Aristotle, Kant, and Mill

Aristotle, Kant, and Mill
Course Objectives:

Objective 1 – Describe and discuss general area of philosophy called political philosophy and problems within Non-Western Philosophy.

Objective 2 – Describe and discuss various philosophical problems, such as the nature of reality and appearance, the problem of mind/body, standards of truth, conditions and limits of human knowledge, free will/determinism, arguments concerning the existence of God, the problem of evil, moral principles, and political principles.

Objective 3 – Re-present and formulate different types of arguments and answers which have been offered in response to philosophic problems.

Objective 4 – Clearly engage in critical summary, analysis and/or evaluation of a philosopher’s argument, by explicitly employing the methods of argument through writing, (identification of assumptions, identification of premise/conclusion relationships, evaluation of logical validity and overall soundness within an argument’s inferences).

Objective 5 – Clearly draw conclusions on the basis of explicit presentation of supporting arguments. When appropriate, these conclusions should emphasize ethical implications of issues and situations.

Description: Students will write seven papers. Use the instructions given below for this essay. The essays are worth 50 points each.

Method of Assessment: In addition to demonstration of the course objectives listed above and the unit objectives associated with the unit for this essay, student essays will be assessed on how well the student demonstrates the following:
complete all parts of the essay
objectively analyze and evaluate the topic under consideration
cite and use sources
originality of writing

Your essay will not be evaluated on whether I agree with what you are saying. I will be looking at your understanding of the issues, but, mostly, I will be looking at the amount of depth, development and thoughtfulness that you bring to your answers. I will also look to see that you develop arguments for your conclusions, and that you avoid dogma and unsupported opinion. To this end, avoid expressions such as “its true for me,” and, “I feel.” Provide thinking rather than feeling, and arguments rather than opinions.

Due Dates: Check the Course Schedule for Due Dates.

Essay Instructions: A copy of this exercise is available to download by clicking: “here”

Consider the following situations:

1. Sue Rodriguez, a mother in her early thirties, died slowly of Lou Gehrig’s disease. She lived for several years with the knowledge that her muscles would, one by one, waste away until the day came when, fully conscious, she would choke to death. She asked the Courts to reassure her that a doctor would be allowed to assist her in choosing the moment of death. They refused. Rodriguez took her fight all the way to the highest court in the land. She failed to get euthanasia and assisted suicide legalized in Canada. Has this person been treated in an unethical way?

2. A lawyer who has taken on a client accused of the violent rape and beating of a 16-year-old girl. The beating was so severe that the girl sustained eight broken bones and the loss of one of her eyes. During the course of the trial the lawyer has come to believe that her client is guilty of this crime, and that he is a very dangerous person who is likely to commit similar crimes, if he is found innocent of the charges against him. The lawyer believes that if she does the very best job that she can, as this man’s defense lawyer, she can have him found not guilty. But if she does a poor job, her client will be found guilty and imprisoned. What is the ethically correct thing for this lawyer to do?

3. A controversial piece of research is currently underway at a University School of Medicine. The research is investigating the transmission of the AIDS virus from mothers to their fetuses, by infecting female monkeys with the disease. This is done on monkeys already pregnant and on monkeys before they become pregnant. The latter group is then at various intervals impregnated through artificial insemination. There is no doubt that this research is causing suffering for the monkeys. However, most of the researchers don’t believe that the monkeys are being caused undue harm at watching their babies being born sick and then taken away from them. In private, some of them admit that this would be the proper subject for an expert in animal behavior to study. As biologists, they are not in the best position to judge. Basically, their response to criticism is “Monkeys are not people, and, therefore, don’t have the rights of people.” A group called The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is trying through the courts to get this research stopped. They claim that it is poorly designed and is violating the monkeys’ rights. The university defends the research as necessary to scientific progress. How should we make ethical sense of this research? Is it an unethical violation of the monkeys’ rights, or an unfortunate, yet necessary, sacrifice for the benefit of human beings? Should something be done to stop this research or should it be allowed to continue?

Imagine that you are on an ethics committee, that has been assigned the task of making judgments for what would be the ethically correct thing to do in these three cases. Your task is not to merely react subjectively to each case in a subjective and disconnected way. Instead, you must define one or two general ethical principles, by providing an answer to the following question:

In general, what does it mean to act ethically?

With your answer we should be able to go back to each case and make judgments as to what would be the ethically right thing to do. You are allowed to discuss this question with two of your philosopher friends. Choose any two of the philosophers from Chapter Nine as your advisors.

Your assignment is to write a two to three page paper (from 700 to 1000 words), which tells what happened in the discussion that you had with the two philosophers. What points of view did the three of you begin to develop, in response to the question posed above? How did all of you respond to each others’ claims and arguments?

Your paper should be organized into the four sections described below. Please use the section headings, Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four, within your paper.

Part One: Area of Philosophy. Write an introduction to your paper, which clearly identifies a general area of philosophy, within which the philosophical problem that you will be exploring can be found. Refer to Chapter One if you need to review these areas. Do you think that the question posed above place your discussion within Metaphysics, Theory of Knowledge, Ethics, Political Philosophy, and/or Philosophy of Religion? Part one of your paper should be brief and concise. No more than 50 to 100 words maximum.

Part Two: Argument Analysis: Present the points of view, and the arguments supporting those views, from the two philosophers you have chosen to discuss these philosophical questions with you. Summarize and pick these arguments apart a little. What are the main premises of their arguments? Does they make any important assumptions? What evidence do they present that is factual and verifiable? And what evidence do they present that is more a matter of speculation and/or interpretation? In this section of your paper you are merely analyzing, or, picking apart the arguments. Do not draw any conclusions as to whether or not these arguments are valid and/or sound. This section of your paper should be at least 250 words.

Part Three: Argument Evaluation. In this section present and defend some judgments about these arguments. Are these premises safe to accept? Are there any questionable assumptions made? If we do accept them do they take us logically to their conclusions? Your evaluation should make explicit use of concepts such as “assumption,” “soundness” and “validity,” as these are presented within Chapter One of the text. This section of your paper should be at least 250 words.

Part Four: Conclusion. Draw your own interesting and relevant conclusions about the philosophical problem you are exploring. Do not merely offer a set of “feelings” or an “opinion.” Instead, build your own argument, regarding the questions above. If you find that you are in agreement with some of the philosopher’s ideas, then you can use these as part of your own argument, so long as you do not merely reiterate what they are saying. This part of your paper should be 300 words minimum.