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This assignment presents another “What would you do?” scenario that necessitates ethical reasoning. Though it might seem a bit far-fetched, we often encounter similar situations. This assignment clarifies the importance of one’s ethical frameworks and demonstrates how different might be our decisions when operating under different ethical frameworks.
This assignment supports the following unit objectives:
Explain the main features of the ethical theories of Ruth Benedict and James Rachels, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Mill.
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of ethical relativism, ethical egoism, virtue ethics, deontological ethics, utilitarianism, and other major ethical theories discussed.
Read the following thought experiment from Philippa Foot and then write an essay that answers the questions that follow:
“Let us consider […] a pair of cases which I shall call Rescue I and Rescue II. In the first Rescue story we are hurrying in our jeep to save some people – let there be five of them – who are imminently threatened by the ocean tide. We have not a moment to spare, so when we hear of a single person who also needs rescuing from some other disaster we say regretfully that we cannot rescue him, but must leave him to die. To most of us this seems clear […]. This is Rescue I and with it I contrast Rescue II. In this second story we are again hurrying to the place where the tide is coming in in order to rescue the party of people, but this time it is relevant that the road is narrow and rocky. In this version the lone individual is trapped (do not ask me how) on the path. If we are to rescue the five we would have to drive over him. But can we do so? If we stop he will be all right eventually: he is in no danger unless from us. But of course all five of the others will be drowned. As in the first story our choice is between a course of action which will leave one man dead and five alive at the end of the day and a course of action which will have the opposite result. (Philippa Foot, “Killing and Letting Die,” from Abortion and Legal Perspectives, eds. Garfield and Hennessey, 2004, University of Massachusetts Press)
What would Mill tell the rescuer to do, in Rescue I and Rescue II, according to his theory of utilitarianism? Be clear in explaining Mill’s recommendation, and how he would justify it. In doing so, you must include a discussion of the following:
The Principle of Utility and how it would specifically apply in this situation—who gets “counted” and how?
What would Kant tell the rescuer to do, in Rescue I and Rescue II, according to his deontological theory? Be clear in explaining Kant’s recommendation and how he would justify it. In doing so, you must include a discussion of the following:
The first version of the Categorical Imperative and how it would specifically apply in these two situations (hint, you have to say what the maxim would be and what duty would be generated according to it).
The second version of the Categorical Imperative and how it would specifically apply in this situation.
Explain one criticism of both Mill and Kant. Afterward, argue for which ethical approach, on your view is superior. Be specific and provide reasons for your claim.
The body of the essay must be a minimum of 5-6 pages in length
Use 1 inch margins
Use 12 point, Times New Roman font
Use double spacing throughout, except where style guides dictate single spacing on the Works Cited page
Use page numbers on all pages but for the cover sheet and start the page numbering on the first page of the main body of the paper.
Include a separate Title Page
Include a Works Cited Page
Properly use MLA in-text citations for paraphrasing and direct quoting (Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide – https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/. Here is an example essay with MLA citations
John C. Bean, in his book Engaging Ideas (2011) cites three ways that students tend to avoid a thesis or write in spite of the ones they have developed. Take care not to commit any of the following mistakes in your writing of this paper.
“And Then” Writing – “And Then” writing is essentially chronological, narrating a person’s life or series of events. Students often do this when they are asked to analyze text(s). They, instead, just tell you what happened, event by event. Or, you might see this in a literature review in which a student just summarizes the articles in the order in which they are read.
“All About” Writing – “All About” writing strives to say EVERYTHING about a topic or issue. The paper may be somewhat organized because the student has addressed things topically but s/he has also failed to produce a thesis or position that guides the paper. The topics are, then, not reasons for the thesis. The structure is inappropriate and ineffective in a thesis-governed paper.
“Data Dump” Writing – “Data Dumps” on the other hand have no apparent structure. There is little transition or cohesion between the things that are stated and discussed. The student has no guiding thesis, no guiding idea, and so s/he goes to Google and grabs it all. These are often the most likely to be plagiarized because the student is just cutting and pasting from websites (and occasionally books or journals). It is incomprehensible and unoriginal.
Plagiarism in any form is unacceptable. Please ask if you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism. Your words and your ideas must be your own.
All papers submitted in this class are reviewed via Turnitin.com, a proprietary software database that identifies unoriginal material in papers. Please review the syllabus statement regarding the penalty for plagiarism.
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