plato’s euthyphro

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plato’s euthyphro
o why socrates rejects euthyphro’s definition of piety as what all the gods love
o how the discussion in euthyphro bears on whether we should accept the divine command theory of ethics (so know what dct says about god and good/right)
john stuart mill & utilitarianism
o define utilitarianism and be familiar with its component parts: (1) hedonism, (2) consequentialism, and (3) impartiality
o how mill defends utilitarianism against various objections, especially that pleasure should not be treated as the aim of morality and that we don’t have enough knowledge about future consequences to perform utilitarian calculations
kant’s ethics of duty
o why kant thinks that good will is the foundation of ethics/morality and how this differs from a utilitarian (or consequentialist) view of ethics/morality
o what the 1st formulation of the categorical imperative is, and how kant applies the 1st formulation to specific cases in order to determine what our moral duties are (be familiar with the universalizability and reversibility tests)
aristotle & virtue ethics
o what aristotle means by happiness (and how aristotle’s conception of happiness differs from a hedonist understanding of happiness)
o why aristotle rejects the view that a happy life is simply a life of pleasure (or enjoyment)
o what aristotle means by calling moral virtue a mean between two extremes (i.e. understand the “doctrine of the mean”), and how this idea is applied to virtues such as courage, honesty, and proper pride
manning and care ethics
o what are the basic connection between feminism and care ethics
o what the difference is between natural caring and “ethical caring”
o what the (three) reasons/arguments manning offers for why care is sometimes ethically required of us
jean-paul sartre, “existentialism is a humanism”
o what is the connection between freedom and responsibility for jean-paul sartre? how free are we, on his view? why does he think that? what does this imply about our responsibility?
o what existentialism means by claiming that, for us (humans), “existence precedes essence”
o why sartre says that humans are “condemned to be free”
plato’s crito
o what reasons crito gives for thinking that socrates should escape from prison
o how socrates responds to each of these reasons, in particular what he says about majority opinion and the thought that he is justified in escaping because he himself has been wronged
o what socrates means by suggesting that it is not life but the good life that really matters,and how this is related to his situation
king’s “letter from birmingham jail”
o how king distinguishes between a just law and an unjust law
o what king thinks the function is of the tension created by nonviolent civil disobedience, andhow king relates his own activities to socrates
o why is nonviolence an important feature of king’s civil disobedience?
bell hooks, introduction to ain’t i a woman?
o why does hooks see the struggles against racism and sexism as significantly linked rather than separate social justice issues?
meaning in life: viktor frankl & susan wolf
o how does frankl come to the conclusion that meaning is the fundamental drive/need for humans? how can there be meaning in suffering? (does that make suffering good in itself?)
o how wolf characterizes a meaningful life (she gives three features/conditions) and why she thinks each of the three criteria are important
o why wolf thinks cases like “the blob,” “useless,” and “bankrupt” are examples of lives that at least seem to lack meaning
o why wolf thinks that a happy life isn’t necessarily a meaningful life
russell & voltaire on philosophical reflection
o why russell thinks philosophy is a valuable activity even if philosophy often leaves us with uncertainty
o what is the situation/problem explored in voltaire’s “the good brahmin” and how it seems to challenge russell’s ideas (and perhaps also mill’s)
1. how should we live? compare and contrast two of the moral theories we’ve examined, each of which says something about how would should think about the nature of morality and/or how we should live (and often both). identify clearly the specific point of contrast between these two theories. (do they give conflicting advice? offer conflicting accounts about how we figure out what is good or bad, right or wrong.) provide an argument (a chain of reasoning) as to why we should believe that one of these theories is better than the other. use examples and illustrations
as helpful, but stay focused. for this prompt, you may consider ideas from plato’s euthyprho, mill, kant, aristotle, rita manning, jean-paul sartre, or plato’s crito. focus on two.
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