Book Assignments, Reports, and Instructions in Ethics

Morality and Self-Interest

Research martyrdom. Can it ever be morally acceptable? Find out under which circumstances you would defend martyrdom and under which circumstances you would attack it. Be specific; include very specific examples and illustrations. Researcher and reporter: ________________________
Research changes that we apply to our conception of "moral community" when we are engaged in hostile activities such as wars or competitions or enmity in sports, etc. Do we ever go too far? Be sure to get facts. Researcher and reporter: ________________________
Can selfishness be morally defended? Do your research and get details, specific examples, and accurate illustrations. It's OK to use anecdotal evidence, but the evidence must be REAL. Researcher and reporter: __________________________

Religion and Ethics

Review the controversy about the Khalil Gibran International School in Brooklyn, the Intifada T-Shirt, and Debbie Almontaser, the principal there. Who is right? Who is wrong? Why? Make your case with a clear appeal to ethical principles.
Should Muslims get permission to construct a mosque near the place where the former World Trade Center stood? Why or why not? This debate is going on right now; do some review of generally expressed views here. Researcher and reporter: _____________________________
Review the website "jewsonfirst.org" to determine the key ideas that are being discussed there. What is the purpose of the site? What stands out to you? Researcher and reporter: __________________________
Some people may be thought of as "moral heroes"; these people follow their morality supererogatorily. Begin with my pages on moral heroes; then find some additional exemplars yourself. Note that moral heroes offer us a moral compass to shape our own character. Yi Sun-Shin, Kim Mandeok, and Choi Gooksun are typical moral exemplars for Korean society. Do western cultures offer similar ones? Take also a look at: http://faculty.erau.edu/schliepr/ethics/heroes.html to read about heroes there. Don't focus only on military heroes, please. Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
The Dalai Lama is generally a paragon of tolerance; however, he also is completely intolerant of Shugden worshippers. Find out why. Is the Dalai Lama being ethically inconsistent? What's going on? Researcher and reporter: _____________________________________
Is religion a form of group think? Mark Twain has Huckleberry Finn define faith as believing something you know ain't true. Is religion a form of self-deception and lying to ourselves? Is it a form of group-think, a kind of thinking that suspends critical thinking in favor of echoing the majority without evaluation. Review hooliganism, jingoism, patriotism, and religion for evidence of group-think. Researcher and reporter: _____________________________

Contemporary Theories in Ethics

Book Choices

Review winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Select the ones who stand out as moral exemplars from a virtue-ethics perspective. Note that exemplars are people to emulate. They might not be perfect all around, but some of their virtues are clearly outstanding and a beacon to humanity. Make your case for one of those people by reviewing their lives, their adversities, their victories, their outstanding contributions.
Gert, Bernard. Common Morality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-19-517371-6 [Practical Ethics of Daily Life, Ethical Reasoning]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Cohen, Randy. The Good, The Bad, & the Difference. New York: Doubleday, 2002. ISBN 0-7679-0813-9--If you report on this book, select at least three controversial issues where you find yourself in disagreement with the writer or the commentators. Show where they are wrong and what facts they may have left out that would have altered their views. Be sure to give the class an overview of the kind of problems the book deals with also.--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Lindemann, Hilde. An Invitation to Feminist Ethics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006. ISBN: 0-07-285023-X [Feminist Ethics and Philosophy]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Sidgwick, Henry. Practical Ethics: A Collection of Addresses and Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 0-19-511288-1 [Theory of Ethics]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Singer, Peter. How Are We to Live? Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. ISBN: 0-87975-966-6 [Practical Solutions to Ethical Problems of Daily Life]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter. Writings on an Ethical Life. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. ISBN 978-0-06-000744-7 [Salient selections from a variety of books by Singer.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. ISBN: 0-521-29720-6 [Singer's basic views appear in this volume. Later works expand on these basics.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Sterba, James P. The Triumph of Practice over Theory in Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0-19-513285 [Theory of Ethics, Ethical Reasoning]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Report and Research Choices

Does evolution favor the moral human being or is the origin of morality to be sought elsewhere? Recently many articles have appeared about that topic. Get with Google or any other favorite search engine. Don't forget the Mammoth: "That's the way it's done in the herd" (Ice Age 1). Researcher and reporter: ________________________

