Philosophy-What is morally right and wrong?
Exam 6 – What is morally right and wrong?
Imagine a presidential election in which the following is your opinion about the candidates:
(Please note: I am trying to demonstrate how philosophy is relevant to real world decisions, but the situation I am about to describe is not meant to reflect directly the candidates in the previous U.S. election. You will notice some similarities (last semester I tried something “neutral” but it was just confusing), but do not let your opinion of the actual (real world) candidates influence your answer. Answer based on the information provided below.)
Candidate 1 (Mary Bailey) has devoted 10 years of her life to public service (at both the state and federal level.) You respect Mary’s character; reason rules her actions and she is polite and reserved. She wants to raise the minimum wage, regulate the banks, and rejects trickle-down economics (which suggests tax cuts for the rich, which allow the rich to keep more money, will cause economic grown because that money will “trickle down” to the middle class and poor). Indeed, she favors higher taxes on the rich and aims to spend that money on social program (education, health care, etc.) for the poor. Now you are rich banker; all of these policies will negatively affect your bottom line, reducing the profits you make (although you will still have plenty). However, you happen to think she is right about trickle-down economics; it won’t actually produce economic growth—it will simply make a few rich (including you) at the expense of making many others poor. She also favors a liberal immigration policy, mainly because she recognizes that cheap immigrant labor is good for the economy (they do the jobs Americans don’t want). She is a bit of a “war hawk” however, and may engage our military in unnecessary conflicts abroad. In an attempt to discredit her, Mary’s opponent has fabricated and popularized a number of conspiracy theories about her. Although you recognize that they are false, a large portion of the population has bought into them and thus despises Mary as a horrible person.
Candidate 2 (Monty Burns) is a former businessman with no political experience. Burns wants to eliminate the minimum wage, free the banks from regulations, and endorses trickledown economics—which (again) you think will make you rich at the expense of making others poor. He also has a hard stance on immigration that you acknowledge will likely violate the moral and legal rights of both legal citizens and illegal immigrants; however you also think that it will protect the nation from what you see as a real and genuine threat: terrorism. Burns has vowed, however, to keep our military from engaging in new conflicts. He does not, however, have a respectable character (in your opinion); he is crude and hateful and is mainly running for president to satiate his ego and because of his lust for power. Despite his character, however, because he is a political outsider, he is revered by most in the public as a virtuous person.
Question 1: (One Paragraph) What would Plato/Socrates say about which person—Mary or Monty—you should rather be? Which person is “truly happy”—is most likely to have attained Eudemonia, and why? In your answer, be sure to be clear about what Eudemonia is, and how one attains it.
Question 2: (Two Pages) Suppose there is an exact tie in the Electoral College and in the popular vote between Mary and Burns. The senate votes, but they tie too. You are the vice-president, and so your vote will determine who becomes president: Mary or Burns. Articulate how you would use Schick’s “inference to the best action” approach to decide how (morally) you should vote. In your answer be sure to be clear about what each of the relevant theories would say about how you should vote.
Question 3: (one paragraph) Suppose you think that climate change poses an existential threat to humankind’s existence; if we do nothing, we will render the planet uninhabitable in less than 100 years (and thus all human life will die). Suppose also that Mary thinks climate change is real and will take many additional steps to combat it. Suppose Burns denies climate change is real and wants to roll back the steps we have taken to combat it. Does this change your previous answer? Why or why not?
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