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Product code Ethics-PH361

I have posted the grades for the Ethical Theory analysis paper.  Quite a few of you seem to have chosen to use a life ring!  As there are very few papers, I will keep my comments here brief.

Please note that the analysis papers must be submitted to pass this course.

Any of the three can harmonize with Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care.  It was up to you to decide which one worked best!  Many papers selected Virtue Ethics (after all, care can easily be called a virtue!!!)  However, the utilitarian calculus of “happiness” can be tempered with feminist thought, so that is something to consider.  We may also have a duty to care, so deontological ethics makes a great companion as well.

I posted some general feedback below and I have provided comments in Canvas for every student as well.  Part of my role is to provide suggestions for improving your writing, so I post individual comments. I usually do not provide them in every unit to every student so I do not bombard you with too much information.  However, I do want to give you opportunities to improve and the tools to succeed.  For this analysis paper, I have posted grading comments for everyone who posted work.  Please read these comments.  You do not need to respond, unless you have questions or think I have made any errors in grading.  When I notice certain things, I want to help where I can.  I also do not want students to wonder “why did I get this grade?”  The syllabus says, “Grades are part of the feedback process and are not meant to punish students who ‘mess up’ but rather assess progress and reward those who display excellence.”  I try to stick with that as best I can.

Cited examples from the text are required in analysis papers.  Papers without these examples - or with exceedingly few examples - received a much poorer score.  Analysis cannot be accomplished without providing examples to analyze!

If you have not turned in this analysis paper, please remember that you will need to turn in the work for credit.  If you do not turn it in during the last few days of the semester in the Life Ring Forum, the 0/100 will remain - please note that you will NOT PASS THIS COURSE without completing the analysis papers.

I grade equally on 5 elements: rhetorical sensitivity, content, clarity, high order thinking and mechanics.  These descriptions are detailed in my grading rubric!   Please be sure to follow the length guidelines and instructions from the course content for each unit!  If a paper was shorter than 900 words or significantly missed the writing prompt, the grade was generally much lower than it could have been.

Again, I provided comments for every student who submitted a paper – so please make sure to check for those. 

You can see the grading rubric for analysis papers in the course resources folder, and here are some extra details:

90+.  The paper was excellent overall.  Usually there were only some minor shortcomings in clarity and mechanics.  This paper needed to directly address the writing prompt, provide a good number of examples from the text (one for each of the 5 or 6 paragraphs), show a clear and sustained analysis, and have a good structural presentation with regard to mechanics.  My comments should provide some more details.

85+. The paper was very good.  There may have been grammatical and structural issues.  Usually it seemed there could have been clearer (or more) analysis on the examples.  Remember, it is an “analysis paper” so students need to provide the analysis, not just point to examples!

80-84 was generally good, but it seemed that there was a lot less analysis than the paper needed for a higher score.  There may have been some unclear statements and perhaps some confusing sentences.  If the paper was generally well-written, but a bit short, it may be in this range or lower.

75-79. There were usually content and clarity issues, along with grammatical problems.  The paper may have had very little or no analysis about the texts.

70-74. The paper most likely did not address the assignment prompt.  There either were no direct examples or quotations from the text, or there was virtually no analysis done.

Below 70.  The paper did not answer the prompt.  The paper may have had no required examples from the text or the paper lacked the length and development required for an analysis paper.

If you have no grade and you did post something, email me (nicely, please!) and tell me where and when you posted it.

Again, there were quite a few students who did not seem to post the analysis paper – so it looks like there will be some life rings used for this unit!  That is just fine – that is why they are there.  However, remember, there are only two life rings for two assignments (not two units!).













Lecture 17 - Global Economic Justice

Online Lecture               

Ethics #17 – Global Economic Justice

©2018 Adam D. Pave, Ph.D.  All rights reserved. 

Welcome to the final lecture in the course.  The chapter is “Global Economic Justice” and it will hopefully serve as a nice capstone for the last part of the course on applied ethics, as well as the course as a whole.


