Ethics- Nursing homework

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Ethics: Theory and Practice
Jacques P. Thiroux
Keith W. Krasemann

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Chapter Three
Nonconsequentialist (Deontological) Theories of Morality

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Nonconsequentialist Theories
Consequences do not, and should not, enter into our judging of whether actions or people are moral or immoral
What is moral or immoral is decided upon the basis of some standard or standards of morality other than consequences

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Act Nonconsequentialist Theories
Major assumption: There are no general moral rules or theories, but only particular actions, situations, and people about which we cannot generalize

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Act Nonconsequentialist Theories
One must approach each situation individually to decide the right action to take
Decisions are “intuitionistic,” which means a person decides on a particular situation based on his or her intuition about what is right

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Intuitionism
Reasons in support of moral intuitionism:
Any well-meaning person seems to have an immediate sense of right and wrong
Human beings had moral ideas and convictions long before a system of ethics was created

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Intuitionism
Our reasoning upon moral matters usually is used to confirm our intuitions
Our reasoning can go wrong in relation to moral issues as well as others, and then we must fall back on our moral insights and intuitions

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Intuitionism
Arguments against Intuitionism
Intuition lacks scientific or philosophical respectability
There is no proof that we have an inborn, innate sense of morality

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Intuitionism
Arguments against Intuitionism
Intuition is immune to objective criticism, because it applies only to the possessor
Human beings without moral intuition have no others or establish them on other grounds

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Criticism of Act Nonconsequentialism
How can we know, with no other guides, that what we feel will be morally correct?
How will we know when we have acquired sufficient facts to make a moral decision?
With morality so highly individualized, how can we know we are doing the best thing for everyone else involved in a particular situation?

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Criticism of Act Nonconsequentialism
Can we really rely upon nothing more than our momentary feelings to help us make our moral decisions?
How will we be able to justify our actions except by saying that it felt like the right thing to do?

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Rule Nonconsequentialist Theories
There are or can be rules that are the only basis for morality and consequences do not matter
The following of the rules is, itself, moral
Morality cannot be applied to consequences that ensue from following the rules

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Divine Command Theory
The Divine Command Theory states that morality is based on something higher that mundane human events
Morality is based on the existence of an all-good being or beings who are supernatural

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Divine Command Theory
They have communicated to human beings what they should and should not do morally
Morality requires humans to follow those commands

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Criticisms of the Divine Command Theory
The theory does not provide a rational foundation for the existence of a supernatural being and therefore not for morality either
Even if we could prove conclusively the existence of a supernatural being, how could we prove that this being was morally trustworthy?

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Criticisms of the Divine Command Theory
How are we to interpret these commands even if we accept the existence of a supernatural?
Rules founded upon the Divine Command Theory may be valid, but they need to be justified on some other, more rational basis

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Kant’s Duty Ethics
Kant believed that nothing was good in itself except as a good will
Will is the unique human ability to act in accordance with moral rules, laws, or principles regardless of interests or consequences

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Establishing Morality by Reasoning Alone
Kant argued that it is possible by reasoning alone to set up valid absolute moral rules that have the same force as indisputable mathematical truths
Such truths must be logically consistent, not self-contradictory
They must also be universalizable

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Imperatives
The Categorical Imperative: An act is immoral if the rule that would authorize it cannot be made into a rule for all human beings to follow
The Practical Imperative: No human being should be thought of or used merely as a means for someone else’s ends; each human being is a unique end

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Duty Rather Than Inclination
Once moral rules have been discovered to be absolutes, human beings must obey them out of a sense of duty rather than follow their inclinations

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Criticism of Kant’s Duty Ethics
Although Kant showed that some rules would become inconsistent when universalized, this does not tell us which rules are morally valid
Kant never showed us how to resolve conflicts between equally absolute rules
Kant did not distinguish between making an exception to a rule and qualifying a rule

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Criticism of Kant’s Duty Ethics
Some rules can be universalized without inconsistency yet still have questionable moral value
Kant answered this criticism by means of the reversibility criterion, that is, the would-you-want-this-done-to-you idea (Golden Rule)
But the reversibility criterion suggests a reliance upon consequences, which goes against Kant’s system

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Criticism of Kant’s Duty Ethics
Kant seems to have emphasized duties over inclinations, in stating that we must act from a sense of duty rather than from our inclinations
But he gave us no rule for what we should do when our inclinations and duties are the same

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Ross’s Prima Facie Duties
Ross agreed with Kant as to the establishing of morality on a basis other than consequences but disagreed with Kant’s overly absolute rules
He established Prima Facie duties that all human beings must adhere to, unless there are serious reasons why they should not

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Ross’s Prima Facie Duties
Some Prima Facie duties:
Fidelity
Reparation
Gratitude
Justice
Beneficence
Self-improvement
Nonmaleficence

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Principles to Resolve

Conflicting Duties
Always act in accord with the stronger prima facie duty
Always act in such a way as to achieve the greatest amount of prima facie rightness over wrongness

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Criticisms of Ross’s Theory
How are we to decided which duties are prima facie?
On what basis are we to decide which take precedence over the rest?
How can we determine when there is sufficient reason to override one prima facie duty with another?

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Difficulty with Consequentialist Theories

in General
Consequentialist theories demand that we discover and determine all of the consequences of our actions or rules
That is virtually impossible
Do consequences or ends constitute all of morality?

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General Criticisms of Nonconsequentialist Theories
Can we avoid consequences when we are trying to set up a moral system?
Is it entirely possible to exclude consequences from an ethical system?

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General Criticisms of Nonconsequentialist Theories
What is the real point of any moral system if not to do good for oneself, others, or both and if not to create a moral society in which people can create and grow peacefully with a minimum of unnecessary conflict?

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General Criticisms of Nonconsequentialist Theories
How do we resolve conflicts among moral rules that are equally absolute?
Any system that operates on a basis of such rigid absolutes as does rule nonconsequentialism closes the door on further discussion of moral quandaries

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