PHIL 160 (and 490 online): Ethics

Short Outline of Reading Assignments


James Fieser




Please note that this is an extremely abbreviated outline of the text material. Test questions will be based on more detailed information than appears here. You may wish to use this outline as the starting point for a more detailed one of your own devising.



1. Overview of Moral Philosophy


Theoretical ethics: the systematic effort to understand moral concepts and justify moral principles and theories

Applied ethics: investigation of controversial moral problems, such as questions about the morality of abortion, premarital sex, capital punishment, euthanasia, and animal rights.

Metaphysics and Morality

Metaphysics: an investigation of higher realms of existence beyond the physical realm of things

Moral Objectivism and Relativism

Three features of moral objectivism

Plato’s theory of the forms

Three features of moral relativism

Two kinds of relativism

Individual relativism:

Cultural relativism:

God and Morality

Euthyphro problem (Plato): whether

(1) God endorses a previously existing standard of morality that is external to him


(2) God independently creates the standards of morality (divine command theory)

Two criticisms

Natural law theory

Definition of natural law

Aquinas’s theory

Moral Psychology

Egoism and Altruism

Psychological egoism:

Psychological altruism:

Hobbes’s views of pity and charity

Butler’s view: the case for altruism

Different self-oriented motives:

Instinctive benevolence:

Egoism and the Struggle for Survival

Kin selection:

Reciprocal altruism:

Reason and Emotion

Two principles of moral reasoning

Hume: morality is emotional, not rational

Hume’s criticisms of the two principles of moral reasoning

Cannot derive ought from is:

Ayer: moral utterances express feelings

Two kinds of utterances

Factual reports:

Nonfactual expressions:


Gender and Morality

Psychological distinction between men and women

Women and reason

Rousseau’s view

Wollstonecraft’s view

Women and care

Male and female ways of thinking about morality

Gilligan’s view:

Compatibility between male and female approaches to morality

Moral principles

Virtue theory

Virtue theory definition

Aristotle’s theory of the virtuous mean

Duty theory

Duty theory definition:


Difference between hypothetical and categorical imperatives:

Categorical Imperative, formula of the end itself:

Ross: prima facie duties

List of seven intuitive duties

Prima facie duties and actual duties


Consequentialism definition

Three basic types:

Ethical Egoism:

Ethical Altruism:


Unit of value

Hedonistic utilitarianism (Bentham)

Other units: goodness-badness, benefit-disbenefit

Acts or rules

Act-utilitarianism (Bentham):


Moral foundations of government

Social contract theory

Hobbes’s theory

The state of nature:

The social contract:

Criticisms of Hobbes’s theory

Task of governments: whether governments are justified in going beyond their basic function as protectors of peace


Welfare liberalism:

Rights theory

Right: a justified claim against another person's behavior

Two origins of rights

Legal rights:

Natural rights:

Three features of natural rights




Locke’s theory

Locke’s four main rights

Declaration of independence

U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Governmental coercion

Four Justifications

Harm principle:

Offense principle:

Legal paternalism:

Legal moralism:


Mill’s principle of liberty:

Happy society argument for liberty:

Moral principles and moral controversies

Twenty (or so) principles



1. Overview


Traditional view of sexual practices

Non-traditional view of sexual practices


Animal sexual behavior

Social monogamy

Genetic monogamy

Bonobo apes

Human sexual behavior

Rates of premarital sex, adultery, pornography use

Biological factors in homosexuality

(1) genetics, (2) fetal development where the mother’s physiology feminizes the brains of her male fetuses

Homosexual activity

Two biological factors:

Conversion therapies:

Ethical issues

Aquinas: Natural Law

General view: God implanted within human nature a set of instincts that define our purpose as human beings and establish what is morally right

The instinct to procreate tells us that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of having children

Body parts argument

Argument for monogamy:

Criticism: we regularly use parts of our bodies for purposes other than their naturally-intended function (e.g., ears to hold up glasses)

