1-In order to assess someone’s point of view, it is best to address their very best argument for it. Both Mary Midgley and James Rachels think there are serious problems with cultural ethical relativism. In class we identified 6 consequences of adopting cultural relativism from Rachels and Midgley’s criticism of it. Take a paragraph to explain the consequence of adopting CER that you think is the biggest problem for cultural ethical relativism and why you think it is. Try to come up with an example of the consequence that we did not cover in class. In a second paragraph, explain whether or not you think this consequence is enough to reject cultural relativism as a viable ethical theory and why you think so.
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2-What is the difference between ethical egoism and psychological egoism? Construct an argument for ethical egoism using psychological egoism as a premise. (2 paragraphs)
3-Consider the two hypothetical worlds below.
1. In which world would you rather live?
2. In which world would Mill find to be a morally better world? Why?
3. In which world would Kant find to be a morally better world? Why?
4. Which world do you think is closer (has more properties) to our world?
Answer the above questions in essay style (do not type the numbers in). Make sure you give me evidence that you understand Kant and Mill. Always separate your explanation of Kant from your explanation of Mill. Always use separate paragraphs for explanations versus assessments (e.g. “I agree” is an assessment.) 2 or 3 paragraphs should be sufficient for this assignment (1 or 2 paragraphs on items #2-4 on the list above and 1 paragraph on item #1).
World A. The land of good motives:
The good news about this world is that everyone living in it means well– they always act on good intentions. The bad news is that they aren’t very smart– they rarely achieve their intended consequences, and they often make things worse. There are few technological advances in this world, due to clumsiness. Even so, there are no ill-intentioned people living here. One can always find a friendly neighbor willing to lend a helping hand– never mind that in helping, something is apt to break.
World B. The land of good consequences:
In this world, everyone is driven by greed– every action is motivated by selfish considerations. Because of the money to be made from medical breakthroughs, there is virtually no physical illness in this world– greed-driven research has led to cures for almost all diseases. Similar benefits account for technological breakthroughs in virtually every aspect of life. In terms of technology, this is utopia. But watch your back: the people in this world would sell out their best friend for a dime.click here for more information on this paper
4-Out of utilitarianism, Kant’s categorical imperative, and Aristotle’s virtue ethics which do you find to be closest to your own ethical outlook? Which argument or arguments to you think offer the most convincing case for this ethical theory?
5-Go onto the philosophy experiments website and try “Whose Body is it Anyway.” (Links to an external site.) Ideally try this before we start covering abortion on Wednesday. Were your answers consistent according to the website? If they weren’t do you agree with the website’s assessment of the situation? If not, why not?
6-The following is an excerpt from: Patrick J. Buchanan “The Sad Suicide of Admiral Nimitz,” WorldNetDaily, 18, January 2002. http://www.wnd.com/2002/01/12433/
Read through the excerpt and answer the questions that follow.
The name of Chester W. Nimitz is legendary in the annals of naval warfare. In June 1942, Admiral Nimitz commanded the U.S. forces assigned to block a Japanese invasion of Midway.
In the Battle of Midway, Nimitz’s fighter-bombers caught the Japanese fleet off guard, as its carrier aircraft were being refueled on deck. His pilots swooped in and sent to the bottom four of the Japanese carriers – Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi and Kaga – that had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Midway broke the back of Japanese naval power and was among the most decisive battles in all of history.
Nimitz’s son and namesake, Chester W. Nimitz Jr., would rise to the same rank of admiral and become a hero of the Pacific war – a submarine commander who would sink a Japanese destroyer bearing down on his boat by firing torpedoes directly into its bow.
But Chester W. Nimitz Jr., achieved another kind of fame on Jan. 2. In a suicide pact with his 89-year-old wife, the 86-year-old hero ended his life with an overdose of sleeping pills.
Having lost 30 pounds from a stomach disorder, suffering from congestive heart failure and in constant back pain, the admiral had been determined to dictate the hour of his death. His wife, who suffered from osteoporosis so severe her bones were breaking, had gone blind. She had no desire to live without her husband.
So, as the devoted couple had spent their lives together, they decided to end their lives together. The admiral’s final order read: “Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not carried out in acute desperation. Nor is it the expression of a mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately and of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because of the physical limitations on our quality of life placed upon us by age, failing vision, osteoporosis, back and painful orthopedic problems.”
According to The New York Times obituary, “The Nimitzes did not believe in any afterlife or God, and embraced no religion. But one of Mr. Nimitz’s three surviving sisters, Mary Aquinas, 70, is a Catholic nun. … Sister Mary said that she could not condone her brother’s decision to end his life, but that she felt sympathetic. ‘If you cannot see any value to suffering for yourself or others,’ she said, ‘Then maybe it does make sense to end your life.’”
Was Admiral Nimitz justified in his decision to commit suicide? Is suicide morally wrong in all circumstances? Offer reasons for your answers. Below I have mentioned a couple of ideas from philosophers we have read that are relevant to the question.
Kant argued that suicide is not permissible because it violates the categorical imperative.
Kant thought their maxim must be:
“from self-love I make as my principle to shorten my life when its continued duration threatens more evil than it promises satisfaction”
Kant Argued: “One sees at once a contradiction in a system of nature whose law would destroy life by means of the very same feelings that acts so as to stimulate furtherance of life, and hence there could be no existence as a system of nature.” -Kant
Brock wrote that they argument for euthanasia rests on among other things a patient’s right of self-determination.
He writes, “For many patients near death, maintaining the quality of one’s life, avoiding great suffering, maintaining one’s dignity, and insuring that others remember us as we wish them to become of paramount importance and outweigh merely extending one’s life.” Might this also apply in the case of suicide?
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7-Go to the philosophy experiments website and do “Peter Singer and the Drowning Child.” (Links to an external site.) Report back about your results. Were they consistent? Do you agree with the assessment of the website? Why or why not?
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