Thought experiments in ethics can be used in a way that is analogous to how experiments in science are used. Many philosophers think that our ethical theories ought to be largely consistent with our considered judgments about morality. A considered judgment is a judgment about the moral rightness or wrongness of an action where the relevant information to make the judgment is available and the person making the judgment is in a position to do so dispassionately and without bias. We can test our moral theories by presenting specific moral cases to see if they entail or imply the same conclusion about the case as we get from our considered judgment about that case. Employ the thought experiments to test the strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism and Kant’s deontology. Debate these moral theories with your peers. Assignment Instructions Consider the scenarios below. Choose ONE scenario and write four paragraphs (must be at least 100 hundred words each). Your initial post is due Thursday. Follow up by commenting on at least two of your classmates posts (due by Saturday). Scenario 1: Anne Frank Imagine you own several houses in 1944 in the Netherlands. Anne Frank and her family are living in one of these and hiding from the Nazis. Suppose some Nazi SS officers ask you if anyone lives at the house where Anne Frank and her family living. You can lie and save them or tell the truth and doom them to death in a concentration camp. Instructions: 1. Explain Scenario #1 as if you were telling a friend who doesn’t know what it is. 2. Would Mill say you should lie to the police? Why? 3. Would Kant say you should lie to the police? Why? 4. Do you think you should lie to the police? Why? Scenario 2: Organ Harvest A brilliant surgeon has five patients, each in need of a different organ, each of whom will die without that organ. Unfortunately, there are no organs available to perform any of these five transplant operations. A healthy you traveler, just passing through, comes in for a routine checkup. In the course of doing the checkup, the doctor discovers that his organs are compatible with all five of his dying patients. Should the doctor will the traveler to harvest his organs and save the five people. Instructions: 1. Explain Scenario #2 as if you were telling a friend who doesn’t know what it is. 2. Would Mill say the surgeon should harvest the organs? Why? 3. Would Kant say the surgeon should harvest the organs? Why? 4. Do you think the surgeon should harvest the organs? Why? Tips: Watch the spelling of “Mill” and “Mill’s theory.” Give sufficient explanation of the Categorical Imperative. Explain WHY Mill and Kant would choose the actions. Watch the structure. Write one topic per paragraph. Paragraphs that explain Kant’s view, or Mill’s view, should be kept separate than your own arguments.
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