 views

Why did Kant think that you should be responsible for the consequences of lying but not for the consequences of telling the truth?

Can someone here clarify what Kant meant with the following statement: if you have by a lie prevented someone just now bent on murder from committing the deed, then you are legally accountable for ...
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48 views

How to argue that some inequality is justifiable in order to maximize the well-being of the worst off in Rawls's theory of justice?

In context, I have to describe what we think is a just society by Rawls theory of justice. I want to try and use Scandinavia, for example, the Nordic Model as a representation as a just society. ...
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2answers
511 views

What is the difference between praxis and poiesis?

I have found online this distinction, but I cannot wrap my mind around it: poiesis - means 'to make'; it is an action that transforms; it refers to 'bringing-forth'; a threshold occasion: a ...
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3answers
419 views

Is it moral to lie to the populace for their own good?

There is a discussion in the History arm of StackExchange that got sidetracked into the merit of brainwashing society for their own good, as advocated in Plato's Republic. IMO that side track deserves ...
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6answers
524 views

Is it self-evident that utilitarianism requires altruism?

I've seen this way too often. People who claim to be utilitarians use utilitarian arguments to support their own end. Then, they shy away for instances contributing to the common good. This partially ...
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1answer
72 views

Do Nietzscheans think not lying to yourself has intrinsic value?

Do Nietzscheans think not lying to yourself has intrinsic value? It's just a guess, that they might, even though Nitezsche claimed "everything is permitted". I don't think it works completely in the ...
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1answer
190 views

Categorical Imperative vs. Utilitarianism

I'm watching philosophy crash course, and the narrator claimed that Utilitarianism is the antithesis of the of Kant's categorical imperative. However, on the surface, I can't see a major difference. ...
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1answer
46 views

Are there any notable works that touch on pursuing a moral good that is likely futile?

I'm slightly at a loss for the correct terminology and context here.. Apologies if the question isn't all that precise. It is relatively uncontroversial to state that if someone identifies a morally ...
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The perverted faculty argument

There are a few philosophers who still push the “perverted faculty argument” to prove that contraception, homosexual acts and masturbation are immoral. This argument is based on classic natural law, ...
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How does particularism fare with descriptive relativisim and its relation to moral skepticism?

As I understand it, descriptive relativism, acknowledging that there are very many disagreements about morality, ones which are often practically intractable, feeds into moral skepticism. As I'd ...
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Is brain reward hacking immoral?

Consider the following scenarios, each of which at their core refer to a form of 'reward hacking'. Based on personal observation, each scenario below generally elicits an immediate, visceral feeling ...
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5answers
370 views

In light of Eichmann's Case: what makes a regime's legitimacy end?

What are the conditions under which the legitimacy of a regime ends? My interest in this question is derived from its particular historical instance concerning Eichmann's case - a case which brought ...
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Death in utilitaranism

Define utilitarian: Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of a population. (Wikipedia) Is ...
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1answer
158 views

Does anyone claim freedom toward death is not for me, but for others?

My "freedom toward death" (Being and Time, p255, SUNY Press, 1 Jan 1996) is key for authenticity, according to Heidegger. It seems obvious that he means that this freedom is me, and that claim for be ...
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3answers
215 views

How to explain value and goodness of things without resorting to Hedonism?

This has been bothering me for a while. I do not believe that the ethical theory of hedonism represents the world of which we live in truthfully, neither does it appeal to my common sense. However, ...
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Nietzsche's departure from Schopenhauer

I'm attempting to understand the will to power by first presenting Nietzsche's first mentor, Schopenhauer, and his notion of the will to survival/life. In very simple terms, I believe S believed that ...
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1answer
2k views

What went wrong in the practise of Hinduism? [closed]

Remarks on the Caste System The caste system was first mentioned in Manu Smriti (and not Vedas). The ultimate objective was to construct an ideal society in which everyone is happy. The caste of a ...
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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 ...