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Unit 6

THEORY OF ETHICS

5I Pre-reading task. Answer the following questions.


1) Why is philosophy often called the mother of all sciences?
2) What are the main branches of philosophy and what do they deal with?

II Reading
10Task 1 Skim the text What is Ethics? and answer the questions below.
1) What is the main characteristic of philosophy?
2) Does moral equate to law?

Task 2 Read the text closely and do the reading comprehension.


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WHAT IS ETHICS?

Ethics is that branch of philosophy that deals with how we ought to live, with the idea of the
Good, and with concepts, such as "right" and "wrong". But what is philosophy? It is an
20enterprise that begins with wonder at the marvels and mysteries of the world; that pursues a
rational investigation of those marvels and mysteries, seeking wisdom and truth; and that
results in a life lived in passionate moral and intellectual integrity.
The main characteristic of philosophy is rational argument. Philosophers clarify concepts and
analyze and test propositions and beliefs, but their major task is to analyze and construct
25arguments. Philosophical reasoning is closely allied with scientific reasoning, in that both
build hypothesis and look for evidence to test those hypotheses with the hope of coming
closer to the truth. However, scientific experiments take place in laboratories and have testing
procedures through which to record objective or empirically verifiable results. The laboratory
of the philosopher is the domain of ideas. It takes place in the mind where imaginative
30thought experiments take place. It also takes place wherever conversation or debate about the
perennial questions arises, where thesis and counterexample and counterthesis are considered.
The study of ethics within philosophy contains its own subdivisions, among which the key are
(1) descriptive morality; (2) moral philosophy (ethical theory), and (3) applied ethics. First,

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descriptive morality refers to actual beliefs, customs, principles, and practices of people and
35cultures. Second, moral philosophy also called ethical theory - refers to the systematic effort
to understand moral concepts and justify moral principles and theories. It analyzes key moral
concepts such as "right", "wrong", and "permissible". It explores possible sources of moral
obligation such as God, human reason, or the desire to be happy. Third, applied ethics deals
with controversial moral problems such as abortion, premarital sex, capital punishment,
40euthanasia, and civil disobedience.
The larger study of ethics, then draws on all three of these subdivisions, connecting them in
important ways. For example, moral philosophy is very much interrelated with applied ethics:
Theory without application is useless and sterile, but action without theoretical perspective is
blind. There will be an enormous difference in the quality of debates about abortion, for
45example, when those discussions are informed by ethical theory as compared when they are
not. With the onset of multiculturalism and the deep differences in worldviews around the
globe today, the need to use reason, rather than violence, to settle our disputes and resolve
conflicts of interest has become obvious. Ethical awareness is the necessary condition for
human survival and flourishing. If we are to endure a free, civilized people, we must take
50ethics more seriously than we have before. Ethical theory may rid us of simplistic extremism
and emotionalism where shouting matches replace arguments. It clarifies ethical concepts,
constructs and evaluates arguments, and guides us on how to live our lives. It is important that
an educated person be able to discuss ethical situations with precision and subtlety.

55Morality as compared with other normative subjects

Moral principles concern standards of behaviour; they involve not what is but what ought to
be. How should I live my life? What is the right thing to do in this situation? Is premarital sex
morally permissible? Ought a woman ever to have an abortion? Morality has a distinct action-
60guiding, or normative, aspect, which it shares with other practices, such as religion, law and
etiquette. Let us consider the relationship between morality and law.
The two are quite closely related, and some people even equate the two practices. Many laws
are instituted in order to promote well-being, resolve conflicts of interest, and promote social
harmony, just as morality does. However, ethics may judge that some laws are immoral
65without denying that they have legal authority. For example, laws may permit slavery, spousal
abuse, racial discrimination, or sexual discrimination, but these are immoral practices. A
Catholic or antiabortion advocate may believe that the laws permitting abortion are immoral.

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In a PBS Television series, Ethics in America, a trial lawyer was asked what he would do if he
discovered that his client has committed a murder some years earlier for which another man
70had been wrongly convicted and would soon be executed. The lawyer said that he had a legal
obligation to keep this information confidential and that, if he divulged it, he would be
disbarred. It is arguable that he has a moral obligation that overrides his legal obligation and
demands that he act to save the innocent man from execution.
Furthermore, some aspects of morality are not covered by law. For example, although it is
75generally agreed that lying is usually immoral, there is no general law against it except
under such special conditions as committing perjury or falsifying income tax returns.
There is another major difference between law and morality. In 1352, King Edward of
England instituted a law against treason that made it a crime merely to think homicidal
thoughts about the king. But, alas, the law could not be enforced, for no tribunal can search
80the heart and discover the intentions of the mind. It is true that an intention, such as malice
afterthought, plays a role in determining the legal character of an act once the act has been
committed. But, preemptive punishment for people who are presumed to have bad intentions
are illegal. If malicious intentions by themselves were illegal, wouldn't we all deserve
imprisonment? Even if one could detect others' intentions, when should the punishment be
85administered? As soon as the offender has the intention? How do we know that the offender
won't change his or her mind? Although it is impractical to have laws against bad intentions,
these intentions are still bad, still morally wrong.

