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PHL337 Ethics Course Resources Weekly Glossary

Weekly Glossary

Week One Glossary

Week One: Ethics, Morals, and Values


  Absolutism The ethical theory that there is a universal set of moral rules that can and should be followed by everybody. Back To Top



  Acculturation modi�cation of a culture by using or adopting traits of another culture. Back To Top



  Ad hominen argument A logical fallacy (a formally faulty argument) that assumes tat because a person is who he or she is, his or her viewpoint must be wrong. Back To Top



  Agnosticism The view that God is unknown and that it cannot be known whether or not there is a God. Back To Top



  Anthropocentrism Viewing everything from an exclusively human perspective. Back To Top



  Anthropology The study of humans. Physical anthropology: the study of human biology and biological prehistory. Back To Top



  Anthropomorphism Literally: making into a human shape. Projecting human characteristics into the behavior of other animals. Back To Top



  Atheism The conviction that there is no God. Back To Top



  Begging the question A logical fallacy whereby a person who is supposed to prove something assumes from the stat that it is a fact Back To Top




Using books, usually stories of �ction, in therapy session to facilitate patients' understanding of themselves and their situation and options. Back To Top



  Catharsis, cathartic Cleansing. See Aristotle's theory of drama, Chapter 2 Back To Top



  Counterfable/countermyth A story/fable/myth told deliberately to prove another story, type of story, or idea wrong. Back To Top



  Cultural Diversity The recognition of a variety of ethnic and racial groups within a given region (all the way from a neighborhood to plant Earth). Back To Top



  Cultural imperialism A critical term for the attitude of imposing one's cultural accomplishment sand moral convictions on other cultures. Back To Top



  Cultural relativism The theory that di�erent societies or cultures have di�erent moral codes. A descriptive theory. Back To Top




Distrust in evidence of virtue or disinterested motives. Pessimism. Originally a Greek school of thought believing that virtue, not pleasure or intellect, was the ultimate goal of life. Deteriorated into the idea of self-righteousness. Back To Top




The scienti�c and philosophical method of identifying an item of absolute truth (an axiom) and using this as a premise to deduce speci�c cases that are also absolutely true. Back To Top



  Descriptive Describing a phenomenon without making an evaluative or judgmental statement. Opposite of normative. Back To Top



  Dichotomy An "either-or" statement. A false dichotomy: an either-or statement that ignores other possibilities. Back To Top



  Didactic Done or told for the purpose of teaching a lesson. Back To Top



  Ego Freud's term for the human experience of the self. See also Superego and Id. Back To Top



  Ego integrity Erikson's term for mental equilibrium, accepting one's past, and not playing the "what if" game with oneself. Back To Top



  Epistemology Theory of knowledge. One of the main branches of traditional philosophy. Back To Top



Ethical Relativism The theory that there is no universal moral code and that whatever the majority of any given society or culture considers morally right is morally right for that culture. A normative theory. See also cultural relativism


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  Ethical Will

A statement left behind by the decedent which expresses his/her values, life experiences or lessons. The statement is left to ensure sharing these values, etc. with hi/her heirs; the Ethical Will can be updated to include new experiences; there is no age limit and it can be updated at any time. Back To Top



  Ethicist A person professionally or vocationally involved with the theory ad application of ethics. Back To Top



  Ethics The study, questioning, and justi�cation of moral rules. Back To Top



  Ethics of Conduct The study of moral rules pertaining to decisions about what course of action to take or "what to do". Back To Top



  Ethos The moral rules and attitudes of a culture. Back To Top




A critical term meaning that American culture is overly focused on its European roots. Possibly a misnomer, since Americans rarely focus o European traditions, politics, and history, but rather on the European legacy for mainstream American culture. Back To Top



  Evidence A ground or reason for certainty I knowledge. Usually empirical evidence; facts gathered in support of a theory. Back To Top



  Exemplar A model, an example for others to follow. Back To Top



  Fable A short narrative with a moral, introducing persons, animals, or inanimate things as speakers and actors. Back To Top



  Fallacy A �aw in one's reasoning; an argument that does not follow the rules of logic. Back To Top



  Fatalism The theory that life is determined by a higher power and that our will can't change our destiny. Back To Top



  Genocide The murder of all or most of a population. Back To Top



  Genre A literary type of story (of �lm), such as horror, western, or science �ction. Back To Top



  Grail The search for a particular object (should not be capitalized when using the term in this context). Back To Top



  Hard universalism See absolutism. Back To Top



  Homogeneous Consisting of similar elements. Back To Top




A political term for the distinction between one's national or ethnic ancestry and a-one's American identity, such as Swedish-American. To be "hyphenated" indicates for some people that one's loyalties are divided. Today is common to omit the hyphen, as in Swedish American. Back To Top




The scienti�c and philosophical method of collecting empirical evidence and formulating a general theory based on those speci�c facts. The problem of induction: because one never knows if one has collected enough evidence, one can never achieve 100 percent certainty through induction. Back To Top




