Philosophy paper on utilitarianism

Utilitarianism Philosophy Paper

Consider the following case.

Place: a small town in the Jim Crow Deep South. Time: the 1940’s. Event: a white woman is murdered. An eyewitness to the crime is not sure who did it exactly, but claims certainty that it was a black man. The townspeople are outraged. They form a lynch mob and head to see the Sheriff. They want blood.

The sheriff has in his jail a black man (call him Gary) on a burglary charge. Gary is well-known in the town as a small-time crook. The lynch mob leaps to the conclusion that Gary must be the murderer, and demands that the Sheriff release Gary so that they can lynch him on the spot. If the Sheriff does not do so, they threaten to head to the black side of town where they will “burn it down.”

The Sheriff knows two things for certain. (1) If he does not release Gary, great damage and almost certainly much loss of life will follow. Dozens or hundreds of innocent black men, women, and children will be put at great risk, and some will surely die. (2) Gary is innocent beyond a doubt. As it turns out, he was already locked up when the murder occurred, so he could not possibly have committed it, although the Sheriff cannot convince the mob of this fact.

Utilitarianism Philosophy Paper Instructions

Write a paper with the conclusion either (a) that the Sheriff should allow Gary to be lynched, or (b) that he should not do so, on utilitarian grounds. That is, you should assume for purposes of your discussion that your reader is a utilitarian, and employ arguments that rely on utilitarian assumptions.

Your paper should be an argumentfor your chosen conclusion, and you should argue for it by considering what you take to be thebest argument (on utilitarian grounds) for the opposite conclusion, then giving reasons why your reader should not be persuaded by that argument. You must draw from materials we have read for either the claim that the Sheriff should let the mob lynch Gary or the claim that he must not do so.

Your project overall is to give your reader reasons for agreeing with you about the issue, so of paradigm importance is to (i) have a clear thesis and (ii) make clear what it is and how exactly you are supporting it. You’re not just a spectator, and you need to be sure you aren’t just reporting on Mill’s views: instead, you must take sides on the issue and argue for your own conclusion. You can address ideas we have discussed in class, or go beyond them.

The History of Utilitarianism

However, you need to be sure you do not just ignore any pertinent issues emerging from the texts against the view you defend, or in favor of the view you reject. For those who have not written a philosophy paper before, this may not be an easy approach to grasp. You will find suggestions for writing papers and guidelines for doing so in the Writing Resources module. I urge you to consult those sources, as well as references indicated; please talk to Nick or me before the last minute about questions you have as to your paper. (Hint: there will be more time available earlier, less later!)

Papers should be 1000 words plus or minus 100 words, double-spaced, with normal font and margins. Papers outside the word limits will not receive credit. You must cite your references to Mill’s work (or anyone else’s!) as it appears in your work, but you may cite by placing within the text the relevant page numbers for the passages you are referring to.

Please submit your paper via Turnitin before class Monday November 6. Be sure to proofread as well as use a spelling/grammar checker, and cite your quotations and attributions: your grade will take into account misspellings, bad punctuation or grammar, and other composition errors. Please see the class Syllabus for the grading rubric for this assignment. No late papers will be accepted. You should confirm that you have a Turnitin receipt for your paper as proof that you have submitted it on time. Recall that if you cannot or do not want to write this paper, you will have one other opportunity.

Utilitarianism Philosophy Paper

Philosophy of Religion & Ethics

Last Updated on July 17, 2020 by Essay Pro