Philosophy 220 Final Paper

Question Description

Step 1: The assignment requires you to write a 3-5 page paper. Essentially, you will explain the article’s argument, assess the argument according to two of the ethical theories listed, and then provide your own assessment of the argument. The final paper is to be typed, double-spaced, with no more than 1.25” margins and in Times New Roman 12 pt font. The paper is to be no less than three pages and no more than five.

The name of the Article is : John Finnis, “Marriage: A Basic and Exigent Good”

Ethical Theories:

Aquinas’s Natural Law Theory

Utilitarianism (Act or Rule)

Step 2: Write a thesis statement. The format should be exactly as below. Your thesis statement will not be accepted if it does not follow the format below.

1. The first sentence must be an explicit and clear statement of whether you agree/disagree with the authors argument.

2. The next sentences should explicitly and clearly explain in detail why you agree/disagree with the author’s argument.

3. The last sentences need to explicitly and clearly explain in detail whether each ethical theory you have chosen would agree/disagree with the author’s argument and why?


“In this paper I will argue that in the article by John Doe “Killer Robots are OK,” his argument for the building and use of self-directing military robots that can kill is morally wrong. Despite his argument that replacing human soldiers with robots would save the lives of soldiers, his proposal is morally wrong because taking the life of any human is a moral decision and robots are incapable of moral decisions. Human lives have intrinsic moral worth and thus must be considered, even in the decision to take an enemy’s life. Kant’s Duty Ethics would agree with my position because Kant argues that all human life should be respected and all moral action requires the application of the Categorical Imperative. Robots are incapable of both. An Act Utilitarian may agree with Doe if it is the case that the consequences of using such robots is that there is more pleasure produced than pain for the most people. For example, if using killer robots result in eliminating the enemy with little to no cost of U.S. lives and the lives of innocent civilians overseas, it is right to use such robots.”

Step 3: The final paper must abide by the structure outlined below. Any deviation or omission of elements will result in a grade penalty. The paper must have:

A. An introductory paragraph that includes your thesis statement: A thesis statement is a short paragraph in which you state the argument at hand and briefly your assessment of the argument. (See the above in Step 2.)

B. Body: The body must be in the order below and include at least one relevant quote from the article.

1. An explanation of the author’s argument in detail and how he/she supports it.

2. A statement and explanation of how each ethical theory chosen would assess the author’s argument.

3. Your own assessment in which you argue why you agree/disagree with the author’s argument.

4. An explanation of why you agree/disagree with the two theory’s assessment of the author’s argument.

o Note that all quotations must be properly cited. Example:

“Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man.” (Hobbes, 392)

▪ Citation (footnote, Works Cited page, etc.) Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Classics of Western Philosophy. 7th ed. Ed. Steven M. Cahn. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006. 59, 75b.

C. Conclusion: A short paragraph in which you briefly summarize what was presented in the body.

D. A Works Cited Page or Bibliography


Paper Elements: You are being graded on your ability to provide an analysis of a philosophical issue, and provide a coherent assessment based on critical thinking skills.

1. The paper should be comprehensive in terms of thoroughly explaining the arguments at hand.

2. The paper should be clear in terms of explaining arguments and providing your own assessment.

3. The paper should be concise in terms of providing and discussing only substantial points pertinent to the topic at hand (eg. avoid adding extraneous examples/discussions and wordy explanations to “fill” the paper.)

4. The paper should be organized in terms of having proper structure (intro with thesis statement, body, conclusion), proper grammar, and sentence/paragraph construction (eg. make sure there are no run-on sentences, and that each point is broken into a paragraph.)

Additional things of note:

▪ For any contentious claims in support or against a position, make sure it is backed up by textual evidence.

▪ Do not make factual errors

▪ Do not commit fallacies (poor reasoning) in your own argument.

▪ Define and use terminology correctly.

▪ Do not overuse quotations. Use paraphrasing more than quotations in explaining a philosopher’s argument.

