Philo 171
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PostSubject: ABALA Questions for the Third Exam   ABALA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeSun Mar 29, 2009 11:37 pm

1. Assuming/given a conscientious understanding and application of the Utilitarian perspective, how will you resolve the question of whether the different findings discovered during and through the conduct of Nazi experiments should be used?

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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PostSubject: answer to third exam   ABALA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeMon Mar 30, 2009 9:48 pm

1. Utilitarianism, in a nutshell, is the philosophy that moral worth of actions are based on whether or not it provides happiness for the greatest number of people. Utilitarian concept of good is based on the Principle of Utility and the Greatest Happiness Principle. The Principle of Utility tackles whether an action has the capacity to promote or maximize pleasure and minimize pain or costs. The Greatest Happiness Principle states that an act is good if it produces good for the greatest number of people. The saying, “the end justifies the means”, describes utilitarianism as well.

Nazism is a political ideology that became widespread under Adolf Hitler. A policy of racist nationalism, national expansion, and state control of the economy describes Nazism. History tells us that the Nazis performed experiments on human beings. They performed controversial experiments on prisoners in concentration camps during World War II. It was said that the prisoners were coerced into the experiments for they did not willingly volunteer and did not have informed consent. These experiments were said to be done to help German military personnel in combat situations, develop weapons, and aid in the recovery of personnel. For example, freezing experiments were performed in order to learn how to deal with hypothermia. Prisoners were left in ice water tanks. Experiments assessed different ways of rewarming survivors. Another experiment was conducted wherein prisoners were injected with malaria virus. Then, they were injected with drugs that were thought to cure malaria.

These findings were used by the Germans in order to help their army during the war. Now, if we take it simply, these findings can be used because it, obviously, benefits the greatest number of people, most especially during the war. These experiments were supposedly done for the sake of knowledge. And as Mill put it, utilitarianism isn’t an excuse to justify wrong actions. There is an enlightened utilitarianism wherein a person can differentiate from immediate and long term pleasures. Clearly, these medical findings have long term benefits, adding to the existing body of knowledge. These experiments were not done because the Germans “wanted to do what they want”. But rather, it deals with quantitative hedonism wherein this type of higher pleasure is about knowledge and not physical pleasures. The medical findings that came out of these experiments are valuable and beneficial to others.

2. I think I would have a mix of Kantian philosophy and relativism. Kant’s belief that morality must have an a priori function, meaning not contingent or dependent on consequences, is a very appealing idea to me. It makes people believe that their standards should not be based on what consequences will come out of their actions, because for one, we aren’t sure really sure of what the consequences are at all times. Also, I also believe that people are free to do what they want or free to define what their duties are. But there must always be a sense of responsibility attached to this freedom. As in Kantian philosophy, he believes that there is a criteria in deciding what a person’s duties are. We must consider doing duties that are of innate moral worth and that these actions must be done because its something that we have to do. This describes the categorical imperative – doing something you ought to do no matter what. I believe that this shows what character a person really has. If he or she does his or her duties rightly, then it must show what kind of person he or she really is, that of innate moral worth.

But unlike Kant, I do not believe that there are actions that can be universalized. This is because we must take time, culture, and the context of the situation into consideration. Thus, I would like to have a relativist point of view. We must accept that there are variations in what people believe in – that there is a Diversity Thesis. Knowing that there are degrees of variation, teaches people to be accepting. It teaches people to tolerate other cultures. There is no ethnocentrism, the concept of superimposing one culture over another set of people.

We are all free to choose for ourselves what duties we want to fulfill in our lives, making sure that these are made rationally. It must be remembered that the freest people are the most disciplined ones for they do not need to be told what to do. Also, a person’s duties may not be the same with the next duties. I believe that we must learn to respect this and eventually, learn to be more understanding of others.
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