You are on page 1of 12

Introduction to ethics and logic

PHIL 2306

1. Take SACS pre-test.

2. Introduction to ethics.
Introduction to ethics

Philosophy: the systematic use of critical reasoning

to answer the most fundamental questions in life
Ethics: the philosophical study of morality.
Metaphyics: the study of reality.
Epistemology: the study of knowledge and its limits.
Logic: the study of reason.
Morality: the norms, principles, and moral values by
which we govern our lives in order to live a morally
good life.
The Focus in Our Course

Ethics is the study of the values and moral norms we

ought to adopt (that is, have good reason to adopt).

The moral beliefs people do hold vs. the moral

beliefs people should hold. An important distinction.
Different branches of ethics

Normative ethics: the study of moral theories. Moral theories
attempt to provide answers to what makes actions
right/wrong/good/bad as well as what it means to live a
morally good life. Moral theories tell us what moral principles
we ought to adopt. Example: Utilitarianism.
Applied ethics: applying moral theories to moral dilemmas
(e.g., applying Utilitarianism to the morality of the death
Metaethics: the study of moral values and moral concepts.
E.g., What do we mean by the term good? Are moral values
objective or relative?
Philosophical methodology: logic

Philosophers support their views/beliefs with

philosophical arguments.

Philosophical arguments have two components:

Premises: reasons given in support of the conclusion.
Conclusion: the claim one is attempting to support.

The logical connection between the premises and the

conclusion is an inference. We infer the conclusion
from the premises.
Philosophical methodology: logic

Two features of good philosophical arguments

1. Validity: presuming the premises of the argument

are true, the conclusion must necessarily be true
(i.e., follow from the premises).

2. Soundness: a sound argument is valid argument

with all true premises.
Philosophical methodology: logic

1. We ought to do whatever promotes the greatest

good for the greatest number of people.
2. Recycling promotes the greatest good for the
greatest number of people.
3. We ought to recycle. (1,2)

A valid argument. But is it sound?


Invalid arguments are such that their conclusions do

not necessarily follow from their premises.


1. I have earned As in all my classes at SAM.

2. I will earn an A in Philosophy 2306. (1)
The Value of Philosophical Ethics

Our values often define our very identities.

It seems as though we should want to have an active

role in constructing our identitiesthe very essence
of who we are.
If the above is the case, then not examining our
moral beliefs and values, but rather accepting them
at face value means that we have no role in forming
our identities.
The philosophical study of morality (i.e., ethics) is
useful in helping us construct our very identities.
The Role of Religion in Ethics

Religion can be the foundation of our moral beliefs.

In a philosophy class like ours, however, we are

going to use the tools of philosophywhich will
include reason and experience.

These tools allow all persons to engage in moral

discussion whereas we can come to a standstill if we
dont share the same religious beliefs.
Universalizability and Impartiality

Principle of universalizability: the idea that a moral

statement (a principle, rule, or judgment) that
applies in one situation must apply in all other
situations that are relevantly similar (7).
Principle of Impartiality: From the moral point of
view, all persons are considered equal and should be
treated accordinglythe welfare and interests of
each individual should be given the same weight as
all others. Unless there is a morally relevant
difference between people, we should treat them the
same: we must treat equals equally. (8)