Aquinas’s response

Criticism: natural law prohibits many non-procreative sexual practices (e.g., oral sex, masturbation, sex with contraception use, sex when couples are infertile

Aquinas’s response

Other response

Kant: Respect for Humanity

General view: Sexual conduct outside of marriage degrades a person’s humanity by treating oneself and one’s lover as a mere instrument of sexual gratification


Bentham: Utilitarian Cost-Benefit

Bentham’s view of marriage

General view: marriage has utility, but society would benefit from more tolerant laws regarding non-traditional sexual practices


De Sade: Unlimited Sexual Freedom

General view: Nature grants us the widest possible range of sexual freedom, which justifies premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, incest, and sadomasochism

Two criticisms

Personal freedom

General view: we have liberty rights to think, speak and act as we choose, and the only restriction is if one’s actions cause harm to another person

Non-traditional sexual practices are on a moral par with other activities, such as playing cards or tennis

Rejects means-end view of sex

Actual function of sexual desire

Limits to sexual activities

Public policy issues


U.S. federal laws: govern distribution of obscene material, sex abuse, and sexual exploitation of children

State laws: govern typical non-traditional sexual practices (e.g., criminalizing adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, pornography and prostitution)

Supreme Court rulings: set some guidelines for the sex laws that states can or cannot enact


Comstock Act:

Margaret Sanger:

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965):

Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972):

Contraception and sex education

Comprehensive sex education

Abstinence-only education:



Miller v. California (1973): soft-core porn is constitutionally protected, hard core porn is not

Miller three-part test for obscenity:

Homosexuality and gay marriage


Lawrence v. Texas (2003): decriminalized homosexual conduct, based on the growing sense that the rights of homosexuals should be protected

Gay marriage

Several states allow gay marriage, half prohibit it

Civil unions

Defense of Marriage Act (1996): two parts

Arguments pro and contra

The conservative position

Conservative view: sexual activity should take place only between a man and a woman in a monogamous marriage

Conservative arguments (and criticisms)

1. Natural law:

2. Family values:

3. Harm from STDs and pregnancy

The liberal position

Liberal view: any type of non-harmful or non-exploitive sexual conduct is morally permissible and should be legal, including premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery, and pornography.

Liberal arguments (and criticisms)

1. Freedom

2. Cultural relativism

3. Different Strokes

A Middle Ground

U.S. has already embraced compromise positions on many issues of sexual morality and legality

2. Aquinas: Sex Only For Reproduction

Thesis: God implanted within human nature a set of instincts that define our purpose as human beings and establish what is morally right; the instinct to procreate tells us that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of having children

Unnaturalness of Fornication

Possible defense of fornication:

Criticism: body parts argument:

The various parts of our bodies have precise purposes: “our study should be that every part of man and every act of his may attain its due end”

Semen has the clear function of facilitating reproduction

Every non-reproductive emission of semen is sinful if it is done purposefully; it is thereby a sin against nature

Sex with infertile couples:

Naturalness of Marriage

Men need to stay with the woman a long time to help raise the child

Possible Criticism

We regularly use parts of our bodies for purposes other than their naturally-intended function (e.g., using our hands to walk), so misuse of semen is only a slight sin


Against Divorce (four arguments)

Against Polygamy (four arguments)

Against incest (four arguments)



1. Overview


Definition of psychoactive drugs

Four groups of drugs: opiates, hallucinogenics, depressants, stimulants

Harms of drug use to user, others, and from the drug trade


Physical vs. psychological addiction

Moral vs. disease model of addiction

Ethical issues

Drugs and pleasure: Epicurean and Stoic arguments

Epicurean view:

Stoic view:

Moderate Stoic view:

Harm to oneself: Pufendorf’s view

Harm to others

Traditional view:

Recent view:

Public policy issues

Balancing Freedom and Harm

Thought experiment: Buzzville and Overdoseville

Dutch policy of non-enforcement with “soft drugs”

U.S. Drug Laws

Federal anti-drug policies

Controlled Substances Act and the five schedules

Pro-drug efforts

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)


Harm reduction

Medical marijuana

Marijuana legalization

U.S. Alcohol Laws


Three-tiered system of alcohol distribution


Criticism by small wineries

Consequences of deregulation in the UK

Arguments Pro and Contra

The Conservative position

The conservative view

Conservative arguments (and criticisms)

Harm to society

Harm to user’s health

Decrease in user’s motivation

The Liberal Position

The liberal view

Liberal arguments (and criticisms)



Cultural tradition

A Middle Ground

Reduce penalties for marijuana use

2. American Civil Liberties Union: An Argument For Drug Legalization


Recreational drug use should be decriminalized since more public harm is done through criminalization than would occur through a responsible system of decriminalization.

Against Drug Prohibition

Currently Illegal Drugs have not Always been Illegal

Decades of Drug Prohibition: a History of Failure 

Drug Prohibition is a Public Health Menace 

Drug Prohibition creates more Problems than it Solves 

Prohibition is a Destructive Force in Inner City Communities 

Drugs are Here to Stay -- Let's Reduce their Harm 

Ending Prohibition Would not Necessarily Increase Drug Abuse 

What the United States would Look Like after Repeal 

Race and the War on Drugs

Who’s Who in the Criminal Justice System.

Blacks in prison

Women and Children

Collateral Consequences



1. Overview



Free speech/expression: people have a legitimate expectation to articulate their ideas freely, without limitation or interference


Non-governmental challenges:

Self-regulated censorship:


Chilling effect:

Special Cases of Censorship

Book censorship: books are symbols of free expression because they have the capacity of recording our thoughts on every possible subject

Book burning

Censorship of school libraries: to keep material from students that is not appropriate for their maturity level

Hate speech:

Harm caused by hate speech

Film and music

Film production code: adopted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) from 1930-1968, later replaced with the MPAA rating system

Parent’s Music Resource Center (PMRC): lobbied Congress for a rating system on music lyrics that paralleled that in the film industry; resulted in the parental advisory labels by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

Visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpture): a work is attacked or suppressed because of its controversial message, independently of its artistic merits

Flag desecration:

Speech codes:

Internet neutrality:

What people think

Public opinions differ based on the specific issue of censorship

Ethical issues

Arguments for free speech

Democratic government:

Athenian democracy

Modern democracies (Locke)

Legislative and public free speech

Search for truth:

Scientific and social truths


Mill’s view of noncensorship of wrong ideas:

The free marketplace of ideas:

Personal autonomy:

Spinoza’s view of the government and free speech

Arguments for Censorship

Plato: we must censor harmful media that amount to mere brainwashing

Protect children:

Corrupt messages within religious scriptures

Homer’s and Hesiod’s view of the Gods:

Protection of society:

e.g., Motion Picture Production Code of 1930


Test for censoring offensive expressions (Feinberg)

Magnitude of the offense: the offense must be a serious one, and not just a trivial nuisance (is more intense, lasts a longer time, and affects a wider range of people)

An offense to warrant censorship it must also be one that is difficult to avoid.

Exposure to the offense cannot have been something that I voluntarily brought on myself

Pay less regard to the reactions of people who are abnormally susceptible to offense

Public policy issues

Legally Protected Free Speech

British Licensing Order of 1643, which formalized a set of publishing restrictions that England had already been under for some time

English Bill of Rights (1689): granted free speech in Parliamentary debate

Free speech as protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution

First amendment did not protect citizens against censorship from states (it only prevented the federal government from doing so)

Fourteenth amendment due process clause (states cannot “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”)

Stromberg v. California (1931): all of the rights listed in the First Amendment are incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment notion of “liberty,” including that of free speech

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”

A statement of objectives towards which governments should strive

Legal Limitations of Free Speech

Clear and present danger:

Main doctrine:

“Time to answer” test:

Imminent lawless action test:

National security

Governments can restrict utterances which “by their very nature, involve danger to the public peace and to the security of the State” (Gitlow v. New York, 1925)

Fighting words

Main doctrine:



Definition of defamation, libel, and slander:

Public figure doctrine:

Non-governmental public figures:


Miller v. California: obscenity is not constitutionally protected

Miller three-part test for obscenity

(a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest [i.e., sexual desires],

(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and

(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

No national standard is needed

Arguments pro and contra

The conservative position

The Conservative view:

Arguments for the conservative view

1. Protecting children:


2. Governmental stability:


3. Traditional values and offense:


The Liberal position

The liberal view:

Arguments for the liberal view

1. Democracy:


2. Discovering truth:


3. Personal autonomy:


A Middle ground


2. Greg Lukianoff: Student Speech

Thesis: speech codes are increasing on campuses and are restricting the expression of ideas that would otherwise be allowable in our society


FIRE: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Combats speech codes

Speech code definition

Types of restrictions


Most universities examined by Fire have some kind of speech restriction

Examples of Troubling Speech Codes

Hampshire College:

Bard College:

Ohio University:

Hood College:

Speech zones: policy, which limits protests, debates, and even pamphleteering to tiny corners of campus

Texas Tech University:

Negative Effects of Speech Codes

Faculty and students harshly disciplined for political views

Double standard: most of these codes today serve a liberal political agenda at the expense of conservative views

At some point in the future, speech codes might largely serve a conservative political agenda.

The Government’s Role.

No government intervention

Public vs private colleges



1. Overview


Fetal Development (nine month, 40 weeks)

First trimester


Zygote: day 3 about 16 cells


Week 1: attaches to uterus

Week 5: brain begins to form, heart beats, vertebrate form

Week 8: some motion, eyes form

Second trimester (fetus)

Week 13: an inch an a half

Week 16-20: quickening, i.e., feel movement

Third trimester

26 weeks: about 8 inches long, survives outside the womb


Abortion Methods

Emergency contraception

Mifepristone (RU-486)

Vacuum aspiration

Dilation and curettage

Dilation and evacuation


In vitro fertilization and stem cell research

In vitro fertilization

Stem cell research

What People Think

Ethical issues

Whether a Fetus has a Right to Life

Criteria of personhood

Potentiality argument


Biological continuity argument:

Criticism 1:

Criticism 2

Traditional designations of personhood

Contemporary designations of personhood

Balancing the Fetus’s and Woman’s Rights

Thomson’s thought experiments

Public policy issues

Supreme Court Decisions on Abortion

Rowe v. Wade

Laws based on trimesters

Based of four points

Planned Parenthood v. Casey



Anti-abortion strategies

Getting more conservative Supreme Court Justices

Human life amendment

TRAP laws

Fetal pain

Arguments pro and contra

The Conservative position

The conservative view

Conservative arguments (and criticisms)

The wrongness of intentional killing

Responsibility to protect the innocent

Religious tradition

Women need to take responsibility

The Liberal Positions

The liberal view

Liberal arguments (and criticisms)

The woman’s right to bodily autonomy

The psychological impact of unwanted pregnancies

The social impact of unwanted pregnancies

The danger of self-induced abortions

Possible middle-ground social policy: three points


2. The Right to Abortion: Roe v. Wade—Harry Blackman and Byron White

History of Anti-Abortion Laws

From Ancient Greece to the 20th Century

Ancient attitudes

The Hippocratic Oath

The common law

The English statutory law

The American law

The position of the American Medical Association

Reasons for Criminalization of Abortion in the 19th Century

Product of a Victorian social concern to discourage illicit sexual conduct

Mortality was high, and the laws aimed to restrain the woman from submitting to a procedure that placed her life in serious jeopardy

Duty in protecting prenatal life, which may be balanced against the life of the mother

Constitutional Issues

The Right to Privacy

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy, but court decisions recognize that a right of personal privacy does exist under the Constitution

Personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation

Legal Personhood and Fetuses

The word “person,” as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn

Differing Views of When Life Begins

Position of different traditions

No answer as to when human life begins (i.e., moral personhood)

Laws regarding fetuses: limited to viable or quickened fetuses

May be to protect parents’ interests, and may only depend on potential life (not actual life)

