Pollock ethics 8e_ch02
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pollock ethics 8e_ch02
Determining Moral Behavior
Lecture slides prepared by Lisa J. Taylor
Our principles of right and wrong form a
framework for the way we live our lives.
Where do these principles come from?
• Greg Smith – Goldman Sachs
• Equities Director and 12-year employee
• Quit very publicly by publishing an opinion
editorial in the New York Times entitled, “Why
I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs”
• Stated culture was always a vital part of
Goldman Sachs’ success—but then stated
how organizational ethos and a value system
of protecting client interests had degenerated
to profit at the expense of the client
• He said, “Weed out the morally bankrupt
people, no matter how much money they
make for the firm. And get the culture right
again, so people want to work here for the
Detective Russell Poole - LAPD
Robbery-Homicide Division investigator
Tasked with investigating the alleged
beating of Ismael Jimenez, reputed
Uncovered a pattern of complaints of
violence by the anti-gang task force in
the Ramparts Division
40-page report drafted outlining
findings (complaints, alleged assaults,
etc. of the Ramparts officers
Told to limit investigation to only the
Supervisor replaced report with 2-page
report and asked Poole to sign it
Systematic ordering of moral principles that:
• Form the basis for moral judgments
• Are the source of moral beliefs
• Are beyond argument
• Are internally consistent
• Possess a type of “moral common sense”
Described by Baelz as:
Not just abstract principles of good and bad, but have
substantial impact on what we do
Usually beyond question
• Logically impartial or universal
Same rule applies in all cases and for everyone
• Not self-serving
For everyone, not just the individual
Deontological Ethical Systems
•Some acts are inherently good.
•Others are inherently bad.
•The consequences of the act are irrelevant.
Charity is a moral act. Giving money to a poor person is a
good act. If the poor person buys drugs with the money, the
original act of charity is still moral.
Good is defined by
the inherent nature of an act.
Teleological Ethical Systems
Good is defined by results.
• An act is “good” or “bad” depending on
• the results it brings about.
• The consequences of the act are what is
Giving money to a poor person might not be moral if they
used it for drugs (if drug use is immoral).
(A deontological system)
According to German philosopher
• Good will (motivation) is the only thing that is
• Duty is required behavior. It is self-imposed
and necessary to morality.
• Founded in 1977 by Jerry
Sandusky, former Penn State
assistant football coach
• Youth programs serve
approximately 100K children
• Revenue in 2009 was
• Since November 2011, the
organization has been preparing to
close after Sandusky was charged
and convicted of child abuse
The Categorical Imperative
1. Act only on that maxim through which you can
at the same time will that it should become a
2. Act in such a way that you always treat
humanity, whether in your own person or that
of any other, never simply as a means but
always at the same time as an end.
3. Act as if you were, through your maxims, a
lawmaking member of a kingdom of ends.
• Drive us to achieve certain
• Are consequential in
• Are neither “moral” nor
• If you want to get a good
grade, then you must
• Are absolute.
• Are based on good will.
• Determine morality.
• You must not lie.
Criticisms of Ethical Formalism
Semantics is critical in ethical formalism and could lead to
confusion or abuse. (Example: Kant distinguishes “lies”
It might not apply to extreme circumstances. If an action is
“wrong,” it is always wrong, regardless of the good
consequences that might result.
It does not provide guidance for resolving conflicting duties.
The priority of motive and intent over result is problematic
in some instances.
(A teleological ethical system)
• An action’s morality depends on how much it contributes
to the overall good of society.
• Humans are hedonistic.
• They seek to maximize pleasure and avoid pain.
• Good = the greatest good for the greatest number
• Joe Darby – Military reservist
• Member of 372nd
military police unit deployed to
• January 2004 – Darby asked Specialist Charles
Graner for some pictures of the surrounding
• Graner provided a CD of torture photos taken in
the Abu Ghraib prison by Graner and others
• Darby didn’t give photos to his commanding
officer, but to the Criminal Intelligence Division
• Darby was told his name would be kept
confidential—but it wasn’t
• Darby and his family feared for their lives and
were ultimately taken into protective custody
• Darby later received the John F. Kennedy Profile
in Courage Award
• Cited that he has always “had a moral sense of
right and wrong.”
