Question

Questions for Trolley Problem and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
1. Consider the trolley problem. Would you do what the 90% would? Why?
2. Utilitarians think that the trolley problem shows that most people think that aggregating happiness is morally acceptable. Do you agree?
3. Consider “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” – what is the criticism? Is this convincing?

Questions For Pinto Madness and Kant - Criticism of Consequentialism
1. The Ford Pinto case illustrates an attempt to measure happiness. What do you think a utilitarian would say?
2. How could a characteristic be good, but not good in itself?
3. In what sense is nothing good-in-itself except a good will?
4. Why does Kant refuse to count the consequences as morally relevant?
5. In what way does our legal system recognize the importance of intentions and consequences? What do you think Kant would say about our legal system?

Questions For Kant - Deontology
1. Why do the shopkeeper’s actions not count as moral?
2. Explain the difference between an action done ‘against duty’ and action done ‘from duty’ and an action done ‘in accordance with duty’
3. What is wrong with people “spreading joy around them”
4. How could a person who is “cold and indifferent to the sufferings of others” be a moral person?
5. Describe the difference between practical and pathological love? Why do you think Kant favors practical love?
6. Do you agree with Kant that actions done from feelings cannot be morally relevant? Can you think of an example to support your belief?
7. What does true morality require?

Questions For Aristotle - What is Happiness
1. (and group 6) How do you think Aristotle defines eudaimonia?
2. What is a function? Why does Aristotle think that a person has a function?
3. (and group 7) How does Aristotle argue for the human function?
4. Why do you think Aristotle starts talking about ‘good’ and ‘excellence’ in regard to functioning?
5. Why do you think Aristotle adds ‘in a complete life’ to his definition of happiness?
- Why do you think Aristotle says that happiness will be an activity?

Questions For Aristotle - Social Virtue and Aristotle - Intellectual and Moral Virtue
1.       What is the nutritive part of the soul? Why does the nutritive part of the soul have nothing to do with human excellence?
2.       How could there be a part of the soul that is partly rational but partly irrational?
3.       How does the soul perform rational activity?
4.       Why does Aristotle think that humans are political animals (i.e., social animals)?
5.       (and group 7) How could we translate the word “logos”? What makes you think that?
6.       How is society “prior in natural to” individuals?

Questions For Aristotle - Moral Virtue and Vice
1. Why does Aristotle talk about healthy bodies? How does this help him talk about moral virtue?
2. What is the difference between ‘intermediate in the object’ and intermediate ‘relative to us’?
3. Why doesn’t every passion and action have a mean?
4. Aristotle give the example of the virtue of temperance. Describe Aristotle’s discussion of it relative to Socrates and Callicles discussion about desires.
5. (And group 7) Pick an analysis of two virtues from pages 4-5 and their corresponding vices and tell us about them. Does Aristotle’s analysis on this point make sense? Why or why not?
6. In what sense are some vices more opposed to virtue than other vices?

Questions For Aristotle - Habit and Character
1. How do we form intellectual virtue? How do we form moral virtue? (1a-b)
2. Why example does Aristotle use to show that we are neither good nor bad by nature? (1a)
3. How do legislators use laws to produce virtuous people? (1b) Do you think this would work in an American context? Can you think of any examples? (1b)
4. Aristotle goes back to his analogy between virtue of the soul and health of the body? How does it help him talk about becoming virtuous? (1b)
5. Explain this quote: “the sources and causes of their origination and growth [are] the same as those of their destruction” (3a).
6. When do we become virtuous people, according to Aristotle? (2a, 3a-b) Do you agree with this?
7. What is the role of philosophy in becoming morally virtuous? (3b)

Readings:
- Excerpts from: “Would You Kill One Person to Save Five? New Research on a Classic Debate” (2011), John Cloud - Trolley problem
- “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1973), Ursula K. Leguin
- Excerpts from: Mark Dowie, “Pinto Madness” (1977). In Mother Jones
- Excerpts from: Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Immanuel Kant - Deontology, Criticism of Consequentialism
- Aristotle. Nichomachean Ethics (350 BCE), excerpts - What is happiness?, Intellectual and Social Virtue, Moral virtue and Vice,Habit and Character
- Aristotle. Politics (C. 350 BCE), excerpts from Book IV - Social Virtue

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Questions for Trolley Problem and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

1. Most people would save the people on the trolley and kill the man tied to the spur. I probably would do the same thing. But replace the trolley problem with a fat man and the problem is different. I think there is a visceral response to killing the fat man. The problem assumes the two choices are morally equal, but they are not. There is a difference in the way human beings think about actions that makes it morally repulsive to drive over the fat man.

2. Yes, I think aggregating happiness is morally acceptable. Not only should the least quantity of people suffer, but happiness should be distributed to as many people as possible. Sometimes the means justify the ends. Having said that, the trolley problem also shows that it is difficult in practice to make these choices, even if you agree with aggregating happiness.

3. The criticism of the story is that in society we place value on the happiness of the many, at the expense of the unhappiness of the few. I think Le Guin is right to criticize injustice in distributive justice. It is fair to say that happiness IS NOT spread equally in the world. I think the answer is not to walk away from Omelas, however, but to find ways to equally distribute the wealth and resources of the world.

Questions For Pinto Madness and Kant_Criticism of Consequentialism
1. The executives at Ford calculate that if the cost to save a human life rises above $200,000 a person, then it is not worth the cost to implement any future-life saving features on their automobiles. What this means is that, at least when Ford was selling the Pinto, that they were willing to forgo the lives of at least “180 fiery deaths per years.” A Utilitarian would argue differently according to what they consider is the best distribution of happiness. The idea of cost-benefit analysis, that the cost is greater than the benefit, the project is not worth it is not necessarily a strictly Utilitarian maxim of the great possible good for the greatest number of people. The Utilitarian maxim could be read to mean that automotive companies ought to create cars that prevent the least number of deaths. Period. Utilitarians are not economists...

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