Interested in a PLAGIARISM-FREE paper based on these particular instructions?...with 100% confidentiality?

Order Now

Ethics and Gender, and Final Remarks This Week’s Topics 1. Ethics and Gender Does gender play a role in how we approach ethical questions? If so, has the male perspective dominated ethical theory? Would our approach to ethical questions change if we took more account of the female point of view? We will consider questions like these concerning the significance of gender to ethics by examining “feminist” theories, such as “care ethics”. These try to open up the ways in which the female perspective has tended to be marginalized in ethical discussions, and to show how that might be brought back in. 2. Final Remarks In this last section, we close out our 5 week study of ethics by considering some reflections and challenges that you might be able to take with you beyond the class. 3. Discussions There is one discussion assignment this week. Please read the discussion prompt carefully before you begin posting, and review it often during the week. 4. Assignment The assignment for this week is the final paper, which is due at the end of the week (Monday). The assignment instructions are listed at the bottom of this page. Please read both the instructions and the guidance, and re-read them often during and after the writing process to make sure that you are fulfilling all of the instructions. Utilize the checklist at the end to help ensure that you have completed all of the components of the assignment. Ethics and Gender Are Ethical Questions Gender Specific? What are the topics, values, and approaches that tend to characterize both ethical theory and everyday ethical thinking? Do these vary depending on whether they are considered by males or females? Given the fact that most of the prominent philosophers, theologians, artists, intellectuals, and others who have influenced ethical discussion have been males, many people from both genders have argued that this is a question worth taking seriously. Unseen Influences Whether we are talking about gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or any other distinguishing feature, we are conditioned in unnoticed ways to regard certain features as normal, ideal, inferior, stereotypical, and so on. While we may never be able to avoid that altogether, it doesn’t mean we can’t be on the lookout for such influences and try to think beyond them. ———————— The Feminine Perspective ———————— Don’t let the term “feminist” mislead you; that term has many different meanings, and in our context, it simply means an approach to ethics that reflects a distinctively female point of view, but which can be important for people of both genders to engage. —————— Gender and Culture —————— The three philosophical readings that we will be looking at this week all try to show that many of our ethical ideas reflect a distinctively male point of view, and that the female perspective has tended to be overlooked or regarded as inferior. They don’t suggest that any of this was done purposefully or consciously; rather, it’s often the result of ways that we are conditioned by culture and society to think of men and women along certain stereotypical lines that tend to reinforce certain “masculine” traits as ideal, and certain “feminine” traits as inferior. Before we turn to the readings, let’s take a look at ways that such ideas can become ingrained in us so that we can get a sense of how conceptions of gender inequality can affect our thinking without us realizing it. First, in this TED talk, Caroline Heldman analyzes how women are portrayed and judged in society according to their looks and she examines how this form of social judgment influences young girls and women. The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego This next video is a compilation of clips that display inherent sexism in the news media, as women are often judged by their age and looks rather than their intelligence and political acumen. Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood It’s not just women that are stereotyped. In this TED talk, Colin Stokes examines how media and films represent manhood and the outcomes that result from these representations. Finally, we broaden our view a bit to other cultures. The following documentary, “Prostitutes of God,” examines a group of prostitutes in India who have been born into prostitution and dedicated to a fertility goddess. As you watch this film, think about how social ideals and structures often lock women into certain predefined categories. The film exemplifies the ways that negative attitudes toward women can be deeply rooted within in a culture, which might reinforce the urgency to take these kinds of things seriously within our own. Not only does this present another example of the kind of phenomenon our readings will be pointing to, it also confronts us with some difficult questions that bring us back around to week 1’s discussion of cultural relativism. Is this just “the way they do things,” and something we have no business judging? Or do these represent real and deplorable violations of rights and ethical standards that apply to all of us, by virtue of our common humanity? Prostitutes of God Further videos displaying examples of gender stereotyping and inequality can be found in the “recommended media” below. For now, though, we turn to the readings. – Feminist Ethics – Having seen the way that certain gender attitudes and inequalities are inculcated and reinforced in various ways, has this had an effect on the way we approach ethical questions? For instance, can females and males each have distinct sensitivities to features of a situation, ways of processing questions and facts, and distinctive insights? If so, it’s worth considering whether this distinctive feminine voice has tended to be overlooked or suppressed in our cultural choices and values, and how recognizing that might affect our individual and societal beliefs and judgments. Our readings this week engage these questions. The first reading tries to bring out some important differences between the ways that men and women respond to ethical situations. In her chapter “Images of Relationship” from her book In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development, Carol Gilligan (1982) presents her analysis of the differences between ethical responses in young boys and young girls and she interprets female responses through the lens of what has become known as “care ethics.” As you read, think about how the differences between male and female responses relate to the moral theories that we have been considering, utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Consider whether each theory is a “masculine” or a “feminine” ethic, or whether it involves elements of both. Is Gilligan correct to distinguish approaches to ethics in terms of gender? Virginia Held (1990) tries to answer some of these questions in her essay “Feminist transformations of moral theory” by arguing that moral philosophy has by and large tended to reflect the masculine perspective. Since the earliest days of philosophy, the typical concerns, characteristics, and ways of thinking of males has set the standard for “human” virtue and morality, while the typical concerns, characteristics, and ways of thinking of females has tended to be regarded as subhuman, inferior, or even bad. Taking these two articles together, what might a feminist perspective teach us about human relations, about virtuous conduct and character, and about the decisions we ought to make as moral agents? A suggestion in the area of military issues is provided Nel Noddings (2010) in her essay “War and Violence”. Noddings analyzes the relationship between masculinity, violence, and war and opposes a certain conception of masculine violence to maternal thinking in relation to these topics. Does Nodding present some important insights, and if so, how might we as individuals and as a society respond? Go ahead and read pages 213-220 of the text. Going Deeper Recommended readings and media on stereotypes and subjugation In Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s (2007) witty and sardonic essay from 1875 entitled “Subjection of women,” she presents an analysis of the social structures and ideas that have kept women in subjection to men. She also presents her own ideas about how women ought to be treated and how they should advocate for equal rights. You can find the essay in the book Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist as thinker: A reader in documents and essays with the library’s Ebook collection. The following videos present further examples of the ways that gender stereotypes are reinforced in various ways in our culture. Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes Through Advertising The Social Consequences The next three resources, two videos and an essay, expose some of the social consequences of the kinds of images, stereotypes, and inequalities that we have been examining. Because they are so commonplace and reinforced at a subconscious level, they often go unnoticed, or their significance unappreciated, unless something is so jarring that it opens things up in a new way. These next two videos try to do just that. The first is a short but powerful film imagines a world in which the gender roles were reversed, and women were the dominant gender while men had to contend with sexism and sexual violence. While the film is French (with English subtitles) and takes place in France, the social conditions should be familiar to those of us in the United States. What effect does reversing the gender roles in this way have on the emotional impact of the experiences the film represents, and would it have the same impact if the gender roles were more “standard”? (Note that the film contains a small amount of nudity that is non-sexual and supports the message of the film.) Oppressed Majority (Majorité Opprimée English) This next video is a short documentary about women who light themselves on fire (or are lit on fire by others) in order to escape their marriages or other abusive relationships. Again, it’s disturbing and discomforting, but it’s precisely these kinds of things that are sometimes needed to jar us out of the mindsets that we are used to. Finally, in the essay entitled “Domestic Violence Against Women and Autonomy,” Marilyn Friedman analyzes the relationship between women’s freedom and the inability of some women to escape the destructive cycle of domestic violence. Rather than portray women as weak or ignorant, Friedman outlines specific social and familial limitations that prevent women from leaving these relationships. This essay can be found in the book Autonomy, Gender, Politics, which is in the Ashford University Library Ebook Collection. Web Resources We have only scratched the surface of these complex and challenging themes, and these two websites have a multitude of resources for going deeper. Hinman, L. (n.d.). Gender and Ethical Theory. Ethics Updates. Retrieved from http://ethics.sandiego.edu/theories/Gender/index.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Hinman, L. (n.d.). Gender and Sexism. Ethics Updates. Retrieved from http://ethics.sandiego.edu/Applied/Gender/index.