Most Appealing Ethicist

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2008 by Joe Bird

Thank you Boone for a great semester.  Prior to PHI 014 I was not able to delve enthusiastically  into an ethicist’s writing. 

 In my opinion, the most compelling and appealing ethicist was Immanuel Kant.  His idea of the categorical imperative as  grounds for morality was brilliant as an action could not be moral unless it was applied universally.  Obviously there could be exceptions to the categorical imperative, but it could definitely make one second guess a bad action before they perform it due to the realization their action could not become universal law and therefore should be prohibited.  If the world today lived by the categorical imperative, the world would definitely be “Thinking and acting Goodly.”

Moral Worth of Murder

Posted in Uncategorized on December 8, 2008 by Joe Bird

According to Aristotle, murder would have no moral worth.  Murder is an example of an extreme quality which Aristotle had thought to be not morally good.  Obviously the murderer would have to be on that end of the extreme quality in order to take the life of another.  Due to this distinction, the murder would have no moral worth.

Don Marquis- An Argument that Abortion Is Wrong

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2008 by Joe Bird

Don Marquis’s purpose to his essay is to set out to prove that abortion is seriously wrong.  He is addressing that abortion is morally wrong and should not be permitted except in certain cases.  The authors thesis is “Abortion, except perhaps in rare instances, is seriously wrong”(Marquis, 754).  Marquis’s purpose for exceptions or rare instances is to eliminate those instances that could be considered ethically controversial such as cases like abortion after rape or abortion during the first fourteen days after conception.  Marquis provides another exception in the form of a pregnancy that could endanger a woman’s life and abortion when the fetus is anencephalic.  An anencephalic is a condition with “the absence of all or a part of the brain and part of the skull at birth”(Encarta).

Don Marquis also cites Judith Thomson’s view that fetuses have the right to live.  Marquis uses Thomson’s view to conclude that abortion is morally permissible when a pregnancy is due to rape.  Marquis thinks that the right to life overrides the right to control one’s own body and abortion is wrong.  Marquis says that the morality of abortion boils down to the question of whether fetuses have the right to life.  Marquis believes: “All humans, whatever their race, gender, religion or age, have the right to life”(Marquis, 756).  He believes that since a fetus can be classified as a human, they have the right to life.  Marquis acknowledges that those that believe abortion is permissible try to find a narrow criteria for possession of the right to life so that fetuses will fall outside of it.  He acknowledges that those that think that abortion is permissible feel that fetuses are not rational or possess the capacity to communicate in complex ways, thus not making a fetus a person and making abortion permissible.  According to Marquis, the people that believe abortion is correct feel that a woman’s right to control her own body generates the right to have an abortion.  Marquis questions which view we should reject.  Marquis feels as if anti-abortion is attacked by those who support it by attacking the premise that whatever is biologically human has the right to live.  Marquis feels that there is no way of showing that the fetus is fully human.  I feel that this is a bad argument by Marquis.  He is acknowledging that the argument that whatever is human has the right to live is flawed due to the possibility of human cancer cell cultures having human characteristics.  Clearly, human cancer cell cultures have human characteristics, but that certainly do not have the right to life.  Marquis should not have tried to argue this statement because in the end he acknowledged that the argument is subject to difficulties and never proved it wrong.

Marquis attacks pro-choice by attacking its major premise: Only persons have the right to life.  According to Marquis, “Being a person is understood by the pro-choicer as having certain psychological attributes”(Marquis, 756).  Marquis feels that the pro-choice view is flawed because there is no way showing that a fetus is not a person.  Marquis tries to bring Immanuel Kant into the scope.  I feel that the argument with Kant is not persuasive. He arrives at the conclusion,”No true Kantian would treat persons as she would treat animals.  Thus, Kant’s defense of  our duties to animals fails to show that Kantians have a duty not to be cruel to animals”(Marquis, 757).  Marquis fails to take into consideration the premise of Kant’s thinking: the categorical imperative.  Using the categorical imperative, an action can only be moral if it is applied as universal law.  “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”(Kant).  How could we make abortion a universal law? Clearly there are so many loopholes and circumstances where abortion could be permissible, but that would not apply to universal law because there would be exceptions.  Therefore, Marquis’s use of Kant is not validated.

Marquis’s most persuasive argument is that abortion is wrong because abortion involves killing someone like us, a human being who just happens to be very young. Marquis cites the example of FLO (Future Like Ours).   Marquis is highly persuasive using this FLO method because he uses emotional attachment comparing the life of a fetus to a life that we may experience.  If we were aborted as a fetus, we would not have the life experiences we did.  Marquis relates the life of a fetus to ours and tries to convince us as we would not want to be aborted, neither would the fetus.  He cites that the only reason killing could be permissible is if we are killing in self defense, to save our own life.   The FLO account of the wrongness of killing says that the loss of a future of value is a misfortune, making abortion wrong.

