Need discussions done for phi 208 ethics & moral reasoning details | PHI 208 Ethics & Moral Reasoning | Ashford University

Discussion 1

Please carefully read and think about the entire prompt before composing your first post. This discussion will require you to have carefully read Chapter 5 of the textbook, as well as the assigned portions of Aristotle’s (1931) Nicomachean Ethics.

If you recall from Week 2/Chapter 3, John Stuart Mill (2008) defines happiness as the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which means that happiness is very much a matter of how I feel “on the inside”.  However, Aristotle (1931) holds a rather different view of happiness (or in his terms, “eudaimonia”). 

One way that we think about this difference is to conduct a “thought experiment” in which we imagine that we have certain “inner” experiences, but outwardly things are quite different.  One such thought experiment is provided by the philosopher Robert Nozick in his description of the “experience machine”:

“Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain…Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think it’s actually happening…Would you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?” (Nozick, 1974, p. 43)

In the course of the week’s discussion, you will need to do the following (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Engage with the text: 

Using at least one quote from the assigned texts, explain Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia.  Then, discuss whether Aristotle would consider someone hooked up to the experience machine to be “happy” in the sense captured by that notion of eudaimonia

  1. Reflect on yourself: 

If you had the chance to be permanently hooked up to the experience machine, would you do it?  Explain your choice.  For example, if you would not hook up, you may discuss the kinds of goods or aims that would be lost by hooking up, or you may discuss the core, essential features of your life (or of human life in general) that are undermined by being in such a state. 

  1. Reflect on human life: 

Based on your response, do you think that we can describe aspects of a telos (in Aristotle’s sense) that applies to humanity in general, or at least most people?  Correspondingly, could there be a difference between feeling happy and being happy?  Do you think that people can be wrong about happiness?  (Notice that this isn’t asking whether there are different ways in which people can find happiness; it’s asking whether some of those ways could be mistaken.)

  1. Discuss with your peers: 

According to virtue ethics, reflecting on the aims and goods essential to human flourishing (if there are any) can help us understand the virtues we need to fulfill those and the vices that would be detrimental, as well as the corresponding kinds of choices and behaviors.  Reflect with your peers on what their account reveals about the virtuous life, whether that conflicts with some of the values and choices common in society, etc. 

Aristotle. (1931). Nicomachean ethicsLinks to an external site. (W. D. Ross, Trans.). Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html

Mill, J. S. (2008). Utilitarianism, In J. Bennett (Ed. & Rev.) Early Modern Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfs/mill1863.pdf

Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, state, and utopia. New York: Basic Books.

Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Discussion 2

This discussion will require you to have watched the video below. 

Aristotle’s account of ethics is “teleological”, which means that our understanding of virtue and living well is based on a sense of the “telos” (function, purpose, or end) of something (see Aristotle’s text and the textbook for the full account). 

Using at least one idea from the video, explain the relation between virtue and living well on Aristotle’s account, and briefly describe some of the key characteristics of the virtues.

Reflect on yourself: 

Identify an area of your life in which virtues are needed to do well.  Explain what the “telos” of that role or activity is, what virtues are needed and why they are needed, and what would be lost if someone tried to be successful in that activity who didn’t exercise the virtues.  This might be a role you have, a vocation or career, a hobby, or something common to all of us.

Reflect on virtue: 

In what ways do the virtues you identify display the characteristics Aristotle describes? For instance, you could explain whether they occupy an intermediate between too much and too little of some quality, how they would affect one’s emotions as well as one’s actions, etc. 

Discuss with your peers: 

Discuss with your peers the answers they gave to these questions, and offer your own additional reflections, questions, challenges, etc.  You could consider possible ways in which the virtues may conflict with each other, or may conflict with the virtues needed in other areas of one’s life; whether practicing virtue in these activities may lead to less success as measured by, say, financial benefit or recognition; and so on.

Aristotle. (1931). Nicomachean ethicsLinks to an external site. (W. D. Ross, Trans.). Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html

Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

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