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Beyond Gender Having considered the question of gender equality and the ways in which it is undermined through various cultural attitudes and practices, and even philosophy, we can extend those insights to other sources of difference, such as race. Many of these same phenomena apply in similar ways when looking at racial inequality. For a start, here are two examples of the ways that, like gender stereotypes, racial stereotypes may become entrenched through their forms of representation in the media. Racial Stereotypes Within Disney Movies – [Link] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.https://ashford.instructure.com/images/play_overlay.png Top 9 Racist Disney Characters ************* Final Remarks ************* An Inescapable Question What are ethical questions worth taking seriously? The reason is pretty simple. It’s that we all live an answer to these questions every day. All of our decisions involve taking a stand on what matters to human life, whether we realize it or not. What stand are we going to take? A Human Question Asking and answering ethical questions is a core part of our very humanity. This means there has been a large variety not just of answers, but of ways of approaching the questions themselves. We’re familiar with cultural differences, but can there be differences pertaining to other features of our lives like gender? How do we respond to differences, no matter their source? A Conversation With so many ideas, beliefs, and values out there, should we simply declare some right or wrong? Should we simply declare that nothing is right or wrong? If both of these options seem unappealing, perhaps ethical reasoning is best thought of as a conversation in which we continually listen to others voices, and are not afraid to insert our own voice, in a mutual, never-ending endeavor to arrive at understanding and, perhaps, even truth. I hope this course has opened up that possibility for you. Philosophy as a Way of Life In our discussions over the past 5 weeks, we have been considering the ethical and political dimensions of various issues, some that are very real and present issues for all of us (such as how we eat, how we treat the environment), some that are very real and present issue for some but not all (such as what it means to be a virtuous soldier, or how those of different genders are treated in the workplace), and some that most of us might not be faced with directly, but which are important to consider as citizens in a democracy (such as whether to permit physician-assisted suicide or whether drone warfare is justified). When we ask such questions, what exactly is it that we’re asking? * Are we trying to discover some kind of objective fact? * Are we merely forming a particular attitude? * Are we just appealing to various social conventions? * Can we ever settle these kinds of questions, and how would we do that? * To what standards or principles do we appeal, if any? * What values are we appealing to? * Are those values merely personal, or do they tap into something beyond what each individual happens to favor? * And above all, are there reasons that we can offer for our ethical judgments, and how to we distinguish better reasons from worse ones? To help us grapple with these questions, we have considered perspectives from lots of different sources – some ancient, some contemporary, and some from literature, film, and popular media. And we have tried to: * Figure out the reasons, values, and arguments behind the views under consideration. * Figure out the the reasons, values, and arguments supporting our own views. * Uncover assumptions lying behind these views – both our own and those of others – and consider whether we should call such assumptions into question when they aren’t backed by strong reasons. * Critically apply the broader ideas and principles we have learned about to concrete cases in real life. It might at times have seemed confusing on a lot of different levels. The ideas themselves often seemed arcane and complex, difficult to wrap your head around. And even to the extent that we understood them, it might have seemed like there was no way of deciding who is right, who is wrong. Often I’m sure you just wanted to throw your hands up and say “who cares?” or “why bother?” You might have thought that this all just comes down to personal opinion, or verbal gymnastics from people who spend too much time with their heads in the clouds. “Let’s stop thinking so much and just believe what you want to believe, do what you want to do, and let others do the same. These philosophers are just bothering the rest of us with their ‘intellectual ideas’, like a fly that won’t go away.” Given how many people there are these days trying to win us over with their fancy words, this is a very understandable reaction. But this was the view many people had of Socrates almost 2500 years ago, whom we encountered in week 1 being challenged by Glaucon’s story about the Ring of Gyges. Indeed, it was because the people of Athens found him such a nuisance that they ended up putting him on trial, and ultimately putting him to death on trumped up charges to get rid of him. But in his defense during his trial, recorded in Plato’s Apology, Socrates offers us a kind of vision of what philosophy is, why it matters, and why it’s so easy to be dismissive or even antagonistic towards it. Philosophy for Socrates is not a set of abstract theories, facts, or definitions; philosophy is not a method of solving problems, and it’s certainly not simply a skill that allows you to win arguments. Rather, for Socrates, philosophy at its heart is a way of life. What kind of a life? * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to simply take for granted what you think you know. * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to be content with the way things seem or feel. * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to unreflectively follow the crowds or do what everybody does. * It’s a way of life that prizes honesty, authenticity, and above all truth. But to pursue a philosophical life carries with it a risk. It’s hard, tedious, and tiresome. It can be uncomfortable and disconcerting. It can unsettle our settled assumptions. It can induce anxiety as the familiar and comfortable become strange and disquieting. It can alienate us from other people, from our culture and society, and even, in a sense, from our own selves, as we’ve hitherto understood them. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes this process of taking up a philosophical life with a myth. In this myth, he describes the unreflective life, the life that’s easiest and most comfortable and most common, in terms of living in a cave wherein we only grasp bits and pieces or shadows of the way things are, but often can’t or don’t want to probe beyond that and seek truth, represented by the sun. I invite you to take a few moments to read it, or if you prefer you can watch an animated rendition of it, narrated by the great Orsen Wells. The Myth of the Cave In both the myth and in real life, the “life inside the cave” – the life that rests content with the way things seem or feel to you, or with what you’ve always just taken for granted – that life is often easier and more comfortable. And when one “emerges from the darkness to light” – when one starts questioning things – it can be painful and disorienting. And it can be tempting to just give up, to “go back to the cave” and live the way that seems most comfortable, rather than continue on the journey in pursuit of the light of truth. But as we adjust to that light, we find that our lives, and what we encounter as we live them, take on a new meaning. Sometimes profound, sometimes subtle. But either way, when we find this new meaning, we can no longer be content with the way things seemed before. Plato’s image of the cave represents both the promise, and the peril, of the philosophical life. An Inescapable Question But why are philosophical questions – and especially those we call ethical – worth taking seriously? The reason is pretty simple. It’s that the way we live our lives every day is an answer to these questions. Whether we are itinerant eccentrics wandering in togas around the marketplace of Athens like Socrates was, or soldiers, mechanics, care-givers, billionaires, minimum-wage workers, entrepreneurs, professors, fathers and mothers, eaters of food, or users of technology. In every decision we make, from how we spend our money, how we relate to our friends, the profession we choose and all the choices we have to make within that – all of these decisions involve taking a stand on what matters to human life, whether we realize it or not. At its heart, ethics is a matter of asking: What stand am I going to take? What identity am I going to claim through the choices I make? But wait… Why shouldn’t I just ignore ethical questions, and live however I feel like living? – That’s not ingoring the ethical questions; choosing to act on whatever desires one happens to have is taking a stand on the ethical questions – a stand that may involve denying many of the ethical claims people make. Besides, is “do whatever you feel like” the “answer” that we provide children, when they ask similar questions? Is the this the answer given to soldiers, when they are confronted with tough decisions? Obviously not. This reflection doesn’t settle any of the questions, but it might help us see that ethical quetsions are not trivial or important to only a few people. Rather, they are important to all of us, no matter who we are. Why shouldn’t I just do what my upbringing or my religion says I should do? We are confronted today with people who do all sorts of good and bad things in the name of their religion. Regardless of whehter one is talking about Christianity, Islam, Judiaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any of the other major world religions, it’s not hard to find people doing things that strike us as horrific, and people doing things that strike us as saintly, and who sincerely believe that this is what their God or their religion requires them to do. All of these religious traditions agree that we are responsible for Similarly, we are confronted with people who have been raised in good, loving circumstances but do terrible things; and people who have been raised in terrible circumsances and have gone on to do marvelous things. All of this suggests that one’s religion by itself, or one’s upbringing by itself, doesn’t determine the ethical values that guide one’s life. Perhaps this means that we should try to escape the easy categorcies into which pepole are placed as a result of religion, race, upbringing, etc., Many people find it easier to do this with others than with themselves. The fact that you were raised in an abusive household doesn’t make it okay for you to abuse others. The fact that you were raised to hate Jews doesn’t make it okay to kill them. Why shouldn’t I just ignore these questions, and live however I feel like living? The Quest for Answers So how does one pursue these questions (especially when we have a lot of other things to do)? Do I have to grow a beard (even if I’m a woman) and scratch it a lot while saying a lot of deep and wise things? Good grief no! I like to think of the philosophical human life as a quest, one that we all undertake anyway to a certain extent, but that for most of us (even us professional philosophers) can always be done more intentionally, more reflectively, and more honestly. There are countless movies and stories in which the characters are trying to find something, or get someplace, and so forth. (Some of my favorites are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, and the Indiana Jonesmovies). Harry Potter 1.jpg indiana-jones-and-the-raiders-of-the-lost-ark-470-75.jpg LOTR.gifWhen these characters seek something, what does that involve? A quest involves asking: * What, exactly, is it that I’m trying to find or do? * Where do I find this or how do I do this? * Who can I trust to help along the way? * Why am I seeking or doing this? What is needed for them to be able to answer these kinds of questions? What is required for them to fulfill their quest? A quest requires: * Some starting point, involving an initial idea of what to seek, what to do, and where to go, whom to trust, etc. * Openness to having these initial ideas challenged and revised. * Courage and fortitude to hold on to certain things when the challenges are not compelling * Trust in those who may be able to guide and educate you. * Respect for the ideas and answers that have come before. * Openness to having one’s own sense of self and purpose, as well as trust and respect, challenged, developed, and educated. * Honesty to recognize when one is holding on to something that lacks merit or support. * Honesty to recognize when one is ignoring, denying, or rejecting something that needs to be respected and taken seriously. Now, instead of thinking about something like finding the Ark of the Covenant or destroying the One Ring, think instead about something like * “what is the meaning of life?” * “what is happiness?” * “what kind of life is best?” * “what is my purpose