Note regarding references: Wikipedia (or equivalent) is not an acceptable reference for any assessments in this unit. Use the Harvard referencing system (or a suitable alternative) for all assignments in this unit.
Assignment 2 Ethical analysis of news issue
Due: 25th April 2017 11.00 PM
Length: 1500 words maximum
Submission: You must follow the same instructions as for assignment 1. Remember that an assignment which has a Turnitin Originality Report which shows a text match of more than 10% is not considered submitted and will not be accepted.
You are required to select an ethical issue which has been reported in the news media in the past 12 months. Collect one recent (2016 or 2017) news article which identifies the issue, and perform further research to collect relevant background information and facts, to enable you to answer each question listed below.
This ethical issue must be different from the issue which you analysed in Assignment 1.
You must provide a full reference for all sources of information you have used to inform your research. Provide separate answers to each of parts ‘a to e’ of this assessment under separate sections:
a. Clearly define the ethical question/problem and provide a brief explanation as to why it is important. (3 marks)
b. Identify facts and key assumptions which are relevant to your analysis of the ethical problem. (6 marks)
c. Analyse the ethical problem using act utilitarianism, identifying all relevant consequences. Compare negative versus positive consequences and assess whether net utility will rise or fall as a result of the ethical act being examined. (8 marks)
d. Apply Kant’s categorical imperative by defining the rule that authorises the act central to the ethical problem you have chosen. Discuss whether this rule can be applied universally. (8 marks)
e. Provide a conclusion comparing results in parts c & d above identifying whether your ethical conclusion equates with your conscience with regards this problem. (5 marks)
You do not need to provide a copy of the news article but you must provide full references of all articles and other sources you have used to inform your ethical analysis.
Instructions from unit assessor
1. Use this thread to discuss part d (applying Kants categorical imperative)
Here is an example of applying Kants categorical imperative using the activity from Topic 4 -
With Kants categorical imperative we need one rule that authorises the act being considered. You are expected to apply the following steps in Assignment 2.
The act is Simon Yates feeling his own safety is threatened so he wants to cut the rope. So the one rule that authorises this act is -
1. Simon feels at personal risk from being tethered to Joe so he can cut the rope.
The next step is to generalise this rule -
2. When a climber feels at personal risk from being tethered to their partner they can cut the rope.
Then you test whether this general rule is universalisable.
There are 4 separate tests of universalisability (generalisation).
i) Is the general rule internally coherent (non self contradictory) ie it possible for every person in the same situation to apply the general rule?
Answer - yes it is as all climbers can physically cut the rope joining them to their partner.
So at this stage the act has not been proved to be unethical as it passes the 1st test of generalisation.
ii) Does the general rule breach Kants practical imperative (ie always treat others as an end never only as a means to your personal end)?
Answer - this rule is not breached = act passes 2nd test.
iii) Does the general rule breach any of Kants other absolute principles such as sanctity of human life, the right to freedom (from coercion etc) ?
Answer - no, Simon tries to save Joes life not end it.
iv) Is the general rule contrary to its fundamental purpose?
Answer - yes (which is the same as Marks conclusion re his 4th rule) the purpose of the rope is to save your partners life if they slip down the mountain so the rope always involves some personal danger. If the rope is always cut when one climber is in danger then it serves no purpose.
Hence the act is immoral according to Kants categorical imperative. This is the ethical conclusion using Kants system and it is contrary to the utilitarian conclusion.
2. Use this thread to discuss part c (act utilitarianism)
You need to identify all relevant (important) consequences ie dont limit your analysis to 3 only as in Assignment 1. Try to insert some logic into the comparison of the significance of positive versus negative consequences.
3. Use this thread to discuss parts a, b and e or any question which does not fit the other threads
There is no point asking me whether I like your question or topic or issue as I have provided enough assistance on that part of the process on Assignment 1. I will just refer you to the assignment 1 discussion where there are many examples of good ethical questions and now you must take responsibility for applying that learning to identifying ethical issues and forming questions.
Most of my efforts on here will no doubt be directed at explaining Kant, because his analysis is quite tricky.