Contents of this Lecture:

Global Economic Justice

Living on a Lifeboat – Garrett Hardin

A Critique of Lifeboat Ethics – William W. Murdoch and Alan Oaten

Famine, Affluence and Morality – Peter Singer

A Reply to Singer – Travis Timmerman

Looking Ahead


Global Economic Justice

In this chapter there are four passages, ending with Timmerman's reply to Peter Singer's passage, Famine, Affluence and Morality.  Throughout the book, we have read and studied ethical theories, moral issues and their applications.  The major ethical dilemma that this last chapter grapples with is poverty and hunger on a global scale.  Garrett Hardin argued in the previous chapter that there are no “technological solutions” to certain problems in the world.  Whether or not you agree with Hardin’s arguments, there is no denying that hunger is a global issue.

The introduction to this chapter begins with the rather stark and shocking contrast between the “haves and have-nots.”  Statistics can sometimes convey desired messages, but the message may be lost in the numbers.  However, most scholars seem to agree that about one-third of the earth’s population is under-nourished and simply does not have enough to eat.  They estimated, at the time the book was written, that about one billion of the earth’s six billion inhabitants are hungry or malnourished.  The world population is now estimated at 7.3 billion, and continues to grow!  Those numbers seem a bit overwhelming to me, and perhaps these statistics will cloud our judgment a little bit.  Perhaps it should and perhaps it should not – that is something else with which we may grapple.

We will notice that the authors in this chapter rely on ethical theories we have studied throughout the course to provide evidence for their arguments.  There are references to utilitarianism and deontology.  Ideas in virtue ethics are clearly present, and if we pay careful attention, we should see elements of the ethics of care.  Issues surrounding the autonomy and dignity of people will be evident as well as other concepts and ideas we have discussed throughout the course.  I think that this is a fitting (and perhaps enormously difficult) moral dilemma with which to end the semester!

The question for this chapter is then posed on page 883: “what are we – the secure and comfortable denizens of the West – obligated to do for the impoverished, starving and dying of the Third World?

Perhaps some individuals in the “West” are not as “secure and comfortable” as we would perhaps like to be.  However, the point that the authors are trying to make is a very general one.  In comparison to the rest of the world, there are certain nations that are more “affluent” (rich in resources) than others across the globe.  The United States, for example, is more affluent as a nation than any nation in Africa or South America.  There is no real dispute to this.  So the question remains, what are the duties that the United States, and other more affluent nations, should have to less affluent nations?

On pages 883-5, there are three groups of answers provided.  There is, of course, a wide spectrum of belief or opinion on the matter, but you should understand these three points on the spectrum.  The first group is the “strong egalitarians” who say that we are “obligated to share the earth’s resources with all those in need.”  Equality is the highest priority, so we must equally distribute wealth.  The second group says that there is no obligation or duty to feed the hungry.  In fact, we actually have a stronger duty to not feed them because this might negatively change our own position.  Note well the difference between having “a duty to help” (this is related to someone else’s positive rights) and having “a duty to not interfere” (this is related to someone else’s negative rights).  For this second group, we have no obligation to help, but we do have a duty to not interfere with someone else’s “negative” rights which could make someone’s situation worse.  (I am reminded of the “Prime Directive” in Star Trek for any “Trekkies” out there – if that makes no sense, please disregard!)  The third group takes a more moderate approach and recognizes the duty of beneficence and generosity, and weighs this duty against other obligations and rights.

In the passages, you will notice some important terms and ideas.  The moral obligation to do good to others and avoid harming them is known as a duty of beneficence.  Egalitarianism is discussed in this chapter and egalitarians argue that since all persons have equal worth, they are all entitled to equal portions of the world's essential goods.  It is important to notice that the utilitarian view on aiding the poor and hungry, used by BOTH Singer and Hardin, has the potential to lead to very different results and responses to world hunger.

