PHIL 160 (and 490 online): Ethics

Short Outline of Reading Assignments

 

James Fieser

 

1/15/2011

 

Please note that this is an extremely abbreviated outline of the text material, and contains little more information than the contents list of headings and subheadings. 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.

 

UNIT 1: ETHICAL THEORY

1. Overview of Moral Philosophy

Introduction

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

Criticism:

(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:

Emotivism

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:

Kant

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

Consequentialism definition

Three basic types:

Ethical Egoism:

Ethical Altruism:

Utilitarianism:

Unit of value

Hedonistic utilitarianism (Bentham)

Other units: goodness-badness, benefit-disbenefit

Acts or rules

Act-utilitarianism (Bentham):

Rule-utilitarianism:

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

Libertarianism:

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

Natural:

Universal:

Equal:

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

Mill’s principle of liberty:

Happy society argument for liberty:

Moral principles and moral controversies

Twenty (or so) principles

 

UNIT 2: SEX

1. Overview

Introduction

Traditional view of sexual practices

Non-traditional view of sexual practices

Background

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

Criticism:

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

Criticism

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

Introduction

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

Contraception

Comstock Act:

Margaret Sanger:

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965):

Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972):

Contraception and sex education

Comprehensive sex education

Abstinence-only education:

Abstinence-plus:

Pornography

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

Homosexuality

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. Is homosexuality harmful? Pro and contra – John Finnis and APA

Pro: John Finnis

Marital common good vs. instrumentalization

Sex as achieving a common good

Sex as an instrument

Homosexuality is a threat to real marriage

Homosexuality destructive of human character and relationships

Is hostile to those who commit themselves to real marriage and its responsibilities

Contra: American Psychological Association

Sexual orientation and homosexuality.

a. The nature of sexual orientation and its inherent link to intimate relationships.

b. Homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality

Sexual orientation and relationships.

a. Gay men and lesbians form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects.

b. The institution of marriage offers social, psychological, and health benefits that are denied to same-sex couples.

3. Pornography: harmful yet legal --  Pamela Paul and Rodney A. Smolla

Pamela Paul: the harmful effects of pornography

Introduction

Pornography cuts across all segments of society: ethnically, geographically, socio-economically

Use of pornography has serious, negative effects

Pornography’s effects on men

Types of damage: wastes valuable time, interrupts work days, displaces hobbies, results in lost jobs and divorces

Pornography’s effects on women

Women are viewing more porn and are becoming more tolerant of it

Women still lag far behind men in their use of pornography

Pornography’s effects on relationships

Pornography affects men’s expectations of how women should look and act

Pornography’s effects on children

Most kids have easy access to pornography online

Rodney A. Smolla: harmful pornography and legal obscenity

Thesis: Harm alone is not sufficient grounds for making pornography illegal; for pornography to be illegal, it must meet the definition of obscenity established by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California

The Miller Standard of Legal Obscenity

Distinguishes between two types of explicitly sexual material

Ways of attacking porn protected by the Miller standard

Even if pornography has harmful effects on society, laws cannot be enacted against is unless such pornography meets the definition of obscenity established by Miller v. California

The rationale for such protection

Prosecuting Hard Core Pornography

Most of the harmful porn is currently prosecutable under Miller v. California

This would require doing so jurisdiction by jurisdiction (because of our federalist system)

If pornography is a serious public health problem, then should be treated as such with more resources (e.g., counseling, education, prosecution)

UNIT 3: DRUGS

1. Overview

Background

Definition of psychoactive drugs

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

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

Addiction

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

U.S. Alcohol Laws

Prohibition

Three-tiered system of alcohol distribution

Purpose

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)

Autonomy

Pleasure

Cultural tradition

A Middle Ground

Reduce penalties for marijuana use

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

Thesis:

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

3. Donnie R. Marshall: An Argument Against Drug Legalization

Thesis:

Thesis: legalization of drugs would create serious social problems; drug enforcement works and we should not back off on our current policies

