What kind of beliefs we have in our culture contribute to our destruction of the environment. How are these related to that destruction?

First assignment

In this assignment you are to use the moral reasoning criteria we discussed in class to answer each case below. Each answer should be a good paragraph. Then write the essay at the end, which should be about a page.

You MUST USE the moral reasoning criteria: the moral reasoning terms and concepts are at the end.
Consider the relevant obligations in the following case and decide which view of the issue is more defensible from a moral viewpoint. (1 paragraph)

In 1999, when the Brooklyn Museum of Art displayed works by Chris Ofili, it set off a furor that continued for many months. What caused the controversy was a particular painting, The Holy Virgin Mary, which presented a likeness of the Virgin Mary spattered with dung and covered with designs depicting female genitalia. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani threatened to cut off $7 million in funding if the museum did not remove the painting, arguing that taxpayers should not have to support museum exhibits that make a mockery of their religious beliefs. The museum’s director claimed that the exhibit was covered by the constitutional guarantee of free speech. When a solution was not reached, the matter was taken to court.

List values that support the Pro position, and values that support the Con position on the following moral dilemma: (1 paragraph)
A columnist on a college newspaper writes a column praising the American Nazi party and arguing that the national security of the United States depends on the elimination of Jews, blacks, and Catholics from positions of importance and influence. Someone on the staff notifies the dean of students that the column is scheduled for publication, and the dean forbids the editor to publish it.Consequences
List all possible consequences, beneficial and harmful, immediate and long-term, intended and unintended, for both sides of the dilemma. (1 paragraph)
An English teacher in a two-year technical college has several students in her composition course whose ignorance of the English language has proven invincible. She has given them extra work and extra counseling from the first week of the semester. They have been diligent in their efforts to improve. Though they are in a construction technology program and will undoubtedly be employed in jobs that require little writing skill, the composition course is required for graduation. In the instructor’s judgment, the students would not be able to pass the course legitimately if they took it three times, so she raisers their F grades to D’s.

Integrative Essay
Reportedly, at least two companies specialize in buying the body parts of fetuses from abortion clinics and selling them to universities and medical institutes for use in research. One of these companies reportedly charges $999 for a human brain under eight weeks’ gestation, $50 to $100 for eyes and ears, and $400 for an intact limbless trunk. Evaluate the morality of abortionists selling fetal body parts to the companies. The Issue is: Should abortion clinics sell body parts of fetuses for research?
In your evaluation discuss the relevant Obligations of all parties involved in this controversy, as well as the Values and Consequences for both sides of the controversy. Your moral evaluation should be in the form of an essay. (1 page)

Second assignment
Chapter 4 Threats to the Environment
Eitzen and Zinn, Social Problems
Eitzen, Solutions to Social Problems: From the Top Down

The key points to understand in this chapter are that our lifestyles, the number of people on the planet, and the needs for profit in a capitalist system, are intersecting to create a polluted, hotter, more unsustainable planet for the humans who live on it. I tell my environmental classes all the time: it is not the planet that is in danger, it is the people. The planet has been around for 4.5 billion years, and has another 20 before the Sun goes nova and wipes it out. It doesnt care if you pollute it or make it hotter. It doesnt care if you wipe yourselves out with nuclear war or starve yourselves to death, or pollute yourselves to death. It will continue on happily spinning through space with or without you. Therefore, environmental problems are problems for People and other living Species. Keep that in mind. The book says most environmental problems are social in nature. But they are also social in their effects – that it, “environmental problems” are really “social problems”.

As you read through the chapter try to identify the social causes of environmental problems, and the effects of those problems on different social classes. This is all wrapped up in the I=PAT equation.

Answer the following questions in 1 to 2 pages.

1) Discuss the main kinds of pollution and environmental degradation we live with today. How do our consumer lifestyles, need for profit, and unequal social class system influence these? Discuss our dependence on cars and fossil fuels as an example.

2) What kind of beliefs we have in our culture contribute to our destruction of the environment. How are these related to that destruction? Think about how they relate to profit, lifestyle, power, inequality, and social class.
3) How do the social structures discussed on p104-106 influence environmental problems?

