- 1 Group 8 page for Reading Notes
- 2 Intro to Consequentialism (Sept 18)
- 3 Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 23)
- 4 Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 25)
- 5 Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 30)
- 6 Later Utilitarianism (Oct. 2)
- 7 Rule utilitarianism (Oct. 7)
- 8 Kant, Groundwork (Oct. 28)
- 9 Kant, "On a Supposed Right to Lie (Oct. 30)
- 10 Intro to Virtue Ethics (Nov. 4)
- 11 Later virtue theory (Nov. 18)
Group 8 page for Reading Notes
Please post your reading notes to this page. Please start each set of reading notes with the author, title of the work, and the sections of the work you're discussing in your notes.
Intro to Consequentialism (Sept 18)
Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 23)
Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 25)
To better understand the summary of the end of Chapter 2 (p.9-p.12) and the given portion of Chapter 3 (p.16-p.20) it may be beneficial to first summarize the primary points of Mill’s argument for utilitarianism. His theory is based on the principle that;
- "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, and wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”
Generally, though it can differ in quality, he defines happiness as pleasure (or the absence of pain). To apply this to his theory, he concludes that to embrace utilitarianism as an ethic is to embrace that happiness is the sole basis of morality.
In chapter 2, Mill attempts to defend his thesis against common critiques and misconceptions about utilitarianism. Many argue that his theory implies that utility is an opposition to pleasure, to which he replies, no, utility is defined as pleasure itself.
- Actions are good when they lead to a higher level of general happiness (and bad when they decrease that level)
A particularly interesting fault found in Mill’s thesis is the opinion that the standard of happiness being the basis of morality implies a standard for morality that is too high for humanity. Rather, it is asking too much of people to always consider to promote the general interests of society. Mill somewhat agrees here, but furthers his argument by specifying that utilitarian moralism isn’t meant to be giving a defining framework for morality, to which opposition would lead to condemning the individual, but instead simply encourages a motive of duty.
- The utilitarian motive has “nothing to do with the morality of the action” but moreso “with the worth of the agent” (pg.9)
The above statement leads Mill into his next specification. He decides that the important considerations only must attend to private utility.
- Private Utility; the interest or happiness of some few persons
Examples of his argument include:
- EX: saving someone from drowning is “morally right” regardless of his motive being duty or hope that he is being paid for his trouble
- EX: he who betrays a friend that trusts him is guilty, even if his object be to serve another friend to whom he is under greater obligations
Lastly, Mill’s explanation completes with the premise that some pleasures must be ‘rated’ superior to others. This is in order to prioritize heavily weighted happiness that may result in the best decision.
- Higher pleasures would be weighted heavily by utilitarianism
QUESTIONS TO CONSDIER;
1) What if you believe in fate, or rather, the idea that every decision has a ripple effect? I believe there are too many cases when a decision cannot be made only taking into consideration primary parties as every action has unintended, and even unnoticed, effects.
2) Mill states that doing a morally right action makes the agent worthy (or morally right) regardless of the intent. But, for one, is morals not defined as a personal value? If so, morals is something that you hold in your mind, not something that is acted on, and in-so must definitely be evaluated considering the intent in mind. For example, would you agree that a person doing a nice deed simply for the purpose of expecting praise is a morally just person, or not? Does a “good deed” done for the wrong reasons still label an individual as moral (as mill is arguing)?
==== A comment from Christina ====
I just want to make sure there are no mistakes for the exam: Mill is actually not saying that a person who does a morally good action just for the sake of praise is still a morally good person. He’s saying that the action is still morally right, but that we can judge the person as not morally good. That’s what he means by the quote given, that “The utilitarian motive has “nothing to do with the morality of the action” but moreso “with the worth of the agent” (pg.9)”. Mill doesn’t think we have to say that a person who acts on a selfish motive is a good person, but rather that the act is still good if it produces greater happiness.