Legalization Would Boost Drug Use

Problems with drug use in Holland

Legalization Would Contribute to a Rise in Crime

Problems in Baltimore

Legalization Would Have Consequences for Society

Legalization Would Present a Law Enforcement Nightmare

Problems with deciding what drugs to legalize

Problems with age requirements

Problems with restricting drug use among certain vocations

Drug Enforcement Works

Two eras of drug enforcement:

Goal of DEA

 

UNIT 4: CENSORSHIP

1. Overview

Background

Terminology

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

Censorship:

Non-governmental challenges:

Self-regulated censorship:

Self-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

Milton:

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

Offense:

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:

 

Defamation

Definition of defamation, libel, and slander:

Public figure doctrine:

Non-governmental public figures:

Obscenity

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:

Criticism:

2. Governmental stability:

Criticism:

3. Traditional values and offense:

Criticism:

The Liberal position

The liberal view:

Arguments for the liberal view

1. Democracy:

Criticism:

2. Discovering truth:

Criticism:

3. Personal autonomy:

Criticism:

A Middle ground

 

2. Dee Snider and Barbara P. Wyatt: Music Lyrics And Censorship

Introduction

Parent’s Music Resource Center (PMRC): founded in 1985 by wives of several U.S. politicians and businessmen to educate parents about sexually explicit and violent music lyrics

Originally had a rating system

Record Industry Association of America (RIAA): key lobbying group of the record industry; agreed to record warning labels

September 19, 1985, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on record warning labels

Dee Snider: Against Music Censorship and Labeling

Snider prides himself in the fact that his music is consistent with his Christian beliefs

PMRC mischaracterized his lyrics

e.g. “Under the Blade” is about fear of medical operations, not sadomasochism

e.g., “We’re not going to take it is not about violence

Parents should listen to songs themselves to determine if they are appropriate for their children

The federal government doesn’t have the right or authority to make interpretive judgments about art

Exchange with Gore

It’s not a big leap to interpret “Under the Blade” as about sadomasochism

Judging lyrics by album covers and song titles isn’t sufficient

Barbara P. Wyatt: the need for more effective warning labels

Thesis: a new system of warning labels is needed; the current one is applied inconsistently, and does not adequately indicate the harmful content of music

Problems with the Current Warning Label System

Lyrics are not available to parents

Record industry is driven by two motives: (1) pushing the line of indecency to entice young people, (2) financial greed

Warning labels are applied inconsistently

Warning labels do not adequately indicate the harmful content of music.

The Impact of Violent Music Lyrics

The violence in music influences antisocial behavior of young listeners

The Need for Responsibility and Civility

The solution is not censorship, but a heightened sense of moral responsibility among record companies and more precise warning labels

 

UNIT 5: ABORTION

1. Overview

Background

Fetal Development (nine month, 40 weeks)

First trimester

Ovum/sperm

Zygote: day 3 about 16 cells

Embryo:

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

Miscarriage

Abortion Methods

Emergency contraception

Mifepristone (RU-486)

Vacuum aspiration

Dilation and curettage

Dilation and evacuation

Instillation

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

Criticisms

Biological continuity argument:

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

Scalia:

Blackman:

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

 

UNIT 6: EUTHANASIA

1. Overview

Background

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

Distinctions

Suicide

Assisted death

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

Active and passive euthanasia

Voluntary and non-voluntary

Death

Neurological theory

Two deaths theory

Bodily integration theory

Palliative care (hospice programs)

Ethical issues

Suicide

Duties to God

Aquinas:

Criticism (Hume):

Duties to others

Aquinas:

Criticism (Hume):

Duties to oneself

Aquinas:

Kant:

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:

Criticism

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

Criticisms

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

Introduction

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”

Conclusion

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

 