90 (adapted from Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong)

3
III Reading comprehension
Task 1 Answer the following questions.
1. What is the major task of philosophers?
95 2. How is philosophy related to science?
3. In which respects are science and philosophy different?
4. What is the laboratory of philosophy?
5. What are the branches of ethics and what do they refer to?
6. In which circumstances can moral obligation differ from legal obligation?
100
IV Vocabulary in context
Task 1 Using the context clues, circle the most appropriate meaning of the choices given.
Line numbers are given in brackets.

105 1) verifiable (11)


a) that can be significantly different from each other
b) that can be tested and shown to be correct or true
c) that can be treated in a similar way
2) perennial (14)
110 a) continuing
b) peripheral
c) unimportant
3) draws on (24)
a) take up
115 b) wonder at
c) rests on
4) onset (29)
a) crisis
b) beginning
120 c) end
5) with subtlety (36)
a) in an honest and cheerful way
b) in an objective and strict way
c) in a clever and indirect way
125 6) advocate (50)
a) supporter
b) critic
c) lawyer
7) divulged (54)
130 a) proceeded
b) revealed
c) denied
8) disbarred (55)
a) given a better position
135 b) publicly supported
c) made leave the legal profession

Task 2 Use the correct form of words covered in Task 1 in the sentences below.

140 1) His work___________ heavily learning theories of the 1980s.


2) Lack of resources has been a ______________ problem since the beginning.
3) The _____________ of winter was especially harsh this year.
4) It is not company policy to _________________ personal details of employees.
5) She's a passionate _______________ of natural childbirth.
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Task 3 Look back at the text and find the following words and expressions in the table below.

examples from the text


verbs denoting reasoning pursue a rational investigation
and cognition

nouns denoting abstract marvel, intellectual integrity


categories

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Task 4 In pairs, check the meaning of the words and expressions from Task 3. If unsure, look
150it up in a dictionary.

Task 5 Using the vocabulary covered in previous tasks, translate the following paragraph into
English.

155 Etika je grana filozofije koja se bavi temeljnim moralnim konceptima kao su dobro i
zlo, ispravno i pogreno, vrlina i porok, pravda i zloin i sl. Filozofi ove koncepte
pokuavaju razumjeti te dati objanjenje za temeljne moralne principe. Etika takoer
istrauje ciljeve moralnih normi, kao i izvor morala uope. Predmet prouavanja
primijenjene etike su kontroverzna pitanja kao to su predbrani seks, eutanazija,
160 smrtna kazna, odnos moralnosti i zakona itd. Iako je moralnost povezana s drugim
znanostima kao to su religija ili pravo, ona prvenstveno pripada filozofiji koja
prouava standarde ljudskog ponaanja koje moe biti prihvaeno pod odreenim
moralnim aspektom. Etika je normativna znanost jer daje smjernice za udoredno
ponaanje.
165
Task 6 Find a word or phrase in the text that refers to the crimes and punishment below.
Approximate line numbers in which the word occurs are given in the brackets.

1) punishment which involves killing someone who has committed a crime (ln 20-25)
170 2) cruel or violent treatment of a husband or wife (ln 45-50)
3) the crime of telling a lie after promising to tell the truth in a court of law (ln 55-60)
4) with the deliberate intention of doing something that is against the law (ln 60-65)
5) the crime of being disloyal to your country or its government, especially by
helping its enemies or trying to remove the government using violence (ln 60-65)
175 6) an action done to prevent something from happening, especially something that
will harm you (ln. 65-70)

V Vocabulary development
Task 1 Fill in the missing gaps referring to the crimes. The first letters of the words missing
180have been given.

1) He was ch_ _ _ _ _ w_ _ _ murder two years ago.


2) They were f_ _ _ _ g_ _ _ _ _ o_ the conspiracy against the king.
3) She p_ _ _ _ _ _ guilty t_ bribery.
185 4) The suspect was w_ _ _ _ _ on ch _ _ _ _ _ o_ robbery.
5) The Prime Minister c_ _ _ u_ _ _ _ investigation for corruption.

Task 2 The table below lists common suffixes used to form nouns, in particular abstract nouns
(Quirk and Greenbaum, 1987). Put the words from the box into the right category, based on
190the suffix used to form an abstract noun.

explore, amaze, lieder, neighbor, enjoy, possible, mother, develop, cope, absurd, nave,
complex, rational, censor, bureau, effective, argue, bored, open, organize, wise, autocrat

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Table 1: Noun Suffixes
suffix meaning example further examples
- hood status childhood
- ship status, condition relationship
- dom domain, condition kingdom, stardom
- ocracy system of democracy
government
-(e)ry behaviour, place of slavery, nunnery,
activity or abode, machinery
collectivity
-ation state, action, obligation,
institution discrimination
organization
-ment state, action experiment
-ing activity, result of determining, building
activity
-age activity, result of drainage
activity
-ness state, quality happiness
-ity state, quality morality
VI Grammar

CONDITIONALS
200
Task 1 Study the following sentences taken from the text What is Ethics? and explain the way
a condition is expressed in them. What are the reasons for the use of different verb tenses in
the conditional clauses?

