2018 Ethics Unit

Our Ethics unit will fall into three segments:

  • Part One will happen before IB Testing (April 16 – April 26)
    • We will read the assigned texts below and have in-class discussions
  • Part Two will happen during IB Testing (and be optional for Diploma Students)
    • We will watch films with themes linked to our curriculum
  • Part Three will happen after IB Testing (May 21 – May 29th)
    • We will view The Minority Report and prepare for our Unit Assessment

Over the course of the next several weeks, we will continue our Ethics unit by introducing several philosophers and their ideas.  We will start this process by discussing Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, introducing John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, and exploring Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonistic Calculus.

The Ethics journal will be important.  It is also likely that your journal will be due before you start IB testing.  Your Ethics Journal is significant for several reasons:

  • You will need to submit a quality Ethics Journal
  • You will need to review and understand this material for the Unit Assessment as well as the Final Exam.  The Unit Assessment will cover this material and ask you to make comparisons between these thinkers, the assigned readings, the film Minority Report, and material you’ve learned throughout the year.
  • Your Final Exam will require the same and it will ask you to read excerpts from these texts and then:
    • identify the author
    • specify the main point
    • recognize the philosophy
    • compare this ideology to others you’ve learned

What sorts of applications will Mr. Braman encourage you to think about on the test? Issues raised by complaints against the current administration? What about human genomes?  Or the Death Penalty?  Or an apology for the bombing at Hiroshima?  How would Robert McNamara respond regarding Hiroshima?  What will the format be?  Will it be another dialogue test? Likely.  Essay? Possibly.

This assessment will happen the week of May 29.  

When you’ve received (or been assigned) the texts, be sure to do all the things good critical thinkers do when they analyze and react to a text [for your journal]:

  • identify important passages
  • paraphrase relevant/main points
  • react in the margin
  • identify the author’s assumptions
  • consider and address the implications of the argument

Master List of Ethics Authors:  [Below are several readings we may later assign. Many of the readings below will be required.  All Required readings have the word Required after the selection (please note that two required elements are ones you will print out, mark, and react to).  If time allows, we will do more than the required, we will do all of the assignments below.

  1.  4/17  Kant – Categorical Imperative Required.
  2. 4/18 Mill – Utilitarianism Required.
  3. 4/18  Bentham – Hedonistic Calculus and related questions Required.
  4. 4/19 Machiavelli – The Prince Required.
  5. 4/20 Aristotle – Virtue Theory Primary Source Required.  Recommended Aristotle overview (it’s helpful, check it out)
  6. Exodus – Divine Command Theory Required.
  7. 4/23The ToK Course Companion textbook- pages 262-265 one two three four
  8. 4/24 Thoreau – Civil Disobedience Required.
  9. 4/25 Leopold – Environmental Ethics
  10. Nietzsche – Will to Power Part Nine: 257  258  259  260  261
  11. Sartre – Existentialist Ethics Read pages 1-7 of this text
  12. David Brooks – What is inspiration?
  13. Your own selection (and written justification) Required. (see below #7)
  14. Your own selection (and written justification) Required. (see below #7)

 

In addition to the above critical readings, please add written responses to the following into the Ethics Journal.

1. (4/16 in-class) How do we know right from wrong? [encouraged hw: What is the source of your certainty?  Is it a person?  Your self?  A process?  A text?  What are the challenges to knowing what is morally right in this manner?] 

2. (4/18 in-class) What makes us human?   Is it our ability to reason?  To feel emotions?  To care about others? To do something selfless?

2a.  (4/19) How would Bentham consider right and wrong?  How do we figure it out?

3. (4/19) Is it ever right for a few to suffer for the greater good?   What if we had to make a few suffer?  Would it be right to do so if the society benefited?  How should we deal with an epidemic?  Here are some of the real-world examples of how things went in Liberia, the role of the quarantines played in that December 2015 outbreak, the questions that remain, and the new CDC regulations awaiting approval from the Trump administration.