What are mirror neurons? What do mirror neurons have to do with the basis of morality? If one's mirror neurons are poorly connected or non-functioning, should one be put to death for that fact? Research this relatively new field of physiology. I am most interested in your finding evidence or reasoning about the impact on our judicial system if mirror-neuron diseases might have an impact there. So, try to not only report your research, but try to do some original reasoning about it. Researcher and reporter: ___________________________
Research Stoic beliefs. What parts of Christianity are infused with Stoic thinking? Begin with the summary on the Ethics Menu. Researcher and reporter: __________________________
Consider the Christian obligation to forgive. According to Jesus, one should not forgive a mere seven times but one should forgive seventy times seven times. OK. Can I split the issue? I forgive you but I'll never forget what you low-life did to me and I won't ever speak to you again and, if I can, I'll have some court put you to death for what you miserable louse did to me? Is that adequate forgiving? How about: "You killed one of us. You spent twenty years in jail for that crime. Tomorrow you'll be released. We'll be at the exit of the jail and will invite you to live with our family." Not realistic? An Amish family in Indiana did exactly that. Where does your faith push you here? Researcher and reporter: ______________________
Consider the Westboro Baptists. Try to understand their ethical and religious reasoning. If you want to blast them with nasty names, do that on your own time, please. This is a fact-finding mission and a rational evaluation of their arguments. If their arguments are based on biblical faith, dig up the relevant passages to evaluate. Avoid any personal attacks; stick to the facts to come to a rational assessment of what they believe. Then critique their system. Where are the flaws in their thinking? What would you challenge if you were to challenge them? RATIONAL and REASONABLE without name-calling, please.  Researcher and reporter: ___________________________

Matters of Race

Book Choices

Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. New York: Random House, 1999. ISBN: 0-385-33379-X [Race, Criminal Motivation, Black Panthers]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. ISBN: 0-345-35068-5 [Perspectives of Black Americans, Black Muslims, US Against non-Whites everywhere]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Williams, Stanley "Tookie." Life in Prison. San Francisco: SeaStar Books, 1998. ISBN: 1-587-17094-9 [Role models for Black youths in the inner city.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Review films such as "Roots" or "Queen." Then tell us about the salient points.--Viewer and reporter: _____________________________

Report and Research Choices

Research the concept "race." The National Socialists of Germany were after the "Jewish race." US-America forbade interracial contacts such as marriages between the "races." You have all seen and heard evidence that some humans are better than other humans. What's right here and what's wrong? What is this "race" thing? Does it have a biological basis? Or is it a social construct for repression? Get at the facts here. What, for example, happens to "race" theories when we've probably all come from Kenya more recently or more in a dim past? Do some solid digging on this topic, please.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
In the early 1960's, many US-American communities were "sundown towns." That name came from signs that these towns had posted at their city limits: "Nigger [or "Jap" or some other hate word], don't let the sun go down on you in our town." Research sundown towns to find out whether today they are ethnically balanced communities. Also, ask yourself whether discrimination of that sort is compatible with democratic principles. After all, if a majority decides that x, must we not then do x, regardless of what x is? Are there limits to the authority of majorities? Can democratic majority ever lead to a moral wrong?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
If our society has about ten percent of a certain population but if about forty percent of that population are in jail, is our society likely to be a morally fair society? Do your research. Find your facts. Decide the case clearly.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________

Feminism and Identity

What is "gavage"? What does it have to do with feminism? Once you have discovered it, continue your research about impacts that social preconceptions have on women's health issues. Find out about honor killings, about stoning for marital infidelity, about anorexia and bulemia, about hunger as condition for modeling, about female circumcision, about fistulae, about other pressures on women. "Real Women Have Curves" is a film that addresses that issue. Suicide because of fat legs and an ugly nose is the subject of a poem. Find out more.--Researcher and reporter: _________________________________
Find out about the status of women in business, industry, and government. What IS their place now? What SHOULD their place be? Offer your reasons.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________

Abortion and Suicide

Is a post-birth abortion ever justified? Research all related facts before you come to a conclusion. Find out more about encephalic monsters before you decide. Note that Florida had such a case not too long ago. The parents petitioned the courts to permit them to kill the "child" and to use the organs in other children who might need them. Where do you stand on that issue?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________
 

