Ethics and the News
For Week 4, address the following in a three-page paper:
- Identify a current event or contemporary social issue that involves ethical values. Your issue must be broad enough to sustain deep philosophical analysis and must have relevance to your community. A good choice of issue is one that (1) involves a decision that must be made that involves competing ethical values and considerations, (2) includes with various available options about which reasonable people can disagree, (3) concretely affects people’s lives, and (4) might be influenced by external and internal factors such as social norms, oppression, religious and other personal beliefs, socially-imposed constraints (such as laws), and physical limitations. Issues that only affect a few people or have only a minor impact are probably too narrow. Issues that you are not open to examining with an open mind will also not work well for this assignment. For some topic suggestions, you might want to browse the website of a reputable news organization or review some political blogs you follow.
- Identify at least two news articles on your topic located using the South University Online Library and/or reputable news outlets. Make sure that the articles you choose present at least two different accounts of the values that should be considered in addressing the issue and include information and facts that you can use to develop your arguments and analysis. If you cannot locate two news articles on your topic, or if all of the articles share the same perspective, you should choose another topic. You should cite the two articles using correct APA citation.
- Explain at least one ethical theory from your assigned readings. Cite support from the primary text selections in the chapter as well as authoritative secondary sources such as the course text and online lectures.
- Analyze the issue using the theory of ethics. For example, you might discuss utilitarianism, deontology, virtue/care ethics, or existentialism.
- Contrast this analysis with the approach a second theory would take. For instance, you might contrast deontology with utilitarianism by distinguishing duty from the principle of utility, or compare care ethics and existentialism by discussing the relative approaches to intersubjectivity.
To recap this week, we talked a bit about ethical theories in general before moving to a specific discussion of some key ethical viewpoints. We learned that utilitarianism and deontological theory both explain human good, but they differ fundamentally on what that good is. Utilitarianism suggests that we should be primarily concerned with the consequences of human actions, and deontological theory focuses on human duties mostly independent of consequences.
We also examined virtue ethics, and the idea that ethics should be more concerned with the kind of character we develop than with what we do. Finally, we returned to our examination of existentialism, and the idea that freedom and ethics are intimately intertwined. We reflected upon ways in which we might dismiss universal ethical values while still being responsible for other people.
As you complete this week’s assignments, think about how these ethical theories might compare to your own personal ethics, and apply them to concrete ethical situations and problems. Next week, we will continue our discussion of how ethics and philosophy apply to the community as a whole by examining social political philosophy.
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