This assignment is designed to test your ability to explain AND apply the theories you’ve been learning about over the past 2 weeks. To succeed on this assignment, you should be able to: Explain the

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This assignment is designed to test your ability to explain AND apply the theories you’ve been learning about over the past 2 weeks.  To succeed on this assignment, you should be able to:

  • Explain the central arguments for virtue ethics (Aristotle), deontology (Kant), and utilitarianism (Mill).
  • Apply each of the theories to a scenario to “test” the feasibility of their normativity.
  • Formulate objections to (Aristotle), deontology (Kant), and utilitarianism (Mill) and consider possible solutions.

Assignment Instructions

  • There are three questions listed below you must answer ONLY two. Each question is worth 5 points for 10 points total.
  • Each question has a similar format: you’ll be presented with a scenario and you must

    1. Explain the relevant aspects of the philosophical theories in question.

      • This is similar to a philosophical exegesis.
    2. Apply the philosophical theories to the scenario in question.

      • For example, you should explain what Mill’s theory would require Mrs. Smith’s lawyer to do with her will and, most importantly, why. Then do the same for Kant.
    3. Assess which philosophical theory offers the best moral guidance for how one should act in the scenario in question.

      • This should include an argument about why, for example, you maintain that Mill’s theory gives the best guidance to Mrs. Smith’s lawyer AND an argument about why, following the same example, you maintain Kant’s theory is inadequate.  You should also include a potential way to strengthen the inadequate theory.
  • Although the assignment is like an essay, you DO NOT need an introduction or conclusion.  (Note that this is different than with your final essay answers, which do require introductions, thesis statements, and conclusions.)

Assignment Questions (remember, answer only two)

  1. Consider the following scenario: A burning building, relatively structurally sound, is engulfed in flames, with 4 small children trapped inside. There are two people who must decide how to respond to the situation: Granny — an 80-year-old misanthropic, pyrophobic, Luddite, who saw her mother burn to death in a fire when she was younger. She’s in relatively good health, although she uses a cane. She has a cell phone for emergencies, but she hates it. Clark Kent — a 30 year, world-renowned firefighter who is on his way back from the latest firefighting championships. He has all his gear with him but, like Wolverine in the X-men, has loads of superpowers, so he rarely needs it.

    1. Explain, thoroughly, the relevant aspects of Aristotle’s and Mill’s theories. In other words, what would Aristotle and Mill think is (morally) at stake in this scenario?
    2. Explain how Granny and Clark Kent should both respond to the situation of the burning building from both Aristotle’s and Mill’s perspectives. Would Aristotle require both Granny and Clark Kent to do the same thing? Why or why not? Would Mill?
    3. Make an argument explaining which philosopher gives the better moral guidance and which gives the worst.  What’s something that you would change to ameliorate the “worse” theory? Be sure to thoroughly explain your assessments here.
  2. Imagine you are Mrs. Smith’s lawyer, and you have promised to execute the terms of her will after she dies. Years ago she had you draw up a will leaving her substantial fortune to a famine relief fund. When she dies and you go through her papers, however, you find a more recent, legally binding will, written and signed by Mrs. Smith herself, in which she bequeaths all her money to her lazy niece, who (you know) will spend it on beer and Beanie Babies. No one else knows of the later will, but by law a later will supplant an earlier one.

    1. Explain, thoroughly, the relevant aspects of Kant’s and Mill’s theories. In other words, what would Kant and Mill think is (morally) at stake in this scenario?
    2. From Kant’s perspective: Should you execute the later will? Or should you secretly destroy it, act as if it never existed, and carry out the terms of the earlier one (giving the money to famine relief)? Why? From Mill’s perspective: Should you execute the later will? Or should you secretly destroy it, act as if it never existed, and carry out the terms of the earlier one (giving the money to famine relief)? Why?
    3. Make an argument explaining which philosopher gives the better moral guidance and which gives the worst. What’s something that you would change to ameliorate the “worse” theory? Be sure to thoroughly explain your assessments here.
  3. Imagine that there’s a famous, rich celebutante whose Bentley is dangling precariously off the edge of a cliff.  Below, past a jagged craggy precipice, a school of hungry hammerhead sharks is circling.  The celebutante is frantically tweeting her plight to her millions of followers, promising a large reward to whoever can rescue her.  You decided to try your luck, even though you are afraid of sharks, cannot swim, and have no search-and-rescue abilities.