4.   (4/19) Discussion Do the ends (ever) justify the means?  (Required) Explain your rationale.  [this will come later] Quality responses will consider both the premise of Minority Report and Machiavelli’s The Prince.

5.  (4/23) Is cheating ever right?   Please justify your answer.  And then interview/discuss the subtleties of your viewpoint with a willing adversary (if you missed class, record snippets of that conversation).  What are the essential questions that must be asked?  List them.

6. When, if ever, is it acceptable to break a law?  Critically read Civil Disobedience.

7.   Research, identify, print out, and critically read additional documents for the Ethics Journal. AT LEAST TWO additional unique expert sources of your choosing must be included in your ethics journal.  In a brief paragraph, justify their inclusion as research into your own personal philosophy.

8. Follow a current issue as it develops regarding the ethical implications of the event as it develops.  You should have a second article (critically read) soon.

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Pre ToK <3

Here is the make up assignment.  Your writing and research can be submitted as an email to Mr. Braman; the synthesis is a product to be published outside his office 2410g.  Make it good.

Our discussion of Love

Without doing any research, write a few sentences or more about each of the following prompts (be sure to use examples):

What is love [of people or groups, not material things]?

Is it one thing?      Or many things?   Explain.

Describe the different types of love?

Is love the same thing to different people?  Why or why not?

Should we think of Love as receiving?                      Or giving?

Is it best known as “love for” or “love of?”

What tools do we use to know about love?

Consider the ToK diagram at right.

Which Ways of Knowing apply as we try to know love?

 

Who should we ask to know more about Love?

A chemist?  A biologist?  An anthropologist?  A psychologist?  An artist?  A painter?  A dancer?  An author?  A musician?  A poet?  What perspectives would each bring to the conversation?  Discuss.

Which would be the most informed in your view?

 

Research at least four different sources that would tell you about love.  Make sure they are a diverse set of experts (different fields, perspectives).  Write a brief paragraph about what makes their view a quality one.

And then…

Synthesize your thoughts about love and create a reflection based on your experience.  It will go up on the wall of the hallway outside Mr. Braman’s office.  Post it when you are done.  Be sure to include:

  1. Your synthesis (answer) of the questions: What is love and how should love be understood?
  2. Evidence from your own personal experience to support your argument
  3. Consideration of an additional perspective to the question raised
  4. Evidence from at least two sources … and your analysis to interpret the sources

 

 

 

 

ToK IA

The time has come.  You are now ready.  After nearly two weeks of preparation, you are ready to rock.  Here is the presentation schedule:   Presentation Schedule 2018

Don’t forget to finish your managebac submissions and to upload your script to turnitin.com.  Don’t forget the components of a good script –

While the script need not include every word you intend to say, it should include the overall plan and essential elements of what your presentation will include.  With that in mind, be sure to indicate the following in your script:

  1. The essential elements of the content including:  The Hook, The Thesis, The stated Knowledge Questions, the multiple perspectives on the questions, the conclusions of the student presenters, and the research that informs the discussion.
  2. The Works Cited for the works mentioned (overtly or discreetly) in the script
  3. The estimated time for each section of the presentation
  4. The planned speaker/teacher for each segment of the presentation
  5. The questions you will ask in the Q and A section of the presentation along with the anticipated answers and follow-up questions you intend to ask
  6. The materials you will need to bring including: handouts/fliers, exit slips, surveys, and props that may be necessary for your presentation.
  7. Any visual aids like a slide show (these should be briefly described/planned out)

Here’s a portion of a script as a model:

