WHAT IS UTILITARIANISM?
Write a short 5-6 page DOUBLE SPACE essay on ONE of the following SUGGESTED topics.
Write an abstract (3-4 sentences) of your essay. Summarize the objectives and the method of your essay.
- Assess our knowledge of the world today? Use your knowledge of the traditions of rationalism and Empiricism. You may choose to compare scientific theories with religious beliefs. We live in the 21st century and religious beliefs are still very popular. Why? Provide reasons for your answer.
- Assess Hume’s legacy in modern philosophy. What is the most significant problem for us in Hume’s philosophy? Identify a possible solution to this problem.
- Assess the prospects of creating artificial intelligence (AI). Address Searle’s main argument against the program of strong artificial intelligence. What are the prospects of creating artificial intelligence?
- Present and evaluate the position of ethical relativism. Provide examples in support of the theory of ethical relativism. What are the dangers of ethical relativism? Defend your position.
- Explain the theory of Ethical Egoism. Provide examples of situations in which people fail to follow their rational self-interest. Explain the concept of evolutionary stable strategy.
- What is existentialism? Explain some of the basic concepts of existentialism: existence precedes essence, authenticity, despair, forlornness. Provide examples to illustrate your explanations. Is existentialism relevant to people today?
- Explain the essence of Kant’s Deontological Ethics. Provide examples to illustrate the main concepts of Kant’s position.
- What is Utilitarianism? Do you agree with the claim of John Stuart Mill: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied; Socrates dissatisfied, than a fool satisfied.” Defend your answer.
- Explain the problem of negative responsibility. Use the examples provided by Bernard Williams in Utilitarianism and Integrity. Provide examples. You may consider the issues related to medical experimentations on human beings, embryonic stem cell research and cloning.
- Provide a moral assessment of the American entertainment industry. Focus on one type of entertainment, e.g., music industry, movies, TV shows, etc. Does the entertainment industry destroy the traditional moral values of the American society?
- What is social justice? Explain at least one of the theories discussed in class, e.g., John Locke, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, etc. Is the American society just? Give reasons for your answer. Consider at least one possible objection.
- Describe a person who has had a positive influence on your life. Explain how this person’s sacrifice has influenced your life and your values. Is the awareness of another person’s sacrifice a good method of moral education? Explain.
Some Hints for Effective Writing
- Prepare to write. Think your position through carefully. Ask yourself: What do I really want to say or to accomplish in this essay?
- Help the reader understand your position. Rely on simple phrases and sentences and avoid “high style” expressions. Do not assume that your reader knows more than you.
III. Try to organize your essay in a logical way. If you are presenting an argument, your main point should be the conclusion and the rest of the essay should provide sufficient support for that conclusion. Eliminate pointless introductions and conclusions.
- Rewrite. Try to finish your essay at least a day before the deadline. Read your essay the next day and you will be surprised by the number of things you would like to change.
- Do not simply reiterate what you have read. Try to demonstrate that you have comprehended the main issues and ideas.
- Try to understand the essence of the assignment and concentrate on it.
VII. Identify your sources at the end of your essay. Include: author, title, publisher, edition, and year of publication.
VIII. Any form of plagiarism will automatically result in a failing grade.
Printed Outline (optional)
Outlines for the paper should include the following parts:
- Statement of the topic and the goal of the paper. If you are going to defend a point, try to formulate it as a thesis.
- Description of the problem addressed.
- Description of the strategy of the paper.
Your essay will be assessed according to the following criteria:
- Ability to relate the knowledge of philosophy to particular examples
- Clear presentation of the theoretical analysis of the problem
- Clear ideas expressed in grammatically correct sentences
- Overall strategy and planning
- Critical thinking