Lesson 6 Assignment 1- Who is to judge?

“In a sense, we all live in radically different worlds. Each person has a different set of beliefs and experiences, a particular perspective that colors all of his or her perceptions. Do the farmer, the real estate dealer, and the artist, looking at the same spatio‑temporal field, see the same field? Not likely. Their different orientations, values, and expectations govern their perceptions, so that different aspects of the field are highlighted and some features are missed. Even as our individual values arise from personal experience, so social values are grounded in the peculiar history of the community. Morality, then, is just the set of common rules, habits, and customs which have won social approval over time, so that they seem part of the nature of things, as facts. There is nothing mysterious or transcendent about these codes of behavior. They are the outcomes of our social history.”

Louis Pojman, Who is to Judge

IN YOUR OWN WORDS: 
Every person is different. Everyone has their own beliefs due to their different experiences. All individuals see situations in different ways. Someone may see something that another person does not due to their values and expectations. Our individual experiences add on to the set of social values that everyone follows. Morality is something all everyone follows. They have won social approval in our communities over time. They come naturally and are the outcomes of history.

OPINION and INTERPRETATION: 
I love the paragraph I chose. It couldn’t be any more true. Every person has their own story, and our stories shape us. We learn from our mistakes and as we learn, we grow as a person. Everyone has different beliefs because of their experiences. We all have the same morals because morals are the set of common rules, habits and customs that everyone follows. Even though we all have the same morals, we all see things differently. That’s what makes us individuals. We are all unique in some type of way.

VIEWS on PLURALISM:  Next, think about pluralism and universal values. If haven’t already, answer the following questions:

‘As a universal value, members of one culture have no right to evaluate the moral values of another culture.‘ Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not.

I both agree and disagree with this statement, depending on the situation. Every culture is different because what is viewed as right in one culture, can be viewed as wrong in another culture. I disagree with the statement because there have been situations in other cultures that Americans would not agree with. For example, child labor laws. We have very strict labor laws and in other countries, young children work all day for very little money. I agree with the statement when it comes to morals that don’t put people in harm. Every country has morals that other countries might think are weird but we have no right to judge them.

Is the argument against subjectivism convincing to you?

I think that the argument against subjectivism was convincing. He stated that this would make morality a useless concept which I think is true. What would be the point of having universal moral values in a culture if everyone just did what they thought was good or bad? Everyone thinks differently when it comes to what is good and what is bad. I thought the point that he made about Hitler and Gandhi was a very good one.

Is the argument against conventional relativism strong and convincing?

I think the argument against conventional relativism was convincing. He stated that if conventional relativism was accepted, racism, genocide of unpopular minorities, slavery and advocacy of war are as equally moral than their opposites. He also says that the notion of a culture or society is difficult to define. You can belong in a group within a society that has different values than the society as a whole. An example he provided was with abortion.

Who are ‘we’ to make moral judgments?  Is it even possible? Under what circumstances?  Explain your thinking and refer to the reading.

I don’t think we can really make moral judgements. If it was possible, I think that we really can only make judgements within our own culture. Even though there are moral values in every culture, not everyone follows every single one of them.

 6.  MULTI-MEDIA:  Include a picture (or a music, a poem or a quote ) that represents your viewpoint on this issue.

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Lesson 5: Friendship

“Different kinds of relationships have been differently distributed among women and men in patriarchal society: a larger share of the responsibilities of certain personal and informal relationships to women, a larger share of the responsibilities of formal and impersonal relationships defined by social institutions to men. It is plausible that a result has been the creation of a significant difference in ethical orientation. Putting it this way opens better to philosophical inquiry the questions of how good these relationships have been, what their virtues and vices are, their major values, their roles in good life, in a good society. It allows us for example to explore the place of fairness in friendship and to note its absence as a flaw.”

Card, Claudia, “A Feminist View of Ethics” from Identity, Character and Morality by Owen Flanagan and Amelie Rorty (MIT Press, 1990).

IN YOUR OWN WORDS: 
Men and women form relationships differently in society. Women tend to have a larger role in close relationships where personal feelings are dominant, and men tend to have a larger role in relationships that don’t involve personal feelings. A result of these different relationships formed between men and women are a difference in ethics, which results in their behavior. We are able to look at the differences in these relationships and how they effect roles in society.

OPINION and INTERPRETATION: 
The definition of patriarchy is a social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. I believe that the paragraph I chose is somewhat true, but times have definitely changed when it comes to males being the primary authority figures. Women have become more independent and career driven. I do believe that women have more personal relationships than men do. I think that women are more known for showing and sharing their feelings. I’m not saying that men don’t show feelings but women are more emotional and sympathetic than men usually are.

