Utilitarianism Ethical Theory
Topic: What is the best theory to use in order to determine moral responsibility within your profession?
Given the work people in your profession do, what is the best way to make an ethical decision?
When making the argument, you should be prepared to make use of ethical theory in answering the question – you should primarily stick to one of the following that we discussed in class (Utilitarianism (Mill), Deontology (Kant), Virtue (Aristotle), and Social Contract/Justice (Rawls)). If you want to employ a different theory, or if you want to mix theories, please check with me first. In constructing your argument, you should focus on producing the following sections for the essay:
Section one: Explain how your chosen theory works, and what the theory’s assumptions are about what is important to consider (in evaluating human nature and in determining ethical actions) – you need to demonstrate that YOU understand and can explain the theory (consider using hypothetical examples to show the theory in action).
Section Two: Argue/defend your choice in terms of your profession. This should take two forms – first, do research to find an author who supports the use of the theory within your profession. You may have to broaden your field – law enforcement or health care, for example.1 Introduce and explain their argument in support of yours. Second, show how the theory you have chosen is compatible with your code of ethics (that is, you can show that the result of reasoning through the theory produces an outcome that is consistent with what a specific provision from your code of ethics requires) – to do this, include the use of a profession-relevant hypothetical scenario, showing why would your ethical theory be effective in offering a solution to the dilemma compatible with professional expectations and rules in your code of ethics.
Section Three: Explain a different ethical theory that does not offer a valuable approach. After briefly explaining how the theory works (demonstrating that you understand how the theory works), explain why it offers a challenge to your approach, and show why the theory you have chosen does a better job.
Importantly, you will be presenting an argument as to your position and those of your challenger. As such, you must offer reasons why you hold your positions, and you must support claims about your theorist and challenger through careful appeal to what your respective philosophers actually wrote. Claims you make about a particular philosopher must have textual support – arguments lacking the necessary textual support (through quoted, cited reference to relevant textual passages) will not earn a passing grade. Consulting secondary sources is not prohibited, BUT you will be assessed on how well you articulate your understanding (not how well you can quote others explaining their understanding).