here?” * “what does God want from me?” * “what does God want for me?” Perhaps seeking the answer to these kinds of questions is like engaging in a quest. If so, perhaps it involves the same kinds of questions and requirements. Specifically, it might involve asking: * What is the answer for me? * What is the answer for humanity in general? And seeking the answer might require: * Some starting point, involving an initial idea of what to seek, what to do, and where to go, whom to trust, etc. * Openness to having these initial ideas challenged and revised. * Courage and fortitude to hold on to certain things when the challenges are not compelling * Trust in those who may be able to guide and educate you. * Respect for the ideas and answers that have come before. * Openness to having one’s own sense of self and purpose, as well as trust and respect, challenged, developed, and educated. * Honesty to recognize when one is holding on to something that lacks merit or support. * Honesty to recognize when one is ignoring, denying, or rejecting something that needs to be respected and taken seriously. A Conversation We aren’t the first to ask these questions. And we won’t be the last. The “starting points” didn’t from us, nor did our sense of where and how to find the answers. Nor did they come from any one person. Rather, they emerged out of what might be best described as a “conversation” – a conversation with one’s peers, with the past, with one’s religion, society, and culture, even with the world itself. For this reason, I would suggest that seeking the answer to questions about the meaning of life should also be regarded as engaging in a conversation. Indeed, philosophy itself, and the whole of human life, might be viewed this way. It’s a conversation about how we should live and what we should do. It’s a conversation about what it means to be human, and our place in the grand scheme of things. But by entering into that conversation, we’re not just asking these questions, we are living out those distinctively human possibilities of thinking, questioning, and enquiring. And for this reason, the reflective, philosophical life might be regarded as the most authentically humankind of life. Whether we’re religious or non-religious, male or female, old or young, Republican or Democrat, black or white – whoever one is, wherever one is coming from, and wherever one is going, the quest and the conversation is a central part of what it means to be human. And living out our humanity by engaging in that quest and conversation, continually striving to leave the cave and seek the light is, perhaps, what philosophy is all about. Going Further If you are interested in going a bit deeper or getting some more perspectives, here are some resources to get you started. Places to find interesting stuff: Philosophy Bites (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Podcasts featuring short, accessible interviews with philosophers on a variety of topics. Philosophical Installations (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A comprehensive collection of videos on all sorts of philosophical topics. Open Culture (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Links to free philosophy courses that you can watch or listen to. A great thing for the car or while doing the dishes! I particularly recommend the course “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by Michael Sandel, and “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love” by David O’Connor. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Excellent and authoritative articles on almost every major philosophical topic and figure. Much better than Wikipedia! AskPhilosophers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A forum in which people can submit questions, and trained philosophers do their best to respond to it. To date it has answered thousands of questions on dozens of topics. The Stone (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A regular blog on the New York Times that features contemporary philosophers writing on a wide variety of topics. I especially recommend the articles by Gary Gutting. Some things worth reading: I encourage you to file away somewhere the list of recommended resources for each week, and in the coming months and years to work through some of those that might interest you. In addition, here are some articles and books that are accessible but still provide what I think are interesting and illuminating insight into ethical questions, and human life in general. Crawford, Michael (2009). Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. New York: Penguin Books. Crawford has a Ph.D. in philosophy but decided to work in motorcycle maintenance. This article talks about the relationship between hands-on, practical work and the life of the mind. A shorter version is published as “The Case for Working With Your Hands.” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Sandel, Michael (2007). The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the age of genetic engineering. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Sandel writes about certain trends toward perfection and domination in our culture that are impacting the way that we use our technological resources. It is an illuminating look not just at technology itself, but at our culture attitudes and what might need to be examined about those. A shorter version was published here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Taylor, Charles (1992). The Ethics of Authenticity (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. This short book speaks about a sense of unease that many of us often feel about life in the modern world – a sense that we have lost the common values that hold us together, the traditional ways of making sense of our lives and our place in this world. He connects that up with a modern preoccupation with self-determination, self-fulfillment, or “authenticity”. Taylor considers what it might mean to be authentic in a way that can overcome this modern malaise. ********** Discussion ********** There is one discussion this week. The requirements for the discussion this week are a minimum of four posts on four separate days. The total word count on all of your posts combined should be over 600 words. Be sure to answer all the questions in the prompt and to read any resources that are required to complete the discussion properly. In order to satisfy the posting requirements for the week, the latest day you can post would be Friday (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday). However, we recommend that you get into the discussion early and spread out your posts over the course of the week. Additional Information: * When posting an independent post (i.e., not replying to your peer), please use the following heading (w/out the quotes): “Your Name 1” (for your first such post), and “Your Name 2”, “Your Name 3″… for any subsequent independent posts. That will help me keep track of different threads. * Be sure you understand the general discussion requirements stated above, and which are explained in more detail in the Faculty Expectations (which includes video guidance and a “Frequently Asked Questions” section). If you have read that and are unclear about the requirements, be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions section, and if you have questions not answered there, please contact me. * Before composing your post, be sure to read and watch the relevant text(s) and media, and be sure to also read the instructor guidance and watch any associated lectures on this topic. Key Discussion Requirements to Remember: * Post at least once on four separate days during the discussion week. * Total word count for all posts combined should be at least 600 words. * Demonstrate a thoughtful engagement with the relevant resources and the instructor guidance. * All posts should be on-topic and contribute to the discussion topic in a meaningful and substantive way. * All posts should be carefully proofread for spelling, grammatical, and mechanical errors, and should cite all sources in APA format. Discussion: Considering Other Perspectives The readings for this week argue that morality, including the major theories that we have studied in the course, has typically expressed a masculine point of view, and that there is a lot that we can learn by taking more consideration of the female perspective (Gilligan, 1982; Held, 1990; Noddings, 2010). In broader terms, the idea seems to be that certain influences such as gender, race, socio-economic class, ethnicity, religion, and so on can affect not only our judgments about particular moral issues, but the deeper assumptions that lie behind these judgments, and that we can learn a lot by considering perspectives quite different from our own. Describe an example from your own life in which your ethical judgments or assumptions were challenged and enhanced by considering a perspective that was different and unfamiliar to you. The example may be from our course material, or from outside of the course. Describe the way in which it helped you to think about ethical questions in a different way. (Note that this is not simply asking for a difficult ethical challenge or an experience of ethical disagreement; you should focus on encountering a different point of view, and on how your own perspective was enhanced by that confrontation.) Next, to broaden things a bit, do you think that it’s possible for us to progress and come to greater consensus on our ethical views, despite the way that modern society is often portrayed as increasingly in conflict? This is your chance to offer reflections on the arguments and ideas we’ve considered throughout the course, so feel free to describe how the course material and discussion has impacted your thoughts about ethics. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/sjlaumakis/Reading%204-GILLIGAN.pdf Held, V. (1990). Feminist Transformation of Moral Theory. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. 50, Supplement, pp. 321-34. Noddings, N. (2010). The maternal factor: Two paths to morality (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Electronic version]. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com/corp/ Assignment Print This Page —————————— Week 5 Assignment: Final Paper —————————— The final assignment for this course is a Final Paper. The purpose of the Final Paper is for you to culminate the learning achieved in the course by explaining and evaluating how ethical theories help us reason about a selected ethical issue. The Final Paper represents 15% of the overall course grade. Please read these assignment instructions before writing your paper, and re-read them often during and after the writing process to make sure that you are fulfilling all of the instructions. Please also utilize the assignment guidance and the outlined model provided. Be sure to carefully look over the “Notes and Advice” section underneath the instructions, Please also use the outlines provided below for a model of how your paper should be structured. Utilize the checklist at the end to help ensure that you have completed all of the components of the assignment. Overview In the Week One Assignment, you formulated a concrete ethical question, took a position on that topic, and identified a reason supporting and a reason opposing that position. In the Week Three Assignment, you discussed either deontological or utilitarian theory, applied that theory to the question, and raised a relevant objection. By engaging with the course material, you now have had a chance to refine your thinking and broaden your understanding of the problem by approaching it from the perspective of multiple ethical theories. In this paper, you will demonstrate what you have learned by writing an essay in which you: * Present a revised formulation of the ethical question and introduction to the topic. * Explain the kind of reasoning you think is the best way to approach this question, and how that reasoning supports the position you think is strongest. * Raise an objection, and be able to respond to it. Instructions Write an essay that conforms to the requirements below. The paper must be 1500 to 2000 words in length (excluding