VIEWS on FRIENDSHIP:
1. What is your understanding of ethics of justice and ethics of care?   Are they opposite or complementary?  Are they useful in understanding what we (should) believe and how we (should) act?

In the reading, it is said that boys and men come to respect law more than girls and women do. Laws are what the ethics of justice are made of. The way it is written makes me think that men show more ethics of justice and women show more ethics of care. The ethics of justice are more associated with a persons moral duty and ethics of care are more associated with feelings and emotions. I believe that they are complementary because in order to perform a moral duty to the fullest extent, a person should have positive emotions and feelings about the duty. I think they are both very useful in how we should act and behave.

2.  What are qualities of friendship that might help us formulate more general ethical considerations?

Fairness and caring are two very important qualities of friendship that were discussed in the reading. Fairness means that both people in the friendship should put forth an equal amount of effort in the relationship. That means being there for each other and supporting one another no matter what. If one person in a friendship makes more effort to be there than the other person, it is not fair. I think fairness goes hand-in-hand with caring. I believe that being fair and caring for other people also means having respect for others, which is a huge ethical principle.

3. What is your definition of empathy and can you think of a situation in which you felt empathy towards someone else?  What can we learn from it and how could it apply to other, more general ethical situations?

My definition of empathy is caring about and understanding other peoples feelings. Whenever my close friends tell me about a hard situation they’re in or when their feelings are hurt, I try my best to give them advise and/or cheer them up. The most important part of empathy is being able to really listen to someone when they’re talking to you.

4.  Do you believe that too much emphasis on personal caring relationships will encourage many people to become morally apathetic towards larger ethical issues? Why or why not?

I don’t believe that emphasis on personal caring relationships will encourage people to become morally apathetic towards larger ethical issues. Just because a person has multiple caring relationships that they put a lot of effort into, doesn’t mean that person will not care about large ethical issues. I think that the more personal caring relationships a person has, the more likely they will engage in other ethical issues. If a person isn’t caring, they won’t worry about helping others. They will only worry about themselves.

MULTI-MEDIA:  Include a song or video (from YouTube) that represents values of friendship and love.

I chose the song ‘I’ll Stand By You’ by The Pretenders because it’s about being there no matter what, through the good and bad, which friendship is all about.

Lesson 4 Assignment 1: Suffering

SELECTION:
“If I give a horse a hard slap across its rump with my open hand, the horse may start, but presumably feels little pain. Its skin is thick enough to protect it against a mere slap. If I slap a baby in the same way, however, the baby will cry and presumably does feel pain, for its skin is more sensitive. So it is worse to slap a baby than a horse, if both slaps are administered with equal force. But there must be some kind of blow – I don’t know exactly what it would be, but perhaps a blow with a heavy stick – that would cause the horse as much pain as we cause a baby by slapping it with our hand. That is what I mean by the same amount of pain; and if we consider it wrong to inflict that much pain on a baby for no good reason then we must, unless we are speciesists, consider it equally wrong to inflict the same amount of pain on a horse for no good reason.”

Singer, The Animal Liberation Movement, retrieved from:

http://www.utilitarian.org/texts/alm.html

IN YOUR OWN WORDS: 
The paragraph I selected is saying that if someone was to give a horse a little slap to get it going, it would feel little pain. If a baby was slapped the same way, it would cry and presumably feel pain. It would take more to cause the horse pain than it would to cause a baby pain, but even though there is a difference in how the pain is inflicted, they both are still capable of feeling pain. If we think it is wrong to cause a baby that much pain for no good reason, then we must think it is equally wrong to inflict the same amount of pain on a horse for no reason. People who are speciesists will disagree with that statement because they think humans are superior to animals no matter what.  

OPINION and INTERPRETATION: 
I think that the paragraph I chose is a good explanation of how animals can feel as much pain as a human being can. Both babies and animals are incapable of speaking so the way they show that their in pain is either crying or making a whimpering noise. Since they can’t speak, they have no way of telling us how they feel. No human being or animal should suffer from pain caused by another human being for no reason. I completely agree that it is equally wrong to inflict pain and suffering on both human beings and animals for no reason.

VIEWS on SUFFERING: 

What is the meaning of speciesism, the way it’s discussed in the reading? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?