3) What makes one pleasure “superior” to another, and how are we to measure this? By education? By realizing that which is appreciated by those with good taste? Appreciated only by the intelligent? Utility is meant to be a foundational measurement without overly restricting framework, but perhaps to measure pleasure, we must admit another standard of measurement to utility other than pleasure. How might Mill respond to this?
In the end, Mill admits the nonexistence of a moral system in which there are no unequivocal cases of conflicting obligation, so he argues simply that valuing utility and pleasure, while the application of the standard may be difficult, it is better than none at all.
In Chapter 4, Mill is a little more straightforward, as he moves past trying to disprove critiques to his thesis and focuses instead on methods of proving the validity of utilitarianism. He concludes without question that happiness is desirable, and the only thing desirable, as an end; all other things being only desirable as means to that end.
- “the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, tis that people do actually desire it” (pg. 17)
But happiness has not proved itself to be the sole criterion. Mill acknowledges this. That would imply that an individual does not desire anything else. But does the utilitarian doctrine therefore deny that people desire virtue? Or maintain that virtue is not a thing to be desired? Mill argues the very reverse.
- “not only that virtue is to be desired, but that it is to be desired disinterestedly, for itself” (pg.17)
- The principle of utility does not mean that any given pleasure, as music for instance, is to be looked upon as means to a collective something termed happiness, and to be desired on that account
o They are desired and desirable in and for themselves
Therefore, virtue, according to the utilitarian doctrine, is “not naturally and originally part of the end, but is capable of becoming so; and in those who love it disinterestedly it has become so, and is desired and cherished, not as a means to happiness, but as part of their happiness” (pg.17)
The above argument tackles the question of which striving for happiness is equivalent to striving for virtue (virtue being something inherently tied to morality). Mill answers that virtue is part of happiness and he contends that utilitarianism is true impartially to whether it is true that people only desire things that are part of happiness or a means to happiness, and;
- All will originate in desire; if we will a thing that we now no longer desire, it is only by force of habit
Where in Chapter 2, Mill argued that pleasures that were based on one’s higher faculties were of a higher quality, here he tries to expand his argument by allowing happiness to mean different kinds of pleasure.
- Utilitarianism can leave room for the fact that happiness consists of the other experiences that people value (the idea of “component parts”)
And Mill concludes the chapter with the major addition to his argument that the motivation for all action is based on the fulfillment of desire. This ties together all of his previous premises by deciding that an individual is always acting based on what would make them happy, even if it is subconscious. This is due to an implemented structure of morality, which he defines as utilitarianism, that indicates that a person, in the hopes to remain morally right, will always act for the purpose of achieving maximum happiness.
Mill, Utilitarianism (Sept. 30)
P (1): Modes of action can be classified as just or unjust
P (1.1): It is unjust to deprive someone of liberty or property
P (1.2): It is unjust to deprive someone of their moral right
P (1.3) : It is unjust for people not to get what they deserve (ie. for good people to receive evil or for evil people to receive good)
P (1.4): It is unjust to break the faith of another
P (1.5): It is inconsistent with justice to show favour partially or to act without equality in mind
P (2): These tenants of justice are not absolute, but are rather prima facie obligations to be accorded with unless a stronger obligation presents itself
P (3): Moral obligations are linked to notions of duty
P (4): One may seek justice if their moral rights have been infringed upon
P (5): A moral right is a valid claim on society for security and protection
P (6): The validity of a moral rights claim is grounded in utility and human well-being
P (6.1): Utility must be used to resolve conflicts concerning justice
C: The practical implications of justice may vary situationally, but the concept of justice itself conforms to the notions of duty and utility
(Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Chapter 5, Pages 20-25)
1) Consider a society which upholds laws enforcing the lowest utility possible. Do you think it would be possible to maintain Mill's notion of justice as based on utility if this were the case?
2) In addition to the unjust actions Mill describes (P 1.1 -1.5), what other actions could be considered unjust or lacking in utility?
