Choose your Own Topic Select one main theoretical idea/ethical approach that we have discussed in the second half of class. Use the idea/approach to think through a concrete ethical problem. Some points to consider when writing are:
i) Discuss what the idea/ethical approach stand for, in detail.
ii) What can you lean by thinking through your concrete ethical problem through the lens chosen?
iii) What do you find compelling about the idea/ethical approach in question, and what do you find to be problematic or questionable?
AS THE TITLE OF YOUR PAPER, write “A.” followed by an appropriate TITLE for your paper based on its content. For example, you might write: A. The Burden of Courage in the Fight for Racial Justice.
B. Defined Topics – Select One Topic Only In the second part of this course we have grappled with the idea that doing the right thing cannot be determined in a vacuum; the context within which the agent is embedded leading up to and at the time of the ethical choice deeply influences what the right thing to do is, the virtues that an agent may be able to develop, and even what is means to flourish or live a good life.
For your final papers, I invite you to think about what this means, concretely, by reflecting and writing about one of the following prompts:
1. Netflix’s documentary 13th shows how the current neo-liberal economy exploits the loophole of the 13th Amendment to continue the extraction of wealth, labor, and resources from people of color in the U.S. Putting in conversation the documentary with the writings by Manbiot and Hernández, in your essay make an argument about whether you agree with the conclusion presented by Hernández that abolition, not reform or reparations alone, is needed to address the creation of a caste of outsider that can be exploited in the U.S.
In your essay, make sure to explain;
1) what the loophole of the 13th amendment entail by drawing form both Hernández and 13th;
2) how neo-liberal policies sustain incarcerations;
3) why Hernández’s conclusion that abolition of mass incarceration and immigration control is/is not necessary. (Keep in mind that Hernández links mass incarceration and immigration control as systems of social control that frame alienated citizens and criminalized immigrants as a racialized case of outsiders that can be exploited in the U.S.)
2. Putting in conversation the writings of Aristotle (virtue ethics) and Lisa Tessman (on Burdened Virtues), in your essay make a case of how selected virtues displayed by individuals engaged in current or past social justice struggles may qualify as “burdened virtues.” In your essay, makes sure to explain
1) the key tenets of Aristotelian theory necessary to consider the question at hand like the relationship between virtue and flourishing or the need for “external goods” like education, habituation, and good luck partake in flourishing.
Specifically, you may want to address the question of why virtue ethics (as opposed to Kantian ethics and utilitarian ethics) is better suited to tackle questions of social struggle and oppression;
2) what Tessman means by “burdened virtues” and what constitutes one; and
3) how the specific virtues you have chosen to analyze fit the profile of burdened virtues. What makes them burdened?
3. Drawing from Kristie Dotson’s podcast on “epistemic oppression”
(https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/elucidations/2017/01/14/episode-92-kristie-dotson- discusses-epistemic-oppression/), in your paper make an argument for how the theme of epistemic oppression appears in James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook.” In your essay, make sure to explain:
1) what epistemic oppression per Dotson’s definition. (Consider bringing in the example discussed by Dotson in the podcast);
2) how epistemic oppression ties into oppression more broadly. Specifically, you may want to explain how epistemic oppression ties into (white) ignorance or how it undermines liberatory struggles;
3) how the passages from Baldwin’s text that you selected illustrate key features of epistemic oppression.