This assignment is the first step in a three part project. You only need to focus on part one at this point. Each step will build on earlier steps. However, it is not a matter of providing a rough draft of all or even part of the entire project here in week three. That is, further steps might require completely new and original text. At the same time, completing each step will aid you in completing a future step or future steps. And, you should use the same topic in all steps.
First, select a topic of moral controversy, debate, disagreement, and dispute, Examples of such topics are euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, cloning, etc. You can pick any such topic. It need not be listed here.
Next, detail the positions of each side of the ethical debate. Note at least two moral reasons each side presents to show their view on the topic is correct.
Now, we want to evaluate these positions using the moral theories we studied this week:
- What would an Ethical Egoist say about this topic? What side would the Ethical Egoist take? What would the Ethical Egoist say to justify their moral position? Is there a conflict between loyalty to self and to community relevant to your topic? If so, how so? Note what you feel is the best course of action.
- What would a Social Contract Ethicist say about this topic? What side would the Social Contract Ethicist take? What would the Social Contract Ethicist say to justify their moral position? Does your topic involve a collision between personal obligations and national ones? If so, how so? Note what you feel is the best course of action.
Finally, reference and discuss any professional code of ethics relevant to your topic such as the AMA code for doctors, the ANA code for nurses, or any other pertinent professional code. State whether and how your chosen topic involves any conflicts between professional and familial duties.
Cite the textbook and incorporate outside sources, including citations.
- Length: 3-4pages (not including title page or references page)
- 1-inch margins
- Double spaced
- 12-point Times New Roman font
- Title page
- References page (minimum of 2 scholarly sources in addition to the course textbook)
This activity will be graded based on the rubric provided.
CO 4: Select the best course of action based on moral theories, values, and logical reasoning given conflicting moral duties (loyalty to community or to self, professional or familial duties, national or personal obligations) and a situation in which a choice has to be made.
CO 6: Evaluate the ethical positions arrived at by using a key moral theory (such as Kantian ethics) relative to the long standing debate surrounding the death penalty, cloning, or some other key topic of moral controversy
Capital punishment is often defended on the grounds that society has a moral obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. Murderers threaten this safety and welfare. Only by putting murderers to death can society ensure that convicted killers do not kill again.
Second, those favoring capital punishment contend that society should support those practices that will bring about the greatest balance of good over evil, and capital punishment is one such practice. Capital punishment benefits society because it may deter violent crime. While it is difficult to produce direct evidence to support this claim since, by definition, those who are deterred by the death penalty do not commit murders, common sense tells us that if people know that they will die if they perform a certain act, they will be unwilling to perform that act.
Capital punishment has existed for millennia, as evident from ancient law codes and Plato’s famous rendition of Socrates’s trial and execution by democratic Athens in 399 B.C.E. Among major European philosophers, specific or systematic attention to the death penalty is the exception until about 400 years ago. Most modern philosophic attention to capital punishment emerged from penal reform proponents, as principled, moral evaluation of law and social practice, or amidst theories of the modern state and sovereignty. The mid-twentieth century emergence of an international human rights regime and American constitutional controversies sparked anew much philosophic focus on theories of punishment and the death penalty, including arbitrariness, mistakes, or discrimination in the American institution of capital punishment.
The central philosophic question about capital punishment is one of moral justification: on what grounds, if any, is the state’s deliberate killing of identified offenders a morally justifiable response to voluntary criminal conduct, even the most serious of crimes, such as murder? As with questions about the morality of punishment, two broadly different approaches are commonly distinguished: retributivism, with a focus on past conduct that merits death as a penal response, and utilitarianism or consequentialism, with attention to the effects of the death penalty, especially any effects in preventing more crime through deterrence or incapacitation.
Social contract theory, nearly as old as philosophy itself, is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. Socrates uses something quite like a social contract argument to explain to Crito why he must remain in prison and accept the death penalty. However, social contract theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political theory
AMA Code of Medical Ethics speaks directly to a physician’s ethical responsibility when it comes to capital punishment stating, in part, that “as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, a physician must not participate in a legally authorized execution.”
The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (Code) (ANA, 2015) brings to the forefront the importance of the nursing profession’s taking a stance against any action that is contrary to the respect for human dignity of all individuals.