Ethical Theories and Study
Virtue Ethics – The right thing to do is to act in accordance with virtue, to do whatever a virtuous person would do. It is important to develop virtues like compassion, honesty, loyalty and patience through education, effort and copying role models. (see page 906).
These virtues are the mean (the correct, middle amount) between the extremes of excess and deficiency. For example: The virtue of compassion is the virtuous middle ground between too much compassion which would make one a sap and too little compassion which would make one cold. The virtue of courage is the mean between the extremes of being rash (too much) and being cowardly (too little). Aristotle (who originally authored this view, although your text doesn’t mention him) says that the right thing to do is to cultivate the right amount of these qualities – not too much, not too little. As your book does mention, the assumption is that virtuous people will usually do the right thing when faced with an ethical dilemma. Virtue ethics is different from the other theories that we have studied in that it focuses on whether or not the agent (person) is being ethical as opposed to whether or not the action is ethical. Aristotle is more concerned with someone’s developing a consistently virtuous character than whether or not a person does a few virtuous acts. When making an argument using this theory, you need to tell me which virtues would be relevant (see the lists on the top left of page 907 and the right of 906 for possibilities) – then you need to say what the virtuous thing would be in that case – what would it mean to act loyally in that circumstance; how about with determination, with compassion, etc.
Take a minute to think about whether or not there are virtues that you think someone in the healthcare professions is morally obliged to develop. What are they? Can someone be taught to be compassionate?
Care Ethics – The right thing to do is whatever takes into account the “complexities of the particular situation in which a moral problem has occurred. It requires a deep and detailed understanding of the people and their interests and feelings. Only then is it possible to resolve the problem in a way that is sensitive to the needs of everyone,” (p.909). The right thing to do is then whatever takes these needs into account and resolves the issue in a way that respects and preserves the relationships.
It is important to understand that Gilligan doesn’t think that care ethics should always determine the outcome of a moral dilemma, but she feels that what she calls the ethic of justice is also insufficient if taken alone. Rather, we need to combine the two views; there are times where it is important to be impartial and focused on rules and justice, but there are also times when the right thing to do is to be partial and to focus on the particular relationships and circumstances involved. “One size does not fit all” in terms of moral decision making. So, when making an argument using this case, you are looking at the situation on a “case by case” basis and considering the specific viewpoints of the people directly involved (as opposed to utilitarianism, which requires you to list and weigh all of the pains and pleasures that could possibly result to anyone at all if the action is performed). The example on pages 909-910 involving the “severely impaired newborn boy” is a good description of this theory in practice.
Feminist Ethics – The right thing to do is whatever “eliminates or at least reduces the oppression of women, races, and other subordinate groups in societies throughout the world,” (p.911).
Re-read the first two paragraphs under “Feminist Ethics” on page 911, and you will have a good sense of how Sherwin and others who support this theory think that it doesn’t make sense to talk about abstract, impartial principles when such extensive inequalities exist that people are prevented from accessing basic needs [notice the example about the principle of autonomy]. She would say that it doesn’t make sense to talk about someone’s right to have a choice, if the circumstances of his or her life are so bad that they prevent them from accessing that choice. That’s why she thinks equality of opportunity through the elimination of oppression has to come first. When making an argument using this theory, you need to start with the principle, see whether the action oppresses anyone or any group – if so, in what ways? If the action contributes to oppression, then it is wrong; if it helps to eliminate it, then it is right.
Study Guide for Midterm Exam on Ethical Theory
The exam will consist of three essay questions, each of which is worth 10 points. You will have two hours to take the exam, and your final submission should be no longer than three typed, single-spaced pages. Your exam may be shorter, and that is okay as long as you cover the material, but I don’t want you to go beyond three pages. The object of each essay is to get directly to the point(s) which address the question(s) asked. I do not want a lot of background information or a poetic introduction like you might have for a literature paper. On the other hand, you do need to include all the parts required if you are asked to make an argument using one of the eight theories we studied. Remember to start any argument that uses a theory with the principle or principles of that theory, and then show how that principle or principles applies to the situation at hand (just like assignment #3). Finally, be sure to answer each part of each question – some questions have several parts, and I assign a point value to each part when I am grading.
