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Question Session 06

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Notes

The question session includes:

  • clarifications of the third in-term essay question (Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?);

  • an explanation of the mysterious postscript to the Singer vs Kamm on Distance section;

  • discussion of how Kamm’s view can support the view that scientific discoveries are relevant given that Waldmann, Nagel, & Wiegmann (2012) appear to show that Kamm is wrong;

  • discussion of how Kamm’s view can support the view that scientific discoveries are relevant given that she does not invoke any such discoveries in her argument on distance in Kamm (2008);

  • discussion of Thomson’s proposal about what matters in trolley cases (first covered in Thomson’s Other Method of Trolley Cases);

  • an objection from Isabel which caused me to add UPDATE 2 to Moral Disengagement: Significance; and

  • an objection from Paul Theo which I mistakenly accept. (Sorry Paul Theo!) This was very silly of me because Emily made essentially the same objection in Question Session 03 and I had already updated the lecture notes with a reply to it (see what is now UPDATE 1 in Moral Disengagement: Significance).

Glossary

Far Alone : ‘I alone know that in a distant part of a foreign country that I am visiting, many children are drowning, and I alone can save one of them. To save the one, all I must do is put the 500 dollars I carry in my pocket into a machine that then triggers (via electric current) rescue machinery that will certainly scoop him out’ (Kamm, 2008, p. 348)
Near Alone : ‘I am walking past a pond in a foreign country that I am visiting. I alone see many children drowning in it, and I alone can save one of them. To save the one, I must put the 500 dollars I have in my pocket into a machine that then triggers (via electric current) rescue machinery that will certainly scoop him out’ (Kamm, 2008, p. 348)
trolley cases : Scenarios designed to elicit puzzling or informative patterns of judgement about how someone should act. Examples include \gls{Trolley}, \gls{Transplant}, and \gls{Drop}. Their use was pioneered by Foot (1967) and Thomson (1976), who aimed to use them to understand ethical considerations around abortion and euthanasia.

References

Bandura, A., Barbaranelli, C., Caprara, G., & Pastorelli, C. (1996). Mechanisms of Moral Disengagement in the Exercise of Moral Agency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(2), 364–374. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.71.2.364
Foot, P. (1967). The problem of abortion and the doctrine of the double effect. Oxford Review, 5, 5–15.
Greene, J. D. (2014). Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics. Ethics, 124(4), 695–726. https://doi.org/10.1086/675875
Kamm, F. M. (2008). Intricate ethics: Rights, responsibilities, and permissible harm. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
Königs, P. (2019). Experimental ethics, intuitions, and morally irrelevant factors. Philosophical Studies, 1–19.
Kumar, V., & Campbell, R. (2012). On the normative significance of experimental moral psychology. Philosophical Psychology, 25(3), 311–330.
Nagel, J., & Waldmann, M. R. (2013). Deconfounding distance effects in judgments of moral obligation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(1), 237.
Rini, R. A. (2016). Debunking debunking: A regress challenge for psychological threats to moral judgment. Philosophical Studies, 173(3), 675–697. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-015-0513-2
Sandberg, J., & Juth, N. (2011). Ethics and intuitions: A reply to singer. The Journal of Ethics, 15(3), 209–226.
Singer, P. (2005). Ethics and Intuitions. The Journal of Ethics, 9(3), 331–352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10892-005-3508-y
Thomson, J. J. (1976). Killing, Letting Die, and The Trolley Problem. The Monist, 59(2), 204–217. https://doi.org/10.5840/monist197659224
Waldmann, M. R., Nagel, J., & Wiegmann, A. (2012). Moral Judgment. In K. J. Holyoak & R. G. Morrison (Eds.), The oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning (pp. 274–299). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199734689.013.0019