3) Does Mill believe all moral rights should be made into law? If so, does that include religiously motivated moral rights or other culturally variable rights? Would he classify these as perfectly obligatory or imperfectly obligatory?
Later Utilitarianism (Oct. 2)
Contemporary Utilitarianism: challenges the idea that utilitarianism represents a correct moral criterion of right action.
1.Theoretical Objections to Utilitarianism
- Aims to provide a theoretical account of the nature of right and wrong provides a moral criterion of right action
- The problem with utilitarianism is that it often conflicts with our considered moral beliefs in a wide range of cases and thus fails to be a correct moral criterion
- Situation 1: a crime that causes great distress and a need for justice has no possible suspects, and the citizens are predicted to riot (resulting in great loss in overall utility)
- o Utilitarianism Solution: frame and punishing an innocent person (loss of only one person) to satisfy the anger of the whole citizen group (saving vast overall utility)
- o But this is clearly morally wrong – thus, the utilitarian theory yields an incorrect moral verdict
- Medical Sacrifice:
o Situation 2: one alcoholic abuser with perfect organs and no family and 3 dying patients in need of donated organs with families
o Utilitarianism Solution: allowing the alcoholic abuser to die (loss of only one person’s utility) and using his/her organs to save the lives of 3 dying patients (gain of more overall utility)
- Again, the theory leads to obviously incorrect moral conclusions
- Distributive Justice:
o Implies that the utilitarian solution does not promise an even distribution of utility to all groups (for all we know, it could be +1,300 utility to one group and -200 to the other)
All the utilitarian’s care about is that an overall +1,100 is distributed
o But considerations of equality are morally important, and +550 utility to both groups is morally preferred contrary to utilitarianism
o Situation 3: you promised your friend you would give his fortune after death to his daughter – who recently came into a large sum of wealth and does not need it – whereas you are in a financial crisis
o Utilitarian Solution: break the promise and keep the money
But would it not be morally wrong to break the promise
- All of these actions are “intuitively morally wrong but morally obligatory according to utilitarianism” (134)
2. Further Objections
- Is utilitarianism being excessively demanding? Maybe. But is Morality not also demanding?
- The Overdemandingness Objection:
o Universalist: “everyone whose welfare will be affected by one’s action counts morally” (134)
o Impartialist: “everyone’s welfare counts equally in determining the deontic status of an action” (134)
“Utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator” (Mill, 16)
o There seems many a time in life where there is a clash between our partialist concerns and Impartialist reasons
EX: going to a baseball game would make you happy and it is what you want to do (and there would be nothing morally wrong with this) but it would have greater overall utility to spend your time doing volunteer work utilitarianism would demand you do volunteer work
o “Thus, many actions that strike us intuitively as morally optional are forbidden according to utilitarianism” (135)
- The Supererogation Objection:
o Refers to that which is “beyond the call of duty” (not an obligation) a superogatory action would maximize utility
But then, what we would assume to be superogatory becomes mandatory by utilitarian perspective, which is overly demanding
o We must realize the difference between what is morally an option and what is demanded by utilitarianism
This gives us reason to reject utilitarianism as providing a correct moral criterion
3. Two Utilitarian Responses:
- Bold Denial:
o The utilitarian must just boldly deny the moral verdicts made by the critic
Referring back to Situation 3; would it really be so immoral to keep the money?
- Appeal to Remote Effects:
o “utilitarianism makes the rightness or wrongness of an action depend on the values of all of it’s consequences” (137)
o Question the supposed utility gained by the utilitarian action – it may no longer be clear that this option provides maximum utility
4. Rule Utilitarianism:
- This has all been act utilitarianism: “the utilities of individual concrete actions that might be performed in some situation determine the deontic status of those actions” (138)
- Rule Utilitarianism: “the rightness or wrongness of some individual action depends on whether it is mentioned in a correct moral rule that applies to the situation in question” (138-139)
o “A moral rule applying to a situation is correct if and only if the utility associated with the rule is at least as great as the utility associated with any other alternative rule” (139)
- Acceptance Utility: the utility that would result were individuals generally to accept the rule in question
- This view allows moral weight to attach to moral rules in terms of which we often justify our actions
o OBJECTION: “rule utilitarianism is extensionally equivalent to act utilitarianism; it will necessarily agree with act utilitarianism about the deontic status of actions
5. Non-Hedonistic Versions of Utilitarianism:
- Classical utilitarianism understands welfare in terms of happiness and understands happiness hedonistically BUT many moral philosophers reject hedonism as an account of welfare
- Situation 4: If you could plug yourself into a machine that will let you think that you are permanently happy, but in reality, you are simply sitting in a tub with electrodes attached to your brain, would you?
- Utilitarian Response: only items of positive intrinsic value are mental states of pleasure, and that is the end goal, so why not?
o This reveals that “there are items other than experiences of pleasure that we take to have intrinsic value (particularly, regarding our welfare)” (142)
o Hedonism does not do justice to our considered moral beliefs about what it is in life that makes up a person’s welfare
- Desire Fulfillment Theory of Welfare
o “What makes a person’s life go better is the fulfilment of her desires” (143)
o BUT; do these desires’ fulfillment plausibly contribute to one’s welfare?
6. Pluralistic Utilitarianism:
- There are three main components of human welfare that are intrinsically good
o 1) reflective pursuit of one’s reasonable projects
o 2) realization of those projects
o 3) certain personal and social relationships
- For any of these to be truly valuable, the must respect persons
o This is a morally constrained pursuit of personal projects
- Objective Utilitarianism: “in order for the pursuit and realization of a project to be of value, the project must, among other things, respect other people at least in the minimal sense of not causing significant and avoidable harm… [they] must [have] concern and respect” for human good” (Brink, 145)
7. Evaluation of Utilitarianism:
- Utilitarianism captures three intuitively plausible ideas about morality that allow us to at least partially believe it may tie into moral beliefs
o 1) it’s commitment to welfare “accommodates our sense that morality has to do with human well-being” (147)
o 2) “it is based on a very plausible view of practical rationality” (147)
Why NOT bring as much good as possible?
o 3) “captures the idea that impartiality is at the heart of morality” (147)
- OBJECTON: utilitarianism “fails to respect the separateness of persons” (148)
o We have separate identities and utilitarianism sees individuals as a conformed collective
- Hence, why utilitarianism allows imposing unequal burdens on some individuals for the greater overall good
it does not respect the separateness of persons
- OBJECTION: it ultimately fails to explain why right actions are right and wrong ones are wrong
o “fails to satisfy the standard of explanatory power” (149)
o We must consider Brink’s utilitarian theory considerations of respect for persons
Robert Nozick: the Experience Machine:
- Situation: suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desire – aiming to give you any desired happiness
o Would you plug in? Knowing while you were in the tank, you would think it was real?
- The question is “what else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?” (43)
- OBJECTION 1) we want to do certain things, not just to have the experience of doing them
o BUT; why do we want to do the activities rather than merely to experience them?
- OBJECTION 2) we want to be a certain way, a certain kind of person, and being plugged in would just turn us into a blob in a machine
- OBJECTION 3) plugging in “limits us to a man-made reality, to a world no deeper or more important that which people can construct”
- Viewing this teaches us that we value more than simply experience
o Something matters to us in addition to one’s experiences and what one is like
QUESTION: as well as these objections, I would like to add: how would we be able to trust that we would be in control of ourselves in this machine? What is to stop someone from trapping you inside and taking over your mind in which there is no escape? Does this change your view on whether or not you would plug in?
QUESTION: a criteria for the machine is that we would believe it were real – but if this is the case, how would we ever choose to “unplug” ourselves once we were in? Because we would believe it were real, and one knows you cannot “unplug” yourself from reality?
QUESTION: lastly, would you not consider that what makes experiences valued is the existence of comparable unhappy experiences? I would argue that what makes me value and appreciate my happy moments/experiences is the relief of unhappy and unfortunate experiences? In a machine that only feeds perfectly happy experiences, what is to say that we would lose the value of this happiness, and subsequently desire something better?
Rule utilitarianism (Oct. 7)
Notes on Richard Brandt's “Some Merits of One form of Rule Utilitarianism”
The Ideal Moral Code Theory
Rule-utilitarianisms can be divided into two different groups, the first being that the moral rightness of an act is based on the implemented and recognized rules of a particular society, and the second that the moral rightness of an act is based upon "ideal" rules (592). Ideal rules are ones that provide the maximum utility for the society. The Ideal Moral Code Theory is based upon the ideal rule form of utilitarianism, the argument for this theory can be outlined as followed:
Thesis: "An act is right if and only if it would not be prohibited by the moral code ideal for the society; and an agent is morally blameworthy (praiseworthy) for an act if, and to the degree that, the moral code ideal in that society would condemn (praise) him for it" (594).
- P1: Act A is morally right if and only if it is not prohibited by the ideal moral code
- P2: Act A is not prohibited by the ideal moral code
- C: Act A is morally right
- P1: Person X is blameworthy/praiseworthy for Act B if the ideal moral code would condemn/praise Person X for Act B
- P2: The ideal moral code would condemn Person X for Act B
- C: Person X is morally blameworthy
While this argument may seem simple and easily applicable, it is actually quite complex. The first question that one comes to is to ask what the ideal moral code is? The short answer is, the one(s) that produces the most utility. The text describes in rough approximation how to go about determining what the ideal moral code would be (598). The ideal moral code must meet the following criteria:
Moral code = X
- P1: X is simple enough for the vast majority of people to easily comprehend
- P2: X considers that some may not abide by X and avoids unnecessary prohibitions that assume everyone abides by X (see self defense example on 598)
- P3: Benefits of X outweigh the costs of X
- P4: X produces more utility than other moral codes where P1,P2, and P3 are true
- C: X is an ideal moral code
It should be noted that more than one moral code can be considered ideal. P1 and P2 rely heavily on the understanding of "currency," a detailed account of which can be found on page 595.
The reading has led me to the following questions:
Do you believe the Ideal Moral Code Theory can be successfully implemented in society? Why or why not?
The text draws similarities between Mill's theory and the Ideal Moral Code. Do you think Mill's theory is a form of rule-utilitarianism? Why or why not?
- Louie Girouard
Kant, Groundwork (Oct. 28)
Groundwork - Kant (paragraph sections 431-434)
Formula of autonomy
Kant defines the formula of autonomy as "the will of every rational being as a will giving universal law" (90). This means that a rational being's will is only subject to the laws that have been willed by itself, or as Kant puts it, "only subject to the law (of which it can regard itself as the author)" (90). The argument for this is as follows:
P1: Humanity and every rational nature is an end in itself (89)
P2: P1 is universal as it applies to all rational beings, which experience is unable to determine anything about (89)
P3: P1 does not present humanity as an end to rational beings subjectively, but as an objective end that limits all of the subjective ends of rational beings (89-90)
C1: P1 cannot come from experience
P4: If P1 does not come from experience, then it must come from pure reason
C2: P1 comes from pure reason (90)
P5: The ground of all universal law lies objectively in the rule itself (its universality) and subjectively in end
P6: If P1 comes from reason, the subject of all ends is each rational being inasmuch as it is an end in itself (90)
P7: If the subject of all ends is each rational being inasmuch as it is an end in itself, then the will of each rational being is a will giving universal law (90)
C3: The will of every rational being is a will giving universal law (90)
Complexities of this argument aside, the simple form of what Kant is saying is that maxims that come from something other than the will itself are immoral. Every rational being must give all the maxims of its will universal laws. Kant call this the principle of autonomy.
=== a comment from Christina ===
This would suggest that we should never follow any rules that come from outside of us, on pain of acting immorally, which I don't think has to be the case. One problem with this is that maxims are subjective rules of action that we have for ourselves, so saying they come from without is a little confusing. Another concern is that it might mean we should never follow civil laws, for example, unless we’ve commanded those for ourselves, which Kant doesn’t actually say. He does think that we can and should give ourselves moral laws, but that doesn’t mean that all the actions we do must come only from our own wills. What Kant is saying in this section is that any maxims that can’t go along with the will’s universal legislation should be rejected, but that’s just to say the first form of the categorical imperative—we must reject maxims that couldn’t be universal laws.
=== end comment ===
Questions for discussion
1. Why does Kant put so much emphasis on autonomy?
2. Is autonomy necessary for morality? Why or why not?
- Louie Girouard
Kant, "On a Supposed Right to Lie (Oct. 30)
Kant “On A Supposed Right To Tell Lies From Benevolent Motives”
Thesis: “Whether a man in cases where he cannot avoid answering Yes or No has the right to be untruthful. Whether in order to prevent a misdeed that threatens him or someone else, he is not actually bound to be untruthful in certain statement to which an unjust compulsion forces him.” (Page 1, Paragraph 4)
-Is there a right to lie from benevolent motives under Kant’s Moral Theory even if it violates duty?
German philosopher argues: It is always one’s duty to speak the truth, unconditionally, regardless of the situation. (Page 1, Paragraph 1)
In contrast, French philosopher argues: To tell the truth is a duty, but only towards him who has a right to the truth.” (Page 1, Paragraph 2)
- Both agree that duty is inseparable from morally right, but the French philosopher allows exceptions to be made.
P1: Telling the truth is a duty for everyone; therefore, universal and unconditional
P2: Duty is inseparable from being morally right
P3: It is morally wrong to lie (making a false statement) since it violates duty
P4: Regardless if lying did no harm or the intention was benevolent or the consequences unforeseen, it is still morally wrong to lie. The liar would also bear all consequences of the result of his lies.
P5: No exceptions can be made to be truthful since it is a “sacred unconditional command of reason, and not to be limited by any expediency” – (Page 2 Paragraph 2)
P6: Lying hurts humanity since it destroys justice and moral righteousness
P7: “A right to the truth” argument is invalid since truth is not a possession that can be granted or not; in addition, as mentioned before, telling the truth is an unconditional duty, and no exceptions can be made
P8: The political system (drawn from actual experiences and knowledge of humanity) accommodates justice and not vice-versa
P9: Middle principles can only be valid in application to actual cases based on the political system and never exceptions deviating from them
C: It is wrong to lie in any situation (except under the political system, where justice still presides over the system) since the universality and foundation of moral rights would fail and lose its power.
1) Does the Political System describe in in this reading seem similar to Brandt’s Rule Utilitarianism where the society (externally) establishes principles based on actual experiences? Compare and Contrast.
2) Discuss and think of how Kant’s Duty and the Political System would work with each other in a scenario? For example, consider the lying scenario given in the article.
3) Can you think of any instances where justice is accommodated to the political system meaning in other words the laws of society presides and overrules Kant’s duty principle.
R.L. Chang (Raymond) Lin
Intro to Virtue Ethics (Nov. 4)
P1. Modern virtue ethics relies upon the development of character traits through habituation over a lifetime of moral education
P2. Once virtue is established as a character trait, a virtuous individual can be expected to act virtuously in a multitude of circumstances
P3. Virtues are associated with feeling and acting in accordance with the appropriate amount of emotion for that particular situation
P4. Virtue requires the right reason and the right desire, once a person becomes virtuous they will always act in accordance with both
P5. Both consequentialism and deontological theories rely on one rule or principle to govern actions in all situations
P6. Moral situations vary greatly and one should not expect to solve all moral problems using one rule or principle
P7. Ethics is too imprecise and diverse to be captured within a rigid moral code so morality must be approached with a theory as flexible as the situations themselves
P8. Both consequentialism and deontological theory use rigid rules to determine actions within specific situations while virtue ethics looks at character and how to live a moral life based on cumulative experiences
C. Therefore, virtue ethics is a more acceptable way to judge morality than any system that requires rigid rules
Argument found on http://www.iep.utm.edu/virtue/#H2 (2a-d)
1. Who determines what it means to act virtuously if virtues are based on cumulative life experiences as well as the mean virtue to apply in every situation?
2. Virtue ethics seems to rely on the rule that 'acting virtuously' when faced with moral problems is the appropriate response. How does that differ from the rules 'maximize happiness' or 'respect rationality' in consequentialist and deontological theories?
3. If virtues are accumulated over a lifetime of different experiences, how can any two people share the exact same virtue and instinctively know how to apply that virtue consistently in a variety of situations (since their moral education never ends and their character may still change)?
Later virtue theory (Nov. 18)
Hursthouse, Rosalind “ Virtue Theory and Abortion” Pg. 223-246
P1: A virtuous agent is one who acts virtuously meaning one who possess and exercises the virtues (Rosalind 225)
P2: A virtue is defined as a character trait that human being needs to flourish or live well, which is Eudaimonia (Rosalind 226)
P3: The concept of Eudaimonia is no less vague or confusing than Mill’s concept of Happiness or Kant’s concept of Rationality.
P4: Eudaimonia does not specify or call for a particular action in a situation rather it is the virtue based on Eudaimonia that dictates the possibility of many moral right actions in a situation.
P5: Similar to other moral theories, virtue ethics is just as difficult to apply to real life scenarios; however, it is by application and doing moral right actions that one become and learn to be virtuous and develop moral wisdom.
C: The criticisms regarding virtue theory being confusing and hard to apply in real life is unfounded since these issues are found in other moral theories as well such as Mill’s Utilitarianism and Kant’s Rationality.
P1: Supposed that Virtue Theory deems the morality of abortion to be that women have the moral right for abortion (Rosalind 235)
P2: Virtue Theory is only interested in answering whether in having an abortion in a certain circumstance would the agent be acting virtuously or viciously or neither.
P3: The status of the fetus need not to be considered and is irrelevant in determining the whether abortion is a morally right or wrong action since it is a metaphysical question.
P4: Only familiar biological facts need to be considered such as pregnancy lasts for about 9 months.
P5: Virtue Theory considers the woman’s Eudaimonia (living a good life) regarding abortion such as value of love, family life, and emotional development.
P6: Virtue Theory considers the context, intention, and “worthwhileness” of Eudaimonia (living a good life) from having or not having an abortion. For example, compare the context, intention, and virtues of a mother considering her health and capacity of being a good mother as a result of giving birth to the child versus a mother who considers having a appendectomy scar from giving birth (Rosalind 241)
P7: Virtue Theory deems that men are deeply involved in the issue of abortion just as the women are since they are party to it; therefore, the Virtue Theory of Eudaimonia applies to men as well regarding fatherhood.
C: A Virtue Theorist would address the issue of abortion based on the context and intention of the person and how it relates to her Eudaimonia; it is by the context and one’s intention that the virtues of the person is determined.
1) What do think about the author’s responses to the criticisms mentioned in the article regarding Virtue Theory?
2) How does the response regarding abortion differ between Mill’s Utilitarianism and Virtue Theory?
3) Comment: I still find it difficult to understand how virtues are determined or developed in Virtue Theory, especially since near the beginning of the article the author mentioned how there are unresolvable conflicts in different virtue traits in a given situation (Rosalind 229).
R.L. Chang (Raymond) Lin