Sie sind auf Seite 1von 12


DISCLAIMERS: This lecture is designed to provide a comprehensive, yet basic, overview of normative ethics. This lecture is not designed to replace the benefits of reading the literature and researching the evidence, but rather provide as a stepping stone toward your future in depth understanding of all these theories. I've adapted many of the philosophies that we'll discuss in the context of L-D Debate, so that you can comprehend of applicability of certain thoughts and arguments in an actual round. In that regard, many of the theories that I'll be discussing are edited, watered down versions that what the actual author intended. Please be aware of this, and make sure that you always research and READ. WHAT IS A NORMATIVE ETHICAL THEORY? Let's break it down. Normative is the adjectival form of norm, which is described by the University of Montana ethics department as. concepts or forms thereof that deal with practical and action-oriented imports. Basically means that norms imply an obligatory action, and establish what we ought to do Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the moral implications of literally any question or anything in the world or in existence. There are many forms of ethics, which are: Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined; Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations; Moral psychology, about how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is; Descriptive ethics, about what moral values people actually abide by. And where we come to today, Normative Ethics. Normative Ethics is, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the branch of ethics that deals with the rightness or wrongness of our actions, in essence, dealing with what me morally 'ought' to do and how that is distinctively different than what is immoral to do. This is the most popular public view of what ethics (and philosophy, for that matter) actually deals with. Normative ethics attempts to answer the questions that we have when we think How ought one act, morally speaking? This differs greatly from other ethics. While normative ethics deals with what is moral, descriptive ethics deals with what people believe is moral (describing, rather than prescribing/norming, what are morals); moral psychology deals with how people naturally perform or have the capacity to be moral; applied ethics deals with how morals can come about in situations, and meta-ethics deals with how one defines ethics (e.g. What is good? What is bad?).

This may get really confusing, but you can simplify what normative ethical theories are into this: All the other forms of ethics dance around the subject of morals (what does morality mean (meta-ethics), what makes people moral (applied ethics), what makes people have the ability to be moral (moral psychology), what do people think is moral (descriptive ethics)), while Nromative ethics explains What IS Moral, and what IS NOT MORAL?. WHAT ARE THE SUB-BRANCHES OF NROMATIVE ETHICAL THEORIES? There are multiple ways to look at normative ethical theories; there are HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of perspectives on what one ought to do morally, and zillions of schools of Morality. However, ALL of the different views can be condensed into THREE major Sub-Branches. TELEOLOGY: Norms for Ethics lie in promotion of human flourishing as determined by natural inclinations (and/or divine law). CONSEQUENTALISM: Norms for ethics lie solely in the consequences of our actions. DEONTOLOGY: Norms for ethics lie solely in the intrinsic features of an action (e.g. purpose, intent). WHAT IS TELEOLOGY? Teleology explains that morality is dictated by one;s own natural inclinations, and that the most moral actions are the ones that act as a natural extension of one's own natural value. Teleological thought is most often related synonymously with Virtue Ethics, which represents the majority of teleological views. Virtue ethics focuses on the nature of the acting person. This actor should base his actions on the right virtues. So, the central theme in virtue ethics is shaping people into morally good and responsible creatures. Virtue ethics is rather similar to duty ethics. But, whereas duty ethics is based on certain rules/norms, virtue ethics is based on certain virtues. Virtue ethics is strongly influenced by Aristotle. He stated that every moral virtue is positioned somewhere between two extremes. In fact, the correct moral virtue equals the optimal balance between these two extremes. For example, to be courageous, you need to find an optimal balance between the two extremes of cowardice and recklessness.

