Otherwise, the theory might be intrinsically-interesting but not applicable.

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Sep 18, 2022


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The “trolley problem” explores the limitations of taking a traditional moral theory and applying it to real-life scenarios. It does this by presenting a moral dilemma – see Feedback Document for an explication of what constitutes moral dilemmas. Specifically, the trolley problem thought experiment creates pathways of possible decisions that reveal how we think and challenge us to create more adequate moral theories that reflect our intuitions. The Trolley Problem shows that utilitarianism is an inadequate moral theory—especially for applied ethics—given that it misses key moral distinctions such as direct vs. indirect harm, killing vs. letting die, and moral reasoning vs. moral emotion. A theory is only as adequate as the data that it embeds, explains, and extrapolates—this is true for science as well as normative theories. Otherwise, the theory might be intrinsically-interesting but not applicable. During our current epidemiological and social contexts, applicable ethical theories are needed, so that they can help us to make important decisions and to change the future of normative reality. I want you to think about the unique moral dilemmas that we currently face.

Create a thought experiment that shows our moral intuitions—the things that are morally important to us. Then, discuss how we can incorporate those intuitions into moral theories that we have already discussed, in order to make those theories more robust. For instance, Kant thought that rational autonomy is paramount. He pushed for the respect of ALL rational agents. But his view of how rational agency works was abstract and general. That is, a given agent should come to any rational conclusion as any other agent. This does not take into account the experiential self-location of an agent within a particular circumstance. Once we take personal narratives and experiences into account, we understand the way that a rational and autonomous decision can differ. This is not relativism. Rather, it is located-rationality and also the foundation for true empatheic reasoning—putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes. This is why it is so important to try to locate ourselves in the positions of others—and to acknowledge our limitation in doing so, so that we can strive harder. So, my proposed solution in this example is to modify Kantian deontology to be about located- and empathetic-rationality rather than abstract rationality. Because I’ve used this argument, you cannot expand on it.

So, construct your own unique moral dilemma that parallels the trolley problem in how it reveals moral intuitions. Then, discuss how those intuitions can push for a change in one of the moral theories that we have discussed. (Note: It cannot have trolleys, and please try to avoid making the same conclusions as the trolley problem—e.g., moral reason vs. moral emotion) Here are the specific aspects that you should have in your essay:

1) Explain how your moral dilemma works in detail. What are the choice options? Why are they difficult to make?
2) Discuss at least 2 things that your moral dilemma reveals about our moral intuitions. That is, what does it show about our moral values, distinctions, etc.
3) Apply at least one ethical theory other than utilitarianism to your dilemma to give a suggested answer about how we should modify that theory. How can the theory be modified in order to be more adequate?
4) Finally, give your own unique answer about doing the right thing in your moral dilemma by using your modified theory. Give us an actual normative suggestion that emerges from both your dilemma and your modified theory. Justify why it is the right answer and why it is a better answer then that given by the original theory that you have cited. Make sure to justify your answer. Make sure that you aren’t just taking someone else’s theory here. You have to come up with your own modification.
5) Make sure to include an introduction in which you include your main thesis as well as a conclusion in which you summarize your total discussion.
Use this source:
Primary sources (peer reviewed) used in the class will only be accepted, and should be cited using APA format. That is, you should not use any secondary sources. Your analysis is what matters.


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