week two discussion forum

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  Nihilism From the Latin nihil, nothing. The attitude of believing in nothing. Moral nihilism: the conviction that there are no moral truths Back To Top

 

 

  Normative Evaluating and /or setting norms or standards. Opposite of descriptive. Back To Top

 

 

  Other, the

A philosophical concept meaning either something that is completely di�erent from yourself and all your experiences or someone who is di�erent from you and is thus hard to understand. Back To Top

 

 

  Particularism

The branch of multiculturalism that believes people not belonging to the dominant culture should retrieve their self-esteem by learning about the traditions and accomplishments of their own cultural group rather than those of the dominant group or any other group. Also call exclusive multiculturalism. Back To Top

 

 

  Prescriptive See Normative. Back To Top

 

 

  Rehabilitation

A concept of criminal justice: punishing a criminal with the intent of making him or her a better socialized person at the end of the term of punishment. Back To Top

 

 

  Replicant Absolution

Term used in the �lm Blade Runner for androids. See android. Forgiveness; usually God's forgiveness. Back To Top

 

 

  Revisionism   Advocacy of revision of former values and viewpoints. Today: refers mostly to a cynical revision of heroic values of the past. Back To Top

 

 

  Slippery Slope Argument  

A version of the reduction ad absurdum argument; you reduce your opponent's view to unacceptable or ridiculous consequences which you opponent will presumably have to accept or else abandon his or her theory . Your opponent's argument must "slide down the slope" of logic. A way to defeat the slippery slope argument is to "draw the line" and defend your viewpoint on the basis that there is a di�erence between the "top of the slope" and the "bottom of the slope". Back To Top

 

 

 

Straw Man (Straw Dummy) Argument Android

A logical fallacy that consists of attacking and disproving a theory invented for the occasion An arti�cial intelligence; a robot made to resemble a human being. Literally: manlike. There is no accepted word for a female android, but the equivalent would be gyneoid. Back To Top

 

 

  Soft Universalism

The ethical theory that although humans may not agree on all moral rules or all customs, there are a few bottom-line rules we can agree on, despite our di�erent ways of expressing them. Back To Top

 

 

  Superego Freud's concept o the human conscience, the internalized rules of our parents and our society. Back To Top

 

 

  Universal Law Kant's term for a moral rule that can be imagined as applying to everybody in the same situation and accepted by other rational beings. Back To Top

 

 

  Universalization The process by which one asks oneself whether one's maxim could become a universal law:"What if everybody did this?" Back To Top

 

 

Week Two Glossary

Week Two: Self and Others

Glossary

Term De�nition

                

Altruism                        

Concern for the interests of others. Extreme (ideal) altruism: concern for the interests of others while disregarding one's own interests. Moderate altruism (also known as Gold Rule altruism or reciprocal altruism); taking others' interests into account while being concerned for one's own interests as well. Back To Top

 

 

  Asceticism  

 

      Auto-icon An image of oneself that consists of oneself. Bentham's term for his own planned future position as a stu�ed corpse on display. Back To Top

 

 

  Backward-looking justice

Correcting past wrongs. Back To Top

 

 

  Cloning      

Creating a genetic copy of another individual, either through a process where multiple twins are created, or a process where a cell nucleus is taken from the original individual, implanted in an emptied ovum, and allowed to develop into an embryo. If the embryo is terminated within ten to fourteen days, stem cells may be harvested. If an embryo can survive and be carried to term, a cloned individual is the result. Cloning will not result in a perfect copy of another individual, physically or mentally, because of the variety of circumstances surrounding the growth process that can't be duplicated. Back To Top

 

   

Communitarianism A moral and political theory that the individual receives his or her identity from his or her community and can �ourish only within the community. The theory is found in the ancient Greek tradition, but is also evident in traditional African tribal cultures. Modern communitarians mentioned in this book include Alasdair MacIntyre and Elizabeth Wolgast. In addition, Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared herself a communitarian with the publication of her book, It Takes a Village.

 

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Denying oneself physical pleasure a and indulgence.