Court’s position: rejects the life-at-conception view of fetus, but accepts that the state’s interest in protecting the fetus becomes more compelling as pregnancy advances

Allowable Government Restrictions of Abortion

First and Second Trimester Abortions and the Mother’s Health

States cannot restrict abortion prior to the first trimester

Fetuses at this stage have no legal standing

The woman’s safety is not an issue

States can regulate abortions during the second trimester

Only to protect the woman’s safety

Fetuses at this stage still have no legal standing

Third Trimester Abortions and Viability

States can restrict abortion during third trimester

After viability protecting the potential life of a fetus is compelling

Abortions are permitted to protect the woman’s life or health

Three points of Conclusion and Summary

Justice Byron White: Dissenting Opinion

Implications of the court’s decision

Prior to viability, women can have an abortion for any reason (not simply to protect life or health)

Criticism: there is no constitutional justification for this right

Criticism: these are issues that should be left to states to decide



1. Overview


Right-to-die situations: a person seeks death who (1) is terminally ill, (2) is in intense pain, and (3) voluntarily chooses to end his life



Assisted death

Euthanasia: the third party that actually performs the death-causing act

Active and passive euthanasia

Voluntary and non-voluntary


Neurological theory

Two deaths theory

Bodily integration theory

Palliative care (hospice programs)

Ethical issues


Duties to God


Criticism (Hume):

Duties to others


Criticism (Hume):

Duties to oneself



Criticism (Hume):

The active-passive distinction (Rachels)

There is no moral distinction between passive and active euthanasia; since we accept passive euthanasia, we should also accept active (since it is more merciful)

Common defense of the distinction and Rachels’ criticism

Bad consequences of the distinction

The doctrine of double effect

An act of killing is justified if the death is only a side effect (or an unintended consequence that one could foresee), but is not the primary intended consequence of one’s act

Three conditions:


Ordinary vs. Extraordinary care (Catholic distinction)

Ordinary care: medical procedures that offer a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient but do not involve excessive pain, expense, or other inconveniences (e.g., food tube)

Extraordinary care: procedures that are unusual, extremely difficult, dangerous, inordinately expensive, or have no reasonable hope of benefit to the patient (e.g., artificial heart


Public policy issues

The legal status of euthanasia

Oregon: “Death With Dignity Act”

Netherlands and active euthanasia

Related issues

Who decides in nonvoluntary situations:  family, doctor, hospital, court

Living will (advance directive)

Deformed newborns: passive euthanasia hinges on projected quality of life

Arguments Pro and Contra

The conservative position

The conservative view

Conservative arguments (and criticisms)

1. The wrongness of intentional killing

2. Slippery slope

3. Possible recovery

4. No assurance of voluntariness

The liberal position

The liberal view

Liberal arguments (and criticisms)

1. Exercising Autonomy

2. Dying with Dignity

3. Showing Mercy

4. The Golden Rule


2. Kathryn Tucker: The Oregon Death With Dignity Act: A Success


There is no evidence of abuse, coercion or misuse of the policy of physician assisted dying

Overview of Oregon law and experience with implementation:

A. Passage and challenges

B. Implementation of the Oregon law

The Dignity Act establishes tightly controlled procedures

Typical reasons for using the Dignity Act: decreased ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable, the loss of autonomy, and the loss of dignity

Overview of support for the option of physician aid in dying

There is nationwide support for assisted dying (60-70% in surveys)

The back alley, covert practice

Outside Oregon, thirty-percent of physicians received a request for assisted dying, and 20 percent of those had complied

“The question is not whether assisted dying will occur, but rather whether it will occur in a regulated and controlled fashion with safeguards and scrutiny, or whether it will occur covertly, in a random, dangerous and unregulated manner”


States are “laboratories” for social policy, and assisted suicide is a case in point



