Final Blog Assignment

Blog: You are wide open on this one.

Before I took philosophy, I always had somewhat of an issue with the idea of philosophy. to me, it seemed as though certain things were either good or bad, moral or immoral.. for example,  murder is categorically bad, regardless of circumstance. I didnt really understand the need for philosophy; ultimately, it seemed to me as though various philosophers were drawing the same conclusions but for different reasons.. for example, both Mill and Aristotle could agree that murder was immoral, but the difference lies within the different ways they each came to that conclusion. taking this course helped me understand WHY these various thought processes were significant, and why there is a specific need for different methods of thinking and understanding. Sometimes the hypothetical aspect of philosophy/ethics was too obscure and intangible for me to fully comprehend; after taking this course, I have a better method of tackling these hypothetical concepts, and deciphering the significance of the reasoning, not simply the final outcome. I thoroughly enjoyed our classroom discussions, and value what this course has not only taught me, but the methods it has enabled me to utilize in the future.


Aristotle & Murder — Make-up Blog.

Blog: Give an Aristotelean account for the moral worth of murder. Remember, this is perhaps a little trickier than it sounds, since Aristotle is focused not as much on the value of actions as on the value of individuals.


Aristotle doesnt necessarily deem actions themselves moral/immoral, but rather, he deems individuals & their intentions moral or immoral. By his standards, you can’t necessarily deem murder immoral across the boards, although in most cases it would be so. You would have to look at it in terms of whether or not the person who committed it was a ‘virtuous’ person by nature, as well ast he circumstances surrounding the murder. If the murder was a result of self-defense against someone who intended harm on another, then it would be viewed not necessarily moral, but ‘less immoral’ than if it had been a random, malicious killing. Aristotle also talks about finding a balance, and acting in excess in either direction is immoral. Finding that balance is where morality lies.. i think that’s what Aristotle’s greatest, strongest point is.

Social contracts.

Blog about the question of who, precisely, is a party to the social contract. Can we rightfully say that the sovereign has made an agreement to give up some rights? How about a child? Or a person who, because of material limitations, cannot easily opt out of the contract by moving away? If these people are only parties to the contract in a limited way, is their subjectivity to moral judgment also limited? 

In terms of children, they are subject to the social contract because they are dependent on their parents, who are party to it. They are born into a world consisting of their parents lives, and until society recognizes them as adults, they are unable to create their own world for themselves. Even then, after being raised in accordance to their parents’ lifestyles, that child may not see a need for change at all; a child would not even be able to identify a need for an alternative unless they truly examined the logistics of the social contract they were currently residing under. While they are under their parents’ care, they are subject to the same moral judgement their parents are, until they are old enough to establish a life of their own.

Morality and Government

Blog about the connection that Hobbes posits between morality and government. What’s the connection? Are governments/sovereigns subject to moral judgment?

In class we talked about what might happen if George W. Bush were to compulsively shoot some random person on the street. What would the consequences be? and how would we view him after? If it were a random person, I think that we would adhere to the typical course of action for anyone else who committed such a crime.. but if it were under certain circumstances, like if he were to kill a criminal at large or a terrorist or whatever, the government would act so as to protect him from prosecution or consequence. At that point, there’s no one to override the government’s decision to do so, and there isnt a lot that can be done, regardless of how moral or not his actions were. I believe that everyone is subject to moral judgement, regardless of what position they might be in, but i think the degree to which is it reacted/responded to varies, and I guess that’s where the differentiation lies. The government is somewhat untouchable in that aspect. 

Hobbes & War.

Blog about Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature. Is he right that human nature, combined with the finiteness of the world’s resources, will necessarily lead to a state of war? Is he right that the state of war described would really be the worst situation imaginable? 

Hobbes talks about how man as a whole is concerned mostly with his own needs & desires. Human nature is generally very self-centered, and success-driven. While I do agree with the notion that we are selfish individuals, and that we are rather concerned with meeting our own needs, I don’t think it is necessarily going to drive us to an inevitable state of turmoil as Hobbes alludes to. I don’t believe that even under the most trying of circumstances (running out of resources) that the human race would revert completely back to a savage state, and start fighting tooth and nail in accordance with what Hobbes predicts. I think our society, though flawed, has progressed immensely, and that we would be able to act at least somewhat rationally or deliberately in the face of an extreme circumstance. Perhaps Hobbes would be correct in that it could be the worst state imaginable, but I think we would at least stand a chance at amending that situation, and not falling apart like he predicts. 

On your blog, I want you to think back over Kant and Mill and do some broad decision making. Each theory has its own problems. If you had to choose one of the two theories based solely on which one had the least troubling problems, which would it be?

I’m not sure that Kant and Mill are such polar opposites that you could categorize yourself as a believer of strictly one or the other. However, I think if i had to choose one, I would probably go with Kant’s general school of though rather than Mill, as I have more issues with Mill’s theories than I do Kant’s. Mill’s conceptualizations regarding utilitarianism are very demanding. They require projecting outcomes far greater than one might normally foresee, and demand that we act in accordance so that we can create the greatest possible amount of happiness based on the outcomes. It also holds us responsible for consequences as a result of our own actions, and can make an action that had good intentions seem immoral based on an unforseen negative consequence. I think that Kant’s ideaologies are more forgiving in that morality is not dependent on anything other than rationality, and the maxims we create for ourselves. I do not always agree with what kant says across the board, but I disagree with less of his points than i do with Mill’s, which ultimately puts me in favor of Kant.

Blog about the issue of rationality that arises time and time again in these passages. Here are some questions you might think about: What is the connection between rationality and self-interest or self-love? What kinds of assumptions does Kant make about the nature of rationality? How does Kant use the notion of rationality to demonstrate our duties? In what ways is categorical imperative dependent on rationality? Et cetera.

Kant proposes that any rational person should have self-love; that is, any person in his or her own right mind should have an appreciation and concern with their own self. This idea makes a lot of sense; it coincides with our most primal urges, our need to satisfy ourselves and meet our own needs. While I think that it makes a great deal of sense that people would love themselves, it has become less and less true of our society. Today, so many people suffer from horrible self-image. There seems to be  a complete lack of confidence and self-love, especially in today’s youth. This is a blatant contradiction to Kant’s proposal; regardless of the reasoning, people’s supposedly innate inclination to love themselves seems to be decreasing rapidly. I dont think that this trend necessarily means people are no longer rational, I just think it demonstrates the fact that people’s priorities have shifted.