Ethical case study – Virtue Ethics, Natural Law or Deontological Ethics

1. 1) Choose one of these ethical theories and explain it as clearly as you can (highlight its key aspects):
1. a) Either Virtue Ethics.
2. b) Or Natural Law (Ethical) theory
3. c) Or Deontological Ethics
2. 2) Apply the chosen ethical theory to one of the following scenarios and explain how the theory provides a basis for rational decision making. You should apply parts of the theory specifically to the scenario. For example, specific virtues in Virtue Ethics or specific maxims and imperatives in Deontology or specific (basic) goods in Natural Law, and explain how these help you to solve some of the ethical challenges that arise.
3. 3) What are 1 or 2 major strengths and weaknesses of the theory (you should discuss at least one strength and one weakness, and you should draw on research and authoritative academic sources, not mere opinions, here)
4. 4) Explain (briefly) whether or not the chosen ethical theory will help you resolve ethical dilemmas in the future in your own life or in the professional sphere, and why.

SCENARIOS

Case study 1

It comes to your attention that a recent survey in the USA shows that almost 70% of people, when given a choice between getting an electric shock and spending a little time alone, actually prefer the electric shock.

The study links this result with the prevalence of smart phones and other such technologies in our everyday lives. The authors of the study also note that more and more children are now given access to such technologies. The study suggests that such technologies and their prevalence have contributed to increased levels of anxiety and fear (for example, “fear of missing out”), and other psychological issues. They note a wide range of professional and ethical challenges.

What would you recommend, as a student of ethics, and why?

Or

Case study 2

You live in a country where the unemployment rate is already higher than it should be. The most authoritative economic research body in the country reports that almost half of all Australian jobs will be replaced by computers, robots, and other such technologies by 2040.

A wide range of these jobs is mentioned, including business and financial advisors, health services, farming, manufacturing, teaching, and so on. Such technologies will boost productivity and efficiency, but more Australians will in all probability be out of work. Moreover, they warn that unless widespread reform is undertaken, our workforce will not be competitive enough in the global marketplace.

Full-time work may well become more difficult to find. And the authors warn also that the social divide is likely to increase; the gap between the haves and the have nots, the rich and the poor, is likely to widen considerably.

You are in a position to sway the government’s view on this matter. What do you think we ought to do and why? (Focus on the ethical dimensions.)

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