Saturday, April 18, 2020

Ethics and Reasoning Index

As noted at the beginning, this was a barebones introduction to forms of reasoning in ethics, following loosely the order in my Ethics courses while stripping out most secondary readings. Doing the latter required some occasional re-organization; it also made sense to explain in a bit more detail a few things that I can usually only gesture briefly at in lectures, or that I usually explain by way of class activity or assignment rather than directly, where it was relevant to understanding the main figure in question.

I (Bentham)
II (Mill)
III (Mill)

IV (Kant)
V (Kant)

VI (Aristotle)
VII (Aquinas)
VIII (Aquinas)

If one were going beyond the limited range of primary topics I can cover in a term, one could certainly look at more: non-utilitarian consequentialisms, non-Kantian deontologies, non-Aristotelian virtue ethics. But the point here, of course, was not an exhaustive survey but a first look.

One thing that is perhaps worth emphasizing in general is that in no case is ethics actually seen as standalone, or even something that can be adequately addressed as a standalone field; ethics is always touching on and related with law (Bentham, Aquinas), aesthetics (Mill, Kant), and natural theology (Kant, Aquinas), in quite substantive ways, and here I've only even looked at a few of the really obvious cases -- politics and education are both topics, for instance, that are much more important to ethical reasoning than one would be able to see just from the above survey. Ethics, to be sure, is a sea that touches every shore, but it is more than just general relevance; it draws on and is strengthened by other fields. An ethics standing alone, sealed off from aesthetics, law, religion, politics, education, etc., is a malnourished ethics.

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