Speciesism is the assumption of human superiority leading to the exploitation of animals. In the reading it says that speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species. Speciesism is compared to racism in the reading. It says that racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race, when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. I do not agree with speciesism because animals do not deserve to be treated unfairly or to be put in unnecessary pain. Even though humans are the superior species because of the capabilities we have, doesn’t mean we have the right to treat animals poorly.

What gives humans the right for equality?  What is your view? Do you agree with Singer in how he addresses this question?

It is morally right for every human being to be treated the same, even though all human beings are different. Singer states that the case for upholding the equality of human beings does not depend on equality of intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or any other matters of fact of this kind. Even though humans may not technically be “equal,” the term equality means that all human beings should have the same rights. Singer says that “there is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests.” I completely agree with him because a persons needs and interests should not be treated differently than another persons needs and interests. That would mean they are being treated unequally.

Do we have moral obligation to avoid inflicting needless pain on animals?  How should we treat animals? What are the implications of your answer to food, agriculture, hunting, animal rights?  What are the implications of your answer to larger global issues, poverty, hunger, global warming?

I do believe that we have a moral obligation to avoid inflicting needless pain on animals. Animal torture and harm is one of the most upsetting things to me. No animal deserves to be put in needless pain, especially because they are so helpless. They have no say in how they are treated and it makes me so upset when I hear about animals being treated poorly. Human beings have the capability to speak up against animal cruelty and that is why I believe we have a moral obligation to do so.

Every living species needs food to survive. Animals even kill other animals in order to eat. The part about humans killing animals for food that is cruel is the way the animals are treated before they are used for food. They are put in cramped environments and live under unsuitable conditions for the entire durations of their lives until they are used for food. Unfortunately, the food industry has to be the way that it is in order to feed our large and growing population at lower prices. If the way animals were treated in the meat industry changed for the better, more people would go hungry.  I believe hunting is okay if it’s for eating purposes, but not if it is just for the sport. Animals should definitely not be harmed just for the glory of killing that hunters think they get.

MULTI-MEDIA Include a picture of an endangered animal. Why should we  protect it?  Is it our moral obligation?  Why not protect other animals, then?

 

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This is a Bengal Tiger and I think it is one of the most beautiful animals. There are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild. The main reasons behind the species being endangered is loss of habitat, illegal wildlife trade, prey loss and conflict with humans. Humans are taking away their habbitat by cutting down forests and killing the deer and atelope they eat. Humans are also killing them for decorative items, even though it is illegal. By protecting these tigers, we also protect around 25,000 acres of forest. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. It is our moral obligation to help all endangered species on this planet because humans have the voice that animals do not. We need to protect other species for everyone to survive.

 

Lesson 3 Assignment 1 “Pleasures”

 

It may be objected, that many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good.

Source: http://www.utilitarianism.com/mill2.htm (paragraph 7)

IN YOUR OWN WORDS: 
I believe that this paragraph is saying that people will sometimes choose the lower pleasure over a higher pleasure in certain situations due to temptation. The definition of temptation is the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. Sometimes people make the choice for the nearer good, even though it is less valuable than the higher good and that is because it is the easiest way to experience pleasure. Even though a person knows there is a greater good, they will still choose what brings them the quickest and most pleasure in a small period of time.

OPINION and INTERPRETATION: 
I selected this paragraph because it is something that truly applies to every single person. At some point in their lives, people postpone higher pleasures for the lower pleasures due to temptation. When Mill states that people “pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good,” I think of temptations such as drinking, smoking, eating junk food, tanning, ect., which all have an effect on our health. Even though people know those things are bad for their health in the long run, they still choose to do it because it brings them pleasure for a short period of time each time they indulge in those lower pleasures. Clearly, being healthy is one of the higher pleasures in life because when we are healthy, we feel our best.

VIEWS on PLEASURE:
J.S. Mill defines happiness in terms of pleasure. What does he mean by the quality of pleasure?  Do you agree with his notion of morality?  Does it exclude or discriminate against any group or culture? Why or why not?

I believe Mill means that the quality of a pleasure is the difference between a high a low pleasure. Mill states that if we value one pleasure over another it is because the one we value brings more numerous and intense pleasure than the other. He also says that the higher pleasures produce a larger quantity of pleasure and are more valuable than lower pleasures. Everyone has different pleasures that make them happy. Mill believes that duty and the right actions, which is morality, are to be defined in terms of the promotion of happiness. I agree with his notion of morality and I don’t think it excludes or discriminates any group or culture because everyone is motivated by happiness and pleasures.

How do you understand higher and lower pleasures and their role in morality? Do you agree with Mill that higher pleasure has intrinsically greater value than lower pleasure?  Why or why not? Use an example from real life to support your viewpoint.