Garrett Hardin (and later Singer, too) often cite statistics involving world population growth rates, poverty rates and financial information to show the massive effect amounts of money and food required to feed and take care of the entire world.  One of the hard parts about using readings like these in a college course is that the information is out of date the moment it is printed.  The editors of this book have taken a certain kind of approach and they have supplied the more “classic” and some time-tested essays by important leaders in particular areas rather than opting for the latest groundbreaking studies that may or may not stand the “test of time.”  Therefore, the statistics may seem “dated” yet they are generally fairly accurate because they are based on older studies and have been more tested.  The interpretations, however, are of course up for debate and we can see the drastically different conclusions at which the authors of these passages arrive.

However, be careful in reading about their interpretations and think for yourself!  The numbers presented only present a snapshot of certain situations that the writer intends to interpret and then recommend actions.  I mention it here because some of these statistics have changed over time (e.g. populations change and growth rates change in many nations) but the theories behind the interpretations of this data may also evolve in different ways.  For those of you who have some “extra” time or are particularly interested, the US Government has a “World Population Clock” at https://www.census.gov/popclock/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  I provide a fair warning, if you are interested in numbers, you can spend quite a bit of time looking at this interesting data – so try not to let it detract from your work!

I will briefly provide some comments and highlight the important issues in the passages.  As always, you will need to read the text for the most complete presentation of ideas and your fullest understanding of the issues at hand.


Living on a Lifeboat – Garrett Hardin

As we should remember from the previous unit, mutual ruin from a well-meaning system of sharing is what Garrett Hardin calls the tragedy of the commons.  “The Tragedy of the Commons” is another passage by Hardin, and it appears in the chapter on “Our Duties to the Environment.”  Some of the same metaphors and ideas from the previous passage are discussed again here. 

Hardin’s focus here is on presenting his idea that providing food to needy countries will eventually result in a larger catastrophe where there is suffering and death on a massive scale.  Therefore, affluent nations like the United States should withhold aid (primarily food and medicine) from poorer countries.  The reason for withholding is not simply greed or self-centeredness, he argues, but to avoid future catastrophes on a massive global scale.  Nations that are incredibly poor increase in population much more rapidly than affluent nations do.  He argues that this can only end in a catastrophe, and by withholding food supply this will force poorer nations to adjust and be able to provide their own resources to their own population. 

His metaphor of the lifeboat is meant to be a better solution than that of “spaceship earth.”  The lifeboat metaphor is discussed on pages 888-9.  The picture is clear – the lifeboat has a capacity of 60, with 50 people already aboard.  150 other people are swimming for their lives.  Do we choose only 10 to rescue?  If we attempt to rescue everyone, everyone will die.  He even claims “complete justice, complete catastrophe” (p. 888) which seems to justify a certain level of acceptable “injustice” and perhaps also implies that it is not just that some people in the world have plenty while others have little or nothing.

Hardin discusses the metaphor of the lifeboat, concerns about reproduction and overpopulation, ideas to what he calls (a “ruinous system” of) “commons” including a world food bank, and issues related to immigration.  Hardin’s arguments are perhaps sometimes extreme and overstated, which the passage by Murdoch and Oaten aim to show.  As you read through Hardin’s arguments, read carefully.  His goal does not seem to be to offend or even discriminate against poorer nations, but rather work toward solutions for preserving the world for posterity or future generations.

One important example about which I will mention a little more is Hardin’s views with regard to immigration. During the section “Immigration creates a commons” Hardin asks “How curious it is that we so seldom discuss immigration these days?” (p. 897).   There have been some significant changes in the United States since 1974, when this article was published, and immigration is now more often discussed – but perhaps not in the same way that Hardin relates here.  Hardin shows that in the previous two generations (perhaps three, now) that all of the “pejorative terms” he mentions were in the popular press and it was most certainly not considered wrong or “politically incorrect” to use these racial references that are now considered very offensive.  He argues that immigrants, and in particular Mexican-Americans, are exploited as “cheap labor” and this leads him to argue for immigration control.  As you should notice, he does not seem to argue for “closing the door” on any kind of immigration into the United States, but rather monitoring the current population by monitoring birth rates and death rates and allowing immigration to ensure close to “zero population growth” as a kind of optimal goal.  It seems that for Hardin ending immigration is not a goal.  Rather, the goal is attempting to regulate population growth (to near-zero) and he believes this may ensure the survival of a certain way of life in this country and avoid overpopulation.