Marquis is wrong or subject to criticism on some of his arguments.  For example, he says: “Almost all people believe that it is wrong, to withdraw medical treatment from patients who are temporarily unconscious”(Marquis, 759).  Marquis does not explain what is meant by temporarily unconscious.  I personally do not believe that if one is to suffer continuously, they should be given continued medical treatment.   Perhaps the most compelling argument that Marquis makes is, “Potential presidents don’t have the rights of the presidency”(Marquis, 761).  His argument of potentiality is not effective because take for example Barack Obama.  Although he is the president-elect of the United States, he is still delegating duties and using his rights as the future president.

Marquis’s essay stated that abortion, except in unusual circumstances, is seriously wrong.  Marquis feels that deprivation of a future like ours (FLO) explains why killing is wrong.  Abortion deprives fetuses of futures like ours (FLO) and therefore, abortion is wrong.  I agree with Marquis that abortion, except in unusual circumstances, is wrong.  However, I do feel that in the case that the mother could be harmed by the pregnancy or conception was due to an unwilling act such as rape, abortion should be allowed.  When addressing abortion we should consider ultimately how the mother of the fetus would feel.  It is definitely easy for Don Marquis or I to oppose abortion, but ultimately the decision boils down to the mother’s choice and in the case that a pregnancy could hurt the mother or potentially kill her, abortion should be permissible.

References

Cahn, Steven, and Peter Markie.  Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

http://www.encarta.com

Parties to a Social Contract

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2008 by Joe Bird

In order to be part of a social contract a person has to have the capability of understanding the contract itself. Groups that could be excluded from a social contract could include someone that is mentally challenged and a child uncapable of comprehension. Taking part in a social contract is a voluntary act.  It is a voluntary act because man’s whole reason for the social contract is to do some good for himself.  If someone is incapable of evaluating the risks or rewards for the social contract, then they should not be a party as in the case of a child.  At the same time, a social contract cannot be forced upon someone by imprisonment or torture.  To take part in the social contract, man has to perform their convenants and promises made. 

Is a sovereign power or government subject to moral judgement?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2008 by Joe Bird

I do not believe that a sovereign power or government in most cases is subject to moral judgment.  I feel this way because in order to get out of the state of nature, everyone has transferred or sacrificed their rights to have assurance from a greater power than everything combined.  These rights are transferred to the sovereign power.  So technically if we are transferring our right to do whatever we want to the sovereign power, than he can do whatever he wants and not be subject to moral judgment.  This does not mean that there are not extreme cases where if a sovereign’s power was not justified,  he could not be subject to moral judgment.  Although the sovereign power or government are people just like us, we need to realize most of the time the reason why they are the sovereign power or government is because we respect or acknowledge that they are competent for the position.  And at the same time, the sovereign power or government must have absolute authority.  While the sovereign power has absolute authority, he does reserve the basic rights and liberties for his people.

Thomas Hobbes- State of Nature

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2008 by Joe Bird

Thomas Hobbes is correct in his statement that human nature, combined with the finiteness of the world’s resources, will necessarily lead to a state of war.  In the state of nature the only thing that motivates an individual is self interest.  The state of nature is essentially a state in which men and women are left to their own desires and can do whatever they want.  There is no government to intervene or necessary laws and standards.  In the state of nature, you will do whatever you have to do to fufill your self interest.   

With finite resources clearly there would be a battle not only over resources but individuals as well.  Basically the state of nature coupled with finite resources would lead to a state of war which would be the worst situation for humans. It would give unlimited rights to everyone and if man has nothing to be controlled by, each man is going to do what it takes to satisfy his own self-interest.  It would be probably be a total state of anarchy. 

To leave the state of nature you have to limit rights and give up the right to other people’s property.  Social contracts would have to be established where there would be a mutual agreement to give up some rights in exchange for peace.  Finite resources would have to be shared rather than having a battle to the death to decide the victor.

Thomas Hobbes- State of Nature

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2008 by Joe Bird

Thomas Hobbes is correct in his statement that human nature, combined with the finiteness of the world’s resources, will necessarily lead to a state of war.  In the state of nature the only thing that motivates an individual is self interest.  The state of nature is essentially a state in which men and women are left to their own desires and can do whatever they want.  There is no government to intervene or necessary laws and standards.  In the state of nature, you will do whatever you have to do to fufill your self interest.   

With finite resources clearly there would be a battle not only over resources but individuals as well.  Basically the state of nature coupled with finite resources would lead to a state of war which would be the worst situation for humans. It would give unlimited rights to everyone and if man has nothing to be controlled by, each man is going to do what it takes to satisfy his own self-interest.  It would be probably be a total state of anarchy. 

To leave the state of nature you have to limit rights and give up the right to other people’s property.  Social contracts would have to be established where there would be a mutual agreement to give up some rights in exchange for peace.  Finite resources would have to be shared rather than having a battle to the death to decide the victor.