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1.Virtue and feminist theories are examples of agent-centered, rather than being act-centered, views of morality. Agent-centered views begin by telling us what it takes to be a good person and, once we know what criteria must be met for an individual to be good, explain what is right and wrong partly in terms of those criteria. Act-centered theories, on the other hand, begin by explaining what criteria distinguish right acts from wrong, and on the basis of that explain what we must do to be good.In addition, virtue and feminist theories of morality are nonconsequentialist views, in that they look to features of our actions other than the effects to determine how we ought to act. In contrast, consequentialist moral theories look only to the effects of our actions in order to distinguish right from wrong.
Why do virtue and feminist theories count as agent-centered moral theories, and why do they also count as nonconsequentialist?Why does utilitarianism count as both act-centered and consequentialist?
2.One thing that distinguishes utilitarianism from other moral theories is its endorsement of impartialism. Impartialism says that we cannot favor some people over others when determining how to act rightly. Utilitarians are committed to impartialism because they endorse the principle of utility. According to the principle,we are morally required to do whatever improves over all well-being more than any other action that could be done in the circumstances. In particular, the part of the utility principle about ‘overall well-being’ requires taking all people affected by what we do into consideration when determining what is right.Like other impartialist theories, however, utilitarians think we can often act rightly when we benefit ourselves and those with whom we have close relationships instead of benefitting others with whom we have no special relationships. There are many cases where utilitarians will think we are doing the right thing when we and those close with us are positively affected by our actions, even if others are harmed by them. In other cases, however, utilitarians will require us to act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and our loved ones in order to benefit others.How doesthe idea of overall well-being in the utility principle support impartialism? What is an example in which utilitarians will require us to benefit others over ourselvesand our loved ones, and what is an example in which they will say it is right to benefit ourselves and those close to us over others?
3.Utilitarians face a problem because they require us to do things that we ordinarily think are optional. To use the lingo, utilitarians make some supererogatory actions into ethical obligations. One example in which this occurs is when someone is a suitable candidate to donate blood andhas a blood type that is frequently in short supply. While many of us think that blood donation is supererogatory for the person in the example, utilitarians will say differently.What does it mean to say that an action is supererogatory? Why do you think blood donation in a case like the one mentioned above is supererogatory? Why will utilitarians say the person in the example is required to donate blood?
4.Thankfully, we are quickly approaching a point where safe, effective vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus will enter the market. In the coming few months, many thousands of people will receive the vaccine. Once vaccinated, those individuals as well as those they come into contact with will be very unlikely to contract or spread Covid-19.Suppose that you are in charge of distributing the vaccine in our region, so that your approval is necessary for someone to be vaccinated. You have already given out much of the supply of the vaccine that is available to you. Your remaining supply has already been reserved for residents of a local nursing home that specializes in caring for people with advanced dementia. As you are preparing to ship the vaccines to the nursing home, a nearby hospital contacts you to ask if you have spare doses of the vaccine that they could administer to a group of travel nurses brought in to care for Covid-19 patients.Why will the Kantian universalizability principle require you to ship the remaining vaccinedoses to the nursing home? Will utilitarians agree, or will they argue that the doses should go to the travel nurses? Why will utilitarians draw that conclusion?
5.We are accustomed to thinking that we should receive praise when we have acted rightly, especially when the effects of our right action are significantly positive. If you save a life, give to a worthy cause, or perform some public good, it seems reasonable to give you some recognition for the work you did.In order for you to deserve recognition for doing good work, however, it also seems reasonable to think that you should have made a choice to act in the way you did. We agree, in other words, that you do not deserve praise for acting rightly when you did so unintentionally or accidentally.What is an example where someone unintentionally or accidentally actsto make good effects occur? Why will utilitarians say the person acted rightly in the example? How does the Kantian universalizability principle support saying that the person did not act rightly, but that they also did not act wrong?