For the assignment (also posted in ‘Course Content’ for ‘Week 8’), as before, I would like you to write a short essay of 1000 to 1200 words (in Times New Roman -12 point font, 1.5 spacing, with a Title at the beginning, and a Works Cited page at the end).
Again, you will be required to take a position on one (or two) of the philosophers that we have examined in this second part of the course.
What this means is that you can write your paper on one of the following philosophers from Part II of the course:
1. Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Suffering of the World)
2. John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism)
3. Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)
Or, you can compare two of these philosophers’ ethical theories:
1. Mill and Schopenhauer (on ‘happiness,’ on ’suffering.’)
2. Freire and Mill (‘pedagogy of the oppressed,’ ‘utilitarianism.’)
3. Freire and Schopenhauer (the ‘oppressed,’ ‘suffering,’ etc.).
Like before, the main point of the assignment is that you take a position in your essay on the reading(s).
In close detail, and from the texts that we have examined, clearly and accurately describe the ethical theories of the philosopher (or philosophers) that you have decided to write about.
And also, tell me why you agree or disagree with the ethical theory (or theories) as it relates to the theme of ‘Ethics and Society.’ (You may agree with some aspects of a philosopher’s ethics, but disagree with others. Or you may entirely agree or disagree with their main ethical theory).
Also in your paper, as before, argue for the applicability (or inapplicability) of the ethical theory (or theories) in the world today, and in our contemporary society. For example, what can these theories help to teach us about ethics and society, when confronted with the problems that we face today?
Above all, as you were required to do in your previous paper, take a clear argumentative position, and argue for it convincingly throughout your essay.
Suggested Questions and Topics:
As before, you are free to develop your own original topic for the essay, as it relates to the philosophers and the readings we have examined in this second part of the course.
You are also free to bring back certain theories or ideas from the first part of the course, if they will help to strengthen your main thesis. (For example, Epicurus in relation to Mill and/or Schopenhauer – on happiness and suffering. Or, Plato in relation to Freire – on education and liberation, are at least two possible subjects to explore further).
Here ere are two suggested essay topics that may help to guide you with the assignment. Each suggested topic relates to the following questions:
“How can we best address and alleviate human suffering?”
And also, “Is there an ethical duty to do so?”
1. (Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’)
The theme of human suffering is central to John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism (1861). How does his theory of ‘utilitarianism’ address human suffering? How does he propose to resolve it, or at least to improve upon this problem in society? What is the role of the individual in Mill’s theory? How do ethics and morality affect the decisions of both individuals and groups in Mill’s theory? Finally, we know that since its publication in 1861, Mill’s theory has inspired many governments around the world to act and govern according to its main principles (especially, governments that see themselves as ‘democratic’ and ‘liberal’ in the classical sense). But is it possible to actually put Mill’s theories into practice? Is anyone ever excluded or ‘left behind’ if we do so?’ And also, what are the main ethical consequences of a utilitarian society? Most importantly, do you agree or disagree with Mill’s theory for an ethics of society?
(Use examples from the text to support your arguments).
2. (Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’)
As you know, the theme of suffering is also central to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968). How does Freire address and examine human suffering in his book? What are the conditions that according to Freire, lead to increased human suffering? How is society structured in such a way that maintains a system of inequality between the ‘oppressors’ and the ‘oppressed’? How does the education system also suffer in such a society? And finally, what does Freire propose that we do about the situation? How can the conditions of the oppressed be improved? What is needed for more equality? And how does Freire understand the possibility of liberation and freedom for both individuals and groups? Most importantly, do you agree or disagree with Freire’s ethical theory? And can you apply Freire’s ideas about ethics to the world today?
(Use examples from the text to support your arguments).
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