the title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The paragraphs of your essay should conform to the following guidelines: * Introduction: * Your first paragraph should begin with the topic question, suitably revised. It should be focused, concrete, and on a relevant moral problem. You should then introduce the topic in the way described by the Week One instructions, but reflecting the developed understanding and information you have gained about the topic and any necessary refinement of the scope. * Follow this with a thesis statement that states your position, and a brief description of the primary reason(s) supporting your position. (See the handout on thesis statements (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. provided). Finally, provide a brief preview of the overall aim and procedure of your paper. * Explanation and Demonstration of Moral Reasoning: * This section of the Final Paper will explain and demonstrate what you believe to be the best way of reasoning about the question you have chosen, and showing how that reasoning supports the position you have taken on the question. You might explain the principles, rules, values, virtues, conceptions of purposes and ends, and other general ideas that you find persuasive, and show how they support concrete judgments. * In the course of doing so, you must make reference to at least two of the approaches that we have examined in the course (such as deontological, utilitarian, or virtue-based), and utilize at least one resource off the provided list for each of the two approaches. One of these theories may be the theory you discussed in your Week Three Assignment, but your discussion here should be more refined. * For example, you might find the reasoning associated with Aristotelian virtue ethics to be the most compelling, and reference Aristotle in the process of showing how that reasoning supports a certain conclusion. In the course of this, you could contrast that with a utilitarian approach, referencing Mill for instance. * Objection and Response: * After explaining the ethical reasoning that supports your position, you should raise an objection and respond to it. An objection articulates a plausible reason why someone might find the argument weak or problematic. You should explain how it brings out this weakness, and do so in a way that would be acceptable to someone who disagrees with your own argument. Then provide the best response you can to the objection, showing how it does not undermine your position. Your response shouldn’t simply restate your original position or argument, but should say something new in support of it. * Conclusion: * Provide a conclusion that sums up what you presented in the paper and offers some final reflections. * Resource Requirement: * You must use at least four scholarly resources. Two of the resources must be drawn from the list of acceptable primary resources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. on each of the two theories you discuss. For example, if you discuss deontology and virtue ethics, you would need at least one resource under the “Deontology” list and at least one resource under the “Virtue Ethics” list. The other two may be from either the Required or Recommended Resources, or scholarly resources found in the Ashford University Library. * The textbook may be cited, but it does not count toward the resource requirement. If you cite the textbook, you will still need to cite at least four more sources that fulfill the requirements stated above. * If you need help with finding additional resources, or are unsure about whether a particular resource will count toward the requirement, please contact your instructor. * For sources to count toward the resources requirement, they must be cited within the text of your paper and on the reference page. Sources that are listed on the references page, but not cited within the paper, do not count toward fulfilling the resources requirement. For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, located within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar. Assignment Guidance: Click here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to open as a separate document Notes and Advice: * This paper is a demonstration of what you have learned about moral reasoning based on our examining of ethical theories and specific ethical issues. As such, you should focus your attention on carefully spelling out the reasoning that supports your conclusion, and relating that to the theories we have discussed in class. * You are free to write on the same topic and question you wrote on in previous papers, or choose a different topic and question. * If you choose a different topic, you would benefit from going through the Assignment 1 exercises. * For a list of acceptable topics to start with, see the options listed below. If you are still unsure of your topic or of how properly to focus it into a relevant ethical question, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your instructor. * You are free to draw upon the work you did in previous papers, and reuse parts that you feel were strong, but you are not to simply recycle the previous papers. This paper should reflect the culmination of the development of your thoughts on this issue, and many of the requirements for the final paper cannot be satisfied by a heavily recycled paper. * The consideration of an objection against your own view is a way of showing that your view has the support of good reasons and can answer its strongest objections. Therefore, aim at identifying and addressing the strongest opposing argument you can, bearing in mind that a good thesis should be able to respond to the best arguments for the other side. Thesis Statement The thesis statement is more than just a position statement of the sort you provided in the first assignment; rather, it states the position and the primary reasons in such a way that the reader should have a clear sense of how the reasons support the position, which is what will be spelled out and explained in the body of the paper. Please see the handout on thesis statements provided. Outline The document below provides an outline of the assignment that you can use when writing your paper: Word Document | PDF (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. | Plain Text [note: the PDF might be the only link working right now. I’ll try to fix it soon!] The outline also includes detailed instructions for each section. Note also that the labels are for the purposes of creating an outline, and whether you choose to use those particular labels, or any labels at all, is up to you. List of topics (see the Week 1 assignment for more detail): * Just War/Military Ethics (Weeks Three and Four) * Gender and Equality (Week Five) * Responsibility to Animals (Week Two) * Responsibility to the Environment (Week Four) * End of Life Medical Issues (Week One) Checklist This checklist can help you ensure that you have completed all of the assignment instructions. Provide an introduction that describes the ethical problem (including the most relevant issues), summarizes your procedure in the paper, and concludes with your thesis statement. Clearly and accurately explain the core principles of two of the theories we have considered. Clearly and accurately explain in each case how that theory applies to the problem in question. Explain which argument on this problem you find most persuasive, and provide reasoning to support your position. Raise a relevant objection against your position that you can imagine being raised by someone holding a contrary position. Provide a strong response to that objection that shows that your own view can withstand it. Provide a conclusion that sums up what you showed in the paper and offers some final reflections, including a revised statement of the thesis. Utilize at least 1 for each theory drawn from the list of acceptable primary sources for that theory (for a total of 2). Utilize at least 2 other resources from the required or recommended readings and media or the Ashford library. Cite your sources within the text of your paper and on the reference page. Include a title page and list of references. Proofread carefully for mechanical and grammatical errors. Format the assignment in APA style. Write between 1500-2000 words. Please Carefully review the Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment. The descriptions refer to papers that achieve a “Distinguished” level for each performance criterion. Content Criteria 1. Begins with a focused, concrete, and relevant ethical question. 2. Introduces the topic in a way that clearly establishes its scope and why it is significant, and provides any necessary context. 3. Provides a precise, clear, and well-constructed statement of the position and the primary reasons supporting it. 4. Provides a brief preview of the aim and procedure of the paper. 5. Clearly and thoroughly explains and demonstrates the approach to moral reasoning deemed the strongest for this question, and shows how that reasoning supports the position. 6. Meaningfully refers to at least two of the major approaches examined in the course, and displays a strong grasp of the main features of each theory. 7. Raises a plausible objection to the argument offered in the previous section. The objection and response are strong and clear. 8. Provides a well-developed and clear conclusion that concisely summarizes the paper and presents a rephrased statement of the thesis. Research Criteria 1. Cites at least two of the readings from the list of acceptable resources, one for each of the two theories, and two more resources either from the required or recommended material or scholarly resources found in the Ashford University Library. 2. The sources are pertinent and effectively used. Writing Skills 1. The paper uses correct grammar and spelling throughout. 2. The paper displays coherent organization. Style Criteria 1. The paper uses proper APA format throughout. 2. The paper is no fewer than 1500 words in length, not including reference and title pages. TOTAL 15 Additional Resources Please see: Zúñiga y Postigo, G. (2013). How to write an argumentative essay (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Unpublished work]. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ashford University, Clinton, IA. Ashford Writing Center Resources: The Ashford Writing Center can be found by looking under the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar. Once in there, please note the following resources: * The Ashford Writing Center Thesis Generator (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to help you generate your thesis. Look under the “Writing Resources” tab, then under “Writing Tools”, and click on “Thesis Generator”, or go directly to https://awc.ashford.edu/writing-tools-thesis-generator.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. * Information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, can be found by clicking on the “APA/MLA” heading at the top. * The Ashford Writing Center (AWC) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. has two kinds of tutoring available to you. * * Live Chat – If you have writing-related questions about a topic before you draft a discussion post or submit a written assignment, you will now be able to chat live with a tutor for a short (up to 20 minute) conversation. Live Chat will be available Monday through Friday from 10:00-11:00 am and 4:00-5:00 pm (PST). AWC Live Chat (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. * Email Paper Review – If you have a draft, partial draft, or even if you’re having trouble getting started, you can complete a submission form and email your paper to the AWC for review. * Writing Tutors will do their best to return your paper with their comments within 48 hours, not including Saturdays and Sundays. Please plan accordingly if you would like to receive feedback before an assignment due date. AWC Email Paper Review. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Additional References Designed and Written by Bradley J. Thames, Ph.D. Please direct all questions and comments to bradley.thames@ashford.edu Copyright © 2017 Bradley J. Thames. All Rights Reserved. View Announcement

