11: God, Duty, or Happiness?


St. Thomas Aquinas

  • Read and analyze descriptions of philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the arguments in favor of
    and opposing modern ethical theories.
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss and reflect upon the application of the course material to various aspects of life.
  • Evaluate the personal and social responsibilities of living in a diverse world.

I. Divine Command Theory

Key Terms

Hypothetical Imperative
Categorical Imperative

  • A. Understanding Divine Command Theory
    • Role of religion is to provide moral guidelines
    • Divine command theory - we act morally when we do what the divine tells us to do
    • Examples: Abraham, Noah
  • B. Advantages of Divine Command Theory
    • Purpose of human life is spiritual transformation and to live according to the divine plan to be rewarded and avoid negative consequences
    • Determine morals through divine command
  • C. Objections to Divine Command Theory
    • Different religious traditions have different laws
    • Does not consider consequences
    • “The divine told me to do it”

II. Natural Law Theory

  • A. Understanding Natural Law Theory
    • Based largely on Saint Thomas Aquinas
    • Combine reason and religious theory
    • Purpose of human life is to follow the law
    • Eternal law, Divine law, Natural law, Human law
    • Universal moral values can be discovered in nature through reason
    • These laws fit with divine law
    • They are universal, apply to everyone
  • B. Objections to Theory of Natural Law
    • Determining the law
    • Applying the law
    • Disagreeing with the law

III. Deontology - Immanuel Kant


Kant's Categorical Imperative

Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law

  • A. Basic Argument
    • To ensure one’s duty is fulfilled
    • Consequences are irrelevant
    • Follow moral rules, which Kant calls maxims
    • Ethical system must be based on objective, universal ethics
    • Contemplation alone is required to determine moral actions
  • B. Hypothetical Imperatives
    • if, then statements
    • Means to an end
  • C. Categorical Imperatives
    • Actions that are intrinsically good
    • Maxims (moral laws) prescribed by reason that everyone should follow
    • Kant's Categorical Imperative is not the same as the Golden Rule
  • D. Objections to Deontology
    • The right action may lead to a bad consequences
    • Maxims can be taken to extreme

IV. Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill

J. S. Mill

  • A. Basic Argument
    • Utilitarianism promotes happiness
    • Actions should be chosen based on what makes the most people happy and the fewest people unhappy
    • Hedonism - humans are governed by pleasure and pain
    • The purpose of human life is to enjoy that life
  • B. Types of Utilitarianism
    • Broad concept called Consequentialism
    • Machiavellianism
    • Ethical Egoism
    • Rule Consequentialism
    • Negative Consequentialism
    • Utilitarianism requires happiness as an end product for the most number of people
  • C. Objections to Utilitarianism
    • Impossible to predict the future with certainty
    • Incompatible with justice
    • Incompatible with human rights
    • Irrelevance of the past

Logic Week 11: Argument from Authority and Argument from Tradition