Lecture Notes.

Module Six: Session Six

The Three Bases for Ethics

Bringing it all together


The Three Bases for Ethics

  • People are animals (in a biological sense).
  • People are social.
  • People are rational.

Implications for Moral Claims

  • The key to all this is human nature. Human nature is universal. Every human being has exactly the same nature. This is because they are all members of the same species.
  • If anything is really good for any person, then it is good for every person. If anything is really bad for any person, then it can be said to be bad for every person. Anyone can ask the question, "Would it be good to have a piano dropped on me?" The answer is, of course "No." If the answer is "No" for anybody, it is "No" for everybody.
  • This demonstrates that moral claims like, "One should never drop pianos on people," is universally true. That claim is prescriptive, normative, objective, absolute, and true.
  • Because there is a basis for ethics which applies to all people, regardless of their culture, their location, or their time in history, it necessarily follows that moral claims have the quality of being true or false. They are frequently absolute. They are rarely a matter of personal truth (a term critical thinkers avoid).

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