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social ethics 3

Project Description

For this project, you will present an analysis of an ethical problem in your community through the lenses of two ethical theorists

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Your project will:

• Explain an ethical issue in your community

• Outline the main arguments and features of two ethical theorists

• Analyze your community’s ethical issue using your two chosen ethical theorists

• Construct a debate between the two theorists, allowing them to critique and respond to each other

•Theorists to choose from: Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Garret Hardin, Murray Bookchin, John Rawls, Peter Singer, or Milton Friedman

• Appraise which theorist best resolves the ethical issue

• Predict what outcomes would result from each ethical theorist’s solution

Project Instructions

Studying social ethics helps provide us with a thoughtful foundation from which we can evaluate the ethical problems with which we are confronted in our relationships and in our communities. In this project, you will identify and research an ethical question in your community. You can conduct this research by finding and reading primary and secondary sources on the issue and/or by interviewing someone in your community who engages with an ethically-charged social issue in their work—a public school teacher, a social worker, an employee of the justice system, etc. Then, use the theoretical tools for ethical evaluation that you have developed in this course to construct a “debate” between two of the theorists in this course about that ethical issue. Be sure, however, to give each theorist a “charitable” reading – i.e. construct the strongest argument you can using their philosophical viewpoint, observing both their strengths and their weaknesses. Once you have given each a fair reading, give your own final assessment of which theorist offers the most viable answer to the ethical problem you have investigated.

The final product of your research will have four general components:

1) A detailed explanation of the ethical issue in question. Based on what you have learned through your research, who are the key individuals, organizations, social groups, or other “stakeholders” involved in this ethical issue? What competing values or priorities give the situation an ethical valence? If you conducted an interview, what does the community member think or feel about the situation? What have they seen work and not work in addressing it (i.e. what is their experiential history with it)?

2) A clear exposition of two ethical theorists’ main arguments. What are their priorities as ethicists? What do they believe are the most essential features of ethical reasoning? How do they develop and deploy their arguments?

3) An in-depth application of the theories you’ve outlined in #2 to the ethical question you’ve investigated in #1. How would these theorists respond to this ethical question? How would they critique or refute one another in addressing that ethical question? Construct this as a debate, allowing the theorists to respond to one another.

4) Your own assessment of which of these theorists is best able to address the ethical problem you’ve unpacked. Why is this theory more reliable than the other? What positive outcomes can you anticipate from a resolution to this problem based on the theory you have chosen? What negative outcomes (or less positive ones) would have proceeded from the alternative? Your answer must provide an argument for why this theory is more rationally justifiable than the other. Do not rely on “preference” or general intuition about what “seems” better; explain why you have come to the conclusion that you have.

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