Consequentialist moral reasoning:
The right thing to do, the moral thing to do, depends on the consequences that we resolve from your action.
Consequentialist moral reasoning locates morality in the consequence of an act in the state of the rule that we resolve from the thing you do.
Categorical moral reasoning located morality in certain duties and rights.
Consequentialist moral reasoning ➡️ Utilitarianism 功利主义(invited by Bentham边沁)
Categorical moral reasoning ➡️Kant 康德
If you look at the syllabus, you’ll notice we read a number or great and famous books, books by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill and others. You’ll notice too from the syllabus we don’t only read these books, we also take up contemporary political and legal controversy that rise philosophical questions. We’ll debate equality and inequality, affirmative action, free speech vs hate speech, same sex marriage, military conscription, a range of practical questions
Why? Not just to enliven these abstract and distant books, but make clear to bring out what’s at stake in our daily life, including our political lives, for philosophy?
The warning: To read these books in this way as an excuse in self knowledge. To read them in this way carries certain risks, risks that are both personal and political, risks that every students of political philosophy has known. These risks spring from the fact that philosophy teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know
There’s an irony. The difficulty of this course consists in a fact that teaches us what you’ve already known. It works by taking what we know from familiar unquestioned settings and marking it strange.
It’s also how these philosophical books where philosophy estranges from the familiar, not by supplying new information but by inviting and provoking a new way of seeing. But here is the risk. Once the familiar turns strange, it’s never quite the same again.
Self knowledge is like a lost innocent. However unsettling you find it, you can never be unthought or unknown.
What makes this and your enterprise difficult but also riveting is that the moral and political philosophy is a story and you don’t know where the story will lead, but what you do know is that the story is about you.
I promise you. By reading these books and debating issues, you’ll be a more responsible citizen. You’ll exam preconceive notion that public policy. You’ll hone your political judgement. You’ll become a more effective participant in public affairs
But this would be a partial and misleading promise. Political philosophy for the most part hasn’t worked that way. You have to allow the possibility that political philosophy may make you a worse citizen rather than a better one, or at least a worse citizen before it makes you a better one. And that’s because philosophy is a distant thing, even debilitating activity.
Talk Socrate out of philosophy
Philosophy is a pretty toy
If one indulges in it with moderation at the right time of life
But if one pursuits it further than one should
It’s absolutely ruining
Abandon argument. Learn the accomplishment of act of life
Take for your models, not those people who spend their time in these petty quibbling
But those who have good livelihood and reputation and many other blessings
Philosophy distances us from conventions, from established assumptions, from settle beliefs.
And at the face of these risks, there’s a characteristic evasion. The name of the evasion is skepticism.
It’s true these questions have been debated for a very long time, but the very fact that they’ve recurred and persisted may suggest though they’re impossible in one sense they’re unavoidable in another. The reason that they’re unavoidable, the reason that they’re inescapable is that we live some answer to these questions everyday.
So skepticism just throwing up your hands, and given up by moral reflection is no solution.
Kant described very well the problems with skepticism when he wrote: “Skepticism is a resting place for human reasoning, where is can reflect on dogmatic wandering. But it’s no dwelling place for permanent settlement. Simply to acquiesce, skepticism can’t never suffice to overcome the recklessness of reason. “
The end of this course is to awaken recklessness of reason and to see where I might lead.
Utilitarian moral theory
The right thing, the just thing to do is to maximize utility, the balance of pleasure over pain, happiness of suffering. All human beings are governed by two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. So we should base morality, whether we’re thinking about what to do in our own lives or whether as legislators or citizens, we’re thinking about what the law should be. The right thing to do individually or collectively is to maximize, acting a way that maximizes the overall level of happiness. “The greatest good for the greatest number.”
If not from some ideas or larger welfare or utility or happiness, where do certain fundamental rights from?
Why does agreement to a certain procedure, even a fair procedure, justify whatever result flows from the operation of that procedure?
What does “consent” mean?
What is the moral work that the consent does? Why does an act of consent makes such a moral difference?