▪ Cite quotations correctly (e.g.: (Locke, 215) after the quote) plus a bibliography

▪ Make sure you have no more than two grammatical/ typographical errors (if any at all.)

Unformatted Attachment Preview

THE LAW SCHOOL MARRIAGE: A BASIC AND EXIGENT GOOD John Finnis University of Oxford Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy University of Notre Dame Biolchini Family Professor of Law Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-13 This paper can be downloaded without charge from the Social Science Research Network electronic library at: A complete list of research papers in the Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies series can be found at: Electronic copy available at: Marriage: A Basic and Exigent Good John Finnis I Marrying is an act, the chosen act of the two spouses who thereby commit themselves to living as husband and wife. Marriage as a state or way of life – being married – is the couple’s living out of that constitutive act of commitment in countless further acts, and in each spouse’s disposition or readiness both to do such acts of carrying out their commitment, and to abstain from choices inconsistent with it, until they are parted by death. Marriage as an institution is the network of legal and other social norms which –in view of the good of that way of life -- hold out stable ways of marrying and being married, support such acts and dispositions by benefiting fidelity to marital commitment, and discourage conduct impeding the making and living out of marital commitment. That stipulates, for this article, the focal meaning of “marriage”. The paragraph’s purpose, however, is neither linguistic stipulation nor lexicography. It is to begin to articulate, summarily, a set of strongly evaluative judgments about a field of human opportunity and practice. Those judgments pick out the central case of an institution, way of life and kind of act which is found also in many more or less non-central cases both in our society and era and in other societies and other times. They display that central case both as a social reality available for description 1 and as a very choiceworthy kind of opportunity. To articulate such judgments is to contribute to discourse by offering a set of propositions for critical consideration and discussion. The discussion can go well only if those who participate in it are aware that, in the last analysis, it is preparatory to the making of judgments and choices which, being more than discursive, change lives. 2 What is its point? This is the first question about any act, or kind of act. The answer I give to the question about marriage’s point will extend through this whole article. It begins with two summary thoughts: that marriage’s point is twofold, 1 2 On the evaluative conditions for such description advanced in a general descriptive theory of human affairs, see Finnis, “On Hart’s Ways: Law as Reason and as Fact,” American Journal of Jurisprudence 53 (2007) 25-53. See Finnis, Fundamentalsof Ethics (Oxford: OUP; Georgetown, Georgetown UP, 1993) 1-6. Electronic copy available at: procreation and friendship; 3 and that marriage is one of the kinds of human good so basic and constitutive in human fulfillment that each can be said to be an intrinsic good. Moral thinking, in its central critical-practical form, begins with an understanding of the desirability and worth of such basic human goods as life and health, knowledge, friendship, marriage, and so forth, and terminates in judgments about what kinds of act it is not unreasonable to choose. The understanding of basic forms of human opportunity does parallel the findings of empirical sociology about the basic aspects of human social existence, but does not depend upon or, typically, begin from such findings. 4 The eventual moral judgments are exercises of the judging person’s conscience, framed in the first person singular – about what I ought to be respecting and realizing in what I chose and do -- not exercises in praising or blaming the conduct or worthiness of other persons or societies. Yet, since they aspire to be rational and, indeed, reasonable, 5 they cannot fail to be exercises of public reason in its most fundamental sense. That is, they aspire to be judgments such as anyone else could and should make, and free from the dispositional and other sources of error which render judgment “subjective”. They aspire to be correct, objective judgments, judgments in which, under ideal epistemic conditions, everyone would concur. 