This first normative ethical theory, virtue theory, concentrates on the moral character of the agent. According to virtue theory, we ought to possess certain character traits--courage, generosity, compassion, etc.--and these ought to be manifest in our actions. We therefore ought to act in ways that exhibit the virtues, even if that means doing what might generally be seen as bad or bringing about undesirable consequences. Sadly, there are downsides to this idea. The optimal balance often depends on the situation which a person is in. Also, moral virtues are subjective: you cannot generally say that the courageousness of one person is better than the courageousness of the other. As well, the intention of a person can never truly be understood. Because murder could be construed as immoral if done without compassion, but also emboldens courage, the morality/immorality of an action can never truly be defined. Furthermore, we can never understand if an action is done with a virtue in mind, so there is never any true away to identify if an action is morally permissible. Major virtue ethics also function as a bridge between rule ethics (deontology) and pragmatic ethics (consequential). For example, lying would be considered morally correct if it has beneficial consequences, while lying would be considered immoral under rule or duty ethics. Virtue ethics functions to view lying on a case by case basis, if lying acts as an extension of one;s own virtue. Major virtue ethics philosophers: G. E. M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Alasdair Macintyre, and Rosalind Hursthouse. WHAT IS CONSEQUENTALISM? Consequential thought also falls under teleology (as the ends of the action create morality for the entire action itself- an extension of one's own morality). Consequentialist theories hold that we ought always to act in the way that brings about the best consequences. It doesnt matter what those acts are; the end justifies the means. All that matters for ethics is making the world a better place. Consequentialist normative principles require that we first tally both the good and bad consequences of an action. Second, we then determine whether the total good consequences outweigh the total bad consequences. If the good consequences are greater, then the action is morally proper. If the bad consequences are greater, then the action is morally improper. Consequentialist theories are sometimes viewed as a hyper-specific variant of teleoleogy. since the end result of the action is the sole determining factor of its morality. Consequentialist theories became popular in the 18th century by philosophers who wanted a quick way to morally assess an action by appealing to experience, rather than by appealing to gut intuitions or long lists of questionable duties. In fact, the most attractive feature of consequentialism is that it appeals to publicly observable consequences of actions. Most versions of consequentialism are more precisely formulated than the general principle above. In particular, competing consequentialist theories specify which consequences for affected groups of people are relevant. Three subdivisions of consequentialism emerge:

Ethical Egoism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable only to the agent performing the action. Ethical Altruism: an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent. Utilitarianism:an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. All three of these theories focus on the consequences of actions for different groups of people. But, like all normative theories, the above three theories are rivals of each other. They also yield different conclusions. Consider the following example. A woman was traveling through a developing country when she witnessed a car in front of her run off the road and roll over several times. She asked the hired driver to pull over to assist, but, to her surprise, the driver accelerated nervously past the scene. A few miles down the road the driver explained that in his country if someone assists an accident victim, then the police often hold the assisting person responsible for the accident itself. If the victim dies, then the assisting person could be held responsible for the death. The driver continued explaining that road accident victims are therefore usually left unattended and often die from exposure to the countrys harsh desert conditions. On the principle of ethical egoism, the woman in this illustration would only be concerned with the consequences of her attempted assistance as she would be affected. Clearly, the decision to drive on would be the morally proper choice. On the principle of ethical altruism, she would be concerned only with the consequences of her action as others are affected, particularly the accident victim. Tallying only those consequences reveals that assisting the victim would be the morally correct choice, irrespective of the negative consequences that result for her. On the principle of utilitarianism, she must consider the consequences for both herself and the victim. The outcome here is less clear, and the woman would need to precisely calculate the overall benefit versus disbenefit of her action.

i. Types of Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham the earliest fully developed systems of utilitarianism. Two features of his theory are noteworty. First, Bentham proposed that we tally the consequences of each action we perform and thereby determine on a case by case basis whether an action is morally right or wrong. This aspect of Benthams theory is known as act-utilitiarianism. Second, Bentham also proposed that we tally the pleasure and pain which results from our actions. For Bentham, pleasure and pain are the only consequences that matter in determining whether our conduct is moral. This aspect of Benthams theory is known as hedonistic utilitarianism. Critics point out limitations in both of these aspects. First, according to act-utilitarianism, it would be morally wrong to waste time on leisure activities such as watching television, since our time could be spent in ways that produced a greater social benefit, such as charity work. But prohibiting leisure activities doesnt seem reasonable. More significantly, according to act-utilitarianism, specific acts of torture or slavery would be morally permissible if the social benefit of these actions outweighed the disbenefit. A revised version of utilitarianism called ruleutilitarianism addresses these problems. According to rule-utilitarianism, a behavioral code or rule is morally right if the consequences of adopting that rule are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. Unlike act utilitarianism, which weighs the consequences of each particular action, rule-

utilitarianism offers a litmus test only for the morality of moral rules, such as stealing is wrong. Adopting a rule against theft clearly has more favorable consequences than unfavorable consequences for everyone. The same is true for moral rules against lying or murdering. Rule-utilitarianism, then, offers a three-tiered method for judging conduct. A particular action, such as stealing my neighbors car, is judged wrong since it violates a moral rule against theft. In turn, the rule against theft is morally binding because adopting this rule produces favorable consequences for everyone. John Stuart Mills version of utilitarianism is rule-oriented. Second, according to hedonistic utilitarianism, pleasurable consequences are the only factors that matter, morally speaking. This, though, seems too restrictive since it ignores other morally significant consequences that are not necessarily pleasing or painful. For example, acts which foster loyalty and friendship are valued, yet they are not always pleasing. In response to this problem. G.E. Moor proposed Dideal utilitarianism, which involves tallying any consequence that we intuitively recognize as good or bad (and not simply as pleasurable or painful). Also, R.M. Hare proposed preference utilitarianism, which involves tallying any consequence that fulfills our preferences.