22.00 min: Analysis about trusting technology

  • How should we approach trusting/using technology if we don’t understand it?
  • Why did you trust the Wikipedia articles — have people raise their hands if they trusted it; ask a few people why they did or did not
  • Analysis:
    • The Oracle Effect: “Knowledge of the human authorship of a text is suppressed in order to give the text superhuman validity “ (Lanier 32)
      • E.g: the bible
      • Anonymity and that it’s a technology, gives rise to it
    • Technology has pervaded society to the extent — both in breadth and the type of tasks that we trust technology to perform — that we’re just predisposed to trust it. This has given technology is a mystical quality of infallibility, so enchanted are we with the benefits it has given us. However, ultimately humans are behind the workings of technology; if the human has made an error, then so will the technology.
      • “The problematic nature of trust in technology becomes evident with the dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the subsequent information revolution, with which artefacts cease to be used mainly to perform physical and fatiguing tasks, and begin to be deployed to execute also intellectual works” (Floridi 2008)
      • “As the outsourcing to (informational) artefacts becomes more pervasive, the trust and the dependence of the users on such artefacts also grows” (Taddeo)
      • “relation between two types of on-line trust – general trust, trust in most websites; and familiar trust, trust in websites that one frequently visits – as well as independent variables such as information technology competence, and adverse on-line events” (Taddeo)
    • Concession: However, we can’t renounce technology now that our society is so reliant on it. Moreover, more often than not, technology is extremely beneficial and convenient.
      • We can trust technology to make calculations and automated certain tasks, but we can’t trust it to think for us. The mistake is not when we simply use technology, but when we use it on the assumption that a machine is intelligent in the same way that a human being is.
      • Example:  The victory of Deep Blue, the chess computer, over a human chess champion Kasparov was hailed by technologists as machine intelligence surpassing human intelligence. However, Deep Blue had to be programmed by somebody. Deep Blue didn’t win against Kasparov — a team of computer scientists who came up with algorithms to win at chess and implemented them in code, plus the raw computing power of Deep Blue, won against Kasparov.
      • An important distinction about intelligence: if we call Deep Blue “intelligent”, then we are changing/degrading our definition of intelligence.  Instead of intelligence being an ability to independently think logically and critically, it becomes defined by the ability to compute and perform certain tasks which emulate intelligence. This happens all the time in modern society: “Before the crash, bankers believed in supposedly intelligent algorithms that could calculate credit risks before making bad loans” … “Did that search engine really know what you want, or are you playing along, lowering your standards to make it seem clever?”

 

Tuesday, March 20

Today in class, you should begin creating a draft of the script that you will use for your presentation.  While the script need not include every word you intend to say, it should include the overall plan and essential elements of what your presentation will include.  With that in mind, be sure to indicate the following in your script:

  1. The essential elements of the content including:  The Hook, The Thesis, The stated Knowledge Questions, the multiple perspectives on the questions, the conclusions of the student presenters, and the research that informs the discussion.
  2. The Works Cited for the works mentioned (overtly or discreetly) in the script
  3. The estimated time for each section of the presentation
  4. The planned speaker/teacher for each segment of the presentation
  5. The questions you will ask in the Q and A section of the presentation along with the anticipated answers and follow-up questions you intend to ask
  6. The materials you will need to bring including: handouts/fliers, exit slips, surveys, and props that may be necessary for your presentation.
  7. Any visual aids like a slide show (these should be briefly described/planned out)

Obviously, you won’t finish everything in the hour, but you should be nearly done since the complete draft (of both outline and powerpoint/prezi) is due by the end of the class on Wednesday.  This, of course, is in addition to the brilliant work you’ve already completed in managebac.

Now is not the time to be off task.  You’ve been given plenty of time.

Produce.

Uploading Essays

I will walk you through the process today.  There are three main steps:

  1. Type interactions into Managebac
  2. Upload essay to Ib
  3. Upload the SAME (Final draft) essay to turnitin.com (Revision 5)

Before you upload your essay, please remember to:

  • Type the words of your ‘title’ on the top of your essay.
  • Remove all names/identification from your essay.
  • Make it 12 point font and double spaced.

Logging in to IB, please remember:

  1. personal code starts with a lower case letter and is 3 letters followed by 3 numbers
  2. Your Pin is ALL CAPS

All of these steps need to completed this evening before Midnight.