SECTION ONE: answer either 1A or 1B
1A Consider the following scenario. Below the scenario, I have provided you with a simple egoist analysis of the two courses of action. Use the facts given in the scenario to expand the egoist analysis into a utilitarian analysis. Your answer should be in the same list/chart format as the “Egoist Analysis”
I provide below, with actions, outcomes with points, a point total for each action, and an identification of the action Joe should pick based on the analysis.
Scenario: Joe is trying to decide between two actions. Action A: Joe keeps a promise to his friend Kat that he will pick her up from the airport. Action B: Joe makes up an excuse to Kat, and instead joins five of his friends to play basketball. Joe and his friends love to play basketball, and haven’t had many opportunities lately. Plus, one of them, Bob, is moving away soon and this might be the last time Joe gets to play ball with Bob. If Joe doesn’t play ball, his friends will have a 50% chance of finding a substitute player; if they don’t find a substitute, none of them will get to play ball. If Joe doesn’t pick up Kat, she will be mildly inconvenienced, but she will be able to find another ride home. One of the four main routes from the airport to Kat’s house goes past the park, so there is a chance Kat will see Joe and his friends finishing their game, and therefore find out that Joe lied to her, which will upset her.
Egoist Analysis (all base values are between -5 and +5)
Action A: Joe picks up Kat as promised
Joe is upset that he didn’t get to play ball -3
Joe feels good that he kept his promise +1
Joe is sad that he might not get to play ball with Bob again -4
Joe in fact ends up not ever playing ball with Bob again -5 x .2 = -1
TOTAL POINTS FOR A = -7
Action B: Joe makes up an excuse and plays basketball
Joe has a good time playing ball +3
Joe feels guilty about breaking his promise -2
Kat finds out that Joe lied, and Joe’s friendship with her suffers -4 x .25 = -1
TOTAL POINTS FOR B = 0
Result: Joe should choose Action B.
1B Consider again the scenario from 1A. Add the following new assumption to the scenario: Joe has taken to heart the religious teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself”, and is actually made just as happy and unhappy by the results others enjoy/suffer as he is by his own results. Alter the egoist analysis to reflect this new assumption. Your answer should be in the same list/chart format as the “Egoist Analysis” I provide above, with actions, outcomes with points, a point total for each action, and an identification of the action Joe should pick based on the analysis.
SECTION TWO: answer 2A or 2B
2A Consider the following three models of society. Based on what you’ve learned about Kant’s approach to ethics, which of these models do you think a Kantian ethicist would identify as correct? Why would a Kantian reject each of the other two models? How does the correct model avoid these problems?
Model 1: In an attempt to create a functional social order, the society’s leaders teach the citizens a mythology in which people are all naturally born into different personality types. If you are a gold personality, you are born to be a leader. If you are a silver personality, you are born to serve in military and first-responder professions. If you are a bronze personality, you are born to be a laborer. The leaders know this is just a myth, but they feel it will allow all important social roles to be filled with minimal conflict.
Model 2: In an attempt to manage their society in an optimal way, the society’s leaders establish a powerful federal government. Relying on the best scientific knowledge available, the government officials determine professions for citizens, and set laws and policies that the available data suggest will lead to the highest overall standard of living for members of the society.
Model 3: In an attempt to allow all citizens to have a voice, the society’s leaders establish a system in which citizens elect government officials by voting. Before making any major policy decisions, the government officials are expected to inform citizens of the situation, and obtain the citizens’ feedback on how they think the decisions should be handled. The leaders accept that sometimes, this will result in policies that might not be optimal in terms of their results.
2B Consider the following scenario, and the three actions listed below it, and answer 1-3 on the assumption that Roy is an existentialist:
Which action should Roy select if his self-chosen purpose is to achieve great success in his profession? Why?
Which action should Roy select if his self-chosen purpose is to be remembered by future generations as a hero who would sacrifice anything for what he believed in? Why?
Which action should Roy select if his self-chosen purpose is to have the greatest positive impact on the lives of people in his native land? Why?
Scenario: Roy is a doctor and medical researcher. Years ago, he left his homeland to pursue a career opportunity in another country. He has made many important discoveries, saved many lives, and received honors and awards. There is every reason to believe he will become one of the top researchers in the world if he continues to follow this path in life. But he hears troubling news from his old country. A new government has come into power, and its leaders have been forcing citizens from a minority group to undergo controversial medical procedures in order to advance the nation’s scientific knowledge, which lags behind the part of the world in which Roy now lives. Roy feels a strong sense of loyalty to all citizens of his former country, and is outraged by this news. He also knows that the superior experience he has gained in his current country would immediately earn him an important position if he returned to his old country. In that position, he might be able to influence the government to stop, or at least limit, the controversial procedures. But that option would be risky, because the government has already executed several prominent people who spoke out against their practices. If Roy is not careful, his attempts to influence the government could lead to them branding him a traitor, and perhaps executing him as well.
