Intro to Ethics.
Choose three of the following topics. 1. Present a. the plot of one narrative (legend, novel, film or a segment of your life) that has affected you either positively or negatively. Explain its moral relevance and discuss it in relation to the theories discussed in the first part of the semester (ethical relativism, ethical egoism, utilitarianism, deontology) OR b. a contemporary moral case or dilemma and test the different theories studied during the first part of the semester for their ability to solve it. •2. Briefly present Ethical Relativism, and discuss both its attractive and problematic aspects. Are you an ethical relativist? Why or why not? If not, what is the theory that you find most appealing and one that endorses your moral intuitions? Explain your motives and illustrate. •3. Introduce Ethical Egoism as presented by Plato’s Glaucon (story of Gyges’s ring), Thomas Hobbes (the “war of all against all” as the human condition), and Ayn Rand (demands of altruism as “moral cannibalism”). Discuss the main arguments for and against Ethical Egoism. Peter Singer believes Reciprocal Altruism is a more rational option while Franz de Waal maintains that the “capacity for caring for others is the bedrock of our moral system” and that the principal function of morality is to “protect and nurture this caring capacity . . . so that it can effectively balance other human tendencies that need little encouragement.” What is your own ethical position? Explain and illustrate. •4. Present and discuss Utilitarian Ethics, both according to Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonistic version and J.S. Mill’s qualitative version (“better a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”). What is the main strength and what is the main weakness of Utilitarianism? As Dostoyevsky asked, “can the suffering of the innocent one or few be the price for the happiness of the many?” Exemplify and argue for or against this theory. •5. Present Kant’s Deontological Ethics. What is the categorical moral imperative? Present and discuss the two formulations of the categorical moral imperative. Reflect on the Stoic-Kantian concepts of the Logos (universal rationality), the call of moral duty as opposed to nature, the vision of human beings as ends in themselves and not means to an end, and the kingdom of ends. Are you a deontologist? Explain why or why not. Adduce real life or fictional cases to support your argument. 6. What about animals? Do animals inhabit a moral domain? Are they rational? Do they have a capacity to suffer? What is our moral duty towards them? Reflect on these problems and build up a case for the ethical treatment of animals using the ethical theories