Higher pleasures are those pleasures that have more of an effect on us in the long-run and lower pleasures are short-term and quickly received. High pleasures are those that bring us knowledge and intellect. Low pleasures aren’t necessarily considered immoral but they have less value than higher pleasures. I agree with Mill that higher pleasure has intrinsically greater value than lower pleasures only because higher pleasures last longer than lower pleasures. Higher pleasures benefit us more, even though we believe lower pleasures are easier to obtain. An example from real life is that I used to go tanning in the winter. Even though tanning is horrible, I still did it because being tan brought me pleasure. I am trying my best not to do it anymore because in the long-run, I want to have healthy skin.  

One critique of utilitarianism is that it demands too much of people? Do you think this is justified?

I agree that in certain situations it demands too much of people. Acting to promote the greatest happiness and the least suffering for the greatest amount of people can be difficult sometimes. It can put too much pressure on a person when it comes to deciding what to do. You can never make everyone happy because everyone has their own opinions on what gives them the most pleasure/ happiness.

 

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I chose this picture because this was one of my lower pleasures. Tanning is becoming a bigger issue because more and more people are getting skin cancer. People know the risks of tanning but still choose to do it because being tan brings them pleasure. Young people don’t think about what their skin is going to look like when their older or about getting skin cancer, so they continue to go tanning. I recently decided to stop tanning because I want to have healthy looking skin through out my whole life, not just when I’m young. Having healthy skin is the higher pleasure.

Lesson 2 Assignment 1

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SELECTION: 
“Fourthly, as regards meritorious duties towards others: The
natural end which all men have is their own happiness. Now humanity
might indeed subsist, although no one should contribute anything to
the happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally withdraw
anything from it; but after all this would only harmonize negatively
not positively with humanity as an end in itself, if every one does
not also endeavor, as far as in him lies, to forward the ends of
others. For the ends of any subject which is an end in himself ought
as far as possible to be my ends also, if that conception is to have
its full effect with me.”

Immanuel Kant’s  Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

(page 32; second section) http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?pageno=32&fk_files=3275637

IN YOUR OWN WORDS: 
We all have duties towards others. It is natural for all human beings to want happiness in the end. Humanity would still exist if no one contributed to the happiness of others, as long as no one intentionally took away from one’s happiness. Even though humanity would still exist, it would be negative for humanity as a whole if people didn’t help others towards achieving happiness in the end.

OPINION and INTERPRETATION:  Then tell us briefly why you selected this paragraph, what do you like or dislike about it, what’s your interpretation of its meaning?  If you have questions about it, ask them now.  If you have opinions about it, state them here.
Personally, I think that most of the paragraphs in this reading were a little difficult to interpret. I believe that the paragraph I chose is saying that it is a natural thing for all people to want their own happiness in the end. It also says that even though everyone wants to achieve their own happiness, people should also help others achieve happiness. It is basically saying that if everyone was selfish and only cared about themselves and their happiness, it would have a negative effect on humanity. One of our moral duties is to help others out.
I chose this paragraph because I 100% agree with it. I can’t image a world where no one helped each other out. I believe we have a duty as human beings to help others who need it. Not only is it a duty, but helping others out can bring us our own happiness. Knowing that you helped someone out and made them happy is such a great feeling. In certain situations we may have to be selfish, but only to a certain extent.

VIEWS on RULES: 

What is the difference between the categorical and hypothetical imperative? Do you agree with Kant that we must follow the categorical imperative when making moral choices? Why or why not?

Categorical imperative’s are universal laws and tell us what not to do. It commands us to not perform a certain action and it applies to everyone. Categorical imperative’s are actions that are moral. An example of a categorical imperative is to not steal from other people.

Hypothetical imperative’s only apply to people who want to achieve a goal of their choice. They tell us what to do in order to achieve that goal. It is a command that applies to us in virtue of our having a rational will and requires us to exercise our wills in a certain way in order to achieve an end. Hypothetical imperative’s are commands that we can choose to follow or not to follow.

I agree with Kant that we must follow the categorical imperative when making moral choices because the categorical imperative is always the right thing to do. Categorical imperative tells us to ask the question: Would all people in all comparable circumstances do the same thing? I believe it’s sort of like the saying “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Most people have the same morals as others.

What does Kant mean by dignity, intrinsic worth, and autonomy? How are these concepts related?  How are they different from your own understanding of these concepts?

