Phi208: ethics and moral reasoning – wk1 discussion

PHI 208 Week 1 Discussion Prompts


Instructions: There will be one discussion in week 1.   Please select one of the prompts from the set below and post it as an initial post in the discussion this week.  


1. What are some relativistic beliefs that you have or that you find in society?  What are those ethical beliefs and how do people justify those beliefs?  Using the articles from Mary Midgley (see also Rachels’ and Goodman’s articles from the recommended readings), present a critique of those relativistic beliefs.  What reasons do you have for thinking that these beliefs are not consistent?


2. What do you believe is the strongest argument against relativism that was presented the readings for the week?  Outline the argument presenting the reasons the author gives for thinking that relativism is inadequate.  Finally, discuss relativism with your classmates in general.  What are some relativistic beliefs you have held?  Do you believe that they can be justified or do you plan on reevaluating those beliefs now that you have learned more about relativism?


3. In the excerpt from the Republic the example of the ring of  Gyges is used to claim that humans only act morally because of fear that they will be caught.  Present an example of someone being morally good out of fear and then present an example of someone being morally good out of an inherent desire to act in a specific way.  Discuss with others the idea that morality is inherent and based on universal principles or virtues versus the idea that ethics is socially created and varies based on human social and political context.  Which do you find to be more convincing?  Which philosophical reasons would you present for thinking that your position is the best position?


4. Glaucon (Ring of Gyges) says that we obey the laws only from fear of punishment. Provide four reasons for obeying the law or ethical principles that do not involve punishment or reward.  Is there a difference between people who obey the law out of fear and those who obey the law out of a sense of duty or character?  What are those differences?  When is it acceptable not to obey the laws?  What types of laws ought we obey and which ought we disregard?  Be sure to back up your answers with information you have learned from the readings in the week.