Ethics Discussion Threads on the Go
To bring together the various threads of discussion and dialogue we’ve been engaged in as we work through our initial introductions to the principles of moral reasoning put forth by John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant and John Rawls, I’ve collected links to many of the prompts and posts from the unit below. Follow the links in the headings through to the original posts and share your thoughts on the questions and comments emerging in these various discussions.
- Do we have certain fundamental rights? (Follow up: What are they? Why can we assume that they exist?)
- Does a fair procedure justify any result?
- What is the moral work of consent? In other words, Why does/can consent make the amoral moral?
Is it possible to benefit from the oppression of [racial minorities, other genders, classes, regions, religions] and not be deemed responsible for such oppression? If it is possible to be ‘innocent’ in such a case, under what conditions does such innocence exist?
…who bears the responsibility to reduce the amount of discrimination and oppression experienced by [indigenous] groups? Should it fall to the oppressed to liberate themselves from a pervasive society of oppression? Or are we all responsible?
“The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday stood by its ruling that a dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant because he found her too attractive and worried he would try to start an affair.
“Coming to the same conclusion as it did in December, the all-male court found that bosses can fire employees they see as threats to their marriages, even if the subordinates have not engaged in flirtatious or other inappropriate behavior. The court said such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.”
- What do you feel are the merits of these two arguments?
- Similarly, where do you feel that either of the arguments is vulnerable or weakly articulated?
- Have you seen others make either case better?
- Are there further perspectives that these two essays may be leaving out?
- How might each of these three moral philosophers (Kant, Mill, Rawls) approach these recent events?
- Are there ways in which they might agree?
- Where do you see their thoughts on indigenous land claims diverging?
- First of all, what are your impressions of Rawls’ theory next to concepts of Utilitarianism and/or notions of the Categorical Imperative?
- Second, do you agree that everyone should have the same basic liberties, whether they are a man or a woman, young or old, rich or poor, part of the minority or part of the majority? And if you do, what basic liberties should everyone have?
- And third, how do you see Rawls’ theory applying to the discussions we have had around systemic oppression in the last week or so? What insights might the theory offer for those looking to combat a misogynistic or racially discriminating culture? Are there other groups or conditions to which Rawls’ insights may oppose?