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Slide 1

Ethics and Moral Reasoning:


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Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.

Albert Einstein

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Learning Objectives

After the completion of this course, you should be able to:

Identify the morally relevant features of situations, decisions, and
Analyse a moral argumentan argument for a moral claim.
Assess whether a moral claim is well-supported by a moral
Discuss and explain the moral reasons behind rules of academic
integrity, research ethics, and intellectual property.

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What is Ethics?
Ethics, a.k.a. moral philosophy, is the philosophical study of morality.
Central questions about ethics are:
o When is an action morally right or wrong?
o What makes an action right or wrong?
o What makes a person morally good or bad?
o What sorts of things have moral value?
Moral reasoning is the thought process that leads to rational or
correct answers to moral questions such as the above.

Notes: This course is called Ethics and Moral Reasoning. Its natural to wonder, what is
ethics? And, what is moral reasoning?
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The Greater Good

When do questions of morality arise?

They arise when we consider doing something
that is beneficial to some and harmful to others.

Can benefits to some justify harm to others?

Perhaps, if the benefits outweigh the harms.

Notes: The following links provide information about the controversy over Ebola
quarantines, and how the quarantines discourage medical workers who plan to travel to
Ebola hit areas to fight the disease:
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Moral questions also arise when we consider whether individuals

or groups are treated fairly.

A starting point for thinking about fairness: people are treated

fairly when they are treated equally.

But what does it mean to treat people equally?

Notes: The following links provide details about Indias Women Reservation Bill:
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Another area where moral questions arise: when we reflect on the

characteristics of a morally good person.

Have you ever wondered: What does it take to be a good person?

The traits of a morally good person are called virtues.

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Many people think that courage is a virtue.

Q. Cant actions done with courage still

be immoral? E.g., does a terrorist exhibit courage when
sacrificing his/her life in a suicide bombing?

A. Potential answer:
Courage is a virtue, but only when it is complemented by other
virtues like compassion, open-mindedness, tolerance etc.

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The Value of Nature

Moral questions come up when people debate our relationship

to the environment.
Should we conserve ecosystems?
o If so, should we conserve ecosystems only so far as it
benefits humans to do it?
o Or, should we (also) conserve ecosystems because there is
something valuable about them that doesnt depend on
human interests?

Notes: The following link provides information on Greenpeaces arguments against drilling in
the arctic:

There may be many overlapping reasons to conserve the environment. One reason may be
that, it benefits humans. But another reason could be that, there is something valuable
about the environment; something which doesnt depend on human intereststhat we
should conserve. Greenpeace cites both reasons in its argument against drilling in the Arctic.
Slide 10

Ethics in Study and Research

Moral questions come up in all aspects of life. In a university, students,
professors, and researchers constantly make morally significant choices.

o Students struggling to make high grades face the temptation to cheat

by copying others work.
o Professors and researchers are under pressure to publish, and
likewise to fudge results or pass others ideas off as their own.
o Much research (e.g., in psychology, medicine, and biology) involves
causing harm, or the threat of harm, to living human and animal

Principles of Academic Integrity and Research Ethics are needed to ensure

that students genuinely learn, and that the faculty produces original, high-
quality scholarship.

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What Will We Learn?

Teaching Weeks Topic
1 Introduction
2-3 Utilitarianism

4-5 Deontology

6-7 Virtue Ethics

8-9 Academic Integrity

Research Ethics and

Intellectual Property
Environmental Ethics and

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