Ethics in the Community

In Chapter 1 of your text, you saw how moral reasoning involves moving back and forth between general, abstract ideas like principles and values and particular concrete judgments about what is good or right, and seeking to find a kind of agreement or equilibrium between those. In Chapters 3, 4, and 5, you were introduced to utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Each of these ethical theories represents different ways of reasoning about ethical questions, based in different account of the principles, values, and other conceptions that inform the “abstract” side of the dialectic. In this course, and in much of life, the “concrete” ethical issues that receive the most attention are frequently those that elicit passionate responses and widespread debate, affect large numbers of people, involve matters of deep significance like life and death or fundamental rights, and so on. However, as important as these issues are, there is often a limit to how much impact most individuals can have on such matters; instead, the place where ethics and moral reasoning have their greatest impact is in one’s local community. Thus, in this final discussion board, you will demonstrate your grasp of the relation between the abstract ideas in one of these theories and a concrete ethical issue or social problem in your local community. Engage the community: Begin by finding an ethical issue or social problem that currently impacts or has recently impacted your local or regional community (such as your neighborhood, town or city, county, school district, religious community, or something of similar scope to any of these). Briefly summarize the issue or problem, and provide a link to a news article, video, or some other resource that documents the issue or problem so that your fellow students can learn more about it when formulating their responses to you. Apply the theory: Next, choose one of the ethical theories and discuss how the moral reasoning of the theory might be used to address or resolve the issue or problem. Evaluate the reasoning: In evaluating the application of the moral theory you may, for example, consider one or more questions like: Does this differ from the way this issue is currently being addressed? Does it present a better response than another ethical approach would? Does the theory present an adequate response to the issue, or does it leave significant aspects of the issue unresolved? Does applying the theory to this issue raise other problems or concerns? In light of this issue, are there ways the principles or values of the theory might need to be modified from the form that we studied in class?

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