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Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories


Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories Good engineering, good business, and good ethics work together in the long run. What is Morality? It concerns conduct: right ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories

Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories
  • Good engineering, good business, and good ethics
    work together in the long run.

What is Morality?
  • It concerns conduct right and wrong, good and
    bad, the rules that ought to be followed
  • It is associated with consequences to ourselves,
    others, and the environment
  • The right or good is linked to value
    judgements generally thought to promote fairness,
    health, and safety while minimizing injustice

Ethical TheoriesUtilitarianism
  • Utilitarianism - the view that we ought to
    produce the most good for the most people, giving
    equal consideration to everyone affected
  • Rule-Utilitarianism is applying those rules that
    if generally adopted would produce the most good
    for the most people
  • Act-Utilitarianism is applying rules in order to
    produce the most good for the most people
    involved in the particular situation (rules
    become at most rules of thumb)

Ethical Theories Utilitarianism Theories of
  • Deeply satisfying pleasures mixed with some
    inevitable pains a pattern of activities and
    relationships that one can affirm as valuable
    overall (Mill)
  • Things that satisfy rational desires, e.g., love
    and creativity. Rational desires are those we
    would approve of if we scrutinized our desires in
    light of all relevant information about the world
    and our own psychology (Brandt)

Ethical TheoriesRights Ethics
  • Rights Ethics - the view that human rights - not
    good consequences - are fundamental.
  • Acts of respect for human rights are obligatory,
    regardless of whether they always maximize good
  • Truthfulness important in terms of its
    contribution to liberty, especially within
    relationships based on trust
  • Complex in that there are many types of rights
    that may conflict and must be balanced

Ethical TheoriesRights Ethics Liberty Rights
  • Liberty Rights (Locke) - places duties on other
    people not to interfere with ones life.
  • To be a person entails having human rights to
    life, liberty, and the property generated by
    ones labor
  • property thought of as whatever we gain by
    mixing our labor with things
  • Views reflected by todays Libertarians

Ethical TheoriesRights Ethics - Liberty
Welfare Rights
  • Liberty Welfare Rights (Melden) - having moral
    rights presupposes the capacity to show concern
    for others and to be accountable within a moral
  • extent of rights determined in terms of
    interrelationships among persons
  • recognizes right to community benefits for
    living minimally decent human life

Ethical TheoriesDuty Ethics
  • Duty Ethics - the focus on duties which
    correspondence to and sustain fundamental rights
  • List of duties based on respect for persons and
    belief in human capacity for moral autonomy
  • For example, if you have a right not to be
    deceived, then I have a duty not to deceive you.
    To deceive you is to undermine your ability to
    carry out your plans based on available truths
    and within relationships based on trust

Ethical TheoriesDuty Ethics - List of Duties
  • Kant
  • Be truthful
  • Be fair
  • Make reparation for harm done
  • Show gratitude for kindness extended
  • Seek to improve ones own character and talents
  • Gert
  • Dont
  • cause pain
  • disable
  • deprive of freedom
  • deprive of pleasure
  • deceive
  • cheat
  • Do
  • keep your promises
  • obey the law
  • do your duty

Ethical TheoriesDuty Ethics - A Closer Look at
  • Are duties universally applicable and
    exceptionless? Is duty absolute?
  • What about when duties conflict with each other,
    e.g., do not deceive versus protect innocent
  • Prima facie duties - those that have justified
    exceptions or limits

  • Morality - good is linked to value judgements
  • Ethical Theories - attempt to provide perspective
    on moral responsibilities
  • Utilitarianism
  • Rule-Utilitarianism
  • Act-Utilitarianism
  • Rights Ethics
  • Duty Ethics

Testing and Refining Ethical Theories
  • Is it applicable and coherent?
  • Is it consistent?
  • Is it based on valid information?
  • Is it sufficiently comprehensive to provide
  • Is it compatible with our moral convictions?

Example of Refining a Theory
A Theory of Justice (John Rawls) (1) Each person
is entitled to the most extensive amount of
political liberty compatible with an equal amount
for others
(2) Differences in social power and economic
benefits are justified only when they are likely
to benefit everyone, including members of the
most disadvantaged groups
Virtue Ethics
  • Primary focus on the kinds of persons we should
    aspire to be
  • Virtues are
  • desirable way of relating to others (individuals
    or groups)
  • desirable habits or tendencies of motive,
    attitudes, and emotion as well as conduct
  • Vices are
  • undesirable habits and tendencies
  • By extension, virtues and vices apply to

Aristotle Virtue and the Golden Mean
  • Defined the moral virtues as tendencies, acquired
    through habit formation, to reach a proper
    balance between extremes in conduct, emotion,
    desire, and attitude (balance between excess and
  • Example Truthfulness is the mean between
    revealing all information in violation of tact
    and confidentiality (excess) and being secretive
    or lacking in candor (deficiency) in dealing with

Gandhi Seven Social Sins (Vices)
  • Politics without principle
  • Wealth without work
  • Commerce without morality
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Education without character
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without personal sacrifice

MacIntyre Virtue and Practices
  • Internal goods define what the practices are all
    about (external goods are money and prestige)
  • virtues defined by reference to its internal good
  • professional responsibility
  • Self-direction virtues
  • understanding, cognition (as grounded in moral
  • commitment and putting understanding into action
    (courage, self-discipline, honesty)
  • Public-spirited virtues
  • Team-work virtues
  • Proficiency virtues

  • A theory about morality that emphasizes the
    limitations of abstract rules (anti-theory)
  • Not to be confused with crass expediency
  • Good consequences emphasized, but so too are
    rights, duties and virtues within a given context
  • Flexibility emphasized
  • Like act-utilitarianism, there is danger of
    paying insufficient attention moral principles
    through immersion in specific contexts.

Can We Reduce Moral Reasoning to Custom,
Religion, or Self-Interest?
  • Customs or ethical relativism is view that values
    are reducible to conventions, customs, or laws
  • would we accept bribes, cruelty, and intolerance?
  • Religion and divine command ethics
  • who are those among us who know precisely what
    Gods commands are or are not on each issue?
  • Self-interest and ethical egoism is view that the
    sole duty of each individual is to maximize his
    or her own good
  • is everything act reducible to personal gain,

Meaningful Work and Professionals Commitments
  • Craft Motives
  • attraction to challenging work
  • wanting to create objects and systems
  • Moral Motives
  • contributing to the well-being of other human
  • Compensation and Self-Interest
  • money, power, and recognition motivate and guide
    human conduct
  • reasonable regard for ones self-interest can be
    a moral virtue (prudence) as long as it does not
    crowd out other virtues
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