Ashford University Week 3 Morally Permissible to Lie to Someone Discussion Discussion Topic: Is it ever morally permissible to lie to someone? 1) Describe

Ashford University Week 3 Morally Permissible to Lie to Someone Discussion Discussion Topic: Is it ever morally permissible to lie to someone? 1) Describe a circumstance in which it seems that lying might make more people happy than telling the truth. Would lying be the right thing to do in that circumstance, or is it our moral duty to tell the truth, even then? 2) Consider what Immanuel Kant would say, (see attached ethics book) and explain that with reference to this week’s readings. Then, offer your own perspective. If you agree with Kant, consider and respond to an objection to his view. 3) If you disagree with Kant, explain why. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of deontological theory as it relates to another of the theories you have encountered in this course. Your post must be 200 words minimum Print,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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Bradley Thames
How Should One Live? An Introduction to Ethics and Moral Reasoning
Editor in Chief, AVP: Steve Wainwright
Sponsoring Editor: Greer Lleuad
Development Editor: Leah Sheets
Assistant Editor: Hannah Wertheimer
Editorial Assistant: Taylor Holmes
Production Editor: Julie Mashburn
Copy Editor: LSF Editorial
Cover Designer: Jessica Sarra
Printing Services: Lightning Source
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Permission Editor: Sheri Gilbert
ISBN-13: 978-1-62178-506-4
Copyright © 2018 Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
All rights reserved.
GRANT OF PERMISSION TO PRINT: The copyright owner of this material hereby grants the holder of this publication the right to print these materials
for personal use. The holder of this material may print the materials herein for personal use only. Any print, reprint, reproduction, or distribution of these
materials for commercial use without the express written consent of the copyright owner constitutes a violation of the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101810, as amended.,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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About the Author
Dr. Bradley J. Thames is an assistant professor in the Division of General Education at Ashford University. He earned his PhD in philosophy from the
University of Notre Dame, and has taught at Notre Dame, the University of St. Thomas, and Bethel University. His research, writing, and teaching combine
interests in ethics, especially the Aristotelian tradition and bioethics, with philosophical hermeneutics and phenomenology, particularly the thought of Martin
Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Charles Taylor. Originally from scorching Arizona, he currently lives in freezing St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, two
sons, and two cats, and he keeps an overly ambitious garden.,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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I wish to acknowledge the many people whose advice, encouragement, and hard work made this book possible and far better than it otherwise would be. My
fellow philosophers at Ashford University provided invaluable input into the scope, structure, and content of the book, along with insightful critical comments:
Chris Foster, Gloria Zúñiga y Postigo, Jim Hardy, David Pinkowski, and especially Julie Pedersen. Indispensable feedback was also provided by three other
Ashford colleagues, Ginger Lee, Kiel Moreland, and Michael Pelt; my inspiring and supportive dean in the Division of General Education, Justin Harrison;
and my friend David DiQuattro, whose philosophical knowledge and insight I have admired and valued since graduate school. Thanks also to my associate
dean, Lane Andrew, for putting up with missed deadlines and incomplete projects so I could work on this book.
The editorial team at Constellation was also incredible. Thanks to Steve Wainwright for his confidence in me by greenlighting this book. Leah Sheets’s edits
made the book much clearer and more accessible, and I became a better writer because of her efforts. Greer Lleuad’s help in realizing this project was sensitive
to my often inchoate and muddled vision but also adamant when it needed to be, providing necessary guidance and direction. Finally, Hannah Wertheimer, my
closest collaborator, was a complete pleasure to work with. She was thorough and assiduous, kept me organized, and above all was always personable,
friendly, and supportive. Thanks also to Taylor Holmes, editorial assistant; Jaime LeClair, media editor; Julie Mashburn, production editor; and LSF Editorial,
copy editor.
Finally, thanks to my friends and family, especially my boys, Lukas and Tristan, for asking hard questions about how to live that challenge me to articulate
answers, many of which made their way into the text. My two cats, Wilbur and Philomena, provided companionship, amusement, and warmth during the long
Minnesota winters and occasionally sat down on the keyboard in order (I presume) to encourage me to take a break. All typos in the book are their fault.
Highest appreciation goes to my wife, Manuela. She patiently endured the lonely nights and grumpy mornings that come with being married to a night owl;
supported me during times of stress and discouragement; and her passion and eye for beauty inspires me more than I consciously recognize or acknowledge.
Further explanation of my appreciation would require another book.,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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1.1 Socrates’s Question
1.2 Ethical Reasoning
1.3 The Landscape of Moral Philosophy
Conclusion &
Summary (
Primary Sources
Going Deeper
Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
Discuss why it is important to study ethics.
Give examples of ethical questions.
Explain what it means to describe ethical reasoning as dialectical.
Describe what practical reasoning is and how ethical reasoning is a form of practical reasoning.
Identify the basic distinctions between utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics.
