Need help with Ethics

May 13th, 2015
Sigchi4life
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Philosophy
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Question description

Part 1 600 words

Aristotle says that the virtues are necessary for humans to attain happiness, but he means this in terms of something we might call “flourishing” or “living well”, which he considers quite different than simply feeling good.  Thus, according to Aristotle some people might feel that they are happy, but because they lack the virtues they are not truly flourishing.  However, imagine someone that is deceitful, selfish, greedy, self-indulgent, and yet enjoys great pleasure and appears to be quite happy.  Is someone like this “flourishing” or not?  Explain your answer this by referring to this week’s readings and media, and if possible provide examples from real life and/or from literature, film, TV, etc.

Part 2 600 words

Find examples from literature or media sources, or from current or past history, that demonstrate both success and failure at demonstrating a virtue.  In each case, what is the virtue that was demonstrated / lacking?  How did their actions display or fail to display that virtue, and in the case of the failure, what would the virtuous person have done instead?  Be sure to share the links with your classmates so they can read the full articles or watch the videos.  Don’t use examples that others have used before you.  First come, first served.

Recommended Resources on Aristotle and Virtue EthicsArticles

  1. Annas, J. (2006). Virtue ethics. In D. Copp (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (pp. 515–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://www.sesync.org/sites/default/files/resources/case_studies/10-kenyaecotourism-handbook.pdf

    • An excellent overview of virtue ethics, including how the disagreements among the ancient philosophers about virtue can help us make sense of it today

  2. Hursthouse, R. (2012). Virtue ethics. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/

    • An excellent overview of virtue ethics, including some of the major criticisms and how virtue ethicists have responded to them

  3. MacIntyre, A. (1984). After virtue. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

    • This text can be found in the Chapter 6 readings of the textbook. This work was largely responsible for reviving interest in Aristotelian or virtue conceptions of ethics, and includes a powerful critique of modern moral philosophy and contemporary culture. Chapters 14 and 15 discuss the importance of the virtues for attaining certain goods internal to “practices,” and which are a core feature of a flourishing life, the importance of virtue for a “narrative unity” to one’s life, and the place that tradition has in our understanding of how to live well.

  4. Sandel, M. (2004, April 1). The case against perfectionThe Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2004/04/sandel.htm

    • In this article, Michael Sandel tackles a major contemporary moral problem, the use of enhancements in various areas of life. Although he doesn’t explicitly call his approach “virtue ethics,” it is a clear and accessible example of Aristotelian reasoning applied to a concrete issue. This is a condensed version of a book that treats the subject in more detail, while remaining a clear and accessible work intended to bring philosophical ideas to popular audiences.

  5. Sandel, M. (2012, February 27). What isn’t for saleThe Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/04/what-isnt-for-sale/308902/

    • In this article, Michael Sandel tackles a major contemporary moral problem, the moral limits of markets. Although he doesn’t explicitly call his approach “virtue ethics,” it is a clear and accessible example of Aristotelian reasoning applied to a concrete issue. This is a condensed version of a book that treats the subject in more detail, while remaining a clear and accessible work intended to bring philosophical ideas to popular audiences.

Multimedia

  1. Albert, T. (Producer), & Ramis, H. (Director). (1993). Groundhog day [Motion picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures.

    • This classic comedy follows the life of a man who has to relive the same day over and over again. In this situation, he realizes that neither the "rules" nor the consequences of his actions matter anymore. Initially he finds this liberating, and enjoys himself, but that soon gives way to depression and despair. Eventually, though, he seems to find new reasons to be generous, helpful, caring, and so forth, as he develops what we might consider to be a virtuous character. Information on where to stream the film can be found here: http://www.canistream.it/search/movie/groundhog day.

  2. Annas, J. and Teichman, M. (2014, March 26). Episode 57: Julia Annas discusses virtue ethics [Podcast]. Elucidations. Retrieved from https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/elucidations/2014/03/26/episode-57-julia-annas-discusses-virtue-ethics/

    • A leading classical philosophy scholar and virtue ethicist discusses virtue ethics in an informative and interesting interview. Transcript

  3. Sadler, G. B. (2012, November 12). Philosophy core concepts: Aristotle, activities, arts, and purposes (Nichomachean Ethics bk. 1) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/_aFJPv5POcc?list=PL4gvlOxpKKIjwnfPgqLkLJ7cHXAqDHfBA

    • The first in a series of several lectures on Aristotle’s ethics.

