Symposium

In the Ancient Greek world (the world of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, often regarded as the birthplace of philosophy) a “symposium” was a banquet held after a meal, an “after party” of sorts that usually included drinking, dancing, recitals, and engaging conversations on the topics of the day.

 

For our purposes in this course, the Symposium discussions will not involve dancing, recitals, or a banquet, but they will provide food for thought on current ethical issues and direct application of the ethical theory discussed in each of these weeks.

 

It is almost impossible these days to turn on the news or log onto social media without encountering a controversy that cries out for ethical discussion. For these Symposium discussions, your instructor will choose a topic of current ethical interest and a resource associated with it for you to read or watch. Your task is to consider how the ethical theory of the week might be used to examine, understand, or evaluate the issue.

 

This week, you will consider how utilitarianism applies to a controversy, dilemma, event, or scenario selected by your instructor. It is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a utilitarian approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the chosen issue.

 

Your posts should remain focused on the ethical considerations, and at some point in your contribution you must specifically address the way a utilitarian would approach this issue by explaining and evaluating that approach.

· WEEK 2 – Discussion 2 – Animal Ethics

 

Utilitarian’s hold that an action is right if it promotes the most happiness (wellbeing) for the greatest majority. Utilitarians like Peter Singer are animal rights activists and think that wellbeing is a concept that must be extended to animals too.

 

Please, watch the video below and post a thoughtful discussion addressing the following points:

1. What ethical issues and ethical reasoning were argued?

2. Identify and articulate the moral argument(s) in a careful, systematic way

3. What do you think about animal welfare? Strive to provide reasons in defense of your position. Make evident connections to the course reading material.

4. Does it make sense to talk about happiness in relation to animals since they are sentient but not cognitive beings?