It is not a trivial question, Socrates said: what we are talking about is how one should live.
—Bernard Williams,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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1.1 Socrates’s Question
The Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates raised the question of how one should live, which became the central ethical question for all that followed.
In 399 BC, more than 2,400 years ago, a Greek philosopher named Socrates is reported to have said that ethics concerns no less than how one should live. The
philosopher Bernard Williams (1985) called this “Socrates’s question.” This might seem to be an odd way of defining ethics for a number of reasons.
First, the question is quite broad: “How one should live” seems to concern the whole of one’s life. Yet many of us think of ethics as limited to a set of
standards or rules, such as those we are taught by our parents or in Sunday school. Second, “how one should live” seems to mean “how anyone and everyone
ought to live.” How can anyone make claims about how others should live? Moreover, if Socrates and his followers were seeking answers to these types of
questions thousands of years ago, why have we not settled on any answers? Does this mean that there are no answers or that the answers to such questions are
best left up to individuals to determine on their own?
These are important concerns that we will examine in the pages ahead. But before getting into those details, it is worth considering whether the task of seeking
general answers about how one should live is a useful endeavor. After all, we raise our children according to the presumption that certain ways of life are
better than others. When politicians create laws, they do so because they think certain ways to live are better than others. Likewise, when we vote on such
laws, we do so because we agree that certain ideas about how people should live are worth becoming part of the established code of our community or nation.
When we express outrage over certain situations—for example, when a politician takes bribes, a corporation hides illegal activities in order to pad the pockets
of its leaders, a terrorist group beheads an innocent aid worker, or a friend lies to us—we presume that something has gone wrong in the choices these people
have made regarding how to live their lives. Similarly, when we praise the bystander who risks his or her life to protect others from a gunman; admire the
work of the nun who devotes her life to caring for the poor, outcast, and diseased; honor the soldier who sacrifices his or her life to save a wounded comrade;
or express gratitude to the family member who has cared for us unselfishly, we reflect the deep conviction that such actions embody something good and right.
In doing so, we affirm through our attitudes and responses that there are some things good and right and other things that are bad and wrong. This is true
whether we are referring to particular actions or choices; general policies, rules, or laws; or values and character. We may acknowledge that there is
widespread disagreement over many views concerning how one should live. However, it would be extremely difficult to live our lives without supposing that
these questions are worth thinking about and that at least some answers are better than others.
Going Deeper: Ethics Versus Morality
Can one define ethics or morality, and is there a difference between these terms? In this book, we will not provide a strict definition of either of these ideas,
and we will use the terms interchangeably. Some philosophers have, however, drawn distinctions between them, and it can be illuminating to consider them.
See Going Deeper: Ethics Versus Morality ( at the end of the
chapter for more.
An Inescapable Question
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are driven by various ideas, values, and assumptions about what matters in life. We cannot escape Socrates’s question.
This text gives us a chance to consider it more deeply than we ever have before.
Here is another way to think about it: Through each conscious, deliberate choice we make, we are living out an answer to Socrates’s question. With every
decision, each time we say “This would be better than that,” we take a stand on what matters to us, whether we realize we are doing so or not. However, since
our choices to do (or not do) certain things also impact other people and the world around us, we cannot avoid taking a stand on what matters in a more general
sense. When we act selfishly, we imply that what matters most are our own needs or interests. When we act generously, we show that the needs and interests of
others matter. Most of the time, we are not thinking about our choices from this perspective; we are just making the decisions that seem best to us. But as we
will see in more detail later, we have the remarkable capacity to question our own or others’ assumptions about how one should live.
This questioning, and the pursuit of answers, is what “ethics” (or “moral philosophy”) is all about.
Why Study Ethics?
To sum up, ethics considers how one should live. The question of how one should live plays into our everyday choices; the general beliefs we hold about how
people ought to live, think, and act; and the specific judgments that we make on the basis of such beliefs. Examining this broad question and more specific
questions at a reflective and systematic level is what we mean by philosophical ethics or moral philosophy.
Pursuing answers to such questions can be confusing, tedious, and even distressing (see Going Deeper: Socrates and the Philosophical Life,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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( ). However, persisting in the task—and taking its challenges
seriously—is a way to live out those distinctively human possibilities of thinking, questioning, and inquiring. As such, it can help us live with more integrity,
consistency, and candor, and it can be surprisingly enriching.
Going Deeper: Socrates and the Philosophical Life
According to Socrates and many others inspired by his example, philosophical ethics—and philosophy in general—is more than just an academic or
intellectual exercise. Rather, in its most fundamental sense, it is a way of life open to all people. See Going Deeper: Socrates and the Philosophical Life
( at the end of the chapter for more.
Going Deeper: Ethics and Religion
Many readers have religious commitments that inform their ethical views. Is there a conflict between such religious commitments and the philosophical study
of ethics? See Going Deeper: Ethics and Religion ( at the end
of this chapter for more.
