How Ethical Knowledge Is Constructed and How Does Euthanasia Illustrate the Challenges of This Process?

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Date Submitted: 11/13/2010 09:04 AM

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How ethical knowledge is constructed and how does euthanasia illustrate the challenges of this process?

This is the start of the research essay / independent study.

Section 1

The Concept of Moral Certainty and Justified True Belief

Moral certainty is a concept of intuitive probability, which says, for man to have moral certainty, the degree of probability would be high to the extent that it is sufficient for action, but falls short of absolute or mathematical certainty. Morality is subjective in nature, as demonstrated by societies that uphold different standards of morality. This limitation poses the question, that even if we believe in “proof beyond reasonable doubt”, how certain can man actually be knowing that moral truth is in existence, and if it exists, is attainable in the first place?

Many different factions have taken up stands with regards to the process of ethical knowledge construction, with extremes identifying themselves as moral skeptics. Moral skeptics believe that moral certainty is improbable. At the other end of the spectrum, we see moral realists, who believe that moral certainty exists.

However, certainty is an emotion, and the most confident advocate of a moral ideal may still be wrong. Thus, we will focus on whether moral truths are possible to be constructed.

As a preferred mode of constructing knowledge is the concept of Justified True Belief, (JTB), we will attempt to introduce the method of inquiry of the independent study using an analysis based on the JTB account.

According to JTB’s definition, S knows P if

i) P is true

ii) S believes P

iii) S is justified in believing P

Premise (i) is clearly indubitable, because if P cannot be established in the first place, S will have no grounds to further the argument to indeed find out if P is true. Premise (ii) is a safe premise as there is little to debate about S believing P as it is a prerequisite to knowing P. Our issue of contention lies in with...