Dignity is the quality of being worthy of honor or respect. Kant talks about how everything has either value or dignity. He states that whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is equivalent. But, whatever has something about a value that can’t be replaced by something equivalent, has a dignity. Kant places dignity above all value. In the reading he states that an example of intrinsic worth is fidelity to promises. Therefore, I believe intrinsic worth are things such as trust and loyalty. Autonomy is the right or condition of self-government. It is the fact that we all have universal laws to follow.

One criticism of Kant’s ethical position is that it overemphasizes abstract principles and rules of justice and rationality over subjective emotions like empathy and love. Do you feel that this criticism is justified? Why or why not?

I think that this criticism is justified because I believe that most of our actions come from emotions such as empathy and love. Not all of our decisions are based on emotions, but they usually play an important part in most of them. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I read “moral worth appears to require not only that one’s actions be motivated by duty, but also that no other motives, even love or friendship, cooperate.” I strongly disagree with that because both love and friendship can play a huge role on some of the decisions we make. Having a certain “duty” to perform is not the only reasoning behind making moral decisions.

MULTI-MEDIA:

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I chose this to photos of quotes because I thought they go very well with this section. The first is saying that true morality is doing what is right even if there is no reward in the end. I love this because people shouldn’t always do the right thing expecting something in return. The second one is saying that if you can’t decide whether or not a certain act is moral, ask yourself what the world would be like if everyone did it. I love this because it really puts morality into perspective. Imagine if everyone in the world thought it was OK to steal from others, lie all the time, or never help anyone out. It makes you wonder what things would be like if there was no such thing as laws or morality.

Assignment #1: Happiness

“Nor, again, is he many-coloured and changeable; for neither will he be moved from his happy state easily or by any ordinary misadventures, but only by many great ones, nor, if he has had many great misadventures, will he recover his happiness in a short time, but if at all, only in a long and complete one in which he has attained many splendid successes.”

10, second to last paragraph
Aristotle. (350 B.C.). Nicomachean Ethics. (Book 1). http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.1.i.html

 

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In Your Own Words:

I believe that this paragraph is explaining that small events in life can not make someone permanently happy or unhappy. It is possible for someone to be happy one day and then unhappy the next, depending on certain situations. If someone is having a bad day, it doesn’t make them permanently unhappy. Everyone has good and bad days, ups and downs. It’s part of life. The paragraph says that if an individual were to have many great misadventures, it is most likely that happiness will not recover in a short period of time. In other words, if someone has had multiple misfortunes throughout their life, it is likely that the person is unhappy. If someone has had multiple good fortunes throughout life, that person would be considered happy and it would take a lot of misfortune to make them unhappy. The state of happiness overall is not easily changed.

Opinion:

I completely agree with this paragraph. Each day in our lives is different due to events that can alter our moods and depending on those events, we can either be in a good or bad mood. Everyone has good and bad days. Each person has different opinions on what puts them in a good or bad mood, just like every individual has a different view on what makes them happy. If someone was to have continuous bad days or misfortunes for a long period of time throughout their life, it is likely that person is unhappy. If someone was to have continuous good days or good fortunes for a long period of time, the are most likely happy. Even though some people may have more good fortune than others, life is too short to be unhappy all the time. Even an overall happy person has bad days and that is what the point of the paragraph is. We need the bad times to make us stronger, nobody’s life is all good fortune.

Questions:

I agree that the ultimate goal for all people is to strive for happiness. What makes a person happy is different for everyone, but in the end, all everyone wants in life is to be happy. To some people, happiness comes simply and easily but to others, in can be a struggle. Notions of happiness are definitely different based on gender, class, race and culture. Both men and woman have similar goals in life like having a good career, getting married, starting a family, ect., but there are differences in what makes them happy. When it comes to wealth, some people think that having a lot of money makes people happy. For some it may, but at the same time, someone can have all the money in the world and still not be happy. Obviously having nice things is great but that’s not all that matters. Someone can be filthy rich, but what if their lonely? Some people would rather have a family to take care of and spend money on than be lonely. It all depends on the person, and that is why happiness comes differently to everyone. My concept of happiness is that you have to appreciate what you already have, instead of always wanting more and more. People who find themselves always wanting, can never just enjoy life in the moment. Some people take life for granted. Of course, wanting more isn’t always a bad thing. Everyone has goals they want to achieve, places they want to travel, things they want to see. You just have to take life one day at a time. I believe that Aristotle’s definition of happiness is useful to understand the moral motivations of people because at some point in our lives through time and experience we will figure out what we are good at and what truly makes us happy.

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