Ethics and Gender, and Final Remarks

This Week’s Topics

 

  1. Ethics and Gender

 

Does gender play a role in how we approach ethical questions? If so, has the male perspective dominated ethical theory? Would our approach to ethical questions change if we took more account of the female point of view? We will consider questions like these concerning the significance of gender to ethics by examining “feminist” theories, such as “care ethics”. These try to open up the ways in which the female perspective has tended to be marginalized in ethical discussions, and to show how that might be brought back in.

 

  1. Final Remarks

 

In this last section, we close out our 5 week study of ethics by considering some reflections and challenges that you might be able to take with you beyond the class.

 

  1. Discussions

There is one discussion assignment this week. Please read the discussion prompt carefully before you begin posting, and review it often during the week.

 

  1. Assignment

The assignment for this week is the final paper, which is due at the end of the week (Monday). The assignment instructions are listed at the bottom of this page. Please read both the instructions and the guidance, and re-read them often during and after the writing process to make sure that you are fulfilling all of the instructions.  Utilize the checklist at the end to help ensure that you have completed all of the components of the assignment.

Ethics and Gender

 

 Are Ethical Questions Gender Specific?

What are the topics, values, and approaches that tend to characterize both ethical theory and everyday ethical thinking? Do these vary depending on whether they are considered by males or females? Given the fact that most of the prominent philosophers, theologians, artists, intellectuals, and others who have influenced ethical discussion have been males, many people from both genders have argued that this is a question worth taking seriously.

 Unseen Influences

Whether we are talking about gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or any other distinguishing feature, we are conditioned in unnoticed ways to regard certain features as normal, ideal, inferior, stereotypical, and so on. While we may never be able to avoid that altogether, it doesn’t mean we can’t be on the lookout for such influences and try to think beyond them. ———————— The Feminine Perspective ———————— Don’t let the term “feminist” mislead you; that term has many different meanings, and in our context, it simply means an approach to ethics that reflects a distinctively female point of view, but which can be important for people of both genders to engage. —————— Gender and Culture —————— The three philosophical readings that we will be looking at this week all try to show that many of our ethical ideas reflect a distinctively male point of view, and that the female perspective has tended to be overlooked or regarded as inferior. They don’t suggest that any of this was done purposefully or consciously; rather, it’s often the result of ways that we are conditioned by culture and society to think of men and women along certain stereotypical lines that tend to reinforce certain “masculine” traits as ideal, and certain “feminine” traits as inferior. Before we turn to the readings, let’s take a look at ways that such ideas can become ingrained in us so that we can get a sense of how conceptions of gender inequality can affect our thinking without us realizing it.

First, in this TED talk, Caroline Heldman analyzes how women are portrayed and judged in society according to their looks and she examines how this form of social judgment influences young girls and women.

The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego

This next video is a compilation of clips that display inherent sexism in the news media, as women are often judged by their age and looks rather than their intelligence and political acumen.

Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood

It’s not just women that are stereotyped. In this TED talk, Colin Stokes examines how media and films represent manhood and the outcomes that result from these representations.

 

Finally, we broaden our view a bit to other cultures. The following documentary, “Prostitutes of God,” examines a group of prostitutes in India who have been born into prostitution and dedicated to a fertility goddess.  As you watch this film, think about how social ideals and structures often lock women into certain predefined categories. The film exemplifies the ways that negative attitudes toward women can be deeply rooted within in a culture, which might reinforce the urgency to take these kinds of things seriously within our own. Not only does this present another example of the kind of phenomenon our readings will be pointing to, it also confronts us with some difficult questions that bring us back around to week 1’s discussion of cultural relativism. Is this just “the way they do things,” and something we have no business judging? Or do these represent real and deplorable violations of rights and ethical standards that apply to all of us, by virtue of our common humanity?

Prostitutes of God

Further videos displaying examples of gender stereotyping and inequality can be found in the “recommended media” below. For now, though, we turn to the readings.

– Feminist Ethics –

Having seen the way that certain gender attitudes and inequalities are inculcated and reinforced in various ways, has this had an effect on the way we approach ethical questions? For instance, can females and males each have distinct sensitivities to features of a situation, ways of processing questions and facts, and distinctive insights? If so, it’s worth considering whether this distinctive feminine voice has tended to be overlooked or suppressed in our cultural choices and values, and how recognizing that might affect our individual and societal beliefs and judgments.

Our readings this week engage these questions. The first reading tries to bring out some important differences between the ways that men and women respond to ethical situations. In her chapter “Images of Relationship” from her book In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development, Carol Gilligan (1982) presents her analysis of the differences between ethical responses in young boys and young girls and she interprets female responses through the lens of what has become known as “care ethics.” As you read, think about how the differences between male and female responses relate to the moral theories that we have been considering, utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Consider whether each theory is a “masculine” or a “feminine” ethic, or whether it involves elements of both. Is Gilligan correct to distinguish approaches to ethics in terms of gender? Virginia Held (1990) tries to answer some of these questions in her essay “Feminist transformations of moral theory” by arguing that moral philosophy has by and large tended to reflect the masculine perspective. Since the earliest days of philosophy, the typical concerns, characteristics, and ways of thinking of males has set the standard for “human” virtue and morality, while the typical concerns, characteristics, and ways of thinking of females has tended to be regarded as subhuman, inferior, or even bad. Taking these two articles together, what might a feminist perspective teach us about human relations, about virtuous conduct and character, and about the decisions we ought to make as moral agents? A suggestion in the area of military issues is provided Nel Noddings (2010) in her essay “War and Violence”. Noddings analyzes the relationship between masculinity, violence, and war and opposes a certain conception of masculine violence to maternal thinking in relation to these topics. Does Nodding present some important insights, and if so, how might we as individuals and as a society respond? Go ahead and read pages 213-220 of the text.

 

Going Deeper

Recommended readings and media on stereotypes and subjugation

 

In Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s (2007) witty and sardonic essay from 1875 entitled “Subjection of women,” she presents an analysis of the social structures and ideas that have kept women in subjection to men.  She also presents her own ideas about how women ought to be treated and how they should advocate for equal rights. You can find the essay in the book Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist as thinker: A reader in documents and essays with the library’s Ebook collection. The following videos present further examples of the ways that gender stereotypes are reinforced in various ways in our culture.

 

Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes Through Advertising

The Social Consequences

 

The next three resources, two videos and an essay, expose some of the social consequences of the kinds of images, stereotypes, and inequalities that we have been examining. Because they are so commonplace and reinforced at a subconscious level, they often go unnoticed, or their significance unappreciated, unless something is so jarring that it opens things up in a new way. These next two videos try to do just that. The first is a short but powerful film imagines a world in which the gender roles were reversed, and women were the dominant gender while men had to contend with sexism and sexual violence. While the film is French (with English subtitles) and takes place in France, the social conditions should be familiar to those of us in the United States. What effect does reversing the gender roles in this way have on the emotional impact of the experiences the film represents, and would it have the same impact if the gender roles were more “standard”? (Note that the film contains a small amount of nudity that is non-sexual and supports the message of the film.)

Oppressed Majority (Majorité Opprimée English)

 

This next video is a short documentary about women who light themselves on fire (or are lit on fire by others) in order to escape their marriages or other abusive relationships.  Again, it’s disturbing and discomforting, but it’s precisely these kinds of things that are sometimes needed to jar us out of the mindsets that we are used to. Finally, in the essay entitled “Domestic Violence Against Women and Autonomy,” Marilyn Friedman analyzes the relationship between women’s freedom and the inability of some women to escape the destructive cycle of domestic violence.  Rather than portray women as weak or ignorant, Friedman outlines specific social and familial limitations that prevent women from leaving these relationships. This essay can be found in the book Autonomy, Gender, Politics, which is in the Ashford University Library Ebook Collection.

Web Resources

 

We have only scratched the surface of these complex and challenging themes, and these two websites have a multitude of resources for going deeper.

 

Hinman, L. (n.d.). Gender and Ethical Theory.  Ethics Updates. Retrieved from http://ethics.sandiego.edu/theories/Gender/index.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Hinman, L. (n.d.). Gender and Sexism.  Ethics Updates. Retrieved from http://ethics.sandiego.edu/Applied/Gender/index.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

Beyond Gender

 

Having considered the question of gender equality and the ways in which it is undermined through various cultural attitudes and practices, and even philosophy, we can extend those insights to other sources of difference, such as race. Many of these same phenomena apply in similar ways when looking at racial inequality. For a start, here are two examples of the ways that, like gender stereotypes, racial stereotypes may become entrenched through their forms of representation in the media.

 

Racial Stereotypes Within Disney Movies –

[Link] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

Top 9 Racist Disney Characters

 

************* Final Remarks *************

 

An Inescapable Question

 

What are ethical questions worth taking seriously? The reason is pretty simple. It’s that we all live an answer to these questions every day. All of our decisions involve taking a stand on what matters to human life, whether we realize it or not. What stand are we going to take?

 

A Human Question

 

Asking and answering ethical questions is a core part of our very humanity. This means there has been a large variety not just of answers, but of ways of approaching the questions themselves. We’re familiar with cultural differences, but can there be differences pertaining to other features of our lives like gender? How do we respond to differences, no matter their source?

