By Tibor R. Machan
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Additional resources for A Primer on Ethics
This view of ethics reflects the more basic idea that human life-indeed all life-has inherently values. A living creature, in other words, inevitably grapples with conditions that either promote or impede its well-being. Once life has emerged in the world, values become part of the world's facts. Many philosophers, and others, deny that ethics concerns itself with any kind offacts except incidentally. ) These thinkers accept what is usually called the fact/value dichotomy or the is/ought gap, by which they mean that facts (or what is the case) represent a fundamentally different area of concern from values (or what ought to be the case).
A brain tumor, a severe childhood trauma, and an automobile accident are all examples of intrusive forces that sometimes incapacitate people. In addition, attorneys and expert witnesses would sometimes have us believe that people who engage in criminal behavior cannot control their actions. People whose behavior or judgment is involuntary cannot be said to possess free will. Compatibilism. People who deny the existence offree will cannot distinguish between cases in which the individual decides his or her behavior and cases in which the behavior is determined by forces beyond his or her control.
Consequently, community experts, or on a large scale a fully centralized state, would be needed to discharge the ethical responsibilities that each person would bear as a moral agent. Such an arrangement would be moral paternalism, critics have argued. Individuals would lose the responsibility for attaining the proper goals of human conduct, and political leaders would be the sole moral decision makers. Utilitarianism would then become something other than an ethical theory, which requires self-responsibility.
A Primer on Ethics by Tibor R. Machan