1. Overview


Most industrialized countries have abolished capital punishment


Punishment in General

Definition of punishment

Different types of punishment

Beccaria: opposed torture and the death penalty

Social science view: criminals should be treated (reprogrammed), not punished

Aims of punishment





Revenge: difference between revenge and retribution

What People think

Most people in the U.S. today favor the death penalty

Ethical issues: moral justifications for the death penalty

Rights Forfeiture:

Locke’s view

Three criticisms


Three criticisms

Kant’s retributive theory and criticism


Executing criminals does a better job at deterring others than sending them away for life

Common sense justification and criticism

Scientific studies and criticisms

Deterrence and frequency (Bedau)

Public policy issues

Proportionality: whether death penalty sentences are handed down uniformly in similar situations

Supreme Court cases on proportionality

Furman v. Georgia (1972): ruled that the death penalty unconstitutional because it was imposed capriciously and arbitrarily

Gregg v. Georgia (1976): reversed its 1972 decision, States had fixed the problem and the death penalty was no longer arbitrarily imposed

Coker v. Georgia (1977): death penalty for rape is unconstitutional

Proportionality review systems: determine whether a death sentence is consistent with the sentences imposed in factually similar cases

Two criticisms

Executing the innocent

The death penalty is unjust since people are wrongfully executed

Response 1: innocent people are not really executed (Mill, G.W. Bush); there is no decisive proof


Response 2: comparison to accidental deaths in other public policies

Racial Bias

Convicts on death row are disproportionately racial minorities, which shows racial bias

McCleskey v. Kemp (1987)

Baldus’s studies:

Criticism (McAdams)Arguments pro and contra


Conservative view: death penalty is at least sometimes morally justifiable and it should be legal

Conservative arguments (and criticisms):

1. Retribution

2. Incapacitation

3. Deterrence

4. Financial Costs


Liberal view: death penalty is never morally justifiable and it should be illegal

Liberal arguments (and criticisms):

1. Proportionality

2. Executing the innocent

3. Racial bias

4. International Standards

Middle position

2. Against The Death Penalty -- Stephen B. Bright


Death penalty is still arbitrary, and many supreme court justice recognize this

Contrary to a conservative society that is wary of too much government power and skeptical of government's ability to do things well

The death penalty is arbitrary and unfair

Prosecutorial discretion and plea bargaining

Problems with prosecutors and juries

Representation for the accused

Problems with defense attorneys

The courts are fallible

Causes of wrongful convictions

Number of innocent people executed

Not all killers are beyond redemption

People who kill are not deterred

The death penalty is imposed in less than one percent of murder cases

Murderers are not the kind of people who assess risks

The cost is not justified

Appeals process costs too much, a sentence of life without parole brings quick closure for the families



1. Overview



Definition of war: an armed conflict between nations or between groups within a nation

Types of war

Conventional and nonconventional warfare:

Conventional and nonconventional weapons:

Limited vs. total war

Preemptive war:


Ethical issues


Just war theory: some wars are justifiable when they meet precise conditions

Just war Theory

Initially waging war (jus ad bellum)

Right Cause: the cause or purpose of the war must be a proper one, such as self-defense, resisting serious aggression, or redressing some wrong suffered

Right intention: there must be a proper underlying motive to declare war, such as the desire to return to the state of peace prior to an outside invasion

Proper authority: the war must be publicly announced by the legitimate authority and made known to the enemy

Last resort: all non-military options must be attempted before going to war, such as through diplomacy or economic sanctions

Reasonable success: : if the outcome of a war is unlikely, it is wrong to sacrifice human lives and squander economic resources

Conduct during war (jus in bello)

Discrimination: we must identify legitimate military targets and distinguish combatants from noncombatants

Proportionality: the military should only use the amount of force that is required to achieve its goal


Absolute pacifism

Conditional pacifism

Reasons for pacifism:



Free rider criticism: pacifist themselves enjoy the benefits of a protected society without participating in its defense

Responses to criticism

Weiss’s criticism:


Ticking time bomb scenario

Utilitarian justification of torture

Two criticisms

Rights theory criticism of torture:


Public policy issues

International laws of war

International laws of war

Customary laws of war

Geneva Convention (1864)

Hague Conventions (1899)

League of Nations (1919)

United Nations (1945)

War crimes: especially egregious violations of warfare conventions that are punishable by some governing body

Nuremberg Principles

National security and civil liberties

Governments tend to restrict civil liberties in times of war

e.g., U.S. Japanese interment camps during World War II (Korematsu v. U.S.)