3. Wesley Smith: Dutch Decriminalizing Of Euthanasia: A Failure

Introduction

Two beliefs by advocates of assisted suicide

Radical individualism

Killing (ending life) is an acceptable answer to the problem of human suffering

Slippery slope

“once the premises of assisted suicide advocacy become accepted by a broad swath of the medical professions and the public, there is little chance eligibility for “permitted” suicide will remain limited to the terminally ill”

The Remmelink report

A practice beyond effective control

The voluntary nature of the request is compromised

Dutch guidelines do not protect and do not restrict because there are no meaningful penalties

Coercion from family members

Dr. Keizer

Dutch euthanasia leads to permitted infanticide

Infanticide is technically illegal, but such acts are not prosecuted

Groningen Protocol: infanticide guidelines for hospitals

Drawing conclusions

The slippery slope is very real: “Once we accept the killing of terminally ill patients, as did the Dutch, we will invariably, over time, accept the killing of chronically ill patients, depressed patients, and ultimately perhaps, even children”

Adopting killing as an acceptable answer to human suffering eventually changes popular outlooks

Euthanasia in the United States would be especially dangerous for marginalized populations

Euthanasia is becoming more acceptable elsewhere, e.g., Belgium

 

UNIT 7: DEATH PENALTY

1. Overview

Introduction

Most industrialized countries have abolished capital punishment

Background

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

Retribution

Incapacitation

Rehabilitation

Deterrence

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

Retribution

Three criticisms

Kant’s retributive theory and criticism

Deterrence

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

Criticism

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

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

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

Introduction

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

3. Racial Bias And Executing The Innocent: No Real Problem -- John Mcadams

How many innocents on death row?

Death Penalty Information Center list and problems with that list

The presence of "reasonable doubt" does not make a person factually innocent

Have any innocents been executed?

Problem with evidence of innocent people executed

How many innocents on death row are acceptable?

Execution of innocent compared with accidental deaths from other public policies

Playing the race card

Racial bias is no reason to abolish the death penalty any more than racial bias with robbers is a reason to stop punishing robbers

Claims of racial bias against black defendants (mass market version)

Racial bias against black victims

The criminal justice system itself underpunishes those who kill blacks

Other areas in the criminal justice system in which there is racial bias against black victims

 

UNIT 8: WAR

1. Overview

Background

Introduction

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:

Terrorism:

Ethical issues

Introduction

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

Pacifism:

Absolute pacifism

Conditional pacifism

Reasons for pacifism:

Religious

Pragmatic

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

Responses to criticism

Weiss’s criticism:

Torture

Ticking time bomb scenario

Utilitarian justification of torture

Two criticisms

Rights theory criticism of torture:

Criticism

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

Criticism

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

Criticisms

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

3. Tom Malinowski: Torture

Introduction

Recent US policies violate human rights of prisoners

Such policies undermined standards that defenders of human rights rely upon

They have diminished America's moral standing and influence in the world

They have hindered, not aided, the fight against terrorism

The US Program of Detention and Torture

The facts

US Justification

Setting a bad example

Other countries mimic the US policies and the arguments it uses to justify them

Harm to Counterterrorism

These policies do not have national security benefits that justify such costs

Torture is not a reliable method of interrogation:

To end their suffering they say whatever they think their interrogator wants to hear

Secret detention and military trials are less effective than open Federal trials

Results in more convictions, and creates no complaints of unjust treatment

 

UNIT 9: ANIMALS

1. Overview

Background

Introduction

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

Introduction

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

Janism

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

Introduction

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

Leather

Wool

Fur

Down

Companion Animals

Spaying or neutering animals

Animal shelters

Euthanization

Chained dogs

Outdoor cats

Caged birds

Entertainment

Zoos

Race horses:

Circuses

Rodeos

Wildlife

Hunting

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

 

 

UNIT 10: THE ENVIRONMENT

1. Overview

Background

Introduction

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

Greenpeace

Ecoterrorism

What people think

Ethical issues

Anthropocentrism vs. biocentrism

Anthropocentrism: all environmental responsibility is derived from human interests alone

Baxter

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)