The approach to ethics that refrains from making normative statements, but focuses on the meaning of terms and statements and investigates the sources of normative statements. Back To Top



  Metaphysics  The philosophical study of the nature of reality or of being. Back To Top



  Monism A type of metaphysics that holds that there is one element of reality only, such as materialism or idealism. Back To Top




As opposed to multiculturalism. The concept of a dominant culture, viewing its history and cultural practices as the only signi�cant contributions to the culture in question. Back To Top



  Mores The moral customs and rules of a given culture. Back To Top




The policy of recognizing cultural diversity to the extent where all cultures within a given region are fairly represented in terms of public life and education. Sometimes includes gender as cultural diversity. See also cultural diversity, pluralism, and particularism. Back To Top




A story or a collection of stories that give identity, guidance, and meaning to a culture. Usually these are stories of gods, and heroes, but they may involve ordinary people, too. In common language myth has come to mean "falsehood" or "illusion", but this is not the original meaning. Back To Top



  Narrative   A story with a plot. Back To Top



  Narrative structure   perceiving events as having a logical progression from a beginning through a middle to an ending. Back To Top



Narrative time The time frame within which a story takes place. The experience of sharing this time frame as one reads or watches the story unfold.


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  Nihilism From the Latin nihil, nothing. The attitude of believing in nothing. Moral nihilism: the conviction that there are no moral truths Back To Top



  Normative Evaluating and /or setting norms or standards. Opposite of descriptive. Back To Top



  Other, the

A philosophical concept meaning either something that is completely di�erent from yourself and all your experiences or someone who is di�erent from you and is thus hard to understand. Back To Top




The branch of multiculturalism that believes people not belonging to the dominant culture should retrieve their self-esteem by learning about the traditions and accomplishments of their own cultural group rather than those of the dominant group or any other group. Also call exclusive multiculturalism. Back To Top



  Prescriptive See Normative. Back To Top




A concept of criminal justice: punishing a criminal with the intent of making him or her a better socialized person at the end of the term of punishment. Back To Top



  Replicant Absolution

Term used in the �lm Blade Runner for androids. See android. Forgiveness; usually God's forgiveness. Back To Top



  Revisionism   Advocacy of revision of former values and viewpoints. Today: refers mostly to a cynical revision of heroic values of the past. Back To Top



  Slippery Slope Argument  

A version of the reduction ad absurdum argument; you reduce your opponent's view to unacceptable or ridiculous consequences which you opponent will presumably have to accept or else abandon his or her theory . Your opponent's argument must "slide down the slope" of logic. A way to defeat the slippery slope argument is to "draw the line" and defend your viewpoint on the basis that there is a di�erence between the "top of the slope" and the "bottom of the slope". Back To Top




Straw Man (Straw Dummy) Argument Android

A logical fallacy that consists of attacking and disproving a theory invented for the occasion An arti�cial intelligence; a robot made to resemble a human being. Literally: manlike. There is no accepted word for a female android, but the equivalent would be gyneoid. Back To Top



  Soft Universalism

The ethical theory that although humans may not agree on all moral rules or all customs, there are a few bottom-line rules we can agree on, despite our di�erent ways of expressing them. Back To Top



  Superego Freud's concept o the human conscience, the internalized rules of our parents and our society. Back To Top



  Universal Law Kant's term for a moral rule that can be imagined as applying to everybody in the same situation and accepted by other rational beings. Back To Top



  Universalization The process by which one asks oneself whether one's maxim could become a universal law:"What if everybody did this?" Back To Top



Week Two Glossary

Week Two: Self and Others


Term De�nition



Concern for the interests of others. Extreme (ideal) altruism: concern for the interests of others while disregarding one's own interests. Moderate altruism (also known as Gold Rule altruism or reciprocal altruism); taking others' interests into account while being concerned for one's own interests as well. Back To Top





      Auto-icon An image of oneself that consists of oneself. Bentham's term for his own planned future position as a stu�ed corpse on display. Back To Top



  Backward-looking justice

Correcting past wrongs. Back To Top




Creating a genetic copy of another individual, either through a process where multiple twins are created, or a process where a cell nucleus is taken from the original individual, implanted in an emptied ovum, and allowed to develop into an embryo. If the embryo is terminated within ten to fourteen days, stem cells may be harvested. If an embryo can survive and be carried to term, a cloned individual is the result. Cloning will not result in a perfect copy of another individual, physically or mentally, because of the variety of circumstances surrounding the growth process that can't be duplicated. Back To Top



Communitarianism A moral and political theory that the individual receives his or her identity from his or her community and can �ourish only within the community. The theory is found in the ancient Greek tradition, but is also evident in traditional African tribal cultures. Modern communitarians mentioned in this book include Alasdair MacIntyre and Elizabeth Wolgast. In addition, Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared herself a communitarian with the publication of her book, It Takes a Village.


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the alphabetical links above.

Denying oneself physical pleasure a and indulgence.

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