Analysis and Criticism of the Areas of Ethics
The purpose of this assignment is to prepare you for the 4-5 page Essay that you will write for this course. The essay is an opportunity for you to engage in more extended analysis and criticism of the areas of ethics that we have covered this far in the course. Your paper should be based on the readings from the course and should demonstrate the following learning outcomes:
Read, analyze, and critique philosophical texts.
Explain and assess major arguments in ethics.
Present well-reasoned ethical positions in writing.
Apply ethical concepts and principles to address moral concerns
First, examine the following topics and consider the readings and assignments that you have completed in the course up to this point. Select one of the following topics or create your own.
Aristotle argues that happiness is the ultimate good and purpose of human action. He believes that virtue is the way to achieve happiness. Does this view offer a reason for thinking that ethics might have a general character that can be applied to all people, places, and times? Can someone be fully happy (in Aristotle’s sense, that is, fulfilled, excellent, flourishing) even though others might consider them wicked?
Does virtue or piety capture what we mean by morals and ethics or is something lost in these characterizations? When Plato and Euthyphro discuss piety, they seem to treat piety as if it were another word for ethical, that is, if a person is pious then they do the right thing while an impious person does not. Similarly, Aristotle’s entire work on ethics is concerned with the development of virtue. But is virtue or piety all there is to ethics? Are there other rules, guidelines, or moral principles that are not captured by the concepts of virtue and piety? What are they? What is missing?
Euthyphro tries to ground morality in the statements of the gods; Aristotle grounds it in human nature (the soul, its purpose and it’s function). Which of these two approaches to grounding ethics seems more likely to succeed as an ethical theory? Do they both miss something? Is there another way to ground our notions of ethics? Why would one or the other fail to provide an adequate theory of ethics?
Second, think about how you will write a persuasive argument addressing the topic of your choosing. This argument should be based on the readings and on your own critical reasoning. You will need to explain the arguments and positions presented in the readings. You will need to analyze and critique those positions. And you should consider how they apply to concrete situations.
Third, after you have thought about this for a while, you should compose a short abstract or proposal (no more than four or five sentences) and an outline demonstrating for your paper.
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