Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blog Assignment #2

1. Were the questions on the Moral Sense Test difficult to answer (psychologically, emotionally, conceptually, technically, etc.)? Why or why not? Do you think your responses to the Moral Sense Test questions were consistent? Does this matter? The questions on the Moral Sense Test were hard to answer because it is sometimes difficult to discern exactly how ethical or unethical an act is and how severely it should be punished. I answered almost every question exactly the same because the test would ask questions in the same consistent format. I think it is highly likely that anyone who takes this test will answer it with the same consistent responses because most people have a set value system that will interpret a series of situations in a similar way, especially when asked the same questions about each situation. I think it does matter that an individual answers ethical questions consistently because if they did not then how could they be holding each issue up to the same ethical standard?

2. Should people always follow the law? Why or why not? When might one be justified in NOT following the law? Give examples. Ideally, one should always follow the law. To publicly condone anything else is to promote anarchy. However, it is next to impossible to go through life without breaking at least one law. This issue is addressed directly in The Crito, a dialogue written by Plato about the trial of Socrates. In The Crito, Socrates is being put on trial on charges of corrupting the youth of Athens. Crito tries to convince Socrates to escape from prison but Socrates explains that he has an obligation to follow the law because it raised and nurtured him just as his parents and to disobey it under any circumstances is dishonorable. In other words, the very idea of having the choice to obey or disobey a law takes its sovereign power away. Therefore the law should always be followed. However, there are a few extraordinary circumstances when it is justifiable to break the law. Our textbook gives an example of this when it points out how the prohibition law of the early twentieth century was repealed. It gives another example when it talks about the rape laws in New York State where a victim had to prove that they put up "earnest resistance" against their attacker. The state later repealed the unreasonable provision from the law. In these cases, the government proved that it can be wrong and unreasonable with its laws sometimes. Even so, the law should always be respected within the bounds of reason.

3. In your own words, explain what "social convention" means. Give examples. A social convention is literally a rule for how one should behave as a member of society. It doesn't necessarily involve morality although it sometimes can. For instance, it is a social convention that you should not utter a bunch of curse words in public. It isn't necessarily unethical to curse because it isn't actually hurting anybody but it is offensive to many because it breaks a social convention. A social convention could also be thought of as a social norm, or an unwritten rule of behavior that is created by a society.

4. Should people always follow the conventions of their society? Why or why not? Give examples. People in a free society should not have to always follow every convention of society. I hold this view particularly because the authority of social conventions is questionable. They are usually not written rules of law and the discriminatory laws that have their roots in American social conventions that have been on the books in the past have been repealed for the most part. For instance, in the United States, same sex relationships and marriage are many times frowned upon. Therefore it can be said that for a long period of time in the United States, heterosexual relationships were the social convention. Recently, a movement has come about to challenge the authority of this social convention. Should same sex couples receive the same benefits as other couples? A reasonable argument can be made in favor of this movement. Therefore I don't believe that people should always follow the social conventions of their society.

5. Should people always follow their own principles? Why or why not? Give examples. It is fine for everyone to follow their own principles as long as those principles agree with the law that governs this land. If everyone were allowed to follow their own principles as it pertained to everything then anarchy would ensue. Some people think murder, theft, and rape is okay and if they were left to their own devices they would commit these acts with no shame or penalty. Therefore, a person must align their principles with the the law which attempts to benefit society as a whole.

6. Explain in your own words the difference between socially acceptable, legally acceptable, and morally acceptable. An act that is socially acceptable garners its approval from the society or culture in which it is committed. The people living in this society approve of the action on a widespread basis and thus it is acceptable. An act that is legally acceptable garners its approval from the written rule of law. Therefore it derives its legitimacy from the government of the land in which the act is committed. Lawmakers said the act is acceptable so it is okay. An act that is morally acceptable garners its approval from an ethical analysis that has determined the act is, in fact, ethical. In other words, the act is just, sound, and logical. It does not harm anybody or anything.

7. Out of 25 points, how many points do you feel your work on this assignment deserves? Justify your answer. I feel this assignment deserves 25 points because I put forth maximum effort to answer the questions :).

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