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  Communitarianism   See Chapter 4  

 

           

Consequentialism  

A theory that focuses exclusively on the consequences of an action. Utilitarianism is the best known consequentialist theory, but ethical egoism also quali�es as an example of consequentialism. Back To Top

 

 

  Criminal justice Punishment of people found guilty of crimes Back To Top

 

 

      

Criterion                    

A test, rule, or measure for distinguishing between true and false, relevant and irrelevant. A standard for a correct judgment. Plural: criteria. Back To Top

 

 

  Distributive justice   Fair distribution of social goods. Back To Top

 

 

  Double e�ect  

A principle primarily found within Catholic ethics. An action that is otherwise prohibited can be permitted, provided that it is an unintended side e�ect to some other, necessary action; that the e�ect of the primary action is proportionately veryserious and the e�ect of the secondary act is unavoidable. The principle is used to justify rare cases of euthanasia and abortion, among others. Back To Top

 

 

  Empiricism

The philosophical school of thought that claims humans are born without knowledge, that the mind is an empty slate (tabula rasa) at birth , and that all knowledge comes trough the senses. Back To Top

 

 

  End justi�es the means, The 

The statement of a consequentialist: Only the consequences count, not how they are brought about. Back To Top

 

 

  Equilibrium   In this book: A well-balanced mind, capable of fair judgment. Back To Top

 

 

  Euthanasia

Mercy killing; doctor-assisted suicide. Literally: "good death," from Greek. Voluntary euthanasia: requested by the patient. Involuntary euthanasia: (a) The patient is killed against her or his will; (b) The patient cannot communicate his or her wish, so the decision is made by the family (also called non-voluntary euthanasia). Active euthanasia: helping someone to die at his or her request. Passive euthanasia: withholding treatment that will not help a terminally ill patient. Back To Top

 

 

  Euthanasia

Mercy killing; doctor-assisted suicide. Literally: "good death," from Greek. Voluntary euthanasia: requested by the patient. Involuntary euthanasia: (a) The patient is killed against her or his will; (b) The patient cannot communicate his or her wish, so the decision is made by the family (also called non-voluntary euthanasia). Active euthanasia: helping someone to die at his or her request. Passive euthanasia: withholding treatment that will not help a terminally ill patient. Back To Top

 

 

  Falsi�cation, Principle of 

the concept that a valid theory must test itself and allow for the possibility of situations in which the theory doesn't apply. In a sense, part of the veri�cation process of a theory is being able to hypothetically falsify it. Back To Top

 

 

  Forward-looking justice  

Creating good future social consequences. See also consequentialism. Back To Top

 

 

  Genetic engineering

Scienti�c manipulation of the DNA code of an individual (human, animal, or plant), usually to enhance certain desired characteristics or eliminate congenital diseases. Back To Top

 

 

  Genetic fallacy, The Assuming that something can be fully explained by pointing to its original/�rst condition. Back To Top

 

 

  Human condition, The  

What it means to be a human being, usually in terms of inevitable facts: having physical and spiritual needs, being a social creature, and being subject to illness and aging. Back To Top

 

 

  Id  Freud's term for the unconscious, the part of the mind that the conscious self (the Ego) has no access to but that in�uences the Ego. Back To Top

 

 

  Inalienable  Incapable of being taken or given away. Back To Top

 

 

  Incapacitation

A concept of criminal justice: punishing a criminal with the intent of making the public safe from his or her criminal activity. May refer to incarceration, as well as other forms of punishment, including capital punishment. Back To Top

 

 

  Materialism  The metaphysical theory that reality consists of matter only, not mind Back To Top

 

 

  Natural Rights The assumption that humans (and perhaps also nonhumans) are born with certain inalienable rights. Back To Top

 

 

  Natural Rights The assumption that humans (and perhaps also nonhumans) are born with certain inalienable rights. Back To Top

 

 

  Negative Rights

Rights not to be interfered with; usually includes the right to life, liberty, and property. Originally an element in John Locke's political philosophy; has become a de�ning element of modern Libertarian philosophy. Back To Top

 

 

  Objective  The kind of knowledge that is supported by evidence and that has independent existence apart from experience or thought. Back To Top

 

 

  Pleasure principle 

Freud's term for the oldest layer of the human mind, which caters sel�shly to our own pleasure. For most people it is superseded by the reality principle, at least most of the time. Back To Top

 

   

Positive command   Hallie's term for a moral command to actively do something rather than merely refraining from doing something wrong (a negative command). Example: "Help another being I distress."