There will be no surprises on the exam. Of the 7 questions below, three will appear on the exam. You may do as much work ahead of time to prepare your answers to these questions as you like. However, you will only have two hours to take the actual exam. Also, once you start the exam you cannot stop or return to it. If you stop typing for very long, it will time you out, and then you cannot reopen it. So, be sure you are ready to take the exam (cell phone off, kids in bed, bathroom needs attended to) before you start. I also have had students who have had trouble attaching files to the exam (if they are navigating between screens, they sometimes have gotten locked out), so you will probably be better off typing your answers right into the exam text boxes. You can take the exam anytime between May 23rd and May 30th – the exam is due at noon (12:00 p.m.) on the 30th – don’t try to type beyond that time, or the computer will cut you off because it is an exam. . . so if you are someone who does things at the last minute, be sure to leave yourself enough time. If you have questions as you are studying, please feel free to contact me!!
1. Of the eight theories we have studied (theories presented by: Mill, Kant, Ross, Rawls, Aquinas, Aristotle, Gilligan & Sherwin), which TWO theories do you think are the best in terms of its ability to help in moral decision making when faced with ethical dilemmas in medicine? Why? Now, choose one of the two and give an example of what it would say should be done in the medical dilemma of your choosing. Be sure to explain the dilemma clearly and describe what the theory you chose would say was the right thing to do.
2. Compare and contrast the theories developed by Mill, Ross and Kant. Tell me ways in which they are similar and different, and remember that each is trying to say what it means to be moral, so the fact that they are all ethical theories doesn’t count as a similarity. Think of the principle of each and the way each one works, and that should inform your answer.
3. Read Decision Scenario #5 on page 500. Now, would the destruction of the abnormally developing fetus be right or wrong according to Mill? Why? Would it be right or wrong according to Gilligan? Why? Would it be right or wrong according to Ross? Why?
4. Read Decision Scenario #3 on page 771, and answer question #1 following the scenario. Now, support your view by using one of the principles of Biomedical Ethics from pages 891-904 AND one of the eight theories we’ve studied (Mill, Kant, Ross, Rawls, Aquinas, Aristotle, Gilligan or Sherwin.
5. Read Decision Scenario #5 on page 671. Would the kidney transplant be right or wrong according to Kant? Why? Now, would it be right or wrong according to Mill? Why? Finally, would it be right or wrong according to Aquinas? Why?
6. Read Decision Scenario #3 on page 725, and answer question #1 following the scenario. Now, support your view by using one of the principles of Biomedical Ethics from pages 891-904 AND one of the eight theories we’ve studied (Mill, Kant, Ross, Rawls, Aquinas, Aristotle, Gilligan or Sherwin).
7. Using any one of the eight theories that we have studied (Mill, Kant, Ross, Rawls, Aquinas, Aristotle, Gilligan or Sherwin), make the best argument you can to say that everyone in the United States should be given health care insurance by the government. Now, using any one of the eight theories we’ve studied, make the best argument you can to say that the government should not provide health care insurance to everyone in the United States. Finally, use one of the principles of biomedical ethics (autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, utility or distributive justice) to support YOUR view about whether or not the government should provide health insurance to everyone in the United States.
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Annotated Reference List
Read the Writing Center’s & Annotated Bibliography Resource” information (see the link in the Resources), to familiarize yourself with how to create an annotated bibliography.
Identify 8–10 sources or references to use in writing your paper. Compile your sources into an annotated bibliography and submit it to the instructor in the assignment area for review and approval.
An annotated bibliography is a great tool to help scholarly writers move from the research to the drafting phase of a writing project, particularly when managing a large number of sources. A bibliography is an alphabetized list of sources relevant to a particular area of inquiry or research question; an annotated bibliography goes beyond merely giving the citation information for the sources to provide the reader with more information about the content of those sources. The content information is called the annotation.
Types of Annotation
Uses of Annotated Bibliographies
Format of Annotated Bibliographies in APA Style
Organization of Annotated Bibliography Entries
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