Final Exam Essay #1


Writing Instructions:

Please choose only one (1) of the following essay questions and write 3-4 well-structured paragraphs that adequately respond to the questions, proving you know and understand the classroom material. See the rubric on page 2.


1. One of the main distinctions between moral theories is the distinction between relativistic moral theories (those that argue that moral theories are relative to individuals or cultures) and universalistic or objective moral theories (i.e., those that hold that there are objective moral truths). Describe the sense in which two of the moral theories we have studied in this course hold an objectivist or universalist position. Why do you think this is the case? Do you think relativism is a defensible position in the face of these theories?


2. Are there some moral duties that can never be violated? Is it possible to rank order your moral duties so that you would know which one to follow when they were in conflict? Even ‘create the best possible outcome’ or ‘maximize good results’ is a kind of moral duty. Is it the only one? What reasons can you provide to think that there are no absolute moral duties?


3. Discuss the ways that virtue ethics is in tension with Kantianism, Utilitarianism, and pluralism. In other words, I want you to consider the ways that virtue ethics is compatible with these moral theories, but I also want you to describe ways that it is contrary to these theories. Should we still think of ethics as a matter of virtue or not?


4. Consider a contentious, contemporary moral issue or moral dilemma and use at least two of the moral theories that we have studied to provide a framework for resolving this dilemma.


5. Would it be possible to create a productive dialogue between Eastern and Western ethical philosophy? What major points of similarity as well as points of difference would you select to focus on for such a discussion? Use the information you’ve learned to construct an answer that will balance both difference and similarity


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