 

A Conversation

 

With so many ideas, beliefs, and values out there, should we simply declare some right or wrong? Should we simply declare that nothing is right or wrong? If both of these options seem unappealing, perhaps ethical reasoning is best thought of as a conversation in which we continually listen to others voices, and are not afraid to insert our own voice, in a mutual, never-ending endeavor to arrive at understanding and, perhaps, even truth. I hope this course has opened up that possibility for you.

 

Philosophy as a Way of Life

 

In our discussions over the past 5 weeks, we have been considering the ethical and political dimensions of various issues, some that are very real and present issues for all of us (such as how we eat, how we treat the environment), some that are very real and present issue for some but not all (such as what it means to be a virtuous soldier, or how those of different genders are treated in the workplace), and some that most of us might not be faced with directly, but which are important to consider as citizens in a democracy (such as whether to permit physician-assisted suicide or whether drone warfare is justified). When we ask such questions, what exactly is it that we’re asking? * Are we trying to discover some kind of objective fact? * Are we merely forming a particular attitude? * Are we just appealing to various social conventions? * Can we ever settle these kinds of questions, and how would we do that? * To what standards or principles do we appeal, if any? * What values are we appealing to? * Are those values merely personal, or do they tap into something beyond what each individual happens to favor? * And above all, are there reasons that we can offer for our ethical judgments, and how to we distinguish better reasons from worse ones? To help us grapple with these questions, we have considered perspectives from lots of different sources – some ancient, some contemporary, and some from literature, film, and popular media. And we have tried to: * Figure out the reasons, values, and arguments behind the views under consideration. * Figure out the the reasons, values, and arguments supporting our own views. * Uncover assumptions lying behind these views – both our own and those of others – and consider whether we should call such assumptions into question when they aren’t backed by strong reasons. * Critically apply the broader ideas and principles we have learned about to concrete cases in real life. It might at times have seemed confusing on a lot of different levels. The ideas themselves often seemed arcane and complex, difficult to wrap your head around. And even to the extent that we understood them, it might have seemed like there was no way of deciding who is right, who is wrong. Often I’m sure you just wanted to throw your hands up and say “who cares?” or “why bother?” You might have thought that this all just comes down to personal opinion, or verbal gymnastics from people who spend too much time with their heads in the clouds. “Let’s stop thinking so much and just believe what you want to believe, do what you want to do, and let others do the same. These philosophers are just bothering the rest of us with their ‘intellectual ideas’, like a fly that won’t go away.” Given how many people there are these days trying to win us over with their fancy words, this is a very understandable reaction. But this was the view many people had of Socrates almost 2500 years ago, whom we encountered in week 1 being challenged by Glaucon’s story about the Ring of Gyges. Indeed, it was because the people of Athens found him such a nuisance that they ended up putting him on trial, and ultimately putting him to death on trumped up charges to get rid of him. But in his defense during his trial, recorded in Plato’s Apology, Socrates offers us a kind of vision of what philosophy is, why it matters, and why it’s so easy to be dismissive or even antagonistic towards it. Philosophy for Socrates is not a set of abstract theories, facts, or definitions; philosophy is not a method of solving problems, and it’s certainly not simply a skill that allows you to win arguments. Rather, for Socrates, philosophy at its heart is a way of life. What kind of a life? * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to simply take for granted what you think you know. * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to be content with the way things seem or feel. * It’s a way of life in which you refuse to unreflectively follow the crowds or do what everybody does. * It’s a way of life that prizes honesty, authenticity, and above all truth. But to pursue a philosophical life carries with it a risk. It’s hard, tedious, and tiresome. It can be uncomfortable and disconcerting. It can unsettle our settled assumptions. It can induce anxiety as the familiar and comfortable become strange and disquieting. It can alienate us from other people, from our culture and society, and even, in a sense, from our own selves, as we’ve hitherto understood them. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes this process of taking up a philosophical life with a myth. In this myth, he describes the unreflective life, the life that’s easiest and most comfortable and most common, in terms of living in a cave wherein we only grasp bits and pieces or shadows of the way things are, but often can’t or don’t want to probe beyond that and seek truth, represented by the sun. I invite you to take a few moments to read it, or if you prefer you can watch an animated rendition of it, narrated by the great Orsen Wells. The Myth of the Cave

 

In both the myth and in real life, the “life inside the cave” – the life that rests content with the way things seem or feel to you, or with what you’ve always just taken for granted – that life is often easier and more comfortable. And when one “emerges from the darkness to light” – when one starts questioning things – it can be painful and disorienting. And it can be tempting to just give up, to “go back to the cave” and live the way that seems most comfortable, rather than continue on the journey in pursuit of the light of truth. But as we adjust to that light, we find that our lives, and what we encounter as we live them, take on a new meaning. Sometimes profound, sometimes subtle. But either way, when we find this new meaning, we can no longer be content with the way things seemed before. Plato’s image of the cave represents both the promise, and the peril, of the philosophical life.

 

An Inescapable Question

 

But why are philosophical questions – and especially those we call ethical – worth taking seriously? The reason is pretty simple. It’s that the way we live our lives every day is an answer to these questions. Whether we are itinerant eccentrics wandering in togas around the marketplace of Athens like Socrates was, or soldiers, mechanics, care-givers, billionaires, minimum-wage workers, entrepreneurs, professors, fathers and mothers, eaters of food, or users of technology. In every decision we make, from how we spend our money, how we relate to our friends, the profession we choose and all the choices we have to make within that – all of these decisions involve taking a stand on what matters to human life, whether we realize it or not. At its heart, ethics is a matter of asking:

 

What stand am I going to take? What identity am I going to claim through the choices I make?   But wait…

Why shouldn’t I just ignore ethical questions, and live however I feel like living? –

 

That’s not ingoring the ethical questions; choosing to act on whatever desires one happens to have is taking a stand on the ethical questions – a stand that may involve denying many of the ethical claims people make. Besides, is “do whatever you feel like” the “answer” that we provide children, when they ask similar questions? Is the this the answer given to soldiers, when they are confronted with tough decisions? Obviously not. This reflection doesn’t settle any of the questions, but it might help us see that ethical quetsions are not trivial or important to only a few people. Rather, they are important to all of us, no matter who we are. Why shouldn’t I just do what my upbringing or my religion says I should do?

 

We are confronted today with people who do all sorts of good and bad things in the name of their religion. Regardless of whehter one is talking about Christianity, Islam, Judiaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any of the other major world religions, it’s not hard to find people doing things that strike us as horrific, and people doing things that strike us as saintly, and who sincerely believe that this is what their God or their religion requires them to do. All of these religious traditions agree that we are responsible for Similarly, we are confronted with people who have been raised in good, loving circumstances but do terrible things; and people who have been raised in terrible circumsances and have gone on to do marvelous things. All of this suggests that one’s religion by itself, or one’s upbringing by itself, doesn’t determine the ethical values that guide one’s life. Perhaps this means that we should try to escape the easy categorcies into which pepole are placed as a result of religion, race, upbringing, etc., Many people find it easier to do this with others than with themselves. The fact that you were raised in an abusive household doesn’t make it okay for you to abuse others. The fact that you were raised to hate Jews doesn’t make it okay to kill them.     Why shouldn’t I just ignore these questions, and live however I feel like living?

 

The Quest for Answers

 

So how does one pursue these questions (especially when we have a lot of other things to do)? Do I have to grow a beard (even if I’m a woman) and scratch it a lot while saying a lot of deep and wise things? Good grief no! I like to think of the philosophical human life as a quest, one that we all undertake anyway to a certain extent, but that for most of us (even us professional philosophers) can always be done more intentionally, more reflectively, and more honestly. There are countless movies and stories in which the characters are trying to find something, or get someplace, and so forth. (Some of my favorites are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, and the Indiana Jonesmovies).       When these characters seek something, what does that involve? A quest involves asking: * What, exactly, is it that I’m trying to find or do? * Where do I find this or how do I do this? * Who can I trust to help along the way? * Why am I seeking or doing this? What is needed for them to be able to answer these kinds of questions? What is required for them to fulfill their quest? A quest requires: * Some starting point, involving an initial idea of what to seek, what to do, and where to go, whom to trust, etc. * Openness to having these initial ideas challenged and revised. * Courage and fortitude to hold on to certain things when the challenges are not compelling * Trust in those who may be able to guide and educate you. * Respect for the ideas and answers that have come before. * Openness to having one’s own sense of self and purpose, as well as trust and respect, challenged, developed, and educated. * Honesty to recognize when one is holding on to something that lacks merit or support. * Honesty to recognize when one is ignoring, denying, or rejecting something that needs to be respected and taken seriously. Now, instead of thinking about something like finding the Ark of the Covenant or destroying the One Ring, think instead about something like * “what is the meaning of life?” * “what is happiness?” * “what kind of life is best?” * “what is my purpose here?” * “what does God want from me?” * “what does God want for me?” Perhaps seeking the answer to these kinds of questions is like engaging in a quest. If so, perhaps it involves the same kinds of questions and requirements. Specifically, it might involve asking: * What is the answer for me? * What is the answer for humanity in general? And seeking the answer might require: * Some starting point, involving an initial idea of what to seek, what to do, and where to go, whom to trust, etc. * Openness to having these initial ideas challenged and revised. * Courage and fortitude to hold on to certain things when the challenges are not compelling * Trust in those who may be able to guide and educate you. * Respect for the ideas and answers that have come before. * Openness to having one’s own sense of self and purpose, as well as trust and respect, challenged, developed, and educated. * Honesty to recognize when one is holding on to something that lacks merit or support. * Honesty to recognize when one is ignoring, denying, or rejecting something that needs to be respected and taken seriously.

