Simple question: why does Blackburn think that *how*/*who* caused a death is not always the most ethically relevant factor to consider? How does his example of the two men who both tried to kill a third (who was crossing the desert) help to illustrate his point?
Discuss the idea of a Natural Right – in the classical Lockean sense, something like the Right to LIfe. What does it mean to say that EVERYONE has the Right to Life? How does that fit with notions like the Death Penalty, Compulsory Military Service, or Abusive Governments that deny people their Rights? For that matter, how can a Natural Right be denied, if its truly part of Nature? In discussing this, also consider what Blackburn says: if you have a Right, then someone else has an obligation….does the idea of Natural Obligations make as much sense to you? And, if so, what natural obligations do we have to others regarding their lives?
Weve already discussed Aristotles conception of being happy. But, what about this: his argument implies – or outright states – that some people are more skilled at living life (that is a fair interpretation of what he means by the idea of Virtue). And so, in Aristotles theory to be Virtuous is to be the best at living life: so, discuss this, do you tend to think of Ethics as something designed to make your own personal life better? Do you think you should after having studied Aristotle?
Now, obviously that leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but be sure to bring your answer back to Aristotles ideas: the Golden Mean, Virtue, and his conception of Happiness as both personal satisfaction AND contribution to Human Purpose.
The key to the section on Reasons and Foundations is Blackburns distinction between what he calls reasons and Reasons. Heres my question – or your task – can you provide a clear example of each? An example of a Reason which possesses apodictic force and binds all *rational* agents. And, an example of a reason which appeals to some, based upon their interests, needs, desires, or goals.
Remember, ultimately this distinctino is VERY important as one of the key questions of ethics is: is it *rational* to act ethically? Some authors (like Kant or Plato) might argue that to act unethically is to act irrationally, but not everyone takes that view. This is an important topic that Blackburn will return to throughout the third part of his book.
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