Moral Theory Paper
Imagine that a terrorist intends to detonate a nuclear bomb in a major city. Imagine further that we know with absolute certainty that we can stop the terrorist from detonating the bomb if we horribly torture and then kill an innocent child (of no relation to the terrorist, but for whom the terrorist happens to have feelings) and that if we do not torture then kill this innocent child, the bomb will be detonated, a million people will die instantly, and millions more will suffer devastating harms. Is it morally permissibility to horribly torture and then kill this innocent child?
You must support and defend a definitive answer to this question using multiple paragraphs and over 750 words (probably many more, see below). In the process, you MUST:
- Explain each of the three approaches to morality presented in the course (Kant’s, Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics) being sure to consider and clearly discuss:
- both versions of Kant’s categorical imperative that we addressed (See Becker attachment), including why Kant formulated them and exactly how they apply in this scenario,
- the fundamental position of utilitarianism, including why Mill thinks that, in addition to how past utilitarians have supported the higher pleasures (moral and intellectual pleasures) based on a quantitative approach, he can also support them with a qualitative approach (they are simply better pleasures), and how a utilitarian, accounting for all the morally relevant factors, would respond to our scenario, and (see Utilitarianism attachment)
- the details of the virtue ethics approach of both Aristotle and Held and how followers of theirs might formulate their response to this challenge.
- Present your own position explaining what support, if any, it can get from one or more of the three approaches. In the process of doing this, you must take a stand as to the relative merits of these three approaches to morality independently of our question, as well as their value in helping us to answer our question.
- Consider how holders of these three approaches might argue against your position, and defend yourself from these counter-arguments.
A paper must begin with an introduction within which you explain the issue in question, state your thesis (the position of whose truth you want to convince your reader, i.e., that the child may or may not be tortured), and discuss how you will organize your paper to support that thesis and defend it from opposition. In the body of your paper, every paragraph, every sentence, and every word ought to be essential to an effective argument in support or defense of your thesis. You must include proper documentation (as discussed on the syllabus under Plagiarism).
The paper will be graded out of 25 points, as follows:
- With respect to each of the three approaches to morality that we are considering, you can receive up to 3 points for your general explanation of that approach and 3 points for your application of that approach to our scenario.
- You can receive up to 2.5 points for how you support your decision about the scenario, including how you connect your view (explicitly) to the three approaches and up to 2.5 points for how you defend your decision from opposing positions, including how you account for the three approaches in this process.
- You can receive up to 2 points for the mechanics of your paper (introduction, organization, proofreading, grammar, spelling, documentation etc.).