Final Hw!

December 10, 2008

The ethicist that I found to be least appealing was John Stuart Mill on Utilitarianism. His views were not as easy to comprehend at first compared to others we spoke of. I also feel that there were many arguments against his theories that made him less credible. He believed that all actions should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, however there were situations where it would be impossible to do this. I mentioned in previous blogs a story about a woman donating her kidney to a man that later murders ten people one day. I mean it is ridiculous to think that she was immoral for donating that kidney to a man that becomes a killer. However, in utilitarianism, she would be held accountable for that action because it brought the least amount of happiness to the least amount of people. Mill was definitely one of the ethicist that I thought was a bit over the top.



December 9, 2008

Aristotle believes that virtue is essential to living a moral life.  Under such beliefs, any extreme would be considered immoral, and therefore murder, which is certainly an extreme, would be viewed as an immoral action.  Under these circumstances any act of murder will undoubtedly be considered immoral.  However, Aristotle tends to have a greater focus on the individuals rather than the actions.  Therefore, if you consider an individual such as a soldier or a police officer, the issue of morality is much harder to understand.  These individuals would be viewed as virtuous for murdering someone as a means of protection.  If Aristotle’s view of morality depends on the individual more than the action, I believe that certain acts of murder could be viewed as moral when committed by particular individuals.    

Extra Credit

December 2, 2008

            The essay I chose was James Rachels “Active and Passive Euthanasia”. Euthanasia is the act of killing or permitting death of sick or injured individuals in a painless way for reasons of mercy. Withdrawing medical treatment with intentions of causing the patients death is considered passive euthanasia. Taking specific steps in order to cause death to the patient is considered active euthanasia.

            The moral problem that is being addressed in this essay is that active and passive euthanasia have no moral difference. Killing someone and letting someone die is still considered morally wrong. Rachels thesis is that killing is not in itself any worse than letting a person die; active euthanasia is not any worse than passive euthanasia (782).

            There are several arguments for and against this thesis. An Argument against Rachels thesis is the difference between active and passive euthanasia. For example, let’s say there is a patient who is dying of incurable cancer. In passive euthanasia, a doctor chooses not to do anything; therefore the patient’s cancer will kill the patient, not the doctor. In passive euthanasia, the doctor takes action in killing the patient, by lethal injection. Therefore the doctor becomes the cause of death.

            Rachels defends his thesis by stating that the doctor in the previous example is in fact not, not doing anything. In fact the doctor is letting someone die. This is a type of action, because if the doctor does not “do anything” than there is no other option but death. This moral action weighs the same as if someone was to physically kill the patient.        Rachels argument that active and passive euthanasia is morally wrong is persuasive because of the example he uses in his essay of Smith and Jones. He begins by explaining the two cases that involve Smith killing a person and another case where Jones is watching a person die. In the Smith case, Smith is set to inherit a large amount of money if his six year old cousin dies. With that said, Smith deliberately kills his cousin by drowning him. In the second case, Jones is set to inherit large amounts of money if his six year old cousin dies. Jones then plans to kill his cousin however when he opens the bathroom door, he sees his cousin drowning all on his own. Instead of helping he just sits back and observes his death. If this was a criminal case, both parties would be guilty. Therefore what would be the difference in killing a person, and watching a person die when you are capable of helping them?

            Rachels argument that active and passive euthanasia is morally wrong is not persuasive because of the example that was previously mentioned above. When looking at the situation closely in both cases, the main focus is the involvement of personal gain. Situations of euthanasia do not involve personal gain, or the destroying a healthy child. Situations of euthanasia involve a patient’s life that is or will become a burden. Therefore the example does not reflect a situation of euthanasia.

Who is a party to the social government? Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. These minors are party to the social contract because of their parent/guardian who take on full responsibility for the minors actions. These parents/guardians have an obligation to society to raise a minor to abide laws and social policies so minors are able to grow into responsible law abiding adults. With this said, it is also a given that a minor who is ten thinks very differently from an adult who is twenty five. If a ten year old steals from a store the repercussions are different as opposed to a twenty five year old stealing from a store. In this case, the owner of the store might notify the minor’s parent/guardian and the parent/guardian would have to discipline their child in a way that is appropriate. On the other hand, the adult in this case might receive some type of jail time or a penalty of some sort. With this said, minors are partied to the contract in a limited way, therefore their subjectivity to moral judgment is also limited.

Morality and Gov’t

November 20, 2008

I believe that there is a connection between morality and government. The government is impacts society in a very distinct way. Our society relies on its government. In order for our society to operate well, the government needs to make appropriate decisions. I do believe that society in a way looks up to the people who are involved in making the government the way it is. I do believe that moral standards are applied to the government. For example, the scandal with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky has made history. Society as a whole frowned upon this action. However, if a regular Joe made the same type mistake, he would not receive the same reaction as they did with Clinton. 


November 20, 2008

A society that has no laws would lead to a society of chaos. When there is nothing preventing people from doing whatever they want to whom ever they want this would be the most devastating thing that could happen. This society would lead to men killing each other not only in a personal conflict, but in conflicts against all of society. People would have to constantly watch out for themselves ultimately leaving the society in a constant fear of one another. It is a war that will never be resolved unless everyone is dead.  

Kant vs Mill

November 20, 2008

I feel that both Kant and Mill have arguments against their theories on morality that would make it difficult to choose which is best. With this said I simply chose Mills theory because I felt that Utilitarianism is little more practical if you were actually trying to follow their theories. I would rather try to see what actions bring upon the greatest amount of pleasure than try to turn everything into universal law. I also believe Mills theory is understood better than Kant’s theory on morality.

Rationality is the quality of being consistent based on logic. We use rationality daily in order to make decisions, and carry out our lives. Self-love is a regard of one’s own interest, which is an outcome of the decisions that are made from a rational point. The connection that Kant believes that if one does not follow categorical imperative, they are considered irrational. We used the example of suicide in class. According to categorical imperative, the maxim that is to be tested is: from self love a person makes it their notion to end their life, because living longer will cause more pain than happiness. The act of committing suicide is an individual’s motive. The maxim of suicide cannot be considered as a law of nature therefore the act is morally wrong. Therefore the wrongness of this act is based on one’s motives.

Categorical Imperative according to Kant is an absolute universal moral obligation. According to Kant, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”. We used cheating on a test as an example in class on Thursday. We need to see whether or not cheating can be imagined as a universal law of nature. Since cheating cannot be a universal law of nature, then we have a duty not to perform the act. If everyone were to cheat on a exam, then why would an exam exist in the first place?

Does happiness have any intrinsic value? I do not think that happiness has intrinsic value. Happiness is a state of well-being that is characterized by intense joy. How can you have intense joy by yourself and nothing external to stimulate this joy?   I believe it is difficult to have happiness that isn’t generated from external sources. If nothing were to occur to you externally, why would you be happy? Something must occur in order to trigger to good feelings that will develop into happiness. A person cannot fall in love all by themselves; they need the love and warmth from another human being.