Arguments pro and contra

The conservative position

Conservative view: many wars are justified, and extreme measures can be taken in warfare.

Main arguments

1. Spreading democracy

2. Success at all costs

3. Sacrificing freedom for the greater good

Liberal position

Liberal view: few wars are justifiable, and warfare should be conducted with restraint and civility

Liberal arguments (and criticisms)

1. Questionable motives

2. Better alternatives

3. Evolving standards of decency

A middle ground

A strong military is important to deter an outside attack, but citizens should be suspicious of claim that a war is necessary, or that the military needs to develop unconventional weapons, or that national security requires restricting freedom

2. War and civil liberties: Korematsu v. U.S.

Hugo Black: Majority Opinion of the Court

Forced exclusion is constitutionally questionable, but is justified in situations of "emergency and peril"

Justification of curfew and exclusion

The military necessity outweighed the liberty of the detainees

Detainment was not racial prejudice: it was a security measure to block Japanese invasion from the West coast

Frank Murphy: Dissenting Opinion

In war time, consideration should be given both to military authorities and to the rights of the individual

The key issue: has the military overstepped the allowable limits of military discretion

The judicial test: whether the public danger is so 'immediate, imminent, and impending' that it necessitates depriving an individual’s constitutional rights

Why the exclusion order failed this test

Alleged sociological justification: evidence about strong ties of race, culture, custom and religion


Alleged urgency justification: there was no time to separate the loyal from the disloyal


The exclusion order was a “legalization of racism” which is not justifiable in a democracy

Robert H. Jackson: Dissenting Opinion

Constitutional harm

Unconstitutional military orders are only temporary, and only last as long as the emergency

But court decisions do long term damage by “validating the principle of racial discrimination”, thus making it a doctrine of the constitution

“The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”

The alleged curfew precedent

The Hirabayashi curfew decision was seen as a precedent that justified the Korematsu decision

Criticism: the curfew ruling only validated “a discrimination of the basis of ancestry for mild and temporary deprivation of liberty”; detention is much more extreme



1. Overview



Pain mechanisms

Factory Farming (Confined Animal Feeding Operations)

Problems associated with them

Animal Research

Three purposes of animal testing

Draize test

Three Rs of animal testing

Animal Advocacy Groups

Humane society, SPCA, PETA, Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics,

Great Ape Project

Animal enterprise terrorism groups: Animal Liberation Front

Ethical issues


Three positions on the moral status of animals

The Clear Line Position

Equality Position

Sliding Scale Position

Possible Criteria of personhood

The Clear Line Position

Augustine’s view

Descartes’ view

Kant’s view

Criticisms of clear line position

Equality Position


Bentham’s view of sentience and utilitarianism

Singer’s view of sentience and speciesism

Regan’s view of being the “subject of a life”

Sliding Scale Position

Public policy issues


Animal welfare

Animal rights

Federal animal laws

Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (1958)

Animal Welfare Act (1966)

Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006)

State and international animal laws

Animal cruelty laws are devised by each state

British five freedoms

Arguments Pro and Contra

The conservative position

Conservative view

Arguments for conservative view (and criticisms)

1. Animals are here for our use

2. Animal use is necessary

3. Human interests have greater importance

The Liberal Position

The liberal view

Arguments for the liberal view

1. Some animals are self-aware

2. Many animals are sentient

3. Humans are traditionally speciesists

2. PETA: Animal Rights And Human Irresponsibility

Animal rights:

Animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other purpose and that causes them suffering

Animals should have the right to equal consideration of their interests, e.g., the right not to have pain unnecessarily inflicted

