PHILOSOPHY

PHILOSOPHY

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about whether you think that our democracy in America is deeply affected by a struggle between the rich and the poor. Tell us: What are the concrete signs of this rich/poor struggle that are so obvious that any American could see it, if they would open their eyes? Why do so many Americans like to stay in the safe Cave that democracy provides? Think about it: people can listen only to the media that agrees with them, and listen only to politicians (demagogues and potential tyrants) who tell noble lies to them.Explain it to us: What is really keeping Americans from opening their eyes and being able to perceive reality?

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us your thoughtful answer to this question: “Are believers in two different religions, such as Christianity and Islam, or Hinduism and Confucianism, able to be about as moral, on average, as each other?”Now, keep in mind that a typical believer in any religion thinks, “Surely people in my religion are more moral, overall, since being a believer in the best religion means that people know what is right and what is wrong.”Is that typical opinion correct? If not, why not? Tell us whether two people in different religions would end up being about as moral as the other one, so religion really doesn’t make much difference. If you do think religion makes a big difference, explain specifically what that difference must be.
Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us whether there is anything that you would sacrifice your life for – not for another person – but for an idea or principle. Explain why that principle is so worthy. Be specific. “For Justice” or “For Peace” doesn’t count. What concrete kind of just society? What sort of peaceful world? Make this individualized and personal!

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about something that most people (including yourself) are often mistaken about, even though they think they know it as well as anything.Think about ordinary daily matters about our worlds, or about ourselves, that we just take for granted without wondering if we are right about it. Are some illusions or biased beliefs just so realistic and believable that few people ever think to question whether they are really accurate? Tell us about your example!

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about something that you find people believing about the world just because they really, really want to believe it. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong – the philosophical question is this: Do they really have enough information to back up that belief? Tell us about something that you hear people saying about the world but you realize how they couldn’t really justify it.

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about (1) One experience you can personally recall that made you feel like you were nothing but a physical body – what you were doing that kept you completely focused on ‘you’ as a body moving in space and interacting with other bodies. (2) One experience you can personally recall that made you feel like you were only a mental being – what you were doing that kept you completely focused on your inner mental life as a consciousness and made you feel like you had no body at all. Be sure to tell us about both kinds of experiences you have personally had.
Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us what you think about my friend Caryn:

I have this friend, let’s call her Caryn, who told me this:

“I went to hotel in LA, and thought it wasn’t a good hotel. I went to a travel advice website and submitted a review, that said that this hotel was terrible. A day later, I was contacted by the hotel. The hotel manager saw my review, and looked up my email address in their reservation system. He offered my $500 to delete my review. I took the money.”

Tell us whether you think that Caryn’s decision to take the $500 would pass Kant’s Categorical Imperative test. You have to figure out her maxim behind her decision to agree to this deal. Then tell us the anonymous version of that maxim. Then test that maxim – what would happen if everyone acted from that same maxim that she did?

Hint – How many people doing just what Caryn has done would it take until people stop trusting what people say on travel advice websites?

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about your answer to this ethics question:

Ashley has a good friend, who will sell her a car at a very low price. The price is low not just because they are friends, but really because the car was stolen last year. The friend wasn’t the thief who stole the car, but the car has now become the friend’s car and the car also has a new title (also illegally accomplished already). If Ashley agrees to buy the car, she gets the clean title and Ashley cannot be linked to the theft, too. Ashley does agree to buy the car from her friend.

For the purposes of this Observation, assume that neither Ashley nor her friend will get in trouble for participating in this deal. They will never get caught. Focus on the ethical question, not the worry about the law. The ethical question is: Did Ashley do something morally wrong here?

Could Ashley’s purchase of the stolen car pass the Categorical Imperative test?

Put another way, would everyone doing what she did be something that could be part of the Kingdom of Ends?

If she did do something immoral, put into your own clear words exactly why her decision is immoral. Or, maybe you think Ashley isn’t morally wrong here — but give reasons why it is OK, despite what the other students against Ashley’s decision would say.

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about your answer to this ethics question:
You are a Commissioner on the County Board, elected to decide how county tax money shall be spent. The county can make one big expenditure, on a new building, during the next ten years. Your county needs a new middle school for the kids, and a new jail for the prisoners. The old jail is falling apart, and probably has big security problems. The old school is falling apart, and probably is getting unsafe for the children in it.

Problem: You can’t build both. They cost the same amount of money. You can only pick one.

Tell us which one you would vote for, and WHY. Be sure to use utilitarian reasons for your answer.

Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about your perception of the respect for human rights in other countries. Do you view the world as mostly unable to respect human rights, across too many countries around the world? Describe your perspective on global rights today, and your list of human rights that appear to be ignored most frequently in too many countries.
Write a 150-200 word Observation by telling us about whether you believe that United States stands for all of the important human rights that an ethical theory should recognize. Do any other countries respect certain human rights which the United States does not prioritize as much? And, finally, tell us whether you think that the United States can learn from some other countries about human rights.
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