In-class challenges for April 24th

Today in class, the following steps are vital –

  • in small groups, discuss, clarify, and solidify your understanding of Bentham’s hedonistic calculus from your reading [and discussion] of the primary source document from last night’s homework.
  • working in a group of two to four[but not more than that], consider a current moral dilemma and apply the utilitarian ‘Greatest Happiness Principle‘ to the choices inherent in the dilemma.  For example, one dilemma that would work (but that you can’t use) is the question of nuclear power.  Should the U.S. continue to build nuclear power plants?  Do more than consider the validity of ‘global climate change’ and consider whether we have a duty to the happiness [or, indeed, the existance] of future generations.  Here’s an article from the Washington Post that explores the same dilemma in Japan.  Read it if you’re starved for ideas.
  • once you’ve discussed it, write a one-paragraph explanation of how Bentham would make a choice using his philosophy.  You should use excerpts from the two utilitarian texts in support of your ‘response’.

and here’s a new topic for a modern application for our ethics unit – what is ‘fair’ income for a CEO?  Here’s an editorial that introduces the conversation with one viewpoint.  What would be a differing view?