Leopold

Deep ecology

Gaia hypothesis

The environment and the profit motive

Good environmental practices result in good business

Criticism

Good business results in good environmental practices

Criticism

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

Hurricanes

Malaria

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

Alternatives

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

 

UNIT 11: SUPPLEMENTAL CHAPTER FOR PHIL 490 STUDENTS ONLY

1. Classic Philosophers On Sexual Morality

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

Response:

Against Divorce (four arguments)

Against Polygamy (four arguments)

Against incest (four arguments)

2. Classic Philosophers On Drunkenness

Kant: drunkenness an animalistic vice

Temperance regarding bodily pleasures

Duty to care for the body, which involves temperance regarding the pleasures of the body

Animalistic and satanic vices

Satanic vices (goes far beyond regular vices):

Animalistic (we lower ourselves to animals):

Drunkenness is not as bad as gluttony since drunkenness at least makes one sociable; but drunkenness in private is as bad as gluttony

John Stuart Mill: the liberty to be drunk

Drunkenness and duties to oneself

Violating duties to oneself can only be punishable when they violate duties to others

Criticisms of the liberty to be drunk

Criticism: no one is isolated, and private conduct spills over into the public arena

Criticism: misconduct injures personal happiness, and thus the law may prohibit “experiments in living” that are shown to have failed

Responses to criticisms

When private conduct causes public harm, it should be punished, but only for its public harm

Can’t punish someone for being drunk, but can for a soldier or policeman to be drunk on duty

Drunkenness can also be punished when it tends to make a person violent

3. Intellectual Diversity On Campus

Anne Neal: Faculty Ideology

Thesis: colleges and universities are increasingly bastions of political correctness, hostile to the free exchange of ideas

Eight Types of Threats

Recommendations to Trustees of universities

Recommendations to congress:

4. Animal Rights Extremism

Pro: Jerry Vlasak

Animal Liberation Press Office: seeks to clarify the motivation and philosophy behind these actions taken [by animal rights activists] in defense of our animal brothers and sisters

Huntingdon Life Sciences kills 500 animals a day “poisoning and torturing animals to death with household products, pesticides, drugs, herbicides, food colorings, sweeteners, oven cleaner and cosmetics”

“An estimated 12,800 animals died in the research of the sugar substitute, Splenda, including pregnant rabbits, beagle dogs and primates.”

Wastes “hundreds of millions of dollars doing unscientific drug testing and experimenting on animals”

Question and Answer

Humans and Animals Morally Equal

Current laws regarding experimentation of animals are like laws permitting slavery

Assassinating Animal Researchers

Vlasak’s position

Lautenberg’s criticisms

Experiments on Rats and Mice

Experimentation on rats and mice a hugely wasteful use of scarce resource dollars that we have in the medical industry

Xenotransplantation

Human organ transplants are difficult, and Xenotransplantation won’t work any time soon

Conclusion

Lautenberg:

HLS is trying to save human lives, even if they don’t do everything right

Inhofe:

“It's either going to be the lives of these animals or human life,” but “we have a witness who equates animals lives with human lives, then that takes away all the argument”

5. Supreme Court Cases On The Environment

Suing on Behalf of the Environment: Sierra Club v. Morton (1972)

Majority Opinion: Requirement to Show Personal Injury (Justice Stewart)

Issue: whether the Sierra Club has a legal standing

Aesthetic damage is a legitimate justification for suit

Sierra Club: special interest groups like themselves, which has a unique commitment to environmental protection, can sue as an interested party

Criticism: the Administrative Procedure Act, under which the Sierra Club was suing, requires that a person can sue on behalf of the environment if that person himself has been injured by aesthetic damage.

Criticism: this opens the door to any person or group trying to impose their convictions based solely on their special interest.

Dissenting Opinion: Legal Rights for the Environment (Justice Douglas)

If the environment was granted the status of legal personhood, then environmental advocates could sue companies like Disney based on the legal standing of the environment itself