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Section One Ethics ProblemsFrom Thiroux and Krasnow’s Ethics: Theory and Practice 11th Edition

Section One Ethics Problems

From Thiroux and Krasnow’s Ethics: Theory and Practice 11th Edition

Choose ONE of the following Ethics Problems and answer it to the very best of your ability. These questions are fairly complex, and will require a
minimum of 4
full pages (double spaced, not including the title/header) pages to answer completely.

Chapter 1 – Why be moral?

Plato tells the story of Gyges (the republic, Book II), a shepherd, who finds a magic ring. When Gyges turns the ring 180 degrees, he becomes invisible, and upon turning the ring again, he reappears. Under the cloak of invisibility he performs a series of unethical and immoral acts, including murder. He is a villain and a rogue, yet becomes wealthy and famous. Gyges not only accrues benefits be appearing to be moral but also enjoys the bounty reaped from wrongdoing with no punishing consequences – he will never be caught!

Now, imagine a second magic ring given to a just and upright individual. Will the temptation to engage in wrongdoing for personal gain be too great? Knowing there will be no punishing consequences, would a good person quickly turn into a scoundrel? Given the situation just described, why would anyone be moral? Discuss.

What would you do if you were given a Gyges ring? Why be moral

Chapter 2 – Would you throw the switch?

Philosopher Philippa Foot (1920-2010) devised an ethical thought experiment known as the
Trolley Problem. Other philosophers have created variations of this problem and a quick internet search will bring students up to date on the specifics.

A runaway trolley is speeding toward a group of four or 5 men working on the track. They do not see the trolley coming and will all be killed if no action is taken. You, however, can throw a switch that will divert the trolley to a sidetrack. This will save the workmen, but there is a lone worker who will be killed if you throw the switch. Will you throw the switch? Why or why not?

After you have discussed the problem, research the “fat man” variation of the trolley problem. Would you push the fat man off the bridge? Why or why not< What are the limits of strict utilitarian thinking?

Chapter 3 – Would you kill for the sake of Duty?

There is a dramatic scene in the Hindu classic known as the
Bhagavad Gita. In the moments before a great battle, the noblest warrior of the Pandavas and archer extraordinaire Arjuna has serious questions about the morality of war. He considers the carnage that is about to take place. He knows that in the opposing army of the Kauravas mare his cousins, teachers, and friends. If he engages the battle, many will die, perhaps killed by his arrows. Considering the consequences and outcomes that are likely, Arjuna does not wish to fight.

However, his charioteer Krishna (an incarnation of the god Vishnu) explains that Arjuna’s moral obligation lies in the performance of duty (dharma). As a member of the warrior class, his duty is to fight. His choice is to do the right thing, to act without regard to consequences, and so he fights.

Do you agree with Krishna’s advice and Arjuna’s decision? Why or why not? Would you kill for the sake of duty? Or must consequences be considered?

Chapter 4 – Bullying – What should you do?

Bullying is a form of abuse, emotional, verbal, and/or physical. It always involves a power imbalance with individuals or groups imposing their will on others. Bullying and cyberbullying are prevalent and are serious problems in the school an in the workplace.

Recently, a middle schooler, Nadin Koury, was bullied by seven older students. This incident received national attention because videos of this abuse surfaced on YouTube- Nadin was ultimately hung on a fence. He believed he was bullied because he was small and his mother was from Africa.

Look at Nadin’s story online and consider other articles on bullying. To what extent are vices like jealousy, envy, and spite involved in such incidents? Many hold that a bully does not have or is incapable of having empathy for fellow human beings. Moreover, witnesses to such acts often exhibit a lack of empathy, and do not get involved. Discuss the character issues involved in bullying. What can be done to reduce acts of bullying and abuse?

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