There are subtleties to Hardin’s arguments and while the critics (in the very next passage) accuse Hardin of being “simplistic” in his analysis and particularly his use of metaphors, I am not sure if we can say that everything he argues is “simple,” even if we disagree with some or all of his views.  I hope that this makes sense and I will repeat for some emphasis: Hardin’s critics say his analysis is “simplistic” but that does not mean that his ideas are “simple.”


A Critique of Lifeboat Ethics – William W. Murdoch and Alan Oaten

Murdoch and Oaten criticize Hardin’s metaphor of the “lifeboat” and argue against the validity of his claims.  As I noted in the last section above, they charge that Hardin’s analysis is too “simplistic.”

One of the main criticisms of the lifeboat metaphor in this passage is that the lifeboats – the nations of the world – have had quite a bit of interactions over hundreds of years.  In fact, it seems that many of the poorer nations have been exploited by the richer nations.  This exploitation may have been initiated in the colonial period, but it arguably continues to the present day.  One powerful example, discussed here and in other passages, is that many poor nations rely on “cash crops” rather than “food crops” to support themselves.  If a country grows cacao beans and coffee beans, as many African nations do – then they must rely on importing food to feed the people within their borders.  There then exists a strong reliance upon other nations and the divide between “rich” and “poor” is maintained and arguably grows wider.  Hardin said, and others seem to agree, that the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer” but they clearly differ on what to do about it.  Be sure you see these differences, as it will be important for understanding the different views presented in this chapter.

Murdoch and Oaten note on page 907 that “The fact is that enough food is now produced to feed the world’s population adequately” but that the problem is with the unequal distribution of the food.  From reading the Hardin passage, it seems that he may agree with the truth of this claim, but Hardin then argues that, in the face of knowing that, the United States should still not provide aid to poorer nations in the name of saving future generations.   

This passage from Murdoch and Oaten leads to a section “costs, gains and difficulties” that lists six measures on page 914 to aid poorer nations.  While it seems they recommend the U.S. take the lead in providing aid, Murdoch and Oaten do not think that the amount of aid required would cause a decline in the lifestyle of Americans.  They even go as far to say that Hardin’s view “bears no relation to reality” (p. 915) because according to their criticism he argues something like “it is either them or us.”  I leave it to you to decide if that is what he is really saying or if his critics are being a little unfair.  As you will notice if you read this passage (and the others) carefully, there is a significant amount of direct argumentation and sometimes very strong criticism bordering on name-calling and finger-pointing.  Scholars and academics are not immune to fighting “dirty” it seems.  Let us, however, do our best to avoid that in our class and be more civilized!


Famine, Affluence and Morality – Peter Singer

Singer’s passage begins with a picture of nine million destitute refugees.  He could be talking about any situation, as he mentions later on a footnote on page 919.  In the text on page 919 he says “The Bengal emergency is just the latest and most acute of a series of major emergencies in various parts of the world, arising both from natural and from man-made causes.”  As he notes in the opening pages, governments know what is going on, but provide little funding (he lists amounts in British pounds) in comparison to other projects. 

Singer, throughout his career, has called for governmental and social reform to care for the poor.  He contends that if we have the power to prevent a very bad thing from occurring, and if we can prevent it without "sacrificing anything morally significant," then we have a moral duty to help.According to Singer, giving to famine relief and similar causes is not an act of charity but a stringent moral obligation. 

