What is the difference between the empirical or ‘a posteriori’ arguments for the existence of God (the five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas), and the conceptual arguments for the existence of God (Ontological, and Moral)
According to the empirical or ‘posterior’ arguments God’s existence is through the claim about the successful conclusion of ends and processes. According to this theory, ends and processes are according to directions by an intelligent being who foresees the successful attainment of a specific end by these ends and processes. The empirical arguments for the existence of God argue that the fact that natural events and phenomena achieved a successful end shows that there is an intelligent being or deity that foresees all these and ensures that they meet a specific end. This theory, therefore, contends that the fact that ends and processes meet a successful conclusion shows that God indeed exists.
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Conceptual arguments or ontological and moral arguments, on the other hand, argue that there are a supreme being and the attempt to deny this only brings contradictions. This theory argues that God’s existence through the very definition of God and the fact that people try to argue about this shows that indeed God exists. The theory argues that fact that people try to find out if there is a God is proved in itself to show that God exists.
Support your answer by briefly sketching one or more of the first three arguments in St. Aquinas, comparing it to the general strategy followed by Anselm, or Descartes, in arguing for God’s existence
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, God’s existence illustrates itself through five ‘proofs’. First, according to him, God’s existence proves itself through the way of motion where he argues that something can’t move from the state of potentiality to actuality except through the state of actuality. The fact that objects or things can move shows that there is a mover since they can’t move by themselves.
The second ‘proof’ according to St. Thomas Aquinas in the way of causation where he argues that in the natural world there is an order of efficient causes. Since objects and events cannot be the efficient cause of themselves, cause and effect illustrate that God indeed exists.
Descartes however who falls under the ontological views for God’s existence argues that God is an infinite being who “contains in itself more reality”. According to him, that he exists and supersedes all thoughts that he doesn’t exist since existence is more perfect than existence in our thoughts and since God is the perfect being it means that he indeed exists.
Briefly sketch the moral argument: What must the moral argument begin by proving or establishing first? Critically evaluate
According to the moral argument, the existence of God shows itself through moral laws and morality. It argues that without God then everything is permissible and the fact that everything is not permissible proves that God exists. According to this theory, morality over-rules everything. It has the last authority and this shows that it must have a director who is above everything and who has power over everything. The moral argument, therefore, sets to prove that there exists an author of morality who is God.
What is the Utilitarian principle?
Utilitarianism refers to the ethical principle which focuses on the outcomes or consequences of actions and is sometimes referred to as the theory of consequentialism. It is where actions that maximize good and minimize bad are undertaken to help most people. It seeks to meet the greatest good for all in society. According to this principle, each right has to be sacrificed to meet the greatest good for all. The person is not important in utilitarianism. Rather it focuses on ensuring the happiness of all the parties involved.
What is the difference between Simple Utilitarianism as found in the thought of Jeremy Bentham and Utilitarian theory as developed by John Stuart Mill?
Jeremy Bentham was greatly influenced by Hobbes’ account of human nature and by Hume’s social utility. For him, humans seek pleasure and avoid anything that results in pain. To him, those actions considered desirable are those that promote happiness, and those actions that cause pain or unhappiness discouraged.
Bentham’s moral theory is based o the assumption that the consequences of one’s actions determine the happiness achieved. He argues that one can calculate easily the pleasure experienced or the displeasure encountered to arrive at a net value of each action hence determining the pleasure quality.
According to Jeremy Bentham, the amount of pain or pleasure that results from an action determines whether it experiences rejection or not. Bentham recognizes the role of pleasure and pain in bringing about happiness and suffering in society. He equated well with pleasure and evil with pain. And he argues that these two attributes are quantifiable.
John Stuart Mill was a follower of Bentham though he disagreed with some of his claims. For him, pleasure and happiness without pain are very important and he identified pleasure as having an intrinsic value. To him, the best results achievements are those realized when there is most happiness. An action is right if done with virtue to meet the greatest happiness. For John Stuart Mill, it is not pleasure measure that matters rather it is happiness brought about by important action. According to him, happiness quality is the most important in utilitarianism. He argues that quantifying pleasure and pain is unreasonable since these qualities are immeasurable. Utilitarianism for John Stuart should make sure that the greatest pleasures for most people in society.
How do Act and Rule Utilitarianism differ, and what difficulty with Act Utilitarianism Is Rule Utilitarian meant to remedy?
Act utilitarianism refers to the principle applied directly to each alternative act in different circumstances of choice. According to act utilitarianism, actions are only right if they benefit most people in society. According to this principle, it does not matter if the action is right or wrong, what matters is if it benefits the majority of people in society. An example would be that a serial killer is killed even if this is against the laws. This is because this would benefit most people.
In rule utilitarianism, the act of doing right or wrong determines itself through the breaking or keeping of the rules of conduct. According to this principle, an action is right because the law says it is right and vice versa and it helps to decide how valid moral principles are in society.
According to rule-utilitarianism, some rules require one to follow and the adherence to the rules produces more happiness than if it were not followed.
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Rule utilitarianism remedied act utilitarianism which does not see justice in terms of laws but rather in the way that it benefits most people. Some scholars saw this as unethical and a way of justifying immoral acts and they came up with rule utilitarianism to try to remedy the situation brought about by act utilitarianism.
What similarities does Mill’s approach to Ethics share with the ethical philosophy of Aristotle?
According to John Stuart mill, actions can only be right if they promote happiness and lower pain. For him, happiness is a pleasure that is devoid of pain. His philosophy was known as hedonic value theory which meant that pleasure makes life better. According to John Stuart, one can even break rules that are set by society in their pursuit of happiness. He agreed with Bentham on the greatest happiness principle but differed with him on the identification of all differences among pleasures.
He identified pleasure as having an intrinsic value and to him; the best results are those realized when there is most happiness. This view is like that held by Aristotle who also believed that every activity must bring about the last good. For him, an action is right if done with virtue to meet the greatest happiness. Aristotle like John Stuart mill believed that every action must bring about the greatest good and for him, happiness is a choice worthy in itself. Mill and Aristotle shared a common idea that a good life is that which is spent on distinctively human activities.
Ed L. Miller and Jon Jensen. QUESTIONS that MATTERS” An Invitation to Philosophy sixth edition, 2003. Print.