6 Moreover, basic human goods are not intelligible in an essentially individualistic way. They are understood as aspects of human wellbeing that are good not only for me but for anyone “like me” – a qualifier than turns out to include any human person. They are good as realized in the life of a stranger in the same way, in principle, as in my life. Moreover, my own participation in these goods is radically dependent upon the various other persons by whose actions and forbearances I came into being and have begun and 3 4 5 6 Some find “friendship” too cool a term in this context, and some think it fails to refer to the biological union involved in a marriage. But alternatives such as “love” and “communion” have distracting connotations for many, friendships can be passionate, and it is marriage’s orientation to procreation that makes it possible for biologically unitive marital intercourse, even when engaged in with no prospect, intent or hope of procreation, to have the multiple significance which (see secs II and III below) it has. See Finnis, “Law and What I Truly Should Decide,” American Journal of Jurisprudence 48 (2003) 107-129 at 109-12. On this distinction between “rational” and “reasonable”, see Fundamentals of Ethics, 29-30, 52-3. On such consensus under ideal conditions as a mark, not a criterion, of truth, and on objectivity in general, see Fundamentals of Ethics, 62-66. Electronic copy available at: continued, more or less, to flourish and be able, for my own part, to contribute to their or others’ wellbeing. Marriage is a distinct fundamental human good 7 because it enables the parties to it, the wife and husband, to flourish as individuals and as a couple, both by the most farreaching form of togetherness possible for human beings and by the most radical and creative enabling of another person to flourish, namely, the bringing of that person into existence as conceptus, embryo, child and eventually adult fully able to participate in human flourishing on his or her own responsibility. The understanding that this twosided good is a profoundly desirable and profoundly demanding opportunity entails that marriage is utterly misunderstood when conceived as no more than an official status, imposed by law and accompanied by government entitlements and mandates. Its intelligible and inherent connection with human flourishing (and thus with human nature) makes it far more than a function of legal arrangements and definitions. The intelligibility and worth of its contours are bases for rejecting some legal arrangements and definitions and mandating others. At the centre of the range of activities that go to make up the marital sharing of life and lives is the kind of sexual act fittingly called marital. The commitment of marriage has at its centre the agreement to engage together, with full mutuality, in such acts. 8 II What in the mating of other animals is sheerly instinctual behavior is in marital intercourse a mating which actualizes, expresses and enables the spouses to experience, at 7 8 The discussion of basic human goods in Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights [hereafter NLNR] (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 86-7, failed to reach any clear or stable position on the place of transmission of life, procreation and marital friendship. Aquinas (when correctly translated) had it right (in this respect): see Finnis, Aquinas: Moral, Political and Legal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 83, for the kinds of reasons outlined, in relation to the identification of basic human goods in general, in NLNR, 81-6. More precisely, the consent and commitment is to be open to the other’s wish (whether expressed or unexpressed) for such intercourse, provided there is not, in the circumstances of the relevant time and place, some sufficient reason not to engage in intercourse. Aquinas accepts from Christian tradition that Mary and Joseph had each, believing that God had for her/him a special vocation, resolved upon virginity, but holds that this resolution would have been inconsistent with them marrying had each of them not qualified it with a further, conditional act of will of the form: “but if God ever so wills it, I consent to sexual intercourse with my spouse”: Aquinas, Scriptum super Libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardiensis IV d. 30 q. 2 a. 1 qa 1c; qa 2 ad 3; d. 28 q. 1 a. 4c. all levels of their being, their marriage itself in each of its essential dimensions: friendship and openness to procreation. In their marital union of their shared lives as a whole these spouses actualize, to the full extent they can, the intelligible good of marriage, and in the sexual union of their marital acts they epitomize their marriage in the three ways just mentioned: actualizing, expressing and experiencing it. Their commitment is an act of reasonable will (free choice) which illuminates, integrates, extends and deepens all that is instinctual and passionate in their motivation to make the commitment. That motivation, as with all morally good acts, must not be understood on the Humeian and Kantian models, in which sub-rational motivations set the ends, goals, purposes and reason comes in only to devise means and/or to eliminate the irrationality of contradiction. No, the commitment of marriage has the motivating intelligibilities, the sufficiently attractive and desirable reasons already mentioned: as enabling us two to help