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Logos II Ethical Case Study – Assessment Task
Length: 1,000 – 1,500 words
TASK (you should structure the case study in the following way):
1) Choose one of these ethical theories and explain it as clearly as you can (highlight its key aspects):
a) Either Virtue Ethics
b) Or Natural Law (Ethical) theory
c) Or Deontological Ethics
2) Apply the chosen ethical theory to one of the following scenarios and explain how the theory provides a basis for rational decision making. You should apply parts of the theory specifically to the scenario. For example, specific virtues in Virtue Ethics or specific maxims and imperatives in Deontology or specific (basic) goods in Natural Law, and explain how these help you to solve some of the ethical challenges that arise.
3) What are 1 or 2 major strengths and weaknesses of the theory (you should discuss at least one strength and one weakness, and you should draw on research and authoritative academic sources, not mere opinions, here)
4) Explain (briefly) whether or not the chosen ethical theory will help you resolve ethical dilemmas in the future in your own life or in the professional sphere, and why.
Case study 1
You are a conscientious, politically informed, concerned student and citizen. It comes to your attention that in a nearby country police have found thousands of children kept as slaves, some as young as 5, some as old as 16. They are traumatised and poorly fed, and kept in unsanitary conditions. You discover that they were forced to work for up to 18 hours a day and given very little food to eat. You also discover that many had been sold by their parents for less than AUS$150.
You hear that there are many child traffickers working in towns and cities and that the network stretches overseas.
You have shown a particular talent for ethics and ethical reasoning in your academic studies, and you are asked by a prominent newspaper to comment online on the ethical issues (and make recommendations).
What do you think ought to be done and why?
Case study 2
A major study is published in a leading academic psychology journal that claims that reliance on social media is no less addictive than sex and smoking. They claim that a recurrent urge to go on social media is not just a temptation but could constitute an “addiction”. They find that almost one in every two people check their social media sites up to 12 times a day. They find a strong connection between being on social media and the activation of circuits in the brain which are associated with reward (also familiar to scientists from studies of alcohol and nicotine addiction). The “FOMO” factor, they say, is fuelling an increase in an obsessive, or near-obsessive, attachment to smart technologies at the expense of “actual-world” interactions and possibly at the expense of social skills needed for such interactions.
In the study, the scientists kept an eye on 500 people (with their consent) over a period of 14 days and recorded their behaviour in relation to social media sites. In particular they recorded reported urges or impulses to log on and check social media pages on phones and smart gadgets.
The subjects varied in age from 16-80. They were each given a smart phone (with internet connectivity) and asked the subjects for regular reports from each person about their desire to log onto their social media page(s). At the same time, the subjects were asked to report regularly on their urge to drink (alcohol) or smoke (if they are smokers). The subjects were given ready access to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The study concludes that even though the urge to sleep, for example, is much stronger than the urge to check social media, the latter was actually very difficult to resist. They suggest that there is further scope for study here and that there may be a connection with a gene that has been linked in previous studies with nicotine addiction.
You are an influential leader in a university community where social media are extremely popular and where some of your peers find it difficult to stop themselves from frequently checking social media. You suspect that some are addicted and are becoming social media dependent, and do not know it.
What do you think ought to be done and why?
Case study 3
The government of a neighbouring country (and a close trading partner and ally of Australia) is proposing to change the laws to make it not unlawful to say things which may offend or humiliate others on the basis of their “race” or “ethnicity”.
The first “justification” they give in defense of the proposed change is that it is not wrong to speak even in bigoted terms about others and even if these others are likely to be offended or humiliated. The second justification given is that people in this country offend and humiliate others every day (for example in parliamentary debates or “at the football”!) The third justification given is that it is a democratic “right” to voice one’s opinions, and to do so in a public space, even if they are likely to offend or insult or humiliate others.
You are in a position to sway the government’s view on this matter.
What would you recommend and why?
(Focus only on the ethical dimensions, not the legal ones.)
Case study 4
You are a promising, highly talented young student in health science with a large group of social media friends, colleagues and associates (including influential deans, associate deans, senior academics and professionals).
You all become aware of an important study in a leading health science journal that concludes that almost 80% of patients who have cancer and who are on chemotherapy think that this is part of a cure (even though it is not); they also believe that health professionals are much more effective communicators when they are communicating things optimistically and positively – and the patients tend to give such health professionals much higher ratings in satisfaction surveys.
You believe strongly that honesty is an important, indeed essential, part of your discipline and profession, and indeed, your own life.
What do you think ought to be done in such cases and why?