Lorena BallinesDrCorley Philosophy 12514 December 2018Final Essay

Lorena Ballines


Philosophy 125

14 December 2018

Final Exam


summarize ONE only of the following emailed readings –

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include stating the key issue or issues, conclusion(s), and premises,

assumptions and facts the author uses to reach his/her conclusion(s)

(suggested length one page or more of 1.5 line spacing [v. double spacing

or single spacing – this sentence 1.5 spaced)].

Alfred Jules Ayer was a philospher from the 20th century who took a great interest in metaethics. In his work “A Critique of Ethics”,


define the three major schools of normative ethics

– consequentialism, virtue ethics and deontological ethics –

and explain/describe how you think EACH might

deal with ONE only of the hypothetical issues

given at the end of this assignment, page 6

(for each one you can choose a different hypothetical if you like –

this is, for each of the three schools

you can pick the same or a different hypo)

Consequentialism: As defined in the notes, “An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.

” The base of the word is consequence so as it suggests, consequentialism can be defined as a consequence which is the outcome, result, or affect of a situation which determines whether or not an action is good or bad.

For example if someone tells a lie it is considered to be wrong, however if by telling a lie it helps save a life, it consequently is good because it saved a life, the consequence of telling a lie was something positive.

Virtue ethics: To be virtous, as defined by google, is to behave in a manner that shows high and moral standards. A person who is virtous demonstartes characteristics in their daily life that uphold qualities of goodness. Virtue is thought to be something you can practice and then uphold. When looking at the theory of virtue ethics, you are not looking at whether the action of the person is good or bad but rather the characteristics of the individual that will define it. something is good or bad. It is looked upon at a case-by-case basis of which acts contribute to the greatest good.

Deontological ethics: In this theory, something is considered good or bad because of the characteristics of the action itself. It gives importance to the right or wrong of the action as opposed to the right or wrong of the consequence of the action like in consequentialism. The action of what you are doing should be more important than the outcome of the action.

Hypothetical Issue Question:

you’re a combatant in the military

a grenade is thrown in your direction

if you leap on it it will blow you up

but will save comrades next to you

if you leap away, some or all of you may be injured or killed

what should you do?

When applying the virtue of ethics theory, as a combatant in the military it is safe to assume that as the good person that I am I will leap on the grenade to save the life of the others. Not because there is a right or wrong thing to do, but because that certain situation, in that place, and in that time makes it the right thing to do. If a grenade was thrown, I want what is best for the greater good.However, if a grenade was thrown in my direction, and no one was around, then there would be no need for me to jump on it because I would only have to worry about myself at that moment in time and not about what is best for thr greater good. A good person is what I strived to be everyday, and a good person would want to save others lives therefore I would give my life. Courage is a virtue and as a courageous person I will stand and fight along with my comrades, and will press forward or take cover as the situation demands. In this certain situation, I think covering everyone else would be the virtous ethical thing to do. Same goes for if the deontological ethics theory, were applied. In this theory we are morally obligated to act in accordance with a certain set of principles and rules regardless of the outcome. The word deontology is derived from the greek words “obligation and duties”. As a combatant in the military I am to think selflessly. I am constantly on the look out for the well being of others and I know my life if always on the line. If a grenade is thrown, and I chose to endanger my comrades as oppsed to saving them if I can, I am going against my own ethical and moral obligations. The right thing would be to jump on that grenade and I would expect my comrades to do the same because that it the type of obligations I signed up for when I joined the military. If the Consequentialism theory were applied in this situation then again, I would jump on the grenade. If more people are to be saved and live at the cost of my won then I will jump on the grenade. The result of my actions are my favorable because more people will live. If I don’t jump on the grenade then the action of not jumping on it would make it more unfavorable becasue more people would be injured and more would die. Me deciding to save more people would make it a good decision because the life of 10 people is more favorable than the loss of 1.


summarize Kant’s theory of ethics including

his notion of the categorical imperative

explain in your summary why Kant thought suicide was not moral

4-5 paragraphs

German philosoper Immanuel Kant, is an important figure in modern day philosophy due to his contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics which have had a great impact on philosophy that came after him that we learn today.One of his contributions includes his theory known as Kantanian ethics. This theory developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism. The theory is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will. Your action is only considered morally good if the act is performed with regard to duty.