Ethical Considerations About Animals

Book Choices

Goodall, Jane. Harvest of Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating.  New York: Warner Books, 2005--ISBN: 0-446-53362-9. [You may want to focus on one section of the book, do some additional research, and then present your findings in a normal book-report.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN: 0-06-001157-2 [Animal Rights, Ethical Eating, Speciesism, Pain and Animals]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter. In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave. Molden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. ISBN: 1-4051-1941-1 [Animal Rights, Progress of Activism, Ethical Eating, Speciesism, Pain and Animals]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter and Jim Mason. The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. USA: Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2006. [ISBN of the volume I used: 1-59486-687-2 [Good review of various corporations' responses to ethical issues in their practice.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Report and Research Choices

Some people defend research on animals for the sake of the great benefits it holds for humanity. Consider the following dilemma: If animals are sufficiently like humans to allow reasonable conclusions about human  health, then they should probably be protected as being reasonably close to humans. And if animals are insufficiently like humans so as not to require protection, can one ever come to sound conclusions about human health from animal health? Beginning with that dilemma, do your research. What human diseases were indeed solved by animal research? What wrong conclusions came from animal research? [Research "Jesse Gelsinger" and "James M. Wilson" and "gene therapy."] What conclusions did your research lead you to?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
What are the ethical ramifications of creating artificial life? When should you offer a computer, say, a place in the moral community? Consider taking a look at Čapek's "R.U.R." [Rossum's Universal Robots] to answer that question.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
According to a report on Al-Jazeera TV, H1N1 began in Gloria, Mexico. Smithfield Foods raises pigs there. Find out about how one raises pigs in a industrial-production environment. According to Al-Jazeera, a trace of Swine Ebola has also been found in Gloria. From a perspective of "enlightened self-interest," might you adopt a particular ethical stance here? Be sure to find all the relevant facts before you decide. Consider also the actions in Egypt and in Jordan. When the news about H1N1 hit the papers there, these two countries had all pigs in the country put to death. Good decision?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Beatle Paul McCartney has called for "Meatless Monday." Why did he? Why should we? Why should we not? What are the complete ramifications of eating a meat diet?--Researcher and reporter: _______________________
North-Americans live on 900 kg of grain a year. Third Worlders manage quite nicely on 180 kg of grain a year. Why is that? What are the moral implications here?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________

Ethics and Jurisprudence

You may have heard of the defense strategy that claims that the defender was suffering of a mental malady and thus could not be held responsible for the crime. You may also have said now and then: "This murderer/robber/rapist must have been crazy to do what he did." So, what if s/he was indeed crazy? What about the woman who shoots her abusive husband? Was she crazy, defending herself, suffering of post-traumatic stress syndrome? Research the problem to find out to what extent all crimes are subject to mental disorders. Determine to what degree that kind of thinking must affect our ethical approach to justice, punishment, or corrective strategies. Here are some sources to get you started:
Gazzaniga, Michael S. "Neuroscience in the Courtroom." Scientific American, April 2011, pp. 54 ff.
Greene, Joshua D. and Joseph M. Paxton. "Patterns of Neural Activity Associated with Honest and Dishonest Moral Decisions" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 106, No. 30, pp. 12506 to 12511, July 28, 2009.
Berns, Gregory S.; Sara Moore; and C. Monica Capra. "Adolescent Engagement in Dangerous Behaviors Is Associated with Increased White Matter Maturity of Frontal Cortex in PLoS ONE, Vol. 4, No. 8, e6773; August 26, 2009.
Shannon, Benjamin, et al. Altered Functional Connectivity in Adult and Juvenile Psychopathy: A Rest-State fMRI Analysis. Abstract from the 16th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Being Brain Mapping, Barcelona, 2010.
Rissman, Jesse, Henry T. Greely, and Anthony D. Wagner. "Detecting Individual Memories Through the Neural Decoding of Memory States and Past Experience" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 107, No. 21, pp. 9849 to 9854; May 25, 2010.
Gazzaniga, Michael S. Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain. Ecco Harper-Collins, 2011.
The Law and Neuroscience Project: www.lawandneuroscienceproject.org

Issues in Medical Ethics

Genetic Engineering may focus on humans, on animals, on food choices, and on cloning. What complications may these procedures evoke that may require ethical reflections? No one is likely to seriously offer humans for spare parts as in "The Island," but the world is very much divided on whether genetically modified foods are acceptable. Researcher and reporter: ________________________