On April 20th
, 2010 a British Petroleum
offshore rig exploded killing 11 employees
and causing one of the largest oil spills in
modern history. Investigators soon located
the faulty alarm systems. The alarms did not
alert because they had been intentionally
disconnected close to a year ago. BP had
the alarms turned off in order to allow
employees to sleep without being
interrupted by false alarms thus creating a
better functioning workforce. If the alarms
were enabled, the rig would have
automatically entered shut down mode,
virtually eliminating the oil spill.
•Was BP’s original “act” inherently good?
•Did they have a duty to act one way or the
Criticisms of Utilitarianism
• It assumes that consequences can be
• All “pleasures” or benefits are not equal (is
financial success = integrity?).
• The rights of the few might be sacrificed for the
As a basis for ethical system, must provide
judgment of good & evil.
Religious Source (Bible)
Criticisms of Religion
• People hold different opinions about which
religion is the “true” religion.
• People within a religion often disagree on how to
interpret its principles.
• Religious controversies are often difficult to
• Morality is a force of nature, like gravity.
• What is good is what is natural?
• Basic human inclinations are natural: self protection,
• The idea of the social contract has a basis in nature.
Philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
were influenced by natural law theory. Their ideas
are reflected in our system of government.
Criticisms of Natural Law
How can we determine what is natural
law versus man-made law?
What are the “natural” laws of morality?
The Ethics of Virtue
• True virtue is the median between extremes of
character: the golden mean.
• People develop moral virtues through practice,
just like any other strength.
• Eudaimonia: living the “good life”
Six Pillars (Josephson
1. Trustworthiness: Honesty, sincerity, loyalty
2. Respect: Golden Rule
3. Responsibility: Being accountable
4. Fairness: Equality, impartiality, and due
5. Caring: Altruism and benevolence
6. Citizenship: Duties of citizenship
Criticisms of Ethics of Virtue
Basically assumes a good person
will make a good decision.
Little help for people facing
The Ethics of Care
• Western ethical systems focus on issues
like rights, laws, and universalism.
• Ethics of care—nurturance, meeting needs
• Identifies the needs of all individuals in any
ethical situation and attempts to maximize
Criticisms of Ethics of Care
• Assumes needs are not in competition.
• Does not provide a clear “formula” for
what is right.
• More recent and less discussed ethical
The Ethics of Virtue
What benefits the individual is good . . .
regardless of its effect on others.
People behave in their own best interests.
(Not an ethical system—an observation.)
People should behave in their own self interests.
Criticisms of Egoism
Logically inconsistent (for everyone to try
and maximize self interest).
Enlightened egoism is not too different
from categorical imperative or golden
Other Methods of Ethical
The imperative principle directs a decision
maker to act according to a specific,
The utilitarian principle determines the ethics
of conduct by the good or bad consequences
of the action.
The generalization principle is based on this
question: “What would happen if all similar
persons acted this way under similar
General Principles of Decision
1. Obtain all facts (including the effects of
2. Evaluate whether you’d be comfortable with
your decision appearing on the front page (in
3. Consider one’s principles to be like a formula –
applicable in all situations.
Moral systems are products
of an individual or group.
If people believe different
things are good and bad,
how can you define what is
“Good” depends on the
norms of each society.
What is acceptable in one
society might not be in
Who is to say which society
However, FATAL FLAW in relativism is: why should anyone obey
their cultural norms since they may be right in another place or
• Idea that what is wrong is always wrong and
what is right is always right; e.g., you should
• Universalism: if you want to do something, you
should be able to agree that everyone can do it.
Even under Absolutist Ethics, there is Principle of Forfeiture:
People who violate the rights of others forfeit their own rights.
• There are basic principles of right and wrong.
• They can be applied to ethical dilemmas and
• They may call for different results in different
1. Treat each person with the utmost respect and care.
2. Do one’s duty or duties in such a way that one does not
violate the first principle.
A compromise between relativism and absolutism
Summary of Ethical
Ethical formalism: What is good is that which conforms to the
Utilitarianism: What is good is that which results in the greatest
utility for the greatest number.
Religion: What is good is that which conforms to God’s will.
Natural law: What is good is that which is natural.
Ethics of virtue: What is good is that which conforms to the
Ethics of care: What is good is that which meets the needs of
Egoism: What is good is that which benefits me.