Kant made a distinction between categorical and hypothetical imperatives. A hypothetical imperative is a command you should follow if you want something. For example if you want money then you ought to get a job. So if you don’t want money you can chose to not work. However, Kant viewed morality through categorical comparitives. These are commands that one basically has to follow regardless of ones personal desires. Moral obligations are derived from a sense of pure reason and not desires.

Kant stated the categorcial imperative could be understood in multiple ways. He basically said that there are different ways of phrasing or looking at the same idea. Therefore he looked at categorical imperative in multiple ways, one of which was his principle of universalizability.This required that, for an action to be allowed , it must be possible to apply it to all people

without a contradiction occurring. This leads us to his thoughts on suicide.

“A nature whose law it would be to destroy life by means of the same feeling whose destination is to impel toward the furtherance of life would contradict itself and would therefore not subsist as nature”. If something contradicts itself, Kant does not consider it moral so that was one reason he didn’t think suicide was moral because he considered it to be contradicitng. Kant also believeed that man belonged to God, therefore had no right to dispose of oneself.


Briefly define/describe FOUR of the following

and explain what relevance they may have to Ethics

The Enlightenment

Also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith. It was a movement of the 18th century that stressed the belief that science and logic give people more knowledge and understanding than tradition and religion. Enlightenment philosophers believed that rational thought could lead to human improvement and was the most legitimate mode of thinking. They saw the ability to reason as the most significant and valuable human capacity(livescience.com). This movement, infleunced philosopher Immanuel Kant’s theory of ethics, Kantian ethics.


A philosophy developed by Aristotle it is moral excellence. It’s a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness.

Devine Command

God’s moral rules.The oldest and most widely held ethical theory in the world. “The beleif that what’s moral and immoral is commanded by the divine”. The devine being God, or a group of Gods. Basically, what God commands, is good and we he says to not do is bad. The devine command is relevant to ethics because the divine command theory says that an act is moral if it follows the command of God and ethics is just that, moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.

Natural law

Thomas Aquina’s idea that God made us with the tools we needed to know what was good. It is also based on the idea(s) that God wants us to want things, specifically things we need, things he made us need. These are considered basic goods, for humans there are 7 and they include, life, reproduction, educate one’s offsprings, seek God, live in society, avoid offense and shun ignorance. The natural law relates to ethics because thie theory tells us that morality revolves around God, giving us a want and reason to be moral. However, if someone doesnt believe in God, then this defeats the whole idea of a natural law.


summarize ONE only of the following emailed readings –

include stating the key issue or issues, conclusion(s), and premises,

assumptions and facts the author uses to reach his/her conclusion(s)

Huerner – Anmerica’s Unjust Drug War

In Michael Huemer’s essay “America’s Unjust Drug war, Huemer will go on to focus on the three most prominent arguments in the drug legalization debate and the moral and philosophical issues that these arguments raise. First, the argument that drugs should be outlawed because of the harm they cause to drug users; second, the argument that they should be outlawed because they harm people other than the user; and third, the argument that drugs should be legalized because drug prohibition violates rights.

Huemer explains why drugs should be prohibited becasue they are harmful to the users and prohibiting drugs will decrease the rate of drug abuse. This argument assumes that the proper function of government includes preventing people from harming themselves. Therefore breaking down the argument to look like this, 1. Drug use is very harmful to users. 2.The government should prohibit people from doing things that harm themselves.3 Therefore, the government should prohibit drug use. The second premise states, the government should prohibit people from doing things that harm themselves. By saying that, Huemer explains that what they’re really saying is that because the governement should prohibt all things that could harm themselves then that would include things like smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, eating too much, riding motorcycles, having unprotected or promiscuous sex, maintaining relationships with inconsiderate or abusive boyfriends and girlfriends, maxing out their credit cards, working in dead-end jobs, dropping out of college, moving to New Jersey, and being rude to their bosses because these are all hurtful to the individual too. Huemer however, then asks, if the governemnt should have the ability to prohibit all these things? He then implies that maybe prohibitionsits should argue that only things that hurt an individual in a certain way, or to a certain degree should be prohibited and not necessirily all things because all things are not as hurtful as tobacco. The prohibitionits would then argue to consider 3 possibilites

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