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THINKING CRITICALLY BY JOHN CHAFFEE
1. What Is Ethics? People such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa use their moral stature to influence entire societies. Though they are not as well known, many of us have encountered people whose moral values influence those around them. Identify one such person in your life and describe a situation in which this person influenced your actions.
2. Your Moral Compass: The text identifies seven moral theories that describe the way people reason and make decisions about moral issues: (1) psychological, (2) agnostic, (3) ethical egoism, (4) divine command, (5) hedonist, (6) authoritarian, and (7) altruistic. Which of these theories or approaches to moral decision making did you use as a child? As an adult, which of them appeals to you? Why?
3. The Thinker’s Guide to Moral Decision Making: It can be difficult to know what the right thing is, and it can be even more difficult actually to do the right thing in a given situation. Think of a moral decision you had to make in the past. How did you decide what to do? Did you make the right decision? Given what you’ve learned about moral reasoning in this chapter, would you change either your approach to that moral dilemma, or your decision? Explain.
4. Bonus: The Ethic of Care: The Ethic of Care asks us to think about the importance of relationships when it comes to our moral judgments, rather than being an impartial moral decision maker. Describe a situation in which a special relationship (parent–child, teacher–student, neighbor–neighbor, etc.) would lead you to treat a family member better than a stranger. What does this make you think about the goal of impartiality?
5. Recognizing Arguments: The text uses the issue of legalizing marijuana to illustrate how to recognize conclusions and reasons in an argument. Think of another public issue that is important to you, such as reinstating the draft or changing the drinking age, and provide reasons for your position on the issue and a conclusion.
6. Evaluating Arguments: Think of a recent argument you’ve heard that takes a position on a local issue. What was the conclusion, and what were the reasons offered to support the conclusion? Was the argument sound? Explain.
7. Understanding Deductive Arguments: In a deductive argument, if the premises (reasons) are assumed to be true, then the conclusion based on those premises must be true. Give an example of a deductive argument from your work or personal life, identifying the premises and the conclusion.
8. Constructing Extended Arguments: Think of a time when you have constructed a longer or extended argument either at work, with your family, or a friend (it doesn’t matter if you actually wrote out the argument or simply engaged in debate). What type of reasons did you offer and where did they come from? Which, if any, of the deductive argument forms that you’ve learned about did you use to construct this argument?
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