Political Ethics

The assignment for this week: Watch the talk by Jason Brennan: Is Democracy Just? (Before answering the following questions, students should watch Brennan’s talk in its entirety.) In light of Brennan’s claims and arguments, answer the following questions: Provide a normative definition of ‘justice’. (A normative definition is prescriptive rather than descriptive: tell me how the term should be defined.) Expand upon your definition of ‘justice’ by sharing what the foundations of justice ought to be. (Answering this question will allow you to define the term ‘Justice’ more fully; so that I will understand what you mean when you say, “justice” or “just” in the questions that follow.) (Be specific: provide a detailed explanation.) (This assignment requires that you take a stance: i.e. answering that ‘justice’ “…can mean many things…” will not earn credit for this assignment. Provide a specific answer and explore that answer. Your answer does not have to be simple or singular, but it does need to be specific.) Is the political system in the United States Just? Explain. Apply your articulation of ‘justice’ from parts 2 and 3 to this question. Depending on your answer to number four, answer either 5 or 6 [below]. If the system is just, how should we defend it? (i.e. what facts would help to demonstrate this for someone that might not agree?) If the system is unjust, how should we refine it to make it to better approximate a just system? Finally: Offer your opinion(s) on the ideas expressed by Jason Brennan. (For the purposes of the question above, an opinion is defined as follows: an opinion is a belief which is explicitly supported by verifiable or falsifiable facts. An opinion is not a collection of preferences. Any claim supported by only inclination, preference, or hearsay will not be considered an “opinion”.)   (If you are feeling lost when considering what might count as a foundation of justice, please take some time to reflect upon the material of this course: intrinsic vs instrumental value, hedonism, egoism, altruism, utilitarianism, deontology, teleology and virtue, social contract theory, etcetera.)   Parameters: Length: between 350 and 650 words. No quotations or paraphrasing of any source material. Express everything in your own words. Any sources reviewed as a part of this assignment should be included in a bibliography. (A “bibliography” is a Book-Map. I want to see where you’ve been and what you have considered. Include links to any youtube videos watched, any articles or blogs read, and any other source of information that you encountered while preparing for or completing this assignment. Hint* every student should include [at least] the assigned video and our assigned text-books in their bibliography.)

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