Animal welfare vs. animal rights

Animal Testing

No real benefits to animal testing

Morality of using drugs that were tested on animals

Alleged safeguards in animal testing

Sacrificing animals for the greater good (e.g., saving human lives through cures)

Animals Used for Clothing





Companion Animals

Spaying or neutering animals

Animal shelters


Chained dogs

Outdoor cats

Caged birds



Race horses:





Aboriginal cultures

Catch and release fishing

Vegetarianism and veganism

Meat eating promotes suffering

Economic benefits

Health benefits:

Veganinsm: (no animal products at all), issues with milk, eggs and fish

Milk: through growth hormones cows are forced to produce milk beyond their natural limit

Eggs: egg-laying hens are especially mistreated

Fish: feel fear and physical pain, which fishing causes; seafood is often unhealthy




1. Overview



Natural environmental damage

Pre-industrial environmental damage: Easter Island

Post-industrial revolution

Environmental Problems

Types of problems

Aesthetic nuisance vs. environmental damage

Local vs. global problems

Waste disposal

Air and Water Pollution

Nuclear fallout

Habitat destruction and species extinction

Ozone depletion through release of chlorofluorocarbons gases

Global warming from CO2

Problems with alternative energy

Environmental movement

George Perkins Marsh

John Muir and Sierra Club



What people think

Ethical issues

Anthropocentrism vs. biocentrism

Anthropocentrism: all environmental responsibility is derived from human interests alone


Biocentrism: we have direct moral obligations to things in the environment for their own sake, irrespective of their impact on human interests

Biocentric individualism

Paul Taylor

Biocentric holism (ecocentrism)


Deep ecology

Gaia hypothesis

The environment and the profit motive

Good environmental practices result in good business


Good business results in good environmental practices


Public policy issues

Who should own the environment?

Community property environmentalism: environmental resources are publically owned and publically managed

Problem with open-access approach

Tragedy of the commons

Free-market environmentalism: environmental resources are privately owned and privately managed.

Radical free market environmentalism

Regulated free market environmentalism

Environmental laws

U.S. laws

Endangered Species Act of 1973

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created in 1970

Sierra Club v. Morton (1971): William Douglas suggestion

International agreements

Kyoto protocol: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Problem of poorer developing countries

Arguments Pro and Contra

The conservative position

Conservative view

Arguments for conservative view (and criticisms)

1. Nature is for people

2. Human interests are more important than environmental ones

3. Human interests produce good environmental policies

The Liberal Position

The liberal view

Arguments for the liberal view (and criticisms)

1. Ecosystems have an independent moral standing

2. Humans are part of a larger natural process

3. Environmental responsibility is best served through governmental regulation

2. Gore and Lomborg: Global Warming

Pro: Al Gore

Global warming is now a generally accepted fact, and it is human caused

Maybe wore than we thought (methane locked in melting permafrost)

New momentum for action to solve the climate crisis, city mayors, states

Should be a bipartisan political issue

U.S. needs to show leadership to get China and India to participate

Moral issue: “It is about who we are as human beings and our capacity to transcend our limitations and rise to meet this challenge”

e.g., Ozone layer treaty was first opposed by industry, but later the treaty was accepted and strengthened

Contra: Bjørn Lomborg

Al Gore presents worst-case scenarios, and this not a basis for a sound policy judgment, and following him will end up costing millions of lives

1. Global warming is real and man-made

Will increase about 2.6oC (4.7oF) over the next century

2. Consequences often vastly exaggerated

Heat and cold deaths

Sea level rise



3. Smarter policies: we need smart solutions rather than excessive efforts.

The current raft of policies that are either enacted or suggested are costly but have virtually no effect

Kyoto and EU protocols would delay global warming by only a few years

Nicholas Stern’s cost-benefit study of global warming proposes that we dramatic cut CO2

Criticisms of Stern

The costs radical CO2 cuts are very heavy for this generation, and the first actual benefits will be in the 24th century


Invest in solar cell technology, which will eventually be economically feasible in about 100 years

Lomborg’s proposal

4. Global warming only one of many issues

Other issues

Copenhagen Consensus