Autonomy

Research the therapeutic model and the punitive model for drug treatment. When do we tell people, "You do have a serious problem. Please check into a drug-treatment center to get well again." and when do we tell them, "Well, you god-awful, terrible and useless person. I'll put you into jail for at least six years for your use of crack cocaine."? Find out all you can; then look for a pattern here.--Researcher and reporter: ________________________
Do homeless people prefer a rugged lifestyle? Find out. Do people on welfare rip off the system? Find out. Use your spreadsheet skills to analyze the income and expenses of a "normal" welfare or homeless family. Talk to some people on welfare or in a homeless situation. If they are to blame, what do you suggest would work to help them? If the system is to blame, what can we do to remedy the system? Be sure to dig deep before rushing to judgment.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
According to some ethicists--notably Kant, one has an obligation to self as much as one has an obligation to others. Martyrdom, for that perspective, would be a form of moral insanity. Suppose you have the option to participate in a non-returnable mission to Mars. What is certain here is that you will NOT return. You might live a while on Mars, but your resources are limited. Ultimately, you will find no way out. Would you go? Be sure to develop your reasons thoroughly.--Researcher and reporter: _______________________________
What I shove down my throat is my business and only my business. As long as I do my job right, my employer has no business measuring my urine ever. That's a glaring violation of my privacy. OR: If I am going to be piloting a huge craft with bunches of people in it, my employer has every right to find out what I'm been putting into my system, even though I have not wiped out yet. Which is it? Find out all details about random drug-testing; then decide whether random drug-testing is defensible or not on the job.--Researcher and reporter: _________________________
 

Sexual and Gender Ethics

 
LGBT people in Iraq have particularly stressed lives since the occupation. In fact, the occupation may have burdened these people far more than did the very secular government of Saddam Hussein. Find out about LGBT in Iraq and what the occupational forces do or should do to protect this group of the population. Research and prepare a report to bring us up to date on this issue.
Women seeking a man in China will require frequently that the man have a house and a car. Note that China has far more men than women. Is this a uniquely Chinese phenomenon? Or can one generalize that woman look for economic security while men look for sex? Note that traditional families of the US are based also on the principle that men marry for sex and women, for economic security.  Find out more by way of ads in various countries: _____________________________
Research the evidence for homosexuality in nature. Does the statement that homosexuality is unnatural make any sense? Are only depraved humans homosexual? Or can you imagine homosexual elephants? Find out all you can; then report.--Researcher and reporter: ________________________
Daytona Beach has fought a long battle and has spent lots of money on keeping nudity out of its nightclubs. What money did the City spend? What legal process was involved? What should have happened? Should the nightclubs offer nudity all they want? What protections should be there for the sex workers in such establishments? How willing are sex workers to ply their trade in such establishments? You may also overlap into issues of prostitution on this topic. Note that, according to some statistics, men marry for sex; women marry for financial security. So, what's the difference between prostitution and marriage at the heart of it all? Some of your friends at school may be making their money by dancing in a nightclub. Does that fact diminish their value as human beings? Dig up the facts; talk to the people; come to some solid conclusions. By the way, the American Civil Liberties Union defends the right of prostitutes to work their trade.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Does the viewing of pornography relieve the mind or does it put stupid ideas into our heads? Is pornography cathartic or does it mislead us to evil. Get your facts before you make up your mind. Some serial killers have blamed pornography for their killings. Do you believe them? Did they offer persuasive evidence? Is there statistical evidence? If I ask about the viewing of pornography, almost all hands go up in an average class at ERAU. Does that mean that ERAU graduates will become serial killers? Evaluate this problem in terms of hypocrisy and actual effects. Do a harms analysis here.--Researcher and reporter: __________________________
Research polygynic and polyandric relationships. Both are practiced in various parts of the world. The ancient societies of Japan, Korea, and China permitted polygynic relationships for men of outstanding merit and great accomplishment; according to some analysts, that fact may account for the evolution of a relatively high IQ for people in that part of the world. Determine the rights and wrongs of polygamy. Come to a conclusion of what's morally right, wrong, or permitted here.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Is there any pornography that we all would agree on as being immoral? Research the phenomenon thoroughly; then state what limits there are or should be. We would generally agree that no human should come to harm in what we do. Do humans come to harm? Do they come to harm more readily than if they were to work in a Chinese coal-mine? Make some comparisons and explore some issues here.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Is "sexual battery" the proper term to use in cases such as the Horvath case or the Mary K. LeTourneau case? In other words, if a mature woman shows the intricacies of sex to an underage young man, should she be condemned most harshly? Determine these cases in light of harms, benefits, rights, and responsibilities. Remember that social norms are not necessarily always indicative of proper morality. At times, social taboos may be quite wrong-headed.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Consider homosexual marriage and homosexual adoption of children. What speaks for the issues? What speaks against them? Again, be sure to consider all aspects of these cases as well as all relevant moral theories. For example, what privileges does a state have a right to deny a homosexual couple? Consider inheritance rights, visiting rights in hospitals, decisional rights in last-will settings, and so on.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Are there any limits on public displays of affection? Note that many social taboos surround this behavior. Take up an inventory of these social taboos in our and other societies. But then also decide this matter in terms of harms, pleasures, rights, and responsibilities. What is the rational stance here? Researcher and Reporter: _____________________________
A university must act in loco parentis (as a parent of the student to be educated) for part of its function. Does that obligation give a university the right to stop the students' access to pornography?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Discuss sexual ethics from a biblical perspective. Consider Leviticus 20 in your deliberations. Where would you call a halt to Leviticus advice? Or would you stick to Leviticus all the way? Why or why not?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Might some marriages last if we were to have a marriage court. This court would work the same as a divorce court on the division of property and finances. The idea would be, however, that the economically weaker partner gets to sue the economically stronger partner for better financial fairness. Researcher and reporter: _________________________________ (I'd like to get one male and one female researcher for this case.)