ii. Ethical Egoism and Social Contract Theory (A coagulation of ethical egoism and rule utilitarianism) Hobbes was an advocate of the methaethical theory of psychological egoismthe view that all of our actions are selfishly motivated. Upon that foundation, Hobbes developed a normative theory known as social contract theory, which is a type of rule-ethical-egoism. According to Hobbes, for purely selfish reasons, the agent is better off living in a world with moral rules than one without moral rules. For without moral rules, we are subject to the whims of other peoples selfish interests. Our property, our families, and even our lives are at continual risk. Selfishness alone will therefore motivate each agent to adopt a basic set of rules which will allow for a civilized community. Not surprisingly, these rules would include prohibitions against lying, stealing and killing. However, these rules will ensure safety for each agent only if the rules are enforced. As selfish creatures, each of us would plunder our neighbors property once their guards were down. Each agent would then be at risk from his neighbor. Therefore, for selfish reasons alone, we devise a means of enforcing these rules: we create a policing agency which punishes us if we violate these rules. Objections to Utilitarian thought in terms of Debate: The justications dont add up
Objective utilitarian measurement requires objective valuation--ethics, culture make this a problem (analyze Walzer & Mandel & Gathii excerpts)1,2 It is difcult to measure the non-monetized impacts of some risks (excerpt). 3 Objective measurement also requires the ability to properly assess and interpret risk and benet analysis, but biases prevent this from happening (examples of biases, Bostrom). 4

Demonstrating the necessity of utilitarian weighing to resolve conicting deontological claims (e.g. rights claims) does not preclude the necessity of deontological thinking to resolve conicting utilitarian duties.

There are harms to exclusively weighing the harms

Preoccupation with quantiable data interferes with the democratic exchange of values (excerpt).5 Bias associated with perspective and the side ones on skews how results are weighed (excerpt).6 Some conceptions of normative (or prescriptive) ethics suggest that calculating the interests of human beings is structurally different from the ethical decision (Kant, Zizek, Zupancic, etc.). The logic and procedures of the risk society stymie revolutionary movements (Zizek)

The presumptions inherent in this logic are impediments to good debate

The practice of criticism is being excluded frequently on grounds that its implications arent concrete enough; as a result, issues like poverty, health, equality, and freedom are trumped unthinkingly by claims about body counts. The legacy of philosophical inquiry is being lost to exclusively topic-specic research. Afrmative debaters are paying an even greater price for their time disadvantage. Attempts by debaters to weigh impacts frequently simplify nuanced utilitarian thinking with crude, poorly estimated body counts (not that Kantian positions are any better).

(Special thanks to Stephen Babb for this analysis). POPULAR CONSEQUENTALIST AUTHORS: Machiavelli, Pragmatic Ethic Authors. Bentham, Anscombe, Moor, Mill, Brad Hooker,

There is a plethora of argumentation that serves to highlight the major problems of utilitarian or consequentalist belief. A simply search of NDCA wiki databases or free camp files (or even books that your coach might have), will help you formulate these blocks. WHAT IS DEONTOLOGY? Deontology primarily functions as a rejection and critique of utilitarian ideals.
Many of us feel that there are clear obligations we have as human beings, such as to care for our children, and to not commit murder. Duty theories base morality on specific, foundational principles of obligation. These theories are sometimes called deontological, from the Greek word deon, or duty, in view of the foundational nature of our duty or obligation. They are also sometimes called nonconsequentialist since these principles are obligatory, irrespective of the consequences that might follow from our actions. For example, it is wrong to not care for our children even if it results in some great benefit, such as financial savings. There are four central duty theories.

The first is that championed by 17th century German philosopher Samuel Pufendorf, who classified dozens of duties under three headings: duties to God, duties to oneself, and duties to others. Concerning our duties towards God, he argued that there are two kinds: 1. a theoretical duty to know the existence and nature of God, and 2. a practical duty to both inwardly and outwardly worship God. Concerning our duties towards oneself, these are also of two sorts: 1. duties of the soul, which involve developing ones skills and talents, and 2. duties of the body, which involve not harming our bodies, as we might through gluttony or drunkenness, and not killing oneself. Concerning our duties towards others, Pufendorf divides these between absolute duties, which are universally binding on people, and conditional duties, which are the result of contracts between people. Absolute duties are of three sorts: 1. avoid wronging others, 2. treat people as equals, and 3. promote the good of others. Conditional duties involve various types of agreements, the principal one of which is the duty is to keep ones promises.