 

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  Positive Rights 

Rights of entitlement. The theory that each individual has a right to the basic means of subsistence against the state, such as food, shelter, clothing, education, welfare, health services. Back To Top

 

 

  Psychological egoism   The theory that everyone is sel�sh, self-interested. Back To Top

 

 

  Rational being 

anyone who has intelligence and the capacity to use it. Usually stands for human beings, but may exclude some humans and include some non-humans. Back To Top

 

 

  Rei�cation   See objecti�cation. Back To Top

 

 

  Restorative justice   Rehabilitation of criminals, and restitution to the victims. Back To Top

 

 

  Retribution

A concept of criminal justice: the logical dispensing or receiving of punishment I proportion to the crime. Sometimes known as "an eye for an eye", lex talionis. To be distinguished from vengeance, which is an emotional response that may exceed the severity of the crime. Back To Top

 

 

  Sel�sh gene  

The twentieth-century theory that humans, as well as animals have a disposition that favors themselves (or humans), will sacri�ce themselves so that their closely related relatives or o�spring may Back To Top survive.

 

 

  Silver Rule, The  

do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you. A negative version of the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Back To Top

 

 

  Social contract 

A type of social theory, popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that assumes humans in the early stages of society got together and agreed on terms for creating a society. Back To Top

 

 

  Universalizability   A maxium that is acceptable as a universal law. Back To Top

 

 

 

  Vengeance    When used as a concept of criminal justice: an emotional response to punishment Back To Top

 

 

  Viability  the ability of a fetus to live outside the womb (with medical assistance, if necessary) Back To Top

 

 

Week Two Glossary

Week Two: Duty or Consequences?

Glossary

Term De�nition

Act utilitarianism  The classic version of utilitarianism that focuses on the consequences of a single act. Back To Top

 

Ataraxia  Epicurus's highest form of pleasure, having peace of mind due to freedom from pain. Back To Top

 

Categorical imperative  

Kant's term for an absolute moral rule that is justi�ed because of its logic: If you can wish for your maxim to become a universal law, your maxim quali�es as a categorical imperative. Back To Top

 

Deontology  

Duty-theory. An ethical theory that disregards the importance of consequences and focuses only on the rightness or wrongness of the act itself. Back To Top

 

Enlightenment, the  

In the European and American cultural tradition, the eighteenth century saw a new focusing on the rights of the individual, the importance of education, and the objectivity of science. Also called the Age of Reason or the Western Enlightenment; rationality was considered the ultimate cultural goal by scientists, philosophers, and many politicians. Back To Top

 

Extrinsic value   See instrumental value. Back To Top

 

Fecundity   Being fruitful, have good consequences. Back To Top

 

Good will 

For Kant , having good will means having good intentions in terms of respecting a moral law that is rational and deserves to be a universal law. Back To Top

 

Greatest-happiness principle, the  

See utility. Back To Top

 

Hypothetical A command that is binding only if one is interested in a certain result. An "if-then" situation.

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imperative   Back To Top

 

Instrumental value  

To have value for the sake of what further value it might bring. Also known as extrinsic value; good as a means to an end. See means to an end. Back To Top

 

Intrinsic value  

To have value in itself without regard to what it might bring of further value. Good in itself, good as an "end in itself". See end in oneself Back To Top

 

Kingdom of ends  

Kant's term for a society of autonomous lawmakers who all use the categorical imperative and show each other mutual respect. Back To Top

 

Liberalism  

A political theory that supports gradual reforms through parliamentary procedures and civil liberties. Back To Top

 

Libertarianism  

(1) A theory of government that holds the individual has a right to life, liberty, and property; that nobody should interfere with these rights (negative rights); and that the government's role should be restricted to protecting these right. (2) A theory that humans have free will independent of mechanistic causality. Back To Top

 

Maxim Kant's term for the rule or principle of an action. Back To Top

 

Means to an End  something used to achieve another goal, and end. See instrumental value. Back To Top

 

Means to an end, merely 

Kant's term for using others as a stepping-stone for one's own purpose. Back To Top

 

Naturalistic fallacy  

The assumption that one can conclude from what is natural/a fact ("what is") what should be a rule or a policy ("what ought to be"). Not all philosophers think this is a fallacy. Back To Top

 

Principle of Utility   See utility. Back To Top

 

Rationalism  

The philosophical school of thought that claims humans are born with some knowledge, or some capacity for knowledge, such as logic and mathematics. Opposite of empiricism. Back To Top

 

Rule utilitarianism  

The branch of utilitarianism that focuses on the consequences of a type of action done repeatedly, and not just a single act. See act utilitarianism. Back To Top

 