each other as friends, lovers, who can hand on our life in the procreation of new persons, our children whom we can help become self-determining in their own right (sui iuris) and who will contribute to the survival of our people. The enterprise to which we commit ourselves can scarcely be other than arduous, and the ardor and joy possible in the marital act reinforce – and are confirmed by – both the judgment that the commitment does make sense, and the ongoing willingness to be faithful to it. III Moral thought or commentary on sex and marriage today often leans heavily on a historicist claim, or assumption, that the moral standards of the central tradition widely rejected today were shaped or influenced by non-moral beliefs and attitudes now obviously unacceptable. Almost all of us grew up believing that medieval people thought the world is flat. More fool us. Medieval people, even school children, knew like us that it’s a sphere. 9 Almost everyone believes that medieval people, or at least the institutions of medieval culture, thought marital sex (i) right only when done for the sake of procreating and (ii) morally tainted if chosen for the sake of pleasure, and (iii) a matter, 9 See (referring also to the Enlightenment fabrication of this myth about medieval times) Finnis, Aquinas, 4, 16. The foregoing neither attempts nor insinuates a rule-utilitarian or any other kind of consequentialist weighing of overall consequences. Rather it explores further the conditions on which marriage is a genuine opportunity rather than a snare or a delusion. Why undertake the burdens and unquantifiable risks involved in its defining commitments if not, in part, out of care for the future of one’s people (and one’s forebears’ families) and, in part and more immediately, out of an uncomplacent wonder at the reality of a new person’s coming to be, utter dependence, intrinsic worth but relative fragility in health, character and attainments. There can be no reasonable ethics of sex and marriage, and no reasonable politics of education, employment and family support, without this clear-eyed, unsentimental wonder. Marriage, with the exclusiveness and moral permanence that define its central case, makes sense because the children to whose procreation, nurture and education its structure is thoroughly adapted are each an icon of the non-fungibility of persons. The contracting of the spouses, and their fulfillment of their promises, is itself an icon not only of their families’ and their people’s past and future hopes and achievements, but of free and self-directing citizenship. And their commitment and fidelity weave the cradle of new, eventually independent and responsible citizens. (Liberi [children] on the way to being liberi [fully self-determining free persons].) These are goods sufficiently important, exigent and unsubstitutable to falsify the thought that the moral restraints which guard them are cruel or arbitrarily oppressive, difficult though the living out of those restraints certainly is for many (in some respects for almost everyone willing to follow a well-formed conscience in making choices about sex). V We all live our lives in four distinct and irreducible kinds of order: the natural (including physical, chemical, biochemical, biological, and psychosomatic systems/orders), the logical (involving all aspects of our reasoning), the technical domain of systems (including language) for mastering matter to achieve specific goals, and the domain of self-determining, moral significant choices.20 Marriage, too, involves all four kinds of order. But since it is at bottom an act, and the carrying out of that constitutive act in countless other acts, its primary reality is moral, presupposing and engaging the natural, and supported by the cultural. To say that polygamy is not truly marriage, but only a version so watered down and defective as to be rather an imitation, is not to make a linguistic or other culture-relative claim. Rather it is to make a moral assertion, which must be validated by moral arguments. (These arguments will point, for example, to the inequality of – in polygamy’s standard form, polygyny -- the multiple “wives” both with each other and with the “husband”; and to the fractured relations of siblings and halfsiblings.) Similarly with “gay marriage.” What the phrase means is clear enough. To judge such marriages no marriage is like judging invalid arguments no argument, quack medicines no medicine; the point is not linguistic but, in the second two cases, is logical and technical respectively, and in the case in issue, is both cultural and moral. In our culture, the normative definition, both cultural and legal (until only the other day), has been the same as the moral judgment unfolded in previous sections of this article: lifelong and exclusive sexual commitment to a single spouse, in an institution oriented towards, and socially supported precisely for the sake of, the children whom this sexual union may well