Engineering Ethics

Research moral responsibilities for the Challenger disaster. Was the failure systemic or an individual shortcoming? Is it good to blow the whistle? Compare the DC10 and Dan Applegate. Researcher and reporter: ____________________
If you are an engineering student, find other examples of ethical problems that an engineer is likely to run into. Check with your engineering teachers for guidance. Researcher and reporter: ________________
Pick a particularly weighty problem in engineering ethics to report on. Look at case studies. Consider http://ethics.tamu.edu/ethicscasestudies.htm or other such sources.

Wealth: Business- and Economics-Related Materials

Book or Film Choices

See Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. You may show excerpts of the film in class while doing a critical analysis of the film. Please note that I do not want to see any ad hominem attacks; instead, I want some solid research into the problems that Moore attempts to give expression to. Then give factual evidence of whether he is right or whether he is wrong.
Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. New York: Simon and Schuster's Free Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4165-6260-3. [In a way, the novel is a murder mystery without much of a mystery and with many underpinnings of a very difficult society to grapple with. Ask yourself whether the murder is justified or justifiable. Offer reasons for your views while showing that you are aware of the complexity of the problems.]--Reader and reporter: _________________________
Choi Gook-Sun: The Reputable Family. This historical drama from Korea advocates a particular ethical view of a kind of capitalist feudalism. I am not sure of the historical accuracy of this drama, but the view of economics is most interesting. You may do independent research, or you may review the historical drama's one hundred or so episodes.--Researcher or viewer and reporter: ____________________________
DeThomasis, Louis and Neal St. Anthony. Doing Right in a Shrinking World: How Corporate America Can Balance Ethics and Profit in a Changing Economy. Austin: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2006. [A comfortably short book, this one introduces main issues in capitalist ethics from an interesting viewpoint. The writers are a monk and a business columnist. The book opens some interesting and quite different viewpoints. And it has only about 150 pages of fairly large print.]--Reader and reporter: _____________________________
Kim Man-deok: The Great Merchant. Korean Broadcasting System has aired the biography of this outstanding woman of the 18th century. You can do independent research about her, or you can see the dramatization of many episodes. Put together an evaluation of her version of capitalist responsibility.--Researcher or viewer and reporter: ____________________________
Singer, Peter. The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. New York: Random House, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4000-6710-7. [This is a relatively short book of 170 pages.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________________