We are continually confronted with ethical questions, whether we are, like Socrates, itinerant eccentrics wandering in togas around the marketplace of Athens,
or students, parents, spouses, soldiers, mechanics, caregivers, billionaires, minimum-wage workers, food eaters, or technology users. Everything we do—from
how we spend our money and relate to our friends to how we raise and teach children and the profession we choose—is ethically significant. We are
confronted with issues, dilemmas, and debates that range from the very personal to the global, during which we encounter a seemingly endless number of
opinions and claims.
Studying ethics can give us the resources to evaluate these opinions and claims. It can help us recognize the kind of argument
( offered when someone makes an ethical claim. It can also help us discern the
values that are being appealed to or the assumptions made about the nature and significance of human life. Perhaps most of all, we can learn how to reason
about all of these matters and intelligently evaluate the relative merits of different views.
Ethics FYI
In philosophy, an argument is a set of claims. Some of these claims, called the premises, serve as support for another claim, called the conclusion. This is
different than the ordinary meaning of an argument as a verbal quarrel or disagreement, often characterized by raised voices and flaring emotions. One can
think of an argument in the philosophical sense as the methodical and well-researched defense of a position or point of view advanced in relation to a disputed
In some cases we may find that certain claims are well supported, while others seem much less so, even if we are far from absolute certainty. In other cases we
may find ourselves more perplexed than when we started, which calls us to keep the question open and continue to reflect and search. Either way, we will be
less subject to the whims of popular opinion, the power of persuasion, and attractive personalities and be more capable of forming and defending our own
answers to the question of how one should live.,…all&clientToken=852a7dbd-5f3e-0138-f2f4-c80b605d3308&np=copyright
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1.2 Ethical Reasoning
What is ethical reasoning? There are many conflicting answers to this question that reflect different ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, deontology, and
virtue ethics. We will examine each of these theories closely in the chapters to come. However, some features of ethical reasoning are common to all of the
major theories.
The “Dialectic” Between the Abstract and Concrete
Ethical enquiry involves a dialectic. This term refers to the process of moving back and forth between abstract judgments—general considerations about
values, rules, the purpose of things, and so on—and concrete judgments—those having to do with particular questions and problems, such as what’s right to do
here and how. This process is undertaken in an attempt to find what philosopher John Rawls (1971) called “reflective equilibrium” (p. 18).
For example, we might start with a concrete ethical judgment with which most people would agree, such as that it is wrong to exploit a child to satisfy one’s
sexual urges—a form of what we call child abuse. We would then consider why this act is wrong. Is it because it causes great suffering for the child, both at the
time of the abuse and later in life? Is it because it violates a rule not to treat innocent children as objects of gratification? Is it because it is a corruption of the
role we have of nurturing and caring for the next generation?
Our answer would then have implications for other, more disputed situations, such as whether it is right to spank a child or to use modern science to change a
child’s genetic code. In other words, on these more disputed questions we are looking for reasons why certain behaviors or choices might be right or wrong or
better or worse. We can sometimes try to find them by considering the reasons we have for other more commonly accepted judgments of right, wrong, better,
or worse. These reasons are the abstract part of the dialectic, while the specific judgments are the concrete part.
Similarly, we might start with commonly accepted abstract ideas such as “be honest” or “thou shalt not kill.” We then consider whether and how “thou shalt
not kill” applies to the concrete situation of soldiers in combat or when one person is threatening another’s life. Or we might consider whether those we are
obliged not to kill include nonhuman animals, human fetuses, or the terminally ill. Similarly, does “be honest” mean that we must give Aunt Gertrude our
honest opinion when she asks if we like her new dress (and we think it is hideous)? Or that we must honestly answer a psychopath’s question of where our
friend is hiding when doing so will likely lead to our friend’s murder?
Such considerations of the concrete application of an abstract value, rule, or principle might compel us to revise or even reject it in favor of a more refined
principle. On the other hand, if we are convinced that something is wrong and this is explained by some general principle, we may find that applying the same
principle to a case we are less sure about ends up entailing that it, too, must also be wrong.
Why is this important? If we simply stick with abstract values, rules, and principles (such as be honest or thou shalt not kill) without looking carefully at how
they apply to a variety of concrete cases, we can become lost in a sea of ideas that leave us confused with respect to particular questions and choices; or we
might be unable to appreciate the challenging implications these ideas can have for our choices and judgments. On the other hand, if we simply consider
concrete cases and rely on our gut instincts or what we have been accustomed to believe about them, we will be unable to adequately consider more abstract
questions. Such questions include the following:
Why do people disagree, and can their disagreements be resolved?
What assumptions are people making when they express moral beliefs, and are they legitimate?
What is valuable and worthwhile, and are there any objective answers to that question?
Moral theories like utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics deal l…
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