4) Now, put it all together by using the I=PAT equation. Write a good paragraph explaining that equation using your answers above.
Applications: read over the three solutions discussed on p 107-110. We are going to use your understanding of Moral Reasoning to think about them
Application 1: What moral reasons underlie each solution to the Environmental Crisis?

Application 2: of the three solutions discussed in the book, which would you think stands the best chance of actually reducing environmental destruction to our planet and the harms to ourselves that causes? Why do you say so? What moral reasoning are you using for your argument?

The Mission Statement of St. Edward’s University says that every student “should be prepared, through training in critical and creative thinking as well as moral reasoning, to analyze problems, propose solutions, and make responsible decisions.” Working on your paper in American Dilemmas gives you an opportunity to work toward achieving this goal. There are various ways to do this; however, the methodology we will be demonstrating here is based on the work of Vincent Ruggiero, author of Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues.

“Moral reasoning is individual or collective practical reasoning about what, morally, one ought to do” (Richardson). It is the ability to work reflectively and critically through a problem using a normative framework, i.e., one that dictates certain standards that should be followed. Moral reasoning involves both decision-making and taking action. It focuses on situations that involve a choice of behavior involving values.

Throughout your life you will be faced with many difficult decisions involving moral issues. Your task will be to decide which of many options is the “best” solution from a moral perspective–as you are asked to do in formulating a conclusion for your American Dilemmas research paper. People use various criteria to make these kinds of decisions. Each of the following areas is related to moral decision-making; they are not, however, sufficient for making informed, well-reasoned moral decisions:
· Law
· Religion
· Majority View
· Feelings
According to Ruggerio, over time three fundamental criteria have evolved which can provide a solid basis for moral reasoning:
· Obligations
· Values
· Consequences

· Every human action occurs in the context of a relationship with others.
These relationships may be professional or personal.
· These relationships imply obligations.
· Some are formal obligations, like contracts or vows.
· Others are informal obligations, such as those involving citizenship,
friendship, family or professions.
· Obligations are, in essence, restrictions on our behavior.
· These relationships imply a moral responsibility to fulfill them and they
bind us to that responsibility.

· Values are beliefs about what is good and desirable or what is undesirable and to be avoided.
· Values can relate to ways to behave, such as with honesty, fairness, or
logic. These are called “instrumental” values.
· Values can also relate to things that people want to attain in life, such as wisdom, financial security, and salvation. These are called “intrinsic” (or “terminal”) values.
A moral dilemma occurs when one is facing a value-laden problem where all options appear to have merit. Then it becomes important to prioritize values.
For example, imagine a good friend has asked you a difficult question. You value both friendship and honesty. It feels as if you cannot be equally true to both values. Which value do you rank or prioritize first–honesty or friendship?

Consequences are the effects resulting from a given action. Consequences have many qualities. They can:
· Be both beneficial and detrimental
· Involve the person performing the action and a range of others
· Be physical or emotional
· Be intentional or unintentional
· Be immediate or long range
· Be blatant or subtle

“Individuals should act with respect for others.” This is an almost universally accepted principle that provides a foundation for the obligations, values, and consequences model above. Sometimes called “respect for persons,” this principle implies a duty to honor and respect others. It means that we do not treat them as a mere means to our own ends.
Throughout time and across cultures, respect for persons has been accepted as an overarching principle both by those who identify themselves as “religious” and by non-believers.

After learning the three criteria of obligations, values, and consequences and the foundational principle of respect for persons, the next step
is to use them in a systematic way.

Step 1
Study the details of the case.
Sometimes there are not enough details to satisfy the three criteria of obligations, values, and consequences. In that case, use creative thinking to speculate about possible answers, depending on different imagined details.

Step 2
Identify the relevant criteria–obligations, values, and consequences–which are supported by the foundational principle of “respect for persons.”
Realize that all criteria are not usually present equally in every moral dilemma. One or the other may predominate. However, all three criteria must at least be considered if one is to make a well-reasoned moral decision.

Step 3
Determine possible courses of action.
Be sure to consider all the courses of action that are available. Realize that it is only in rare circumstances that an individual has only one course of action.

Step 4
Choose the action that is most morally responsible.
After completing the steps above and considering “respect for persons” as the foundational principle, you should have the ability to make the “best” moral decision.

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