Philosophy 2 : Analysis two or three ethical theories

.  This paper should be 5-7 pages long (at least 1800 words). The directions for writing this assignment is as follows:

First: Develop & analyze two or three ethical theories we have covered in class so far.  By this, I mean you should pretend that I am a rational and clear-thinking person who does not know anything about the theories.  You want to tell me about these theories by explaining the content of the relevant readings to me.  Your explanation should be thorough but concise.

Please choose two or three of the following essays to develop and analyze in your paper:

  • King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
  • Timmons, “Why I am Not a Moral Relativist (and Neither Are You)”
  • Singer, “Moral Mammals” (atheist position)
  • Hare, “Moral Mammals” (theist position)
  • JS Mill, “Utilitarianism”
  • Kant, “The Categorical Imperative”
  • Aristotle, “The Nature of Virtue”
  • Held, “The Ethics of Care”
  • Jaggar, “Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology”

Second, evaluate these theories by comparing and contrasting them with one another, and by applying them to one of the case studies below.  When you examine the theories and apply them to the case study, be sure to discuss the merits of the theories, any weaknesses they may have, and what challenges they may pose to and for a moral thinker.  In doing this, be sure to make explicit connections back to the reading content.

Note that the case study content should not take up the majority of your essay, but should still be integrated in a way that supports your discussion of the course content.  In other words, you should use this case study as an ongoing illustration or example for your discussion of the course content.

Once again, be sure that the course content is given primary attention in your paper, and is covered in a way that demonstrates an understanding of the whole reading and not just the first few pages of the reading.

Case Studies (choose only one to discuss in your Midterm)

  1. You come from a culture called the Benzites, who place a high value on community and hospitality.  Benzites greet each other by blowing their breath onto one another’s faces. To many, this may seem quite strange and awkward.  However, in your culture and religious tradition this is a representation of the gods who breathed their holy breath onto you, in order to bless you with a healthy life.  In fact, breathing on one another is believed to be a way for one to pass their strength and vitality on to those whose health is more vulnerable.
    When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, however, this centuries-old tradition was put into compromise.  National mandates prevented people from breathing onto one another, and many Benzites viewed this as an attack on their freedom of religion.
    As someone who has studied ethics, what do you think is the right thing to do in this situation?  Should the governmental authorities be more sensitive to your cultural and religious tradition?  As a Benzite, should you advocate for the mandates, disobey the mandates, or try to find some compromise?
  2. The culture of Ferengi is a culture that does not have a problem with cheating and plagiarizing.  In fact, they believe that these are a highly-valued skills.  Even though they are considered forms of stealing, and they do damage the reputation and honor of the one being cheated upon, Ferengi still consider it acceptable.  After all, cheating and plagiarizing helps one gain experience in creative manipulation, resourcefulness, and ingenuity – all which are viewed as essential tools in helping one reach success.
    Now, consider what would happen if a Ferengi became a student at Sacramento State University, which has a very specific policy on academic honesty (see page 7 of this Syllabus). Would a Ferengi be morally justified in plagiarizing at Sac State?
  3. Bajorans are a minority population within the nation of Cardassia.  The Cardassians take great pride in their history and culture; however, part of this greater culture includes treating many minority populations, especially the Bajorans, with fear and suspicion.  You are a Kelpian, which is another minority population within Cardassia.  Generally, the Kelpian subculture you come from is more passive – you are taught to work hard, but mind your own business and never bring attention to yourself.
    One day you are walking down the street when you notice that a Bajoran is being roughed up by several Cardassian SAs (Security Authorities).  The Bajoran looks afraid and appears to be in a great amount of pain.  He is pleading with the SAs, but they do not seem to be easing up on him.  A few SAs look up and see you staring at them.  One of them yells at you, “This is none of your damn business, Kelpo!  Be a good model citizen and don’t make any waves. Go on now… walk away.”
    Considering what we have learned about ethics & morality, how might you assess this situation, and what do you think you ought to do?
  4. In a television episode of Doctor Who (called “The Beast Below”), a spaceship carrying a city of humans has been kept alive by severely torturing a sentient, self-aware being.  Without this torture, there is no certainty over whether this being, called a star whale, would continue to help the city survive.  In fact, one would guess that the star whale would abandon the city for inflicting 300 years of torture upon it.
    When the queen of the city learns of this torture, she is given two options: either release the star whale from its incredible suffering and thus risk the lives of the humans in the city; or allow the star whale to continue on with its torture so that well-being of the city is ensured. If you were the queen, what would be the right thing to do?
  5. You have a good friend who is pretty well-off financially. You yourself do not have a lot of money, but it is still important for you to honor her by buying her a gift for her birthday.  Because you are in serious credit card debt, you carry some cash in your wallet instead and stop by the shopping mall. Before you walk inside, you notice a thin homeless individual standing in the rain, shivering and asking people for money or food.  You notice that people respond to this individual by saying things like, “Sorry,” or “Get a job,” or “You’re probably going to use the money to buy drugs and alcohol anyways.” These reactions cause you to think about the money in your pocket.  You can use the cash to buy this homeless person a warm jacket and a meal, or you can walk right into the mall to buy what you were going to buy – a birthday gift for your good friend.  What ought you do in this situation?


Some Reminders:


you must explicitly and comprehensively use material & required readings in your essay, in order to demonstrate an understanding of the course material. If you fail to use the required course content, you will fail the paper.

Remember that your midterm also has a page requirement.  You might count each page you write as worth around 40 points each.  If you write only a 2-page paper, for example, the highest score you might receive is only 80 out of 200; if you write a 3-page paper, the highest score you might receive is only 120 out of 200; if you write a 4-page paper, the highest score you might receive is 160 out of 200.

Please be sure to also check out the Course Syllabus to see the policies on academic honesty, formatting guidelines, citation of sources, late work submissions, and other requirements.




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