UN Philosophy Utilitarianism Is an Ethical Theory Essay

INSTRUCTIONS:This assignment consists of a single short essay question. The main intent of this
question is to ensure that you have a sound grasp of the fundamentals of the material
presented in this unit. To that end, there is a 3-to-4-page (1000 words) limit for this
question. I’m not so concerned with whether you agree with a particular author or not.
The quality of your answer is based on your exposition of the competing positions, your
comparative analysis of those positions and, lastly, your argument in support of the
position you defend.
As with all the assignments in this course, the short essay question is not designed to
be a “research” question. There is no requirement to get material from external sources
such as other authors, or reference websites, who have summarized, or criticized, the
authors you are dealing with. In effect, including such material defeats your purpose in
completing your essay because you are essentially telling me what some other person
thought about the material you should be explaining and assessing. If you make
reference to sources external to the course readings it will be detrimental to your
mark. In some cases, I may ask you to re-work and submit your assignment. The point
of your essay is to formulate the course material and develop your critical response.
You can do this by working with the course material and developing your own ideas
about the issue. The essay is simply your opportunity to set that out in paper.
Essay Question.
Short Essay Question: (100 marks) Making reference to our course readings, provide a
concise formulation of Utilitarianism. In particular, explain the distinction between Bentham’s
and Mill’s formulations of it. Making reference to the course readings, provide a concise
formulation of Kant’s deontological ethics. In particular, explain the role of the Categorical
Imperative in Kantian ethics. In light of the criticisms offered of both accounts from the
course readings, which account is more plausible? Provide an argument in support of your
Assigned Readings.
Teleological Theories – Ethical Egoism
1. Plato, excerpts from Republic, Book
II. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html
2. Rand, Ayn. 1964. Excerpts from The virtue of selfishness, 16-17, 31-34. New
York: The New American Library.
Available in your readings package
3. Medlin, Brian. 1957. Ultimate principles and ethical egoism. Australasian Journal
of Philosophy 35: 111-118.
Available in your readings package
Teleological Theories – Utilitarianism
4. Bentham, Jeremy. 1894. The collected works of Jeremy Bentham: An
introduction to the principles of morals and legislation, ed. J. H. Burns, 11-16, 3841. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Available in your readings package
5. John Stuart Mill. What utilitarianism is, Chapter 2, from Utilitarianism.
6. Williams, Bernard. 1973. A critique of utilitarianism. In Utilitarianism: For and
against, ed. J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams, 77-118. London: Cambridge
University Press. Listed under Unit 4 reading in course site.
Deontological Theories – Kantian Ethics
7. Immanuel Kant, excerpts from Foundations of the metaphysics of morals.
8. Taylor, Richard. 1984. Kantian morality. In Good and evil: A new direction, 102115. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
Available in your readings package
9. Rachels, James. 1998. Introduction. In Ethical theory I: The question of
objectivity, ed. James Rachels, 1-18. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Available in your readings package
Required viewing (linked in the instructional content)
Examined Life Video: Moral Dilemmas… Can Ethics Help?
Examined Life Video: Does the End Justify the Means?
Examined Life Video: Can Rules Define Morality?
Examined Life Video: Is Morality Relative?
Please link the references.

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