Report and Research Choices

What moral issues are smoldering behind the Arab Awakening. Consider also the Israeli unrest. Clue: One of the Libyan rebels remarked that Qaddhafi and his family were living in wealth while he himself didn't even have a job in this very rich country (Libya). The revolt against Ben Ali of Tunisia was economically fueled. Egypt's Mubarak was accused of embezzlement and improper self-enrichment. Israel's youth was on the street complaining about the disparity between poor and wealthy. Some analysts have suggested that the same disparity was the fuel behind England's uprisings. Learn from what you find: What is the minimally necessary condition for a country to have a contented citizenry? How does one avoid uprisings in the name of economic inequality?
Research health-care issues. Compare the US-American system with the Canadian system and with European systems. Analyze harms and benefits as well as rights and responsibilities here. What is the system? What should it be? Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Some people advocate the simple life. However, the term "simple" is quite relative. What to one person may be simple, to another may be the utmost of luxury. Review those folks who look for the simple life to find out what they are REALLY looking for. In the process, be sure to look up Marcuse's term "repressive desublimation." Before you try to discuss any "simple life" issue, be sure to understand what repressive desublimation entails. Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Research the incident in Bhopal, India, some 20 years ago. The courts just came to closure in 2010. What did they conclude? Who was tried and convicted? Who was not? Should the CEO of the company have been sent to India for trial? As you find out about the settlements, try to determine the value of human life. If you were to kill someone through negligence and would offer that settlement, would you be OK? This might be a good one for an engineer.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
How do we get rid of our trash--particularly our electronic trash? Find out more about our teaching our trash to swim to China, to Bangladesh, to Nigeria, or to Senegal. How much do we recycle at home? How much do we prefer not to think about any of this? How many of you have great big bags of used batteries at home for "proper disposal" as the manufacturer advises? What's the answer? NIMBY? Consider car batteries, salvage jobs, ship breaking, computer wasting and data mining, and other such problems. Data mining? Did you ever wonder how those Nigerian letters find their way to your e-mail address? Next time you discard a computer, you might want to think about that.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Analyze and consider Rawls' Veil of Ignorance, a thought model that suggests that you have total control over all the resources of the world. You know that you are a member of one of the groups on earth. But you don't know which group you are a member of. How would you distribute the wealth and the resources of this earth? Come up with some solid structures and systems here. If you wish, you may work with a partner for some honest and in-depth analysis here.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Do Rich Nations have an obligation to Poor Nations? Review the UN's Millennium Goals. Draw your conclusions after you have collected all the evidence.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
What goods and services should not be offered on the free and open market? Slaves? Dog meat? Body organs? Blood? Continue the list. Then analyze what you would take off the markets or keep on the market in terms of the moral impact of such decisions. Note that poor people of Armenia offer cheap kidneys to Ukrainian physicians who then implant these kidneys for incredibly high sums of money into wealthy Israelis. What's right, what's wrong, what's permissible?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Reconstruction of Afghanistan and of Iraq will cost money. Who will earn that money? Iraqis or US-American companies? Check it out. Find all you can about the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq to determine if sound business ethics is at work here.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
The problem of piracy of software, music, and probably soon also electronic books is a quite complicated many-hands issue. What's right, what's wrong, what's permissible? Do not argue for or against this from a purely self-serving point of view. Try to see this also from the perspective of other. When next MicroSoft checks for your authentic WINDOWS and finds that WINDOWS is not authentic on your machine, should the company then set a bug that'll wipe your fixed drive for forever after?--Researcher and reporter: _____________________________
Find out all you can about "sharia"-banking. Would the economic crash have happened if we had had Muslim banks in our culture?--Researcher and reporter: ________________________________
Review the idea of the "Welfare Queen." Where did that term come from? Is it based on real evidence? In the process of this report, be sure to review the standard budget of a family on welfare. Be sure to do some precise research here; include a pattern of spending that the welfare family would have to abide by to make ends meet. Draw the appropriate moral conclusions; be sure to consider the standard theories of universalizability and maximizing pleasure while minimizing pain as well as reasonable expectations of responsibility.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________

Political Choices in Morality

Singer, Peter. The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN: 0-525-94813-9 [Ethical Argument, Ethical Debate, Consistency in Ethics, George W. Bush]--Reader and reporter: _______________________________
Research recent ethics cases in Congress. Report your findings. Try to distinguish between name-calling and serious shortcomings.--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Research the rights to privacy. Consider police enforcement, chip implants, discount cards in supermarkets, face recognition software, traffic cameras, Facebook and MySpace, Google maps, and so on. Where do organizations have an obligation to stop invading our privacy? Or should we dispense with privacy altogether so as to have a more secure society? Why or why not? Researcher and reporter: ____________________________