 

A Conversation

 

We aren’t the first to ask these questions. And we won’t be the last. The “starting points” didn’t from us, nor did our sense of where and how to find the answers. Nor did they come from any one person. Rather, they emerged out of what might be best described as a “conversation” – a conversation with one’s peers, with the past, with one’s religion, society, and culture, even with the world itself. For this reason, I would suggest that seeking the answer to questions about the meaning of life should also be regarded as engaging in a conversation. Indeed, philosophy itself, and the whole of human life, might be viewed this way. It’s a conversation about how we should live and what we should do. It’s a conversation about what it means to be human, and our place in the grand scheme of things. But by entering into that conversation, we’re not just asking these questions, we are living out those distinctively human possibilities of thinking, questioning, and enquiring. And for this reason, the reflective, philosophical life might be regarded as the most authentically humankind of life. Whether we’re religious or non-religious, male or female, old or young, Republican or Democrat, black or white – whoever one is, wherever one is coming from, and wherever one is going, the quest and the conversation is a central part of what it means to be human. And living out our humanity by engaging in that quest and conversation, continually striving to leave the cave and seek the light is, perhaps, what philosophy is all about.

 

Going Further

 

If you are interested in going a bit deeper or getting some more perspectives, here are some resources to get you started.

 

Places to find interesting stuff:

Philosophy Bites (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Podcasts featuring short, accessible interviews with philosophers on a variety of topics. Philosophical Installations (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A comprehensive collection of videos on all sorts of philosophical topics. Open Culture (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Links to free philosophy courses that you can watch or listen to. A great thing for the car or while doing the dishes! I particularly recommend the course “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by Michael Sandel, and “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love” by David O’Connor. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Excellent and authoritative articles on almost every major philosophical topic and figure. Much better than Wikipedia! AskPhilosophers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A forum in which people can submit questions, and trained philosophers do their best to respond to it. To date it has answered thousands of questions on dozens of topics. The Stone

(Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. A regular blog on the New York Times that features contemporary philosophers writing on a wide variety of topics. I especially recommend the articles by Gary Gutting.

 

Some things worth reading:

 

 

I encourage you to file away somewhere the list of recommended resources for each week, and in the coming months and years to work through some of those that might interest you. In addition, here are some articles and books that are accessible but still provide what I think are interesting and illuminating insight into ethical questions, and human life in general. Crawford, Michael (2009). Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. New York: Penguin Books. Crawford has a Ph.D. in philosophy but decided to work in motorcycle maintenance. This article talks about the relationship between hands-on, practical work and the life of the mind. A shorter version is published as “The Case for Working With Your Hands.” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Sandel, Michael (2007). The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the age of genetic engineering. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Sandel writes about certain trends toward perfection and domination in our culture that are impacting the way that we use our technological resources. It is an illuminating look not just at technology itself, but at our culture attitudes and what might need to be examined about those. A shorter version was published here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Taylor, Charles (1992). The Ethics of Authenticity (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. This short book speaks about a sense of unease that many of us often feel about life in the modern world – a sense that we have lost the common values that hold us together, the traditional ways of making sense of our lives and our place in this world. He connects that up with a modern preoccupation with self-determination, self-fulfillment, or “authenticity”. Taylor considers what it might mean to be authentic in a way that can overcome this modern malaise.

 

 

********** Discussion **********

 

There is one discussion this week. The requirements for the discussion this week are a minimum of four posts on four separate days. The total word count on all of your posts combined should be over 600 words. Be sure to answer all the questions in the prompt and to read any resources that are required to complete the discussion properly. In order to satisfy the posting requirements for the week, the latest day you can post would be Friday (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday). However, we recommend that you get into the discussion early and spread out your posts over the course of the week.

 

Additional Information:

 

* When posting an independent post (i.e., not replying to your peer), please use the following heading (w/out the quotes): “Your Name 1” (for your first such post), and “Your Name 2”, “Your Name 3″… for any subsequent independent posts. That will help me keep track of different threads.

* Be sure you understand the general discussion requirements stated above, and which are explained in more detail in the Faculty Expectations (which includes video guidance and a “Frequently Asked Questions” section). If you have read that and are unclear about the requirements, be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions section, and if you have questions not answered there, please contact me.

* Before composing your post, be sure to read and watch the relevant text(s) and media, and be sure to also read the instructor guidance and watch any associated lectures on this topic.

 

Key Discussion Requirements to Remember:

 

* Post at least once on four separate days during the discussion week.

* Total word count for all posts combined should be at least 600 words.

* Demonstrate a thoughtful engagement with the relevant resources and the instructor guidance.

* All posts should be on-topic and contribute to the discussion topic in a meaningful and substantive way.

* All posts should be carefully proofread for spelling, grammatical, and mechanical errors, and should cite all sources in APA format.

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion: Considering Other Perspectives

 

The readings for this week argue that morality, including the major theories that we have studied in the course, has typically expressed a masculine point of view, and that there is a lot that we can learn by taking more consideration of the female perspective (Gilligan, 1982; Held, 1990; Noddings, 2010).  In broader terms, the idea seems to be that certain influences such as gender, race, socio-economic class, ethnicity, religion, and so on can affect not only our judgments about particular moral issues, but the deeper assumptions that lie behind these judgments, and that we can learn a lot by considering perspectives quite different from our own.  Describe an example from your own life in which your ethical judgments or assumptions were challenged and enhanced by considering a perspective that was different and unfamiliar to you.  The example may be from our course material, or from outside of the course.

Describe the way in which it helped you to think about ethical questions in a different way.  (Note that this is not simply asking for a difficult ethical challenge or an experience of ethical disagreement; you should focus on encountering a different point of view, and on how your own perspective was enhanced by that confrontation.)

Next, to broaden things a bit, do you think that it’s possible for us to progress and come to greater consensus on our ethical views, despite the way that modern society is often portrayed as increasingly in conflict? This is your chance to offer reflections on the arguments and ideas we’ve considered throughout the course, so feel free to describe how the course material and discussion has impacted your thoughts about ethics.

 

Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/sjlaumakis/Reading%204-GILLIGAN.pdf

Held, V. (1990). Feminist Transformation of Moral Theory. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. 50, Supplement, pp. 321-34.

Noddings, N. (2010). The maternal factor: Two paths to morality (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Electronic version]. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com/corp/

 

Assignment

—————————— Week 5 Assignment: Final Paper ——————————

 

The final assignment for this course is a Final Paper. The purpose of the Final Paper is for you to culminate the learning achieved in the course by explaining and evaluating how ethical theories help us reason about a selected ethical issue.  The Final Paper represents 15% of the overall course grade. Please read these assignment instructions before writing your paper, and re-read them often during and after the writing process to make sure that you are fulfilling all of the instructions. Please also utilize the assignment guidance and the outlined model provided.    Be sure to carefully look over the “Notes and Advice” section underneath the instructions, Please also use the outlines provided below for a model of how your paper should be structured. Utilize the checklist at the end to help ensure that you have completed all of the components of the assignment.

 

Overview

 

In the Week One Assignment, you formulated a concrete ethical question, took a position on that topic, and identified a reason supporting and a reason opposing that position. In the Week Three Assignment, you discussed either deontological or utilitarian theory, applied that theory to the question, and raised a relevant objection. By engaging with the course material, you now have had a chance to refine your thinking and broaden your understanding of the problem by approaching it from the perspective of multiple ethical theories. In this paper, you will demonstrate what you have learned by writing an essay in which you:

* Present a revised formulation of the ethical question and introduction to the topic.

* Explain the kind of reasoning you think is the best way to approach this question, and how that reasoning supports the position you think is strongest.

* Raise an objection, and be able to respond to it.

 

Instructions

 

Write an essay that conforms to the requirements below. The paper must be 1500 to 2000 words in length (excluding the title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

 

The paragraphs of your essay should conform to the following guidelines:

 

* Introduction:

* Your first paragraph should begin with the topic question, suitably revised.  It should be focused, concrete, and on a relevant moral problem.  You should then introduce the topic in the way described by the Week One instructions, but reflecting the developed understanding and information you have gained about the topic and any necessary refinement of the scope.

