moral questions

1. James Madison in Federalist 10 wrote that

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of [political] faction: the

one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects. There

are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by

destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by

giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the

same interests.

Why are there factions (ideologies)? What would be the advantages and/or

disadvantages of eliminating factional political disagreement by designing a society

that would abolish liberties so as to prevent the expression of disagreements or a

society that would over time ensure uniformity of correct thought? Next, suppose that

it is desirable to accept a range of ideological disagreements in a society. Given the

nature of ideology, and the possible contents of different ideologies, how would you

control the range and effects of ideological disagreements so as to achieve civil peace

(avoid civil war); and what institutions and practices would you design to achieve

justice and stability in these circumstances?

  • 2. Moral theory can narrow disagreement on what is morally right. However, merely
  • to agree about what is morally right does not necessarily motivate an individual, or

    individuals in a group, to do what is morally right. Locke’s social contract theory,

    Rawls’ theory of justice, and practices such as free speech and toleration are

    constructed both from moral judgments and empirical claims about human

    motivations. We also examined empirical theories or claims about human motivation:

    Turiel, citizenship culture in Bogotá, homo economicus, Bowles and Gintis on

    behavioral experiments, Haidt’s foundations, perhaps Bandura or Pinker, and others.

    Which empirical human motivations (positive reciprocity and others) are most

    important to the success of central liberal institutions and practices (for example,

    limited government, free speech, toleration) and how might common motivations

    support or undermine the institutions and practices? Don’t recite every motivation and

    every institution; rather, select a few important relationships to explicate.

  • 3. Find a well-known fantasy account of a society suffering from injustice, such as The
  • Hunger Games, Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the movie District 9,

    and the like Describe the moral and political failings of this society from the

    standpoint of appropriate selections from the ideas we have studied in the course.

    Similarly, how would course ideas apply to the question of practically effective and

    morally permissible means to escape from or to remedy the injustices of the dystopia?

    Your analysis must focus on course material and apply it in a critical manner,

    evaluating alternative approaches and anticipating counterarguments to your claims.

    Although this question might be fun, it is the most dangerous one to answer: creativity

    would not make up for lack of mastery of course material.

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