Assignment: Moral Problem or Theory
Assignment: Moral Problem or Theory
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Write a detailed answer, description or explanation of the following questions or topics. Be sure to say something about the relevance of the term to a moral problem or theory from class. (To explain relevance, please use examples to supplement your answer where appropriate). Do not just cite a dictionary definition of the terms or say whatever you happen to think about the topic. You must explain (not just mention) its connection with a theory or philosopher from class. Better responses will be detailed and substantive. I recommend aiming for a page per topic. If you only write a couple of sentences per topic, you can expect a low grade on this section. Remember, this is an exam. If you use another source, such as an internet site, for your answers, you will receive a zero on the exam.
1. Doing vs. being: what is the distinction between “What I ought to do” vs. “What sort of person I should be” and how does this differentiate between the major ethical theories?
2. Virtue: what is a virtue? What are some examples of virtues? What theory focuses on virtues and in what way?
3. Morality and sympathy: Which philosopher discusses the relation between these? What is each, and how does the philosopher who discusses them see their relationship?
4. Impartiality vs. Fellow-feeling: what is the difference? How do virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, and Utilitarianism relate to these concepts?5. Perfect Duties and Imperfect Duties: Which philosopher discusses these? What is the difference between them? How are they determined? What are some examples?6. Eudaimonia” and how one can cultivate one’s self into a virtuous person.7. What is the myth of Sisyphus? Which philosopher discusses this myth? What is the point they use the myth to illustrate?Section 2: Essay Question 40/100pts. Complete two of the essay questions below (1, 2, or 3). In your answers, be sure to define and explain the terms and arguments you’re discussing.The essay should be between 6-8pages. (Recommendations: take your time to write the essay; consider writing at least a separate paragraph for each question that is asked of you; use examples when appropriate; remember that content and completeness are the most important elements to the essay and that it should read like an essay, i.e. be a coherent and connected piece; proofread/reread your essay before handing it in).
1. Is life meaningful or meaningless? Explain and defend your answer, incorporating Richard Taylor’s and Susan Wolf’s views into your essay.
2. According to Aristotle, living the good life entails working at being a more virtuous person. We can’t just say “I am who I am—take me as I am.” How might this attitude be similar or dissimilar to some of the other ethical theories we have studied (for example, ethical egoism, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, subjectivism)? Discuss how this Aristotelian idea of virtue and coming to be virtuous could also be incorporated into at least one of the other ethical theories we have discussed. Is there a way of combining virtue theory with one of the “principle-based” theories? What might such a hybrid theory look like?In answering this question, you would need to explain how Aristotle thinks we become virtuous and why doing so is important. Then you would also need to describe whichever other ethical theory you choose to use. For example, if you choose Utilitarianism, describe what its main ideas and assumptions are and how it works. How might utilitarianism incorporate virtue theory or aspects of it?
3. Consider the following case. You have promised your father that you will walk the family dog this afternoon. That way he will be able to finish the cookbook manuscript he has been working on. On your way home, as you drive down a backwoods, little driven road, you come across three scraggly looking people. They are wearing torn clothes and seem to have numerous wounds such as cuts and broken limbs. You stop and they explain that they’ve survived a plane crash and wandered many miles for a few days to this road. You decide to help them by calling 911 and by administering first-aid. When paramedics arrive they need you to stick around for information and support. You remember your promise to your father. Uh oh. In an effort to determine whether what you did was morally appropriate or not, you apply each of the following theories: Kant’s Categorical Imperative and Virtue Theory. What does each tell you and why?
You must proofread your paper. But do not strictly rely on your computer’s spell-checker and grammar-checker; failure to do so indicates a lack of effort on your part and you can expect your grade to suffer accordingly. Papers with numerous misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will be penalized. Read over your paper – in silence and then aloud – before handing it in and make corrections as necessary. Often it is advantageous to have a friend proofread your paper for obvious errors. Handwritten corrections are preferable to uncorrected mistakes.
Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.
Likewise, large type, large margins, large indentations, triple-spacing, increased leading (space between lines), increased kerning (space between letters), and any other such attempts at “padding” to increase the length of a paper are unacceptable, wasteful of trees, and will not fool your professor.
The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.

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