Philosophy 241 Lecture Note Essay

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Lecture agenda Sept. 5, 2013

1. I've been asked to alert you that there's an emergency exit alarm at the door in the far southeast corner of the room. If you activate it, or even open the door, there's an ear-splitting alarm that won't stop until the door is closed again. (Some students thought it was fake and tested it; others just didn't see the exist alarm and opened the door).

2. Reminder: The Socratic Society (undergrad philosophy club) meets every Friday at 7 pm in Memorial Union (see TITU). Everyone welcome.

The most influential philosopher whom I mentioned last time is Peter Singer (formerly Australia; now Princeton). He has several books, but the book that has had that greatest influence is Animal Liberation (I think in its 4th edition). When I teach Philosophy 341, I assign the chapters on factory farming and the use animals in testing commercial products.

Review of last time:
Outline of the subject matter of this course: 4 units, each reflecting a different approach to normative philosophical ethics:
   1. Teleological/Consequentialist Ethics: Utilitarianism and egoism. Readings by Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Bishop Joseph Butler; critique by Dostoevsky; some relevant contemporary feminist reflections by Marilyn Frye.
   2. Deontological ethics: Immanuel Kant: Sections 1 and 2 of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; Kant's notorious essay "On a Supposed Right to Tell Lies." Contemporary reflections by existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and African American philosophers Bernard Boxill, Laurence Thomas.
   3. Virtue Ethics (a.k.a. Character Ethics): Aristotle, most of The Nicomachean Ethics. Contemporary reflections on anger by Marilyn Frye.
   4. Varieties of Moral Skepticism, with a focus on Friedrich Nietzsche, essays 1 and 2 of his Genealogy of Morals.

Kinds of philosophical ethics:
1. Practical ethics (the emphasis in Philosophy 341: Contemporary Moral Issues):focus on contemporary moral issues, such as abortion, the death penalty, torture, poverty, etc. 341 has a higher number than 241 only because it was created later. 241 is more theoretical. In this course (241), we use particular moral issues (such as punishment) to test moral theories and to compare and contrast them with each other.

2. Normative ethics (the emphasis in this course): theories of the ethical distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad (desirable and undesirable, good and bad as applied to possible objects of desire), and good and evil (worthiness/unworthiness of esteem; good and bad as applied to the will itself, to character, virtues, vices).
3. Meta-ethics (the epistemology and metaphysics of ethics).  Philosophy 541 when taught by Prof. Russ Shafer-Landau. The last unit of this course will take us into meta-ethics.

Vocabulary: Normative vs descriptive statements:
    normative statements (or questions) are about what ought or ought not to be or be done or what would be good (or bad), etc. (for short, 'ought statements')
   descriptive statements (or questions) are about what is or is not the case (or might be, will, was, etc.), statements of fact; claims about what caused what are descriptive (for short, "'is' statements")
   "Everyone is self-interested" is a descriptive statement.
   "Everyone ought to be self-interested" is normative.
  Philosophical question: how are "is statements" related to "ought statements"? Different ethical theories give different answers.
Main business: Simon Wiesenthal's memoir, The Sunflower.

Simon Wiesenthal's memoir, "The Sunflower" (pp. 3-98 in your text). /Die Sonnenblum/, Paris 1969.
Two themes: the ethics of forgiveness and the ethics of silence.
   3 main parts: (a) backstories (esp. stories of "the day without Jews" and of the cemetery), pp. 3-24
   (b) main episode (confrontation with Karl), pp. 25-55)
   (c) aftermath (including the visit to Karl's mother), pp. 55-98

Questions of interpretation:
1. What