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Normative ethical theories


Quiz 1 is due at 12pm noon, Tuesday, July 14th. Please answer the questions as best as you can. In your answers, you should assume that you are explaining something to someone who knows nothing or very little about the issue in hand. You may actually practice explaining your answers to someone around you. This being said, you also do not need to write too much. I would say that half a page (double spaced) for a single question should be sufficient. (you don’t need to actually write double spaced, this is just to give you an idea of the ideal length) Grading: Each question will be graded out of 100 points, and the average of the three will be your quiz grade. So, for example, if one were to receive 100, 100, and 80 points from the three questions, then his/her quiz grade would be calculated by dividing 280 by 3, which is 93 (out of 100).

1. Explain the following four terms: obligatory action, permissible action, prohibited action, supererogatory action

2. Explain one of the following normative ethical theories: Utilitarianism, Kantianism/deontology, Virtue Ethics. In your explanation, you may appeal to real life or imaginary examples.

3.  Which three criteria does the author state that we may use to evaluate/assess a normative ethical theory? After you list the three criteria, briefly explain them (again, if you like, you may give examples).

Quiz 2

Quiz 2 is due at 12pm noon, Tuesday, July 21st. Consider the 3rd case (“Whose Choice Really?”) discussed in Boyle’s article “The Process of Informed Consent”.  If you like, read it through once more, and/or watch the part of the lecture video I talk about this case. I would like you to pretend that you are the chief medical professional (or perhaps an official of law or a philosopher in the ethics board) who is dealing with this case. (You may in fact be in such a position in cases like this one in the future!). How would you approach this case? There should be two parts to your answer (each part is worth 50% of your grade).

(1) Briefly explain the facts of the case (to the extent the author provides; for the sake of simplicity, assume that everything the author says about the case is true). Do not go into detail, just mention the most relevant ones (for example, the diagnosis, the suggested medical interventions, the patient’s own beliefs about any of this, etc.).

(2) Start the second part of the answer with this sentence “Here is my recommendation for the case of WL (Case 3):” Your response should be informed especially by what you learned about the principle of autonomy and the principle of beneficence. So, a plausible approach is to state an action plan that is based only on the principle of autonomy and an action plan that is based only on the principle of beneficence. Finally, state THE action plan you recommend in light of both considerations.  (You may think that there are overlaps between the two approaches, or you might think the right approach is a unique alternative to these. This is OK. Don’t feel constrained by the theoretical framework discussed by the author. However, if you are going to suggest a new approach, you should nevertheless describe the present framework first by thinking in terms of the principles we discussed; and then, go onto make your own independent recommendation.) Again, the subject line of your email should be “Quiz 2 – submission #” and you should attach an MS word file. The minimum length you are allowed is 1/2 page (line spacing: single). The maximum length you are allowed is 1 page (line spacing: single).

Quiz 3

You have read three well known articles on abortion the past week, which are taught in medical ethics courses all over the world. I would like you to pick two of these articles, and answer the following questions.  Each question has three parts (a,b, and c). So your answer will have the following form:  1. (a) … 1. (b) … 1. (c) … 2. (a) … 2. (b) … 2. (c) … (a) What is the author’s main claim in his/her article? You should be able to state it in just ONE sentence. (b) How does he/she support this claim? It is enough to construct just one argument from the article. Make sure it is clear which premises/reasons are given in the argument in support of the conclusion. You may number the premises if you like. You don’t have to get an exact picture of the argument but you should at least include the most crucial premises/reasons the author gives. (If you pick Thomson’s article, then you may need to make a reference to a thought experiment in the premises; if so, you don’t have to describe that thought experiment, but you should make it clear which thought experiment you are referring to and why it plays a role in the argument) (c) Evaluate this argument by pointing at a weak premise or premises (if you find the argument weak) and stating why you think it is (they are) weak premise(s); or alternatively, by stating why you find the premises satisfactory (if you find the argument satisfactory). — Grading: 1 (a,b, and c) = 50%, and 2 (a, b, and c) = 50% Length: no length limit Due: Tuesday 12pm (noon). Format: Follow the same instructions as before. Email the file. Subject line = “Quiz 3 – submission #” .  Preferably, an ms word file. Note: Make sure that you do not copy/paste anything from either the articles or the Internet without making it clear that you are copy/pasting, using quotation marks if necessary. Ideally, you should be able to write/explain things in your own words. This will be checked thoroughly. Article in documents attached.

Quiz 4

Consider the chart that I presented in the last lecture video. This chart conveyed the thoughts of three philosophers (Elliot, Kramer, and Freedman) on whether or not an intervention which is solely based on a Prozac like drug to overcome a person’s mental suffering would be an ethically proper medical intervention.   Do you agree with any one of these philosophers’ views? State your view first and then give your reason(s) for holding it. In addition to this, I would like you to consider one objection to your argument and respond to it.  So for example, if you hold that Kramer’s position is the right one, state why you think this way. This should be your first paragraph and should be around 1/2 page (when written single space). Then, after you give your reason(s), consider a reason to disagree with your own view. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who would look for a weakness in the argument you just gave in the first paragraph and try to take it down (the stronger your objection, the better!). Then, respond to this objection. Defend your overall view against it. This should be your second paragraph and should be also around 1/2 page (when written single space).  As to the criterion for what counts as an ethically proper medical intervention, you may assume the disease-based account like I did in the video or if you like, pick something else from Juengst’ article. But whatever you pick, you should state it clearly in your answer and briefly explain how that criterion draws the boundaries that differentiate an ethically proper medical intervention from enhancement.  If necessary, you may go over a full page a little. Here is an advice: once you write your second paragraph (or even when you are still thinking about what to write) you may end up feeling the force of your own objection to your original view so much so that you may come to think that you need to change your original view and hence the entire first paragraph! In that case, remember that this is a process. Do not feel like you should just stick with something you wrote earlier simply because it is already written. If you are no longer confident in the idea you were defending earlier, be brave, and start over! Also, your argument does not need to be perfect (that is, so decisive that no rational being can ever doubt it). So you may ignore some faults that you see with it. The point is to make a modest contribution to the ongoing debate using your own reasoning skills. If you feel that this can be done with what you have on the paper already, then you are ready to submit it.

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