Ethics and the Professions Autumn 1998

Do each of the following:

1. Describe an imaginary situation you might find yourself in when employed in your chosen profession (or in whatever field you think you may enter) in which you are faced with an ethically difficult choice. By "ethically difficult" here I mean involving moral reasons tugging in different directions. What should you do in that situation?
2. Construct at least two arguments for, and at least two arguments against, the position that you have taken. (The conclusions of the arguments, therefore, should be of the form "I should do X" and "I should not do X" where "X" is a specific action in these circumstances.) You must express the arguments in the form suggested by Callahan, which appeals to general moral principles and factual claims. Be sure to make it clear what claims are the general moral principles, which are the factual claims, and which are the conclusions.
3.Critique each argument, using the techniques of critique discussed by Callahan on pages 15-19 or those discussed in class.
4. Attempt to improve each argument made in section 2 in light of the criticisms brought in section 3. If the arguments cannot be improved to withstand the criticism, say so. Explain.
5. What (morally) should you do and why? Here you may want to refer to (and agree or disagree with) some of the points made in parts 2 - 4. You should bring in considerations from various ethical theories.

[See pages 465-467 of the Callahan book for some points on how to write up case studies. This should be particularly helpful for part 5 of the assignment.]

Note: For this assignment you need not use any materials apart from those in the class texts--indeed you are encouraged not to. However, no matter what sources of information or ideas you use--even the textbook--be sure to make adequate and specific attribution (e.g., in footnotes). You are expected to do your own work. Use of unacknowledged sources (e.g., books, friends, tutors, other papers) for this assignment constitutes cheating.

This assignment should be typed (or printed out by computer--or better yet, submitted electronically to, if possible. It is due on the indicated due date.

Please put your name on your paper. If you submit it on paper, a genuine staple in the upper left-hand corner would be appreciated. No fancy covers or binders, please. Please number each page.

If you submit the paper electronically to obviously you don't have to worry about staples. If you "attach" the file, be sure you indicate (on the envelope, as it were) what word processor was used to generate it. But you can simply include the paper as text in a mail file. In that case it should be single spaced. Emphasis (italics or underlining) can be indicated by surrounding by asterisks, by capitalization, or in some other clear and suitable convention. If you submit the paper electronically, ask for an electronic receipt (i.e. that I mail you back telling you I received it.)

Richard Lee,, last modified: 28 September 1998