A second duty-based approach to ethics is rights theory. Most generally, a right is a justified claim against another persons behavior such as my right to not be harmed by you (see also human rights). Rights and duties are related in such a way that the rights of one person implies the duties of another person. For example, if I have a right to payment of $10 by Smith, then Smith has a duty to pay me $10. This is called the correlativity of rights and duties. The most influential early account of rights theory is that of 17th century British philosopher John Locke, who argued that the laws of nature mandate that we should not harm anyones life, health, liberty or possessions. For Locke, these are our natural rights, given to us by God. Following Locke, the United States Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson recognizes three foundational rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson and others rights theorists maintained that we deduce other more specific rights from these, including the rights of property, movement, speech, and religious expression. There are four features traditionally associated with moral rights. First, rights are natural insofar as they are not invented or created by governments. Second, they are universal insofar as they do not change from country to country. Third, they are equal in the sense that rights are the same for all people, irrespective of gender, race, or handicap. Fourth, they are inalienable which means that I cannot hand over my rights to another person, such as by selling myself into slavery. Hobbes, as explained above in Consequentalism, blends rights based ethics with a utilitarian approach, much to the criticism of social contract theorists Locke and Rousseau.

A third duty-based theory is that by Kant, which emphasizes a single principle of duty. Influenced by Pufendorf, Kant agreed that we have moral duties to oneself and others, such as developing ones talents,

and keeping our promises to others. However, Kant argued that there is a more foundational principle of duty that encompasses our particular duties. It is a single, self-evident principle of reason that he calls the categorical imperative. A categorical imperative, he argued, is fundamentally different from hypothetical imperatives that hinge on some personal desire that we have, for example, If you want to get a good job, then you ought to go to college. By contrast, a categorical imperative simply mandates an action, irrespective of ones personal desires, such as You ought to do X. Kant gives at least four versions of the categorical imperative, but one is especially direct: Treat people as an end, and never as a means to an end. That is, we should always treat people with dignity, and never use them as mere instruments. For Kant, we treat people as an end whenever our actions toward someone reflect the inherent value of that person. Donating to charity, for example, is morally correct since this acknowledges the inherent value of the recipient. By contrast, we treat someone as a means to an end whenever we treat that person as a tool to achieve something else. It is wrong, for example, to steal my neighbors car since I would be treating her as a means to my own happiness. The categorical imperative also regulates the morality of actions that affect us individually. Suicide, for example, would be wrong since I would be treating my life as a means to the alleviation of my misery. Kant believes that the morality of all actions can be determined by appealing to this single principle of duty. These are his maxims: Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law.

Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.

Act as though you were, through your maxims, a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.

A fourth and more recent duty-based theory is that by British philosopher W.D. Ross, which emphasizes prima facie duties. Like his 17th and 18th century counterparts, Ross argues that our duties are part of the fundamental nature of the universe. However, Rosss list of duties is much shorter, which he believes reflects our actual moral convictions:

Fidelity: the duty to keep promises Reparation: the duty to compensate others when we harm them Gratitude: the duty to thank those who help us Justice: the duty to recognize merit Beneficence: the duty to improve the conditions of others Self-improvement: the duty to improve our virtue and intelligence Nonmaleficence: the duty to not injure others

Ross recognizes that situations will arise when we must choose between two conflicting duties. In a classic example, suppose I borrow my neighbors gun and promise to return it when he asks for it. One day, in a fit of rage, my neighbor pounds on my door and asks for the gun so that he can take vengeance on someone. On the one hand, the duty of fidelity obligates me to return the gun; on the other hand, the duty of nonmaleficence obligates me to avoid injuring others and thus not return the gun. According to Ross, I will intuitively know which of these duties is my actual duty, and which is my apparent or prima facie duty. In this case, my duty of nonmaleficence emerges as my actual duty and I should not return the gun.

FAMOUS DEONTOLOGICAL PHILOSOPHERS: Aquinas, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, W.D. Ross, Cummiskey, Nagel, Scanlon, Frances Kamm, Habermas, Schopenhaur

EXCERPTS OF PASSAGES FROM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and the Metaphysics of Morals:

The first formulation

The first formulation (Formula of Universal Law) of the moral imperative "requires that the maxims be chosen as though they should hold as universal laws of nature" .[42] This formulation in principle has as its supreme law the creed "Always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will" and is the "only condition under which a will can never come into conflict with itself [....]"[47]

One interpretation of the first formulation is called the "universalizability test".[48] An agent's maxim, according to Kant, is his "subjective principle of human actions": that is, what the agent believes is his reason to act.[49] The universalisability test has five steps:

Find the agent's maxim (i.e., an action paired with its motivation). Take for example the declaration "I will lie for personal benefit". Lying is the action; the motivation is to fulfill some sort of desire. Paired together, they form the maxim.

