Philosophy Week 2

Is it Moral? Yes, No, Maybe, Who Cares?

Moral Relativity is an ethical theory that says there is no concrete “right” or “wrong,” that moral judgments are true or false, relative only to some particular standpoint (such as, cultural norms or a historical period), and that no standpoint or opinion is uniquely privileged over any other. So, morality is basically an “opinion” on which people happen to agree in order to get along, and it can change when something else seems more appropriate to getting along.

According to Aristotle’s Ethics, a “virtuous mean” is not having too little or too much of some virtue that an individual would require in a specific situation in order to act virtuously. While we say that the “mean” is relative to the person and the specific situation, Aristotle said that the “mean” would result in the same course of action that any rational person would choose if he or she found themselves in the very same situation—meaning that moral action is NOT an opinion, since all rational people would be able to figure out and to agree on what is right and what is wrong.

The Situation:

You have suspected for a long time that your supervisor has been regularly taking home supplies bought by your employer, but which are not immediately missed since they are rarely used by the company. One day, your supervisor tells you that it is alright for you to start taking home these supplies, because your employer will never miss them.

Part 1: Pretend that you are a Moral Relativist and all of your reasoning is based on the tenets of Moral Relativism. Are you, as an employee, going to follow your supervisor’s lead and to start taking home the supplies you want? Explain why or why not.

o You will need to discuss if “taking things that belong to others” is morally right, wrong, or just a personal opinion. And, keep in mind that for Part 1, you are trying to think like a Moral Relativist.

Part 2: Now, pretend that you are the owner of the company who actually purchased the supplies that have been going missing. Using Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, how would you explain to your thieving employees that they are not demonstrating “virtuous living” (which means rationally choosing the “just right” moment of no excess or deficiency in the Virtue and consciously trying to do everything as excellently as you can)?

o Try not to fire your employees when you provide all of the details in your explanation, since, as a follower of Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, it would be more rational to rehabilitate them and to teach them to develop the habit of living virtuous lives.

For both parts, it will probably be necessary to discuss the relationship between happiness and morality (if there is one). Also, both parts together should end up being a single essay between 500 and 800 words, and you should be following standard grammatical rules and APA formatting. Also, please do not use anything other than your textbook as a source for this paper.