    1. Explain, thoroughly, the relevant aspects of Aristotle’s and Kant’s theories. In other words, what would Aristotle and Kant think is (morally) at stake in this scenario?
    2. From Aristotle’s perspective, what should you do and why?  From Kant’s perspective, what should you do and why?
    3. Make an argument explaining which philosopher gives the better moral guidance and which gives the worst. What’s something that you would change to ameliorate the “worse” theory? Be sure to thoroughly explain your assessments here.

This assignment is designed to test your ability to explain AND apply the theories you’ve been learning about over the past 2 weeks. To succeed on this assignment, you should be able to: Explain the
Aristotle  Aristotle’s thoughts on the text are that the goal of life is for human beings to be happy. However, he believes that we must first determine our purpose to achieve this. Aristotle shapes his argument from this perspective and asserts that similar to the useful objects around us, we, too, must have a purpose (NE Bk. 1, Ch. 7). He follows this thought, arguing that our purpose must be to achieve rationality. However, he further defines human good as a virtue of the soul. Therefore, a good person executes his purpose when he engages in good actions or activities; however, since there is more than one virtue, to be good as a human is to have actions with the best virtues. Developing and practicing good deeds will develop virtuous habits within us (NE Bk. 1, Ch. 6).             Aristotle’s thoughts on this topic emphasize the value of good acts. He believes that since we are rational, we should use it to make decisions and ensure that our actions are grounded in reason. His train of thought concludes that if the goal of life is to achieve happiness, it can only be reached by doing good deeds. In addition, he also states that there are higher levels of happiness, and the highest are reserved for those with high moral virtue.                                                                                           Reference Aristotle. (n.d.). Nicomachean Ethics. Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.1.i.htmlLinks to an external site. Kant The categorical imperative of duty and the concept of goodwill form the basis of deontological ethics, commonly known as Kantian ethics.  Goodwill, as viewed by Kant, is the world’s only absolute good (CrashCours, 2016).  Goodwill is the willingness to do one’s duty without regard for one’s own benefit or pleasure. The categorical imperative is the articulation of moral rule that inspires goodwill. The categorical imperative is a universal moral concept that should be used as a touchstone by all rational beings.  The duty-related categorical imperative can be stated in two different ways.  The initial version of this idea holds that we should only adhere to a maxim that we can intend to become a universal law. This means that we should always act in the way that we would hope others would act if they were in our shoes (CrashCours, 2016). According to the second version, we should never treat humanity, in ourselves or in others, as a means to an aim but rather as an end in and of itself. This means that we should not exploit other sentient beings and instead treat them with respect. To put it another way, the categorical imperative is the moral law’s way of saying that we should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. The moral law directs our conduct, and it is incumbent upon us to fulfill our responsibility to act in conformity with the principles of the categorical imperative (CrashCours, 2016). As a result, goodwill is the motivation to fulfill one’s duty simply because it is one’s duty, as enunciated in the categorical imperative. Reference CrashCours. (2016, November 15). Kant & Categorical Imperatives: Crash Course Philosophy #35. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bIys6JoEDw Mill According to the utilitarian moral philosophy of John Stuart Mill, actions are right in proportion to the prospect that they will upsurge happiness and bad in proportion to the prospect that they would have the opposite impact. According to Mill, the only thing that is desirable as a goal is a happiness, which he defined as pleasure and the absence of pain (CrashCourse, 2016). Furthermore, he contended that everything desirable is either intrinsically pleasurable or acts as a means to foster pleasure and forestall suffering. Mill’s theory’s foundation is that morality should be based on promoting the greatest happiness for the greatest number of individuals. The Greatest Happiness Principle, also referred to as Utility, is the cornerstone of utilitarianism. It infers that an action’s moral worth is determined by its capacity to minimize suffering as well as maximize happiness. For Mill, utilitarianism offered a thorough method for determining what is morally right or wrong. One of the critical aspects of Mill’s moral theory is its emphasis on impartiality. Utilitarianism requires individuals to consider the well-being of everyone affected by an action rather than just their own self-interest. Mill believed this impartial approach to morality was necessary for creating a just and fair society (CrashCourse, 2016). However, it is essential to note that Mill recognized that the concept of happiness is complex and cannot be reduced to simple pleasure-seeking. He agreed that higher pleasures, like those that are intellectual and moral, are preferable to lesser pleasures. In addition, Mill thought that people should be allowed to pursue their happiness as long as it doesn’t hurt others.                                                 Reference  CrashCourse. (2016, November 22). Utilitarianism: Crash Course Philosophy #36. [Video]/ YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a739VjqdSI

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