Morals and Ethics

Steve (I apologize for not having the last name)
HS ethics teacher

Define:
Morals/ethics

Not the same meaning. Difference between the two.

Morals
Draws box
Boundaries of what we consider to be good and to be evil
What defines good and bad?
If using good as descriptor, how do I describe it?
Some people, whatever God says. If goes against what God says, defines bad morals.

Ethics
Says here’s an action (helping old lady across street, punching stranger in face)
Asks how do I determine, what is my thought process, to decide what box the action goes into?

No one uses just one ethical system to determine action.

Does this action match Scripture?
Nowhere in Scriptures does it say whether you can wear blue shirts for presentation or on a Saturday.

There are actions that don’t really matter.
Wearing a blue or green shirt is a moral action. Don’t need ethical system for that.

Does this action do the most good?
Does this action do the least harm?
Does this action act in my own self-interest?

Different ethical systems to employ at different times.

Descriptive versus Normative Ethics

Normative:
“should”
What we think should happen. How we think the world should work. If everything was working correctly, this is how world works.

Series of Unfortunate Events is horribly depressing. Kids never get a break. We think they should.

Descriptive:
“what is”

Sometimes this is a misnomer.
Implies there is ethics, if we say descriptive ethics. But sometimes things aren’t ethical.

Bribery required in some countries. People don’t see as bad or good. Just business.

Sometimes what should happen and what does happen don’t equal each other. That’s an ethical dilemma.

Talking about ethical systems in play in sf systems
Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Ender’s game

Deontological and teleological ethics

when setting ethical standards, can look at act itself. (deontological)

divine command theory = deontological
action is what determines whether something is good or bad

consequences/motives = teleological
Doesn’t matter what the act is, (father steals loaf of bread) trying to feed children. Consequences matter. So give this guy a pass.
Motives in the right place.

All of the ethical systems in science fiction work on teleological model.
Absolutism versus relativity…
Generally you hear from many religious cultures absolutism.
Then you bring up situations that make people think. What if I murder Hitler? What if I murder Stalin?
Murdering is wrong, but… make a detour around relativity and say consequences outweighs the wrong thing of murder.

SF connections:
Star Wars Jedi knights
Star Trek Prime Directive
Battlestar Galactica
Stargate Atlantis
Ender’s Game

ORU 2015 notes

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