PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral Reasoning

March 8, 2022
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PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral Reasoning

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral Reasoning

Help me study for my Philosophy class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.

Briefly describe what comes to mind when you think of “ethics” or “morality” in relation to the study of philosophy. What interests you about this topic?

The purpose of this exchange was to explore the domains of values, moral reasoning, and ethics. Values and moral reasoning reflect the “is.” Moral reasoning is the mental process that nurses set in motion to come to some decision of right or wrong in any moral dilemma. Values are motivational preferences or dispositions. Moral values are those preferences that are integral to any moral reasoning process. Ethics reflect the oughts. It is the art-science that critically evaluates the “is.” As such, ethics identifies the norms or standards of behaviors that either are or can become the values that are implemented through moral reasoning. Nursing is just beginning to identify its moral values and reasoning. Nevertheless, nursing seems to be further along in the identification of the “is” than it is with the “ought.” The further development of nursing ethics will be of great benefit to nurse researchers and educators. The greatest benefit will be, however, to the practicing nurse as she/he struggles with giving excellent nursing care consistent with a positive nursing ethic.

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral ReasoningMoral reasoning is the study of how people think about right and wrong and how they acquire and apply moral rules. It is a subdiscipline of moral psychology that overlaps with moral philosophy, and is the foundation of descriptive ethics.

Starting from a young age, people can make moral decisions about what is right and wrong; this makes morality fundamental to the human condition. Moral reasoning, however, is a part of morality that occurs both within and between individuals.[1] Prominent contributors to this theory include Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel. The term is sometimes used in a different sense: reasoning under conditions of uncertainty, such as those commonly obtained in a court of law. It is this sense that gave rise to the phrase, “To a moral certainty;”[2] however, this idea is now seldom used outside of charges to juries.

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral ReasoningMoral reasoning is an important and often daily process that people use when trying to do the right thing. For instance, every day people are faced with the dilemma of whether to lie in a given situation or not. People make this decision by reasoning the morality of their potential actions, and through weighing their actions against potential consequences.

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A moral choice can be a personal, economic, or ethical one; as described by some ethical code, or regulated by ethical relationships with others. This branch of psychology is concerned with how these issues are perceived by ordinary people, and so is the foundation of descriptive ethics. There are many different forms of moral reasoning which often are dictated by culture. Cultural differences in the high-levels of cognitive function associated with moral reasoning can be observed through the association of brain networks from various cultures and their moral decision making. These cultural differences demonstrate the neural basis that cultural influences can have on an individual’s moral reasoning and decision making.[3]

Distinctions between theories of moral reasoning can be accounted for by evaluating inferences (which tend to be either deductive or inductive) based on a given set of premises.[4] Deductive inference reaches a conclusion that is true based on whether a given set of premises preceding the conclusion are also true, whereas, inductive inference goes beyond information given in a set of premises to base the conclusion on provoked reflection.

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral ReasoningIn philosophy
Philosopher David Hume claims that morality is based more on perceptions than on logical reasoning.[4] This means that people’s morality is based more on their emotions and feelings than on a logical analysis of any given situation. Hume regards morals as linked to passion, love, happiness, and other emotions and therefore not based on reason.[4] Jonathan Haidt agrees, arguing in his social intuitionist model that reasoning concerning a moral situation or idea follows an initial intuition.[5] Haidt’s fundamental stance on moral reasoning is that “moral intuitions (including moral emotions) come first and directly cause moral judgments”; he characterizes moral intuition as “the sudden appearance in consciousness of a moral judgment, including an affective valence (good-bad, like-dislike), without any conscious awareness of having gone through steps of searching, weighing evidence, or inferring a conclusion”.[4]

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral ReasoningImmanuel Kant had a radically different view of morality. In his view, there are universal laws of morality that one should never break regardless of emotions.[4] He proposes a four-step system to determine whether or not a given action was moral based on logic and reason. The first step of this method involves formulating “a maxim capturing your reason for an action”.[4] In the second step, one “frame[s] it as a universal principle for all rational agents”.[4] The third step is assessing “whether a world based on this universal principle is conceivable”.[4] If it is, then the fourth step is asking oneself “whether [one] would will the maxim to be a principle in this world”.[4] In essence, an action is moral if the maxim by which it is justified is one which could be universalized. For instance, when deciding whether or not to lie to someone for one’s own advantage, one is meant to imagine what the world would be like if everyone always lied, and successfully so. In such a world, there would be no purpose in lying, for everybody would expect deceit, rendering the universal maxim of lying whenever it is to your advantage absurd. Thus, Kant argues that one should not lie under any circumstance. Another example would be if trying to decide whether suicide is moral or immoral; imagine if everyone committed suicide. Since mass international suicide would not be a good thing, the act of suicide is immoral. Kant’s moral framework, however, operates under the overarching maxim that you should treat each person as an end in themselves, not as a means to an end. This overarching maxim must be considered when applying the four aforementioned steps.[4]

PHI 208 Discussion Ethics and Moral ReasoningReasoning based on analogy is one form of moral reasoning. When using this form of moral reasoning the morality of one situation can be applied to another based on whether this situation is relevantly similar: similar enough that the same moral reasoning applies. A similar type of reasoning is used in common law when arguing based upon legal precedent. [a]

In consequentialism (often distinguished from deontology) actions are based as right on wrong based upon the consequences of action as opposed to a property intrinsic to the action itself.

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