PHI208 W4 Discussion 1 & Discussion 2

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 Discussion 1


This week our main discussion will focus on explaining and evaluating  the theory of virtue ethics as discussed in Chapter 5 of the textbook.  Your instructor will be choosing the discussion question and posting it  as the first post in the main discussion forum. The requirements for the  discussion this week include the following:

  • You must begin posting by Day 3 (Thursday).
  • You must post a minimum of four separate posts on at least three  separate days (e.g., Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, or Thursday,  Friday, and Sunday, or Thursday, Saturday, and Monday, etc.).
  • The total combined word count for all of your posts, counted together, should be at least 600 words, not including references.
  • You must answer all the questions in the prompt and show evidence of  having read the resources that are required to complete the discussion  properly (such as by using quotes, referring to specific points made in  the text, etc.).

 

Discussion: The Experience Machine

To ensure that your initial post starts its own unique thread, do not  reply to this post. Instead, please click the "Reply" link above this  post.

Please read the general discussion requirements above, as well as the  announcements explaining the discussion requirements and answering the  most frequently asked questions. If you are still unsure about how to  proceed with the discussion, please reply to one of those announcements  or contact your instructor.

Please carefully read and think about the entire prompt before  composing your first post. This discussion will require you to have  carefully read Chapter 5 of the textbook, as well as the assigned  portions of Aristotle’s (1931) Nicomachean Ethics.

If you recall from Week 2/Chapter 3, John Stuart Mill (2008) defines  happiness as the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which  means that happiness is very much a matter of how I feel “on the  inside”. However, Aristotle (1931) holds a rather different view of  happiness (or in his terms, “eudaimonia”).

One way that we think about this difference is to conduct a “thought  experiment” in which we imagine that we have certain “inner”  experiences, but outwardly things are quite different. One such thought  experiment is provided by the philosopher Robert Nozick in his  description of the “experience machine”:

“Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any  experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate  your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great  novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time  you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your  brain…Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there;  you’ll think it’s actually happening…Would you plug in? What else can  matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?” (Nozick,  1974, p. 43)

In the course of the week’s discussion, you will need to do the following (not necessarily in this order):

1. Engage with the text:

Using at least one quote from the assigned texts, explain Aristotle’s  notion of eudaimonia. Then, discuss whether Aristotle would consider  someone hooked

up to the experience machine to be “happy” in the sense captured by that notion of eudaimonia.

2. Reflect on yourself:

If you had the chance to be permanently hooked up to the experience  machine, would you do it? Explain your choice. For example, if you would  not hook up, you may discuss the kinds of goods or aims that would be  lost by hooking up, or you may discuss the core, essential features of  your life (or of human life in general) that are undermined by being in  such a state.

3. Reflect on human life:

Based on your response, do you think that we can describe aspects of a  telos (in Aristotle’s sense) that applies to humanity in general, or at  least most people? Correspondingly, could there be a difference between  feeling happy and being happy? Do you think that people can be wrong  about happiness? (Notice that this isn’t asking whether there are  different ways in which people can find happiness; it’s asking whether  some of those ways could be mistaken.)


Discussion 2


 

In the Ancient Greek world (the world of Socrates, Plato, and  Aristotle, often regarded as the birthplace of philosophy) a “symposium”  was a banquet held after a meal, an “after party” of sorts that usually  included drinking, dancing, recitals and engaging conversations on the  topics of the day.

For our purposes in this course, the Symposium discussions will not  involve dancing, recitals or a banquet, but they will provide food for  thought on current ethical issues and direct application of the ethical  theory discussed in each of these weeks.

It is almost impossible these days to turn on the news or log onto  social media without encountering a controversy that cries out for  ethical discussion. For these Symposium discussions, your instructor  will choose a topic of current ethical interest and a resource  associated with it for you to read or watch. Your task is to consider  how the ethical theory of the week might be used to examine, understand  or evaluate the issue.

This week, you will consider how virtue ethics applies to a  controversy, dilemma, event, or scenario selected by your instructor. It  is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and  questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that  aligns with or does not align with a virtue ethics approach. The aim is  not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to  identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in  addressing the chosen issue.


Your posts should remain focused on the ethical considerations, and  at some point in your contribution you must specifically address the way  a virtue ethicist would approach this issue by explaining and  evaluating that approach.

If you have a position, you should strive to provide reasons in defense of that position.


 

o ensure that your initial post starts its own unique thread, do not  reply to this post. Instead, please click the "Reply" link above this  post.

Please read the description above and/or watch the video explaining  the symposium and its requirements. If you are still unsure about how to  proceed with the discussion, please contact your instructor.

This week, we will consider how virtue ethics applies to the entertainment industry (broadly speaking).

Please watch or review your  favorite movie.  How is virtue displayed in any of the characters?  Many  movies often have an element of revenge woven into the story line.  Is  revenge a virtue or a vice? 

Your approach to this symposium discussion can be a bit more  open-ended than the main discussion, remembering that our main goal is  to work together to identify the main ethical questions and  considerations, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the reasons for  different positions one might hold, and come to a better understanding  of virtue ethics.


 You must post on at least two separate days, must include at least one  substantial reply to a peer or to your instructor, and your posts should  add up to at least 400 words. 

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