ethics paper 30

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Topic: Virtue Ethics: Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics, Part Two, Chapter 17 and RSL, The Ethical Life, Jonathan Trerise, “Why Illegally Downloading Files Is Morally Wrong,” 496-507.

Be sure to carefully read the Critical Response Paper Guidelines posted to the ‘Contents’ folder under the ‘Course Information’ tab of eLearn before attempting and submitting the assignment.

The critical response paper must be posted to eLearn Dropbox no later than 11:30PM on Friday, April 26, 2019. The paper is worth a possible total of 100 points.

Critical Response Paper Readings

In Critical Response Paper #3, you are asked to reflect on the readings in Shafer-Landau, Part Two, Chapter 17 (256-275) on Virtue Ethics. You are also asked to interact with RSL, The Ethical Life, Jonathan Trerise, Why Illegally Downloading Files Is Morally Wrong, 496-507.

Critical Response Paper #3 Question

Most of our readings in Part Two of Shafer-Landau, The Foundations of Ethics, have dealt with normative theories of ethics (e.g., Morality & Religion, Natural Law, Ethical Egoism, Consequentialism, and Kantian Ethics). In Chapter 17 of The Foundations of Ethics (256-275), Shafer-Landau introduces the notion of virtue ethics and argues for what is morally right on the basis of character, wisdom, and virtue. This approach to ethics makes a radical shift from normative ethics in that we cannot package the features of virtue the way we do with the rules and principles of normative theories. What we come to see is that goodness is not something that can be fully articulated or consistently applied as a kind of technique. Instead, the good life is a skilled behavior that we learn over time. By its very nature, virtue is an acquired quality that requires the process of time, habit, wisdom, and choice, resulting in a certain kind of identifiable character.

All of this is critical to moral goodness, and it makes it much more difficult to come to agreement about what is objectively morally right or wrong. Instead, morality is about who you are as a person. As we’ll see, this raises certain internal tensions. In normative ethics, for example, when we multiply rules, they tend to take on negative implications, while virtue ethics runs into the problem of whether goodness can be taught or whether known virtues can conflict. This raises its own set of complexities and moral dilemmas.

In your response, identify what you think are two or three of the most philosophically defensible features of virtue ethics. What specific arguments do you offer for their justification? Would you choose virtue ethics over other normative theories we’ve considered up to this point? Why or why not? Next, how you think the arguments in favor of virtue ethics hold up against ethical dilemmas and the priority problem that Shafer-Landau introduces in the chapter?

Offer good philosophical arguments for your position.

Finally, give a thoughtful analysis of how a person can use virtue ethics to work through the ethical tensions raised by Jonathan Trerise on the moral wrongness of illegally downloading files. You will notice that Trerise identifies several common objections to his argument and attempts to answer them in his essay. Is he drawing on virtue ethics in his response, and if so, do you think his arguments are successful? Why or why not? Remember, this is not about how you ‘feel’; it’s about what you can reasonably argue from a philosophical perspective.

The design behind this assignment is to allow you to showcase your understanding of the basic concepts inherent to a philosophical discussion of Virtue Ethics.

Points for Consideration

You will notice that a philosophical exercise such as this is comprised of a mixture of objective answers and debatable points of view. In other words, you must first have a correct conceptual understanding of the normative approaches in question before you can offer a substantive critical analysis. No one is required to agree with your critical analysis, and your grade is not based on whether you are deemed right or wrong. You grade is based on your ability to reflect good philosophical reasoning, the way you’ve seen it presented in the readings.

Start early. If you wait too long, you’ll likely feel rushed and not benefit from the design intention of the assignment. I realize it is easier said than done but do your best to enjoy the exercise. The more you can step back and have time to reflect, the more you will likely benefit from the insights and enjoy the process.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a written assignment is to write. So, while there is a minimal word count of no less than 700-800 words, you are strongly encouraged to produce a paper of sufficient length to clearly and concisely cover the critical nuances necessary for a substantive discussion of the question. Almost always, more is going to serve you well.

As all good philosophical arguments go, the conclusion is only as good as the premises from which it follows. If we reject the truth of the premises or premises, or if the premise is expressed as a definition we find inadequate or objectionable on good rational grounds, it’s difficult to make a rational defense for the conclusion. For example, what does it mean to say that an ethical approach is normative, or that some approaches to ethics are intended to be prescriptive, while others are consciously descriptive in nature?

Be sure to carefully define your terms. What is meant by normative ethics? What is meant by prescriptive and descriptive theories?

Is there such a thing as a moral ‘ought’ that can be used as the basis for objective moral truth?

Keep in mind that these are only points for consideration. I’m asking you to think about these questions as you work through your paper—that is, they are intended as a primer. A good deal of critical analysis is about asking the right kinds of questions and thinking through various implications.

The real value of the paper is to allow yourself to go through the process of reflective thinking. This means you’ll want to start sooner rather than later to allow yourself plenty of time to introspect on the ideas in question.

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