Action A: Roy remains in his current country. He speaks out against the practices in his native land, but has little influence from the other side of the world.
Action B: Roy returns to his native country, and generally cooperates with the government’s practices, carefully choosing his opportunities to attempt to influence the government away from the controversial procedures.
Action C: Roy returns to his native country, and uses his prominent position to advocate against the controversial procedures at every opportunity he can find.
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SECTION THREE: answer 3A or 3B
3A Consider the following chart displaying the virtues and vices that would be developed by a person if they were to choose any of three actions I, II, or III. (For example, based on the placement of the numeral I on the chart, if a person chose Action I, that person would develop their character in the direction of cowardice, stinginess, honesty, and coldness.) Explain why Aristotle would say that II and III are better options than I. Be sure to explain the difference between virtues and vices, and how they relate to human excellence and Aristotle’s view that human nature determines our purpose. Why might Aristotle’s method have trouble selecting between II and III?
Vice of Excess Virtue Vice of Deficiency
Recklessness (III) Courage (II) Cowardice (I)
Being a push-over (II) Generosity (III) Stinginess (I)
Bluntness Honesty (I), (II), (III) Dishonesty
Being a bleeding-heart Care (II), (III) Coldness (I)
3B Consider the following scenario set in a fictional world, and compare and contrast Divine Command Theory, Relativism, and a religious version of Aristotle’s ethics by providing the following four responses:
Suppose Divine Command Theory is the correct approach to ethics. For each job mentioned in the scenario, explain whether or not it would be acceptable for Amy to take the job, and why.
Suppose Relativism is the correct approach to ethics. For each job mentioned in the scenario, explain whether or not it would be acceptable for Amy to take the job, and why.
Suppose religious Aristotelianism is the correct approach to ethics. For each job mentioned in the scenario, explain whether or not it would Amy should take the job, and why.
How does your answer to (1) change if we alter the scenario so that the main culture’s God requires people to honor their parents’ wishes?
Scenario: Amy is a young woman who lives in a country where two religions are practiced. The religion practiced by the majority of people in Amy’s society worships one God. Amy’s family is part of a subculture that practices the other religion, which worships many gods. Though Amy was raised to follow the subculture religion, most of her friends follow the main culture religion. Amy has been influenced by ideas from both religions throughout her life, and as an adult she wishes to follow the religion that fits best with the correct theory of ethics. As a matter of fact, the one God actually exists and the many gods do not. But because of centuries of corruption and poor interpretation of holy texts, the overall teachings of the main culture’s religion are not very accurate to the one God’s wishes. In fact, the subculture’s religious teachings are actually more appropriate to the nature of Amy’s species, and following them will encourage more virtuous character growth than the corrupt teachings of the main religion. Amy has two job offers: one as a dancer on a popular TV show, the other in a tech field. The one God has actually given a command that says that women should not work in technology-related professions, and the main religion teaches this command accurately. In the subculture’s religious text, the many gods demand one sacred dance ritual that is performed only during their worship services; all other forms of dancing are forbidden.
SECTION FOUR: answer 4A, 4B, or 4C
4A According to relativism, each of us should obey the moral code of our society. Choose three other theories from class, and explain how each of those other theories’ methods might also recommend that we should follow the rules of our societies. What lesson might this teach us about the importance of following a code of ethics crafted by a society made up of members of your profession?
4B The critical approaches Nihilism and Particularism have one major thing in common: both reject the idea that there is one general principle of ethics that we should follow in every situation. Explain the differences between the two approaches. Can nihilists and particularists agree that the other seven theories might serve as useful models in our decision-making? Why or why not?
4C In recent decades, there has been increasing concern about the fact that our theories and methods in many academic disciplines have been crafted in line with the values and priorities of the Enlightenment. Because these values and priorities primarily reflected the interests and perspectives of white European males of privileged economic class, and largely ignored other perspectives and voices, an increasing number of theorists now advocate for new theoretical approaches that build from the long-neglected perspectives of women, People of Color, etc. In the field of ethics, many thinkers interested in developing these new approaches have criticized the Enlightenment assumption that the best path to knowledge involves the use of emotionally-detached logical and mathematical analytical methods. Given that criticism, which approaches to ethics that we have studied might seem unappealing to these newer theorists, and why? Which approaches might the newer theorists find appealing, and why?
NUMBER FIVE: choose a question from sections 1-4 that you have not yet answered. Answer it.