205a) If we are to endure a free, civilized people, we must take ethics more seriously than we
have before.

b) A trial lawyer was asked what he would do if he discovered that his client has committed a
murder some years earlier for which another man had been wrongly convicted and would
210soon be executed.

Task 2 Scan the text What is Ethics? and find other conditional clauses.

BASIC USAGE
215
CONDITIONAL CLAUSES are commonly grouped into four types:

Zero (always true) If you heat water, it boils.


First (possible, real situations) If you hurry up, you will catch the bus.
220Second (impossible, hypothetical If I had more money, I would travel to
present situations) Hawaii.
Third (impossible, hypothetical If we had been wiser, we wouldn't have
past situations) made such a huge mistake.

225Conditionals with modals

Present possibility If your problems with headaches persist,


you should go and see the doctor.

230Hypothetical present situations If I had more money, I could help you.

Hypothetical past situations If I had been in that car when the police stopped
them, I might have had troubles.
235Alternative conditionals

If only If only I hadn't been so rude to her!


(used to emphasize hypothetical
situations)
240
Unless (= if not) Unless you get serious and start studying, don't
count on me!

If it weren't/ If it hadn't been for If it hadn't been for Jim, we wouldn't have bought
245 this house.

Supposing/suppose Supposing you won the lottery, what would you


(used mainly in spoken English) do with the money?

250
Task 3 Fill in the missing gaps with the most appropriate form of the verbs in brackets.
Sometimes you will need to change the word order or add an extra word.

1. If you _______________ (swim) in this bad weather, you might get cold.
255 2. If I were you, I _______________ (meet) them.
3. If I _______________ (know) that before, I could have avoided many problems I have
to face today.
4. If we _______________ (not have) challenges, we would soon get bored with our
lives.
260 5. If you _______________ (feel) like doing so, you can visit us and we will take a ride.
6. Unless it _______________ (rain), we will go for a walk.
7. If I had seen you at the bus stop, I _______________ surely (give) you a lift.
8. If it _______________ (be) his sister, he would have never had the chance to go to
university.
265 9. If Peter calls, I _______________ (tell) him that you have dropped by.
10. What would you do if you _______________ (have) to choose between these two
options?
11. Even if I had made more money, I _______________ (waste) it so foolishly.
12. If he _______________ (live) under so much stress, he would be a much more
270 pleasant person.

Task 4 Translate the following sentences into English.

1. Ako nekome pomognem, znam da u se osjeati dobro zbog toga.


275 2. Da si barem posluao moj savjet ne bismo sada imali ove potekoe.
3. Da sam imao vie slobodnog vremena, bavio bih se nekim zanimljivim hobijem.
4. Zato mi nisi rekao da si ga sreo dan ranije? Da sam to znao, vodio bih s njim
drugaiji razgovor.
5. Da nije bilo tvojih roditelja, ne bismo imali dovoljno novca za kupnju stana.
280 6. Kada bi bilo vie razumijevanja meu ljudima, svi bi bili zdraviji i sretniji.
7. Ukoliko1 ne predate seminarski rad do roka, neete moi izai na ispit.
8. Ako drutvo ne ulae u obrazovanje, nee biti ni napretka.
9. Kada bi se svi pridravali moralnih naela, svijet bi bio daleko pravedniji.
10. Da sam te barem upoznao ranije!
285
VII Speaking In small groups, read the moral dilemmas below and answer the questions.

1) On the night out, you see your best friends boyfriend kissing another girl. He begs
you not to tell that to his girlfriend, reminding you of their plans to get married soon.
290 Is it right for you to interfere, reveal the secret and endanger your friends happiness?

2) In the film Sophies Choice, Sophie, a young Polish woman, is arrested and sent to
Auschwitz with her children. On the night that she arrives, Sophie is forced to choose
which one of her two children is gassed immediately and which proceeds to live in the
295 concentration camp. To avoid having both children killed, she chooses her son to be
sent to the children's camp, and her daughter to be sent to death. Did she make the
right decision?

3) You have a three-year-old daughter suffering from a severe and painful illness. A
300 surgery might seriously improve her health condition but you cannot afford it. One
day, you find a womans purse with documents, family photos and a considerable

101 Do not start this sentence with if.


amount of money in the supermarket trolley. If you take that money and add some
more that you have yourself, you may cover the hospital costs. Is it right to save your
child and not to think about somebody elses children?
305
4) In 1972, the Uruguayan rugby team crashed on their flight to Chile. Faced with
starvation, the survivors fed on the dead passengers preserved in the snow. Was it
morally right for the survivors to eat the bodies of the dead?

3105) You have a wonderful five-year-old child only to discover that, because of the mix up
in the hospital, he is not your biological child. Is it right to look for your biological
child after you raised this child as your own?
(sources: