Summary: Ethics Class Notes

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  • Lecture 3. Reasoning and Collective reasoning

    This is a preview. There are 4 more flashcards available for chapter 18/02/2014
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  • •What is an ethical problem?

    A difference of opinion between those involved with respect to the rightness/wrongness of behaviour (or the laws, rules, customs, habits, etc. that underpin that behaviour)
  • Methods for dealing with ethical problems. 

    1. Voting
    2. Negotiation
    3. Use of violence/power or threatening to use violence/power
    4. Resolving differences of opinion through communication, reasoning, and discussion
  • Lecture 4. Reasoning and collective reasoning. Examples and limitations

    This is a preview. There are 4 more flashcards available for chapter 19/02/2014
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  • There are at least two reasons why consistent agreement on the SCBA could fail to be reached, even assuming that all involved respect the rules of collective reasoning:

    1.People differ in wealth and/or income. Hence 10.000 euro’s has not the same value for all and hence they may not want to run the same risk to gain 10.000 euro’s.

    2.Even if people did not differ in wealth or income, they may and usually will differ in how risk averse or risk prone they are.
  • Lecture 5 Ethical principles

    This is a preview. There are 9 more flashcards available for chapter 25/02/2014
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  • Some requirements for acceptable ethical principles

    If an ethical principle is to be acceptable to all, such a principle should presumably respect the following assumptions:

    Subjectivity: all norms and values are ultimately subjective

    [A statement or principle is subjective if it can be denied without denying empirical facts or violating (deductive) logic].

    Autonomy: human beings (1) are capable of and (2) have the right to taking autonomous decisions

    Equal rights: no one has more rights than (the rights he/she grants to) others
  • What is restricted liberty (also called the right to self determination)

    Everyone is free to do what he/she pleases as long as he/she does not harm others.

    An equivalent is the right to be safeguarded, sometimes also called the no harm principle:

      Everyone has the right to be safeguarded from the (negative) consequences of another person's actions.


      For all activities that may have consequences for others, the informed consent of those others is required. 

  • Reciprocity and restricted liberty together have the following implication for liability: 

    Any damage from activities for which there was no informed consent should be repaired or (if repair is impossible) be fully compensated by the actor.

  • Four implications of restricted liberty and reciprocity

    1. “Informed consent.
    The standard of human action towards others should be informed consent
    2. The concept of a culture.
    A group culture should be defined as the set of the norms/values
    3. Collective decision making.
    Political decisions should be taken with consensus rule rather than with majority rule.
    4. Legal liability.
    As it cannot be assumed that there is agreement among all involved about (activities allowed by) current laws, the standard for legal liability should be unconditional and unlimited liability. 
  • What is Classical Utilitarianism 

    An activity is allowed (according to some interpretations: mandatory) if that activity increases (according to some interpretations: maximises) the sum of individual well beings (utilities).
  • Objections stated against Classical Utilitarianism

    The well being (utility) of different individuals cannot be compared. Hence utilitarianism is inapplicable.
    Even assuming that the well beings of individuals can be compared, then it would be unjust to make some suffer for the greater benefit of others (which is what may be required for increasing or maximising total utility). 
  • Pareto utilitarianism with reciprocity

    Actors should be liable for harm from activities that did not have the consent of those subjected to the harm.

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