Making Moral Progress: An Ethical Arguments Workbook
This handout is overview of an introductory ethics textbook called Making Moral Progress: An Ethical Arguments Workbook. This open-access (i.e., freely available) book applies the basics of formal logic to evaluate arguments concerning a number of pressing contemporary moral issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, absolute poverty, the treatment of animals, female genital mutilation, sexual ethics (e.g., homosexuality), drug use and more.
· Novel features: (1) begins with what ‘ordinary people’ say; (2) very logic-focused; (3) experimental, discussion-oriented, and skills-focused: more how to think than what.
· Book parts: I. CONCEPTS & TOOLS, II. OBSTACLES & OBJECTIONS, III. PRACTICE & APPLICATIONS, IV. PROGRESS & CHANGE
· The process: (1) Identify conclusion(s); (2) identify premise(s); (3) make the argument logically valid; (4) evaluate for soundness (true or reasonable premises & logical validity).
· Persistent questions: “What do you mean?” And “Why think that?”
“Doing this is wrong because…”
P1. Fetuses are human.
C1. Abortion (killing fetuses) is prima facie wrong.
P3. Fetuses are potential persons.
C2. Abortion (killing fetuses) is prima facie wrong.
P6. Meat tastes good; it’s pleasurable to eat.
C3. Therefore, eating meat (&killing animals) is morally permissible.
P8. Animals aren’t rational.
Therefore, eating animals is morally permissible.
P10. Animal research is necessary.
C4. Animal research is morally permissible.
P11. Homosexuals can’t reproduce.
C5. So, homosexuality is wrong.
P13. Homosexuality is unnatural.
C6. So, homosexuality is wrong.
P15. (Illegal) drug use is dangerous and unhealthy.
C7. So, (illegal) drug use is wrong.
P17. People have a moral right to their bodies.
C8. Therefore, drug use is morally permissible.
P19. Female genital mutilation is a tradition.
C9. Therefore, FGM is morally permissible.
P21. FGM is chosen by (some) women and girls.
C.10 So, it is morally permissible.