What is the Relationship Between Moral and Legal Rights?


What is a virtue and what is a vice?


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Q)Discuss whether a person’s intentions are relevant to doing good. Are being virtuous and acting out a sense of duty more important than doing good because of the consequences?

Q)Only answer the first two questions, don’t include the assessment of examples. But, be sure to explain the basis of Kant’s thinking in your answer so I know that you know from where Kant derives personhood and moral community.
Are you satisfied with Kant’s definition of personhood and moral community? What criteria should we use to determine whether another being (say, an alien from another planet) is rational or self-consciousness? Using Kant’s definition of personhood, discuss whether it would be morally permissible a) to use human embryos in stem cell research

b) to breed children in order to use their organs as spare parts

Q)Do you agree that we have a duty to develop proper self-esteem? Do you treat yourself with self-respect? Explain. Discuss how self-respect, or the lack of it, affects your treatment of other people.

Q)In the Analects (see reading at the end of the chapter), Confucius argued that communitarian duties are more important than pursuing our individual self-interest. Ayn Rand, in contrast, thought that the best way to achieve a stable society and individual happiness was by putting our self-interest above communitarian values. Using examples from your own experience, discuss which arguments is stronger.

Q)Discuss whether moral duties are prima facie or absolute. Does the concept of duties as prima facie weaken the moral law, as Kant feared it would? Support your answer.

What is distributive justice? What is retributive justice? Be sure to provide an example of each.

Q) Rawls considers disabilities as part of the “natural lottery”. But our talents and abilities are also part of the natural lottery. Discuss how, if at all, these factors should be taken into consideration in distributing societal good. Relate your answer to your own life circumstances.

What is the relationship between moral and legal rights? Should illegal immigrants have the same rights, from a moral perspective, as American citizens? If so, how should these moral rights be recognized and honored in our laws? Consider the examples on page 347 as you shape your answers.

Q)Locke was writing at a time when the human population of the world was one-tenth of what it is now. Would Locke agree that our current capitalist system of ownership is consistent with natural moral rights? According to Locke, Native Americans had no claim on the land, with the exception of the land that they were cultivating at the time. Do you agree? Why or why not? Discuss Locke’s viewpoint in light of current developments such as the wish of Native Americans to build casinos on their reservation land as well as the U.S. government’s actions in taking over underdeveloped land belonging to Native Americans for mining, oil, and natural gas exploration.

Q)In Gutierrez’s book The Power of the Poor in History, he argues that a prophetic interpretation of the Bible, rather than Locke’s individualistic interpretation, provides the best foundation for a rights ethics that is consistent with justice and respect for human dignity. Do you agree? Discuss how Locke and Marz would respond to Gutierrez.

Q)Young adults are the group least likely to vote. In the 2008 presidential election only 53% of people between 18 and 29 voted, compared to 64 percent of the general population. In our democracy voting is seen as a right, not a duty, whereas in many democracies voting is a duty and is mandatory. Should voting be mandatory in the United States? Do we citizens have a duty to vote in presidential elections? Support your answers.

Q)Which of the rights in the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (379-380) are liberty (negative) rights and which are welfare (positive) rights? Make a list of the rights that you think are most important and a list of those that you consider least important. What type of rights—liberty or welfare – occurs most in each list?

Q)Tom Regan argues that other animals have a right not to be eaten by us, used in experiments, or caged in zoos. Discuss his position in light of the self-assertion model and the interests model of rights. If we accept the self-assertion model, which states that only moral agents have rights, would this justify the use of infants and brain-damaged adults as well as nonhuman animals in medical experiments? Defend your position.

What is a virtue and what is a vice? How does Aristotle suggest we can best live a moral, a happy life (hint: it is no mean feat!)?

Q)Discuss the following quotes in light of Aquinas belief that humans are sinful by nature and Mencius’s belief that humans are good by nature.

a) ”Scratch a saint, a villain bleeds; beneath each white man, Jim Crow dwells; behind every gentile, an ante-Semite lurks”

b) “All men have a mind which cannot bear to see the sufferings of others.’

Q)Feminist ethicist Sara Ruddick contrasts maternal thinking with military thinking. She writes “The analytic fictions of just-war theory require a closure of moral issues final enough to justify killing and ‘enemies” abstract enough to be killable…. Maternal attentive love, restrained and clear-sighted, is ill adapted to intrusive, let alone murderous, judgments of other’s lives.” Discuss her claim that “maternal practice is ‘natural resource’ for peace politics.” Discuss what criteria a care ethicist might propose for a just war theory.

Q)Critically analyze Nietzsche’s claim that virtue is the manifestation of the will to power. Discuss the will to power in your own life and its connection to virtue.

Q)Both Hindu and Buddhist virtue ethics include the idea of reincarnation; we should cultivate a virtuous character lest we end up in a subsequent incarnation in the shoes of someone or something we harmed, whether intentionally or through ignorance on our part. Would you be more virtuous if you believed in reincarnation? Discuss how a belief in reincarnation might influence your cultivation of a virtuous character.

Q)Discuss Noddings’ argument that ethical caring is limited by the possibility of reciprocity in caring. Discuss, in light of her argument, whether we have a moral obligation to care for small children or people who are severely disabled mentally and, as such, are not capable of “caring for others” in a reciprocal relationship.

Q)Discuss whether or not you have a moral obligation to use your talents and special gifts for the betterment of mankind and the world. Use specific examples to illustrate your answer.


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