Ethics in the Military

Book Choices

Crimmins, Kem and Herbert DeVriese, edts. The Reason of Terror: Philosophical Responses to Terrorism. Leuven, NL: Peeters, 2006. ISBN: 90-429-1823-3 [Perhaps a  bit technical, the book consists of an interesting collection of essays about terrorism as a way of a state's maintaining the status quo and of a revolutionary approach to change. Several essays relate terrorism to a variety of philosophical thinkers.]--Reader and reporter: ____________________
Hartle, Anthony E. Moral Issues in Military Decision Making. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. ISBN: 0-7006-1321-8  [If you are on a military career-path, you might want to get the book for your library.]--Reader and reporter: ________________________

Robb, David. Operation Hollywood. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2004. ISBN: 1-59102-182-0 [Hollywood films that are supported by the Pentagon and how it's done.]--Reader and reporter: _____________________

Report and Research Choices

Would an attack on Iran be appropriate in terms of the "Just War" theory? Why or why not?

Yi Sun-Shin: The Great Admiral. Admiral Yi's military career is quite unique. He is a folk hero of Korea and may serve as an exemplar of outstanding character from a virtue-ethics perspective. Yi Sun-Shin was in charge of the Korean navy during the Japanese-Korean war of 1592 to 1598. He has produced writings about military ethics and had read Sun Tzu extensively. You may do independent research, or you may see Korean Broadcasting Systems series of about 150 episodes to learn all about him. He held many ethical views that may surprise you when you consider the time when he lived. In many respects, he was a Kantian long before Kant.--Researcher or viewer and reporter: ____________________________

Research WikiLeaks. Does the safety of the military person outweigh the right of the public to know? Find out carefully and fully all aspects of this phenomenon. Use REAL examples; don't speak in vague generalities. How far may we go in keeping ideas secret? Suppose WikilLeaks had taken a close look at NAZI-Germany or Stalin's Russia. Would you have changed your mind about WikiLeaks? Does Brad Manning deserve death, detention, or a medal?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Can a war against terrorism (a method of intimidating the general public so as to influence governmental decisions) ever be fought in keeping with the ideals of "just war"? Offer your own definition of "terrorism" if you wish; then draw some clear conclusions. Be sure to research who is a terrorist, who is a freedom fighter, who is guerilla, and who is simply a dangerous Muslim as opposed to one of our side's faithful Christians. Be sure to try to universalize.--Researcher and reporter: ______________________________
Research the use and impact of Agent Orange, of war debris in Laos, of landmines, of the fate of the Hmong, and of depleted uranium. Who has the obligation to improve the world after a war is done? Who has signed treaties against cluster bombs and landmines and who has not? Who should sign? Who should have an active role in straightening out the environment? Do a good job of finding all relevant detail before deciding who should engage in world improvement here. You may also run into other matters here. For example, should a military officer abide by orders to attack places in a clandestine manner and falsifying records to maintain that secrecy. Consider specifics here: Air-Force General John D. Lavelle of Vietnam fame, for example. Place the example into a different context to test your views. Suppose Lavelle had been a Luftwaffe General during WWII. Would that context alter your view?----Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Reports on sexual harassment in the military abound. On the one hand, military men report that they'd prefer to be without women in combat because they'd be inclined to be protective of those women; on the other hand, the military has one of the highest rates of abuse of women. So what's really going on there? Dig into the reports; then draw some conclusions of what should be.--Reader and reporter: ________________________
Find out about women in the military. Look for historical precedents. Consider the Amazons; consider the Cherokees' "beloved women"; consider mixed crews on submarines of the Swedish and the Australian navy. Evaluate the argument that you'd want to have a 200-pound guy as your partner since a 110-pound woman is not likely to drag you to safety. Look at the counter-argument involving a 110-pound guy and a 200-pound woman. Where are such arguments prejudicial? Where are they real?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________
Should the military consist of volunteers or should we go back to conscription? A volunteer army has often been discouraged by ethicists as being a standing provocation of all the rest of the world. Read about the arms race to see what that might mean. At the same time, many people argue that a volunteer army is more expert than a regular group of conscripts. On the other hand, each young person might be said to have an obligation to his/her country. So, why not conscription with alternative service for conscientious objectors? How believable is the "Support Our Troops" sticker on the bumper of, say, a Mercedes 500 or a Lamborghini with a volunteer army?--Researcher and reporter: _______________________
Research and discuss the morality of using drones in warfare. Drones could be used for assassinations, for indiscriminate warfare, for targeted strikes against individuals. Keep in mind the Geneva Conventions: Any military must risk its own combatants before it risks the enemy's non-combatants. Right now, the US may have a definite technical advantage, but what if the tables turn? What if such technology becomes generally available and may be used against US-Americans also? Do you see issues or problems? Analyze harms, rights, and responsibilities. Note that if you commit to drone warfare, what morality should we require of the operators of such equipment? Can the computing device itself discriminate between enemy intent or random behavior? Go into the technology, past practice and results, and the moral ramifications that will decide the final decisions.--Researcher and reporter: _______________________________
Does the military offer equal treatment to members of different religions and to non-religious persons? Should it do so? Why or why not? Review Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers at http://militaryatheists.org. Take a look at http://www.thenation.com/article/158462/backward-christian-soldiers. Interview some members of the military; think about military celebrative events; do some more research to form a view.

