More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science
Edward Slingerland, University of British Columbia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
Notes taken on November 4, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
civilization is a relatively new development for human beings
for most of evolutionary history, and that of our line of primates, we live in small-scale societies
usually groups of no more than 150
most of them relatives or at least others known to us
you could generally keep track of others within the group
this is how primates still live
around 12,000 years ago, there was a transition to anonymous, large-scale agricultural communities
interacting with strangers
having one-off interactions with people we may not see again
this was a completely novel way of living compared to the history of human beings up to this point
99.9% of human beings today live in this kind of environment
cooperation puzzle based on:
1. kin selection
you tend to cooperation with relatives because they tend to be trustworthy and because they are carrying copies of your genes
2. reciprocal altruism
"I do you a favor, you do me a favor"
these two features of relationships function throughout the animal world
but something more than these two features has to be going on in large-scale human societies, since:
we interact trustfully with many strangers throughout every day
many of these interactions are one-off without any guarantee that you will see that person again
claim #1: institutional hypothesis
our hot psychology, system 1 systems, have remained unchanged
on a "hot" level, we are still basically tribal animals and so this coherence in large societies is based on instincts and intuitions re-channeled through external institutions
laws which act to suppress our hot cognitive nature, encourage our cold cognitive processes to reason why it is to our benefit to obey the laws
e.g. hot cognition encourages me to favor my family and my friends, but there is a law that says I will get punished if I do this
so cold cognition comes in and I refrain from doing this
how people went from tribal society to civilization is one of the main themes in early Chinese history
they were very worried about this problem and as a society solved it with two general approaches
1. rule by law
Mohists and Legalists
pushing institutional solutions
human nature is unchangeable, selfish and tribal
but we can set up these new institutional incentive systems that will change the way people behave
rational calculation
cognitive control
depend on reward and punishment
2. rule by virtue
Confucianism and Daoism
pushing a commitment model
emotions, virtues
allows for spontaneous reactions
depends on internalized values
what it means to live in civilization is to acquire new virtues, a virtue being a socially desirable disposition
a spontaneous way to act, if you have the virtue of honesty, you are not honest based on a rule, but out of your nature, spontaneously
a hot cognitive reaction, a reflex
in practice, all successful societies seem to involve a mix of both
virtue-based Confucian societies also have many rules, punishment-reward mechanisms
becomes the normative model in China
in the Han Dynasty, Confucianism gets established as the state religion
institution-based societies still value virtues such as honesty, loyalty, and courage
e.g. the Qin dynasty's model unified China, but was seen by the Han Dynasty as harsh and inhuman
but the Han Dynasty inherited many of the institutional structure from the Chin Dynasty
modern democracies are institution-based societies ruled by law
we still value virtues but they play a second role to laws
cognition and ethics
ethical reasoning
when you think about ethics
ethical behavior
when you act ethically or unethically
ethical education
when ethics is taught
three models of ethics
1. deontology
rule-based ethics
you have duties, typically in the form of maxims
ethical reasoning and behavior involves knowing those maxims, how to rank them, e.g. is it ok to lie if you can prevent a murder, etc.
concerned with ethical dilemmas
cold-system based
associated most prominently with Immanuel Kant
2. utilitarianism
maximize desirable outcomes
e.g. happiness or pleasure
who it is for: individual, society, etc.
like another cold-system, all about reasoning and involves analysis:
course of action #1 results in this payoff
course of action #1 results in that payoff
you do the math and figure out the better one
John Stuart Mill
as an ethical being, you are a "rational calculator of payoffs"
once you cognitively decide what the best payoff strategy is, you have to force this on your desires
3. virtue ethics
a hot cognitive model
ethics is about cultivating desirable dispositions in the self
as an ethical teacher, you are trying to get people to have "new hot reactions" to the world, i.e. instead of cold cognitive thought of how to act, they act spontaneously and virtuously
training perception, emotion and desires
Aristotle is the prominent example
also early Confucians and Daoists
it relies on the power of hot cognition, but not the hot cognition we're born with