  4. ForaTv. (2008). Michael Sandel on justice: A journey in moral reasoning [Video File].  Retrieved from http://fora.tv/2008/07/04/Michael_Sandel_Justice-Journey_in_Moral_Reasoninga#xhfQ37UcTmyzlPvm.99

    • Michael Sandel discusses the Aristotelian conception of justice and its relevance to contemporary moral, political, and social problems.



Recommended Resources on Environmental Ethics

Articles

  1. Hursthouse, R. (2007). Environmental virtue ethics. In R. L. Walker & P. J. Ivanhoe (Eds.), Working Virtue: Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from the ebrary database.

    • An explanation and defense of a virtue ethics approach to environmental concerns, including a critique of Thomas Hill’s alternative approach

  2. Leopold, A. (1948). The land ethic. In A Sand County Almanac. Retrieved from http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/landethic.html

    • A classic of modern environmentalism, Leopold proposes that just as human societies have expanded the notion of the “moral community” over time to include other races and cultures, women and children, etc., we are at a point where we must recognize the land and environment as more than just raw material for our own use

Multimedia

  1. Mercola. (2012, August 1). Dr. Mercola and Joel Alatin discuss water and manure at polyface farm [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gBwCQspdwo

    • In this video, Joel Salatin and Dr. Joseph Mercola examine the relationship between irrigation and fertilization on a farm and the virtues of the farmer as he or she tries to create a healthy farm. Transcript

  2. Mercola. (2012, August 1). Dr. Mercola discusses pigs with Joel Salatin at polyface farm [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjBtZxlkEDw

    • Joel Salatin discusses ethical treatment of pigs and the relationship that exists between pigs, land, soil, and biodiversity in an ecosystem. He also examines the responsibility of the virtuous farmer in relation to allowing these relationships to exist in harmony with one another. Transcript

  3. Moyer, B. (Interviewer), & Berry, W. (Interviewee). (2013). Wendell Berry on his hopes for humanity [Video file]. Retrieved from http://billmoyers.com/segment/wendell-berry-on-his-hopes-for-humanity/

    • In this interview, Bill Moyer interviews the great agrarian writer and poet Wendell Berry. Berry’s expresses ideas that relate to the virtues of a life lived well, one in which the human regains its place in nature and finds peace and hope.

  4. USDA NRCS ENT SC. (2012, September 20). Under cover farmers – feature length [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWXCLVCJWTU

    • This short film follows farmers as they begin using cover crops in their planting. Cover crops are offseason crops that farmers plant that they then later plant through when they plant their cash crops. This video demonstrates new methods of farming that enhance production through diversification and conservation of the soil. As it relates to virtue, farmers appear to be learning how to work their lands to enhance the health of the soil and this in turn leads to higher levels of flourishing in relation to production as well as overall farm health.

Websites

  1. Center for Environmental Philosophy (http://www.cep.unt.edu/)

  2. Erratic Impact. (2000). Ecofeminism. Retrieved from http://www.erraticimpact.com/~ecofeminism/

  3. International Association for Environmental Philosophy (http://environmentalphilosophy.org/)

  4. The University of North Texas. (2014). The philosophy of food project. Retrieved from http://www.food.unt.edu/



Recommended Resources on Virtues and the Military

Articles

  1. (2007). Journal of Military Ethics, 6(4). Retrieved from the EBSCOhost database.

    • This issue of the Journal of Military Ethics is devoted to the role of virtues within the military, and contains numerous penetrating and important discussions.

  2. Robinson, P. (2009). Integrity and selective conscientious objection. Journal of Military Ethics, 8(1), 34-47. Retrieved from the EBSCOhost database.

    • Robinson considers the question of whether soldiers should be permitted to conscientiously object to their orders, and argues that there are circumstances in which this should be the case. Expands on some of the ideas mentioned in “Magnanimity and Integrity as Military Virtues.”

  3. Sherman, N. (2007). Virtue and a warrior’s anger. In R. L. Walker & P. J. Ivanhoe (Eds.), Working Virtue: Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, 262-277. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from the ebrary database.

    • Sherman conducts a deep analysis of the proper place of anger within the military context, looking at various discussions of this from Ancient philosophers for insight.


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