Imagine a possible world in which everyone in a similar position to the real-world agent followed that maxim. With no exception of one's self. This is in order for you to hold people to the same principle, that is required of yourself.

Decide whether any contradictions or irrationalities arise in the possible world as a result of following the maxim.

If a contradiction or irrationality arises, acting on that maxim is not allowed in the real world.

If there is no contradiction, then acting on that maxim is permissible, and in some instances required.

(For a modern parallel, see John Rawls' hypothetical situation, the original position.)

[edit]The second formulation

The second formulation (or Formula of the End in Itself) holds that "the rational being, as by its nature an end and thus as an end in itself, must serve in every maxim as the condition restricting all merely relative and arbitrary ends"[42]. The principle dictates that you "[a]ct with reference to every rational being (whether yourself or another) so that it is an end in itself in your maxim", meaning that the rational being is "the basis of all maxims of action" and "must be treated never as a mere means but as the supreme limiting condition in the use of all means, i.e., as an end at the same time"[50].

[edit]The third formulation

The third formulation (Formula of Autonomy) is a synthesis of the first two and is the basis for the "complete determination of all maxims". It says "that all maxims which stem from autonomous legislation ought to harmonize with a possible realm of ends as with a realm of nature"[42]. In principle, "So act as if your maxims should serve at the same time as the universal law (of all rational beings)", meaning that we should so act that we may think of ourselves as "a member in the universal realm of ends", legislating universal laws through our maxims (that is, a code of conduct), in a "possible realm of ends"[51]. None may elevate themselves above the universal law, therefore it is one's duty to follow the maxim(s).

Critiques of Deontology and Categorical Imperative:

The most pressing difficulty for deontologist philosophers is justifying constraints. Robert Nozick famously points out what has become known as the "paradox of deontology". If we are truly concerned about rights (such as the right not to be harmed in certain ways expressed by Kamm's Principle of Permissible Harm (PPH)) then it seems logical we should seek to minimize violations of these rights. However, deontological constraints themselves prohibit such action. For example, consider a case where someone has maliciously sent a trolley hurtling towards five innocent and immobile people at the end of a track. The only way to stop the trolley and save the five is to throw one innocent bystander in front of the trolley. If the five are killed, this would constitute five violations of the PPH. If the one is thrown in the way, this constitutes one violation of the PPH. However, the Principle of Permissible Harm clearly rules out throwing one in front of the trolley. Hence the paradox. In order to respect the rights of the five, deontologists tell us we must respect the rights of the one.

Utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham criticize deontology for attempting to confer the status of objectivity on subjective opinions.

Many Act or Case utilitarians offer critiques of deontology as well as Rule Utilitarianism. Jeremy Bentham, an early utilitarian philosopher, criticized deontology on the grounds that it was essentially a dressed-up version of popular morality, and that the unchanging principles that deontologists attribute to natural law or universal reason are really a matter of subjective opinion. John Stuart Mill, who lived in 19th century Britain, argued that deontologists usually fail to specify which principles should take priority when rights and duties conflict, so that deontology cannot offer complete moral guidance.

Further, Mill argued in the opening pages of his book Utilitarianism that the Categorical Imperative that Kant had formulated to support the duties he had argued as categorical in fact used consequential logic; if the ends of a formulated maxim logically supported the maxim, that is, the maxim if universalised created a theoretical world that could exist and would be beneficial to society, then the maxim could be offered as a rule under which society should live. Mill criticised Kant for avoiding saying what the Imperative reduced to the ends justify the means, a primary tenet of consequentialismand thus using it to come to the opposite conclusion.

Shelly Kagan notes in support of Mill and Bentham that under deontology, individuals are bound by constraints (such as the requirement not to murder), but are also given options (such as the right not to give money to charity, if they do not wish to). His line of attack on deontology is first to show that constraints are invariably immoral, and then to show that options are immoral without constraints.

Another, unrelated critique of deontological ethics comes from aretaic theories, which often maintain that neither consequences nor duties but "character" should be the focal point of ethical theory. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, for example, sought to describe what characteristics a virtuous person would have, and then argued that people should act in accordance with these characteristics. This is the principle behind the school of moral philosophy known as virtue ethics.


REFERENCES: Make sure you go through all of these links and read them thoroughly, they will help you in the debate season!