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Ethics of mutually beneficial interactions: Overview
In order to act as well as possible it is essential that you deepen your understanding of ethics. This course (the first in a series of three courses) helps you do this. The following two courses in this series explain how to apply this understanding in practice. Course 2a shows how this understanding can inform work related decision-making. Course 2b examines topics such as friendship, love, family, community, dealing with difficult people, dilemmas, honesty, integrity, forgiveness and weakness of will.
Ethics of mutually beneficial interactions: Part 1: The foundations of shared goals and shared experience
Session 1: We see that there are three main components to your decision-making.
First, your worldview, and in particular your view of human nature and human interactions, especially what you take to be really best for a person.
Second, an understanding of Kant’s distinction between treating a person as a mere means and treating him as an end. And your decision regarding which persons you will treat as an end.
Third, your decision regarding what effect you will try to have upon those persons that you treat as an end – in particular whether you will try to do what is best for them.
We discuss how these elements combine in your decision-making.
Session 2: The impossibility of using science or trial and error to find out what is truly best for a person.
Session 3. The distinction between seeing what is best for a person as participation in shared goods vs seeing what is best for a person as being possession of competitive goods.
Competitive goods have the characteristic that if you possess a particular instance of them then someone else does not. Examples include money, power and desire gratification. For instance, either you possess this pound coin, or I do. We have to compete for it. Competitive goods are part of a zero-sum game.
In contrast, shared goods are ways of interacting which are mutually beneficial. Examples include cooperating to pursue shared goals, building shared relationships (e.g. camaraderie, friendship and love), creating beauty, learning and teaching. Shared goods are the basis of win-win interactions. In the remainder of this course you will deepen your understanding of the nature of shared goods.
We explore the philosophical argument for thinking shared goods are truly best for a person.
Session 4: What goals should you have? An exploration of how shared goals give life shared purpose and meaning
Session 5: The distinction between higher and lower pleasures.
The distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive emotions.
This leads to an exploration of how high-minded, cognitive emotions are the basis of mutually-beneficial shared experience and shared relationships.
Session 6: Discussion of how all this works in practice.
No prior knowledge is required for this philosophy course, only the willingness to question your current views and think deeply and rigorously about the topic. There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion.
All levels. Any number of participants is fine, but 4-14 is ideal.