Ep 4 - Beyond Cockroach Ethics - Part 2 (Virtue Ethics, Trolley Problems and Inaction)
November 08, 2021
The Philosophists | Declan McGrath, Simon Robertson
Back in episode two, we covered Utilitarianism and Deontology and promised to return with an episode covering Virtue Ethics. Well, wanting to do the moral thing, we fulfil that promise here. The episode opens up with Simon invoking the famous philosophical conundrum of the Trolley Problem. We also discuss the distinction between action and inaction, if any, before diving into the ethical system that has been with us for over two thousand years - Virtue Ethics. Hopefully, you have enough of the virtue of patience to stick with us for half an hour.
Main Talking Points
- The Trolley Problem - would you sacrifice one to save five?
- The Point of View of the Universe - an arguably more objective way to think ethically
- Inaction vs Action - can you dodge the blame game or are they just the same?
- Jean-Paul Sartre's Universalisation of Actions - am I always setting an example?
- See the Anguish section of Nigel Warburton's great summary of Sartre's "Existentialism and Humanism"
- The Golden Rule
- Kant's Summum Bonum (The Kingdom of Ends)
- The delightful end game for perfectly rational beings is concisely explained by this short video or Wikipedia
- Objections to Virtue Ethics (including the bank robber example Declan cites)
If you feel full of virtue as you listen to this episode, we would greatly appreciate it if you could please donate whatever you can afford to provide a life-saving mosquito net to someone who really needs it at http://www.againstmalaria.com/thephilosophists
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- Music and cover artwork by © 2021 Declan McGrath, All Reserved