Slave Morality  

Nietzsche's concept of the morality of the "heard", people who in his view resent strong individuals and claim that meekness is a virtue. Back To Top

 

Utilitarianism 

The theory that one ought to maximize the happiness and minimize the unhappiness of as many people (or sentient beings) as possible. Back To Top

 

Utility  

Fitness for some purpose, especially for creating happiness and/or minimizing pain and su�ering. Principle of utility: To create as much happiness and to minimize su�ering as much as possible for as many as possible. Also: the greatest-happiness principle. Back To Top

 

Week Three Glossary

Week Three: Rights, Justice, and the Origin of Virtue Ethics

Glossary

Term De�nition

Anamnesis

Greek: re-remembering . Plato's theory of remembering the truth about the Forms, forgotten at birth. Back To Top

 

Causality, causal explanation 

The chain of cause and e�ect. Aristotle's theory of causation: material cause (the material aspect of a thing), e�cient cause (the material aspect of a thing), e�cient cause (the maker of a thing), formal cause (the idea of a thing), and �nal cause (the purpose of a thing). Back To Top

 

Character arc  

A concept use in screenwriting and narrative theory. A character in the story undergoes a certain development leading to a conclusion. Back To Top

 

Crusades, the  

Military expeditions undertaken by European Christians from the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. Back To Top

 

Dialectic method    Socrates' method of guiding his students to their own realization of the truth through a covnersati9n, a dialogue. Also called the Socratic Method,

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Divine command theory   

A theological theory that God has created the laws of morality; in other words, something is right because God commands it. Opposed to natural lawtheory, which claims that God commands something because it is right. See also natural law theory. Back To Top

 

Eudaimonia  

Greek: human �ourishing or well-being, contentment, happiness. Aristotle's term for the ultimate human goal. Back To Top

 

Forms, theory of  

Plato's metaphysical theory of a higher reality that gives meaning and existence to the world we experience through our senses. This higher reality is accessible through the mind. Example: a perfect circle; it doesn't exist in the world of the senses, but it does exist in the intelligible world of Forms. Back To Top

 

Golden Mean, the   

Greek idea of moderation. Aristotle's concept of virtue as a relative mean between the extremes. Back To Top

 

Idealism   The metaphysical theory that reality consists of mind only, not matter. Back To Top

 

Irony    Ridicule through exaggeration, praise, or understatement. Back To Top

 

Materialism    The metaphysical theory that reality consists of matter only, not mind. Back To Top

 

Moral agent   A person capable of re�ecting on a moral problems and acting on his or her decision. Back To Top

 

Morality, morals   The moral rules and attitudes that we live by, or are expected to live by. Back To Top

 

Natural law  

A view introduced to the Catholic church by Thomas Aquinas that what is natural for humans (in other words, what God has intended) is good for humans. What is natural for humans includes: preservation of life, procreation, socialization, and pursuit of knowledge of God. Back To Top

 

Phronesis  Aristotle's term for practical wisdom, our every day decision-making process. Back To Top

 

Sophia  Greek: wisdom. Aristotle's term for theoretical wisdom, the highest intellectual virtue. Back To Top

 

Teleology  

A theory of purpose. A teleological theory such as Aristotle's may assume that everything has a purpose . Also used to designate theories interested in the outcome of an action, that s, consequentialist theories Back To Top

 

Temperance  

In virtue theory this means moderation. In a modern context it may mean abstinence from alcohol. Back To Top

 

Utopia   

Literally, no place. Sir Thomas More's term for a nonexistent world, usually used as a term for a world too good to be true. Utopia can also mean "good place". A bad place is know as "Dystopia". Back To Top

 

Week Four Glossary

Week Four: The Ethics of Character: Virtue Ethics Past and Present

Glossary

Term De�nition

  Absurdity 

The existentialist concept that life is meaningless because there is no God to determine right and wrong (or because we can't know what God's values are, if God happens to exist). Back To Top

 

 

  Androgynism

Male and female nature in the same individual, wither in terms of sex (biological) or gender (cultural) Back To Top

 

 

  Angst 

Existentialist term for anxiety or anguish, a feel of dread without an identi�able cause. Most frequently felt when one has to make important decision. Di�erent from fear, where the object of the emotion is known. Back To Top

 

 

  Anxiety  See Angst. Back To Top

 

   

Authenticity   Being true to yourself, having personal integtity. Existentialism: no succumbing to the idea that you have no free choice. See bad faith

 

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