* Follow this with a thesis statement that states your position, and a brief description of the primary reason(s) supporting your position. (See the handout on thesis statements (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. provided).  Finally, provide a brief preview of the overall aim and procedure of your paper.

 

* Explanation and Demonstration of Moral Reasoning:

* This section of the Final Paper will explain and demonstrate what you believe to be the best way of reasoning about the question you have chosen, and showing how that reasoning supports the position you have taken on the question.  You might explain the principles, rules, values, virtues, conceptions of purposes and ends, and other general ideas that you find persuasive, and show how they support concrete judgments.

* In the course of doing so, you must make reference to at least two of the approaches that we have examined in the course (such as deontological, utilitarian, or virtue-based), and utilize at least one resource off the provided list for each of the two approaches.  One of these theories may be the theory you discussed in your Week Three Assignment, but your discussion here should be more refined.

* For example, you might find the reasoning associated with Aristotelian virtue ethics to be the most compelling, and reference Aristotle in the process of showing how that reasoning supports a certain conclusion.  In the course of this, you could contrast that with a utilitarian approach, referencing Mill for instance.

 

* Objection and Response:

* After explaining the ethical reasoning that supports your position, you should raise an objection and respond to it.  An objection articulates a plausible reason why someone might find the argument weak or problematic. You should explain how it brings out this weakness, and do so in a way that would be acceptable to someone who disagrees with your own argument.  Then provide the best response you can to the objection, showing how it does not undermine your position.  Your response shouldn’t simply restate your original position or argument, but should say something new in support of it.

 

* Conclusion:

* Provide a conclusion that sums up what you presented in the paper and offers some final reflections.

 

* Resource Requirement:

* You must use at least four scholarly resources. Two of the resources must be drawn from the list of acceptable primary resources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. on each of the two theories you discuss. For example, if you discuss deontology and virtue ethics, you would need at least one resource under the “Deontology” list and at least one resource under the “Virtue Ethics” list. The other two may be from either the Required or Recommended Resources, or scholarly resources found in the Ashford University Library.

* The textbook may be cited, but it does not count toward the resource requirement.  If you cite the textbook, you will still need to cite at least four more sources that fulfill the requirements stated above.

* If you need help with finding additional resources, or are unsure about whether a particular resource will count toward the requirement, please contact your instructor.

* For sources to count toward the resources requirement, they must be cited within the text of your paper and on the reference page.  Sources that are listed on the references page, but not cited within the paper, do not count toward fulfilling the resources requirement. For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, located within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

 

Assignment Guidance:

 

Click here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to open as a separate document Notes and Advice:

* This paper is a demonstration of what you have learned about moral reasoning based on our examining of ethical theories and specific ethical issues.  As such, you should focus your attention on carefully spelling out the reasoning that supports your conclusion, and relating that to the theories we have discussed in class.

* You are free to write on the same topic and question you wrote on in previous papers, or choose a different topic and question.

* If you choose a different topic, you would benefit from going through the Assignment 1 exercises.

* For a list of acceptable topics to start with, see the options listed below. If you are still unsure of your topic or of how properly to focus it into a relevant ethical question, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your instructor.

* You are free to draw upon the work you did in previous papers, and reuse parts that you feel were strong, but you are not to simply recycle the previous papers.   This paper should reflect the culmination of the development of your thoughts on this issue, and many of the requirements for the final paper cannot be satisfied by a heavily recycled paper.

* The consideration of an objection against your own view is a way of showing that your view has the support of good reasons and can answer its strongest objections.  Therefore, aim at identifying and addressing the strongest opposing argument you can, bearing in mind that a good thesis should be able to respond to the best arguments for the other side.  Thesis Statement The thesis statement is more than just a position statement of the sort you provided in the first assignment; rather, it states the position and the primary reasons in such a way that the reader should have a clear sense of how the reasons support the position, which is what will be spelled out and explained in the body of the paper.  Please see the handout on thesis statements provided.

 

Outline

 

The document below provides an outline of the assignment that you can use when writing your paper: Word Document | PDF (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. | Plain Text [note: the PDF might be the only link working right now. I’ll try to fix it soon!] The outline also includes detailed instructions for each section.  Note also that the labels are for the purposes of creating an outline, and whether you choose to use those particular labels, or any labels at all, is up to you.

 

List of topics (see the Week 1 assignment for more detail):

 

* Just War/Military Ethics (Weeks Three and Four)

* Gender and Equality (Week Five)

* Responsibility to Animals  (Week Two)

* Responsibility to the Environment  (Week Four)

* End of Life Medical Issues (Week One)

 

Checklist

 

This checklist can help you ensure that you have completed all of the assignment instructions. Provide an introduction that describes the ethical problem (including the most relevant issues), summarizes your procedure in the paper, and concludes with your thesis statement. Clearly and accurately explain the core principles of two of the theories we have considered. Clearly and accurately explain in each case how that theory applies to the problem in question. Explain which argument on this problem you find most persuasive, and provide reasoning to support your position. Raise a relevant objection against your position that you can imagine being raised by someone holding a contrary position. Provide a strong response to that objection that shows that your own view can withstand it. Provide a conclusion that sums up what you showed in the paper and offers some final reflections, including a revised statement of the thesis. Utilize at least 1 for each theory drawn from the list of acceptable primary sources for that theory (for a total of 2). Utilize at least 2 other resources from the required or recommended readings and media or the Ashford library. Cite your sources within the text of your paper and on the reference page. Include a title page and list of references. Proofread carefully for mechanical and grammatical errors. Format the assignment in APA style.

Write between 1500-2000 words. Please Carefully review the Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment. The descriptions refer to papers that achieve a “Distinguished” level for each performance criterion.

 

Content Criteria

  1. Begins with a focused, concrete, and relevant ethical question.
  2. Introduces the topic in a way that clearly establishes its scope and why it is significant, and provides any necessary context.
  3. Provides a precise, clear, and well-constructed statement of the position and the primary reasons supporting it.
  4. Provides a brief preview of the aim and procedure of the paper.
  5. Clearly and thoroughly explains and demonstrates the approach to moral reasoning deemed the strongest for this question, and shows how that reasoning supports the position.
  6. Meaningfully refers to at least two of the major approaches examined in the course, and displays a strong grasp of the main features of each theory.
  7. Raises a plausible objection to the argument offered in the previous section. The objection and response are strong and clear.
  8. Provides a well-developed and clear conclusion that concisely summarizes the paper and presents a rephrased statement of the thesis.

 

Research Criteria

  1. Cites at least two of the readings from the list of acceptable resources, one for each of the two theories, and two more resources either from the required or recommended material or scholarly resources found in the Ashford University Library.
  2. The sources are pertinent and effectively used.

Writing Skills

  1. The paper uses correct grammar and spelling throughout.
  2. The paper displays coherent organization.

 

Style Criteria

  1. The paper uses proper APA format throughout.
  2. The paper is no fewer than 1500 words in length, not including reference and title pages.

TOTAL 15

 

Additional Resources

 

Please see: Zúñiga y Postigo, G. (2013). How to write an argumentative essay (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Unpublished work]. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ashford University, Clinton, IA.

 

Ashford Writing Center Resources:

 

The Ashford Writing Center can be found by looking under the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.  Once in there, please note the following resources:

 

* The Ashford Writing Center Thesis Generator (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to help you generate your thesis. Look under the “Writing Resources” tab, then under “Writing Tools”, and click on “Thesis Generator”, or go directly to https://awc.ashford.edu/writing-tools-thesis-generator.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

* Information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, can be found by clicking on the “APA/MLA” heading at the top.

* The Ashford Writing Center (AWC) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  has two kinds of tutoring available to you. *

* Live Chat – If you have writing-related questions about a topic before you draft a discussion post or submit a written assignment, you will now be able to chat live with a tutor for a short (up to 20 minute) conversation. Live Chat will be available Monday through Friday from 10:00-11:00 am and 4:00-5:00 pm (PST). AWC Live Chat (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

* Email Paper Review – If you have a draft, partial draft, or even if you’re having trouble getting started, you can complete a submission form and email your paper to the AWC for review.

* Writing Tutors will do their best to return your paper with their comments within 48 hours, not including Saturdays and Sundays. Please plan accordingly if you would like to receive feedback before an assignment due date. AWC Email Paper Review. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

Additional References

 

Designed and Written by Bradley J. Thames, Ph.D. Please direct all questions and comments to bradley.thames@ashford.edu Copyright © 2017 Bradley J. Thames. All Rights Reserved.

View Announcement

Interested in a PLAGIARISM-FREE paper based on these particular instructions?...with 100% confidentiality?

Order Now