generate, is truly choiceworthy, and exigently important to – irreplaceably beneficial for -- the whole community. Since the sexual acts of same-sex partners (couples, threesomes, foursomes…) have no tendency at all to generate children, there is no reason why whatever commitment such partners wish to make to one another (as couples, threesomes, foursomes… for life or for five years…) should be thought of as marriage. Their relationship is physically, biologically, psychosomatically different from the spectrum of really marital relations. For in marital relations the marital act culminates in the very kind of activity – ecstatic genital giving and genital accepting of semen – that sometimes results in 20 See, e.g., Finnis, “‘The Thing I am’: Personal Identity in Aquinas and Shakespeare”, Social Philosophy & Policy 22 (2005) 250-282; also in Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred. D. Miller & Jeffrey Paul (eds.), Personal Identity (Cambridge & New York, Cambridge U.P, 2005), 250-282. generation. Thus, even when it does not have that result, it is an act of the kind 21 that links the spouses triply to the dual good of marriage, by enabling 22 them to actualize, experience and express the marital commitment. That commitment is to be open to procreation, even though marital acts are incapable of resulting in procreation on the great majority of days, and throughout any pregnancy, and then throughout the period that begins, usually quite gradually, with the coming of menopause. In short, marital acts retain that triple link to both elements of the dual good of marriage even when those who choose and engage in the acts believe themselves sterile because of the time of the month, pregnancy or aging, or because of a medical condition which yet leaves them potent to engage in such acts,. 23 Whatever imaginings or longings accompany them, neither solitary sex acts nor the sex acts of same-sex partners can be more than fictionally marital. 24 Notoriously, moreover, ethical positions which present themselves as “gay” include no norm requiring or making sense of exclusiveness of sexual partnership, and much evidence suggests that the great majority of same-sex male couples or wider groupings have “open” relationships. 25 In all such cases the imitation of authentic 21 22 23 24 25 Namely, what the tradition -- as expressed in, for example, Aquinas -- calls acts of the generative kind (which, as Aquinas carefully notes, can be engaged in by couple who know that they are sterile: see Finnis, Aquinas, 150 fn. 84; for much fuller citation and quotation, see “The Good of Marriage…” 128-9 at n. 127. Necessary, not sufficient: the triple link to marital commitment fails if the parties to the act are engaging in it “solely for pleasure” in the precise, depersonalizing sense explained above. See further Finnis, “The Good of Marriage…” at 128 n. 127; 132. On the arguments of Stephen Macedo and Andrew Koppelman attempting to assimilate same-sex sex acts to the marital intercourse of spouses who believe themselves sterile (and have done nothing to render themselves or their act sterile), see Finnis, “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation’,” in John Corvino (ed.), Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality (Rowman and Littlefield, 1997) 31-43 at 37-43 (pages written for that volume). Stephen Macedo, “Homosexuality and the Conservative Mind,” Georgetown Law Journal 84 (1995) 261 at 280, says: “ The focus on procreation [in the sex ethics represented by the present article] appears opportunistic: selected so as to allow sterile heterosexuals into the tent while keeping homosexuals out.” But (1) there has been no selection of focus, however motivated; marriage is the form of life that corresponds to the need for a new generation of human persons to to sustain all human goods, and to the need for children for the nurture of committed friends who take seriously their responsibility for bringing new persons in to the world; and the marital act does embody this commitment to the marital form of life by its uniting of the reproductive organs and all other levels of the spouses’ being. And (2) in this ethics, the non-marital sex acts of heterosexuals, solitary or with another or others, are “outside the tent”, too. For evidence and argument, see “Good of Marriage” at 130-131; that evidence warrants the conclusion there formulated: “Only a small proportion of homosexual men who live as ‘gays’ seriously attempt anything even resembling marriage as a permanent commitment. Only a tiny proportion seriously attempt marital fidelity, the commitment to exclusiveness; the proportion who marriage is even more threadbare, more parodic. Indeed, the drive for same-sex marriage seems in large measure an element in a strategy of parrying and finally de-legitimising cultural-moral critiques of ...
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CASIMIR (23832)
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