Ethical-Theory Concepts

Philosophy Analytical essay

Below is the introduction to and basic instructions for our final-exam essay.
In most general terms, your mission in writing this essay is to clearly and accurately make use of a
selection of the ethical-theory concepts we have discussed this semester in an analysis and/or
evaluation of one or more person or institutions discussed in the articles below.
Three major guidelines:
1) One’s analysis must not collapse into relativism. (We’ve discussed the problems of relativism
in detail. This assignment starts with the understanding that relativism is out of play.)
2) One must make explicit reference to the relevant ethical theory; show your understanding of
it.
3) Show that you understand the issue raised by the article, but avoid summarizing the article as
a whole. (A major shortcoming of many essay-form ethical analyses is that they proportionally
include far more summarization than analysis.)
4) Quality of writing counts. Attention paid to elements of writing such as clear sentence
structure; correct usage of relevant vocabulary; and proper use of quotation marks and citations
contributes greatly toward the best possible presentation of your thoughts.
The articles:
The Baltimore Cops Studying Plato and James Baldwin:
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/the-baltimore-cops-studying-plato-and-jamesbaldwin/546485/
– This article focuses on police training programs that use discussions of literary and philosophical texts
to encourage changes in the thinking of police officers. Although the article does not mention the
officers’ reading list including Aristotle’s
Nicomachean Ethics, it strikes me that Detective Ed Gillespie’s
program can be supported based on the Aristotelian model of moral virtue.
The Secretive Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis:
http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a12775932/sackler-family-oxycontin/
The Family That Build an Empire on Pain
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/the-family-that-built-an-empire-of-pain
– The above two articles tell similar stories about the family that the owns the company that makes the
painkiller OxyContin. One claim common to both articles is that the questionable marketing and

widespread overprescription of OxyContin is a key factor in rise in addiction to both prescription
painkillers and street heroin. (Both articles also strike me as provocative in seeking to shame members
of family, in particular younger beneficiaries of the family’s vast wealth, into devoting some of their
resources to fighting the opioid-addiction crisis.) In approaching the analysis of this article, let us begin
from the assumptions that reducing pain is a valuable function of modern medicine and that there is
nothing wrong, in itself, about business success and the considerable wealth it can generate. Let us
proceed to ask in what ways the makers of painkillers and the dispensers of the drugs have been
excessive and deficient in their actions. How would a virtuous (in the Aristotelian sense) maker of
painkillers do business? How would virtuous doctors handle prescribing painkillers and treating patients
using such drugs?
How to Hire Fake Friends and Family:
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/11/paying-for-fake-friends-andfamily/545060/#article-comments
This article consists of an interview with an actor who is the owner of a company through which people
can hire actors (himself included) to pose as family members and friends. Many people who interact
with these actors don’t know that they are actors and believe them to be who they say they are. One
case the actor discusses involves a mother who hires the actor to pose as her daughter’s father.
Consider the users and providers of this service from both Aristotelian and Kantian ethical perspectives.
Each of these articles is thought-provoking with regard to matters of ethics. I encourage you to begin
reading them soon. We will certainly be able to talk about the articles and the essay assignment in class.

Last Updated on February 10, 2019