Computer-Related Issues

Bynum, Terrell Ward and Simon Rogerson. Computer Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.--Select two articles from this book to report on. Make sure that the articles are thematically related.

Media Ethics

Compare a group of news media to see which one observes the best media ethics. Consider if you are merely finding yourself in agreement with the ideological spin or whether the source gives you sufficient factual basis for the views it advocates or whether you are moved to finding out more about whatever the source discusses. Be sure to observe the medium for a sufficient time to understand what trends it will set. Don't come to premature conclusions. You may consider all of the following or suggest some of your own: FoxNews (over most cable or satellite services), Al-Jazeera/English (over your computer or by way of GlobeCast), ABC/NBC/CBS or NPR (most cable or satellite services or over the air), EuroNews (several languages over DISH network), RT [Russia Today] (GlobeCast or your computer), Press . You may also consider newspapers, newsmagazines, or other printed sources.--Researcher and reporter: _______________________________
Several news services maintain a web-site of reports that the news magazine may have aired before. Single out a particular subject; then trace the news coverage of that item. Use one or more media in your research so that you can compare. Which news medium is trying to put a spin on the story by squelching information? What would you miss in the effort to build a clear view?--Researcher and reporter: _______________________________
Is a person who has no access or only limited access to the Internet and the World-Wide Web deprived of his or her liberties? Or is this also a consumer good: if you can pay for it, have fun; if you cannot, tough luck. Begin with Tim Berners-Lee essay "Long Live the Web," which appeared in Scientific American of December 2010 on pages 80 to 85. From the introduction of the author: "Tim Berner's Lee invented the World-Wide Web. Today he is director of the international World Wide Web Consortium, based in the US at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." If you cannot find the article, don't do this presentation, please. Presenter and researcher: ________________________________

Organizations That Depend on Your Support

Find out all you can about any one of the following organizations. Note that when you receive letters asking you to give to charities, do you know how much of the contribution will go to the problem, how much will go to administrative cost, how much is likely to by siphoned off by rip-off artists? Most of the reputable charities will publish their expenses and their effectiveness. Most reputable charities will also state clearly what they stand for and what they are working toward. This course segment should have some very practical value for you as you engage in the art of living with social responsibility. Choose any agency or suggest an agency that you would like to research; then tell us with sound reasoning whether one should or should not support these agencies:
Doctors Without Borders--Researcher and reporter: _________________________, Engineers Without Borders--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, Oxfam--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, Amnesty International--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, Southwest Indian Relief Council--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, Council of Indian Nations--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, UNICEF--Researcher and reporter: _____________________, UNIFEM--Researcher and reporter: ______________________, GreenPeace--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, NAACP--Researcher and reporter: ____________________ American Civil Liberties Union--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________, Salvation Army--Researcher and reporter: _______________________, Others?
Evaluate Peter Singer's principle critically: "If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral worth, we ought, morally, to do it." What kind of attitude toward charitable giving would this principle inspire? What limits, if any, would you want to subscribe to? How far do you go along? Where should one stop? Why?--Researcher and reporter: ____________________________


Reinhold Schlieper
Department of Humanities
Embry-Riddle University
Daytona Beach FL  32114
January 5, 2011 [last update]