Week 4: Life, Death, and Ethics

Korsgaard: Source of Normativity of Ethics

Voluntarism: Choice, e.g. moral contract.

Realism: Ethical judgments are true or false, and can be known by means such as intuition.

Reflective endorsement: Take into account the nature of humans, e.g. Hume on emotions.

Autonomy: Kantian ideas about freedom provide greatest insight.

Ethical judgments depend on:

Metaphysics: Nature of a person, free will.

Epistemology: Methodology for evaluating natural and non-natural claims.

Science: Empirical information about humans and their history may be relevant to understanding the nature of persons.

Question: to what extent do desired ethical conclusions influence people's science, metaphysics, and epistemology?

Issues in the Ethics of Life and Death

Abortion, euthanasia, brain death, animal rights.

How do creationist, vitalist, and mechanistic views of life affect these issues?

Discussion Questions for Week 5

  1. What is the hard problem of consciousness? Is it harder than other psychological problems?
  2. Do conceivability arguments tell us anything about consciousness?
  3. How does understanding explanation in terms of mechanisms change the problem of consciousness?
  4. What type of materialism, if any, do you find most plausible?
  5. What type of dualism, if any, do you find most plausible?
  6. Is consciousness real?


Life, Mind, and Disease

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Oct. 4, 2004