This paper assignment (worth 150 points) deals exclusively with moral philosophy or ethics. At the beginning of the course we encountered Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle undertook an empirical project of seeking what kind of life one should live. In doing so he focused on the kind of person one should become, rather than on what kinds of actions one should perform. As we encounter Kant and Mill, however, over two millennia later, we see just the opposite: a focus on what makes an action the right action, rather than what makes a person a good person.
In this paper you will present both Kant’s and Mill’s respective moral positions and evaluate one of them. In evaluating the position you should adopt the same strategy as in the third paper—by choosing either to raise your own objection to the original position or defending the position against an anticipated objection. At the end of the paper you will also attempt to articulate your own moral position to the best of your ability. First, decide whether you will be evaluating Kant’s or Mill’s view. Second, decide whether you will be attacking or defending the view. After you have made these decisions, choose the appropriate option below.
Attacking Kant’s or Mill’s View There are five parts to this assignment:
1. An introductory paragraph, providing some context for the discussion (what the main issue is in Kant’s and Mill’s works), and including an appropriate underlined thesis statement.
2. A section presenting Kant’s and Mill’s respective views on morality. You might, although aren’t required to, choose to contrast the two views in order to make it as clear as possible what moral position each view is committed to.
3. A section in which you raise an objection to one of the views AND you give an idea of how someone defending the philosopher might respond. When giving an idea of how the defender would respond, you don’t have to conclude that the response refutes your objection. For example, you might object to Kant’s view that it doesn’t allow lying in any circumstance and this runs counter to our intuitions that in some circumstances lying is permissible. You might then anticipate that a defender of Kant would respond by saying that intuitions can be wrong. The defender would owe us an argument for why this intuition might be wrong, but you don’t have to go beyond merely mentioning how a defender might respond.
4. A section in which you present your own moral view. In doing so you may draw from or present any of the views we have encountered, so long as you say why you are attracted to that view. Don’t just say that you are a utilitarian, for example, without giving reasons for why you are. You can also provide your own original moral view, though you should try to avoid getting into unnecessary complexity. If your moral view depends in some way on a metaphysical, political, or epistemological view, you should not try to present fully the view in such a short paper. One possibility for beginning to think about this task is to ask yourself whether you think the person-oriented approach of Aristotle is better suited to determining how we conduct ourselves in the world or the action-oriented approach of Kant or Mill is better. Try to limit this section to a page double-spaced.
5. A concluding paragraph, summing up what you argued in the paper.