Singer thinks that we have the same obligation to give to the needy close by AND to those far away.  There is no higher priority to closer neighbors.  This is mentioned at various places in the passage, especially page 920 where Singer says he will not say much about why he does not take “proximity and distance into account.” This is an important point for Singer, and it has been widely criticized, as Timmerman does in the next passage.

On page 921, Singer mentions the idea of a “global village.”  This phrase has become much more popular in recent years, and refers to the fact that the world is “shrinking” due to technological advances.  Singer notes here, again, that there would seem to be “no possible justification for discriminating on geographical grounds.”  So it seems this “global village” provides counter-evidence to any claim that people in a poorer starving nation are too far away to be able to help.

On page 923, Singer mentions an important term: supererogatory.  Generally, supererogatory means to “go above and beyond the call of duty” when applied in ethics.  Singer mentions it here to show that there is a moral obligation to assist those in need.  Giving money to the poor is not supererogatory, he claims, because it would be wrong not to do so.

At the end of the passage, Singer defends philosophers (like himself) who “play a role in public affairs” (pp. 928-9).  Far from being a spectator, Singer has been an active voice and promoter of animal rights, environmental rights and altruistic endeavors to assist in relieving world hunger.  He says that “Discussion, though, is not enough” (p. 929), and he clearly argues for a sacrifice by all affluent people to help all those in need.  It seems we need to decide who is truly “affluent.”


A Reply to Singer - Travis Timmerman

Timmerman aims to refute Singer's well-known arguments by claiming that it is unsound because we do not have such stringent duties (p. 930, introduction to this passage).  On page 930, Timmerman lists the steps of the form of Singer's arguments.  Premise two has the phrase "in your power" and I encourage you to carefully think about what is actually in your power or the power of an individual to make actual change.  He later questions the validity, and perhaps the sustainability, of premise two.

Timmerman then proceeds to critically analyze, and criticize, Singer's "drowning child" argument.  Note just how Timmerman argues his case.  Singer seems to think that if a person encountered this  (rather wild) situation, they would interpret it as ahistorical - a one-time occurence that will not be repeated.  However, giving to poorer nations will need to be repeated because the affluent nation will continue to be in a position to help, and therefore should help.  

Timmerman's position is one of caution, he seems to claim.  He proposes, on page 933, that it should be possible for "unlucky Lisa" to enjoy some other good (like going to the theater) in addition to saving as many drowning children as she can - for as long as she can.  Singer's argument is too extreme for Timmerman, as Timmerman seems to imply that the moral necessity of always putting one's self in the position of giving to the maximum effort may just be too great of a burden on actual human beings.









General Evaluation Rubric

"Analysis Papers"


(A) The Superior Paper (90-100 out of 100)


Rhetorical Sensitivity: The paper reflects a clear understanding of the rhetorical situation and the audience for the paper. The paper insightfully does what the assignment asks.


Content: The paper reflects the student’s mastery of the material.  The content of the paper is highly sophisticated and clear, and also appropriate for the audience(s) of the paper.

Clarity: The paper is very well organized.  The writing is clear and easy to follow.  The ideas are developed in a way that is appropriate for the length of the paper.


High Order Thinking: The paper is profoundly aware of the perspectives from which the information related to the paper may be viewed.  The paper is deeply sensitive to the historical, cultural, and religious or philosophical frameworks from which the information originates.  The paper is also aware of multiple hermeneutical approaches appropriate for interpreting the information.  It places the material in a broader context related to the content of the class or contemporary experience.  It evaluates specific aspects of the material based on individual criteria or criteria identified and shared by a community.


Download Questions

Introduction The current study sheds light on global economic justice as well as ethical dilemmas in third world country. Along with that, it demonstrates population growth across the world over the time and increasing rate of poverty. The following study illustrates ethical solutions and living lifeboat as well as related critics on the basis of ethical dilemmas. Thesis stamen of this study revolves around economic injustice and its impact on world population.

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