Socratic Seminar Starter Essay

Customer’s note: Please write a short essay that could be read as the catalyst for a Socratic seminar discussion, using the article below, created by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

“On Happiness

1 It may be said that every individual man and all men in common aim at a certain end which determines what they choose and what they avoid. This end, to sum it up briefly, is happiness and its constituents. Let us, then, by way of illustration only, ascertain what the nature of happiness is in general, and what are the elements of its constituent parts. For all advice to do things or not to do them is concerned with happiness and with the things that make for or against it; whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.
2 We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one’s property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.
3 From this definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are: — good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honor, good luck, and virtue. A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and these external goods; for besides these there are no others to have. (Goods of the soul and of the body are internal. Good birth, friends, money, and honor are external.) Further, we think that he should possess resources and luck, in order to make his life really secure…
4 To call happiness the highest good is perhaps a little trite, and a clearer account of what it is still required. Perhaps this is best done by first ascertaining the proper function of man. For just as the goodness and performance of a flute player, a sculptor, or any kind of expert, and generally of anyone who fulfills some function or performs some action, are thought to reside in his proper function, so the goodness and performance of man would seem to reside in whatever is his proper function. Is it then possible that while a carpenter and a shoemaker have their own proper functions and spheres of action, man as man has none,
but was left by nature a good-for-nothing without a function? Should we not assume that just as the eye, the hand, the foot, and in general each part of the body clearly has its own proper function, so man too has some function over and above the functions of his parts? What can this function possibly be? Simply living? He shares that even with plants, but we are now looking for something peculiar to man. Accordingly, the life of nutrition and growth must be excluded. Next in line there is a life of sense perception. But this, too, man has in common with the horse, the ox, and every animal. There remains then an active life of the rational element. The rational element has two parts: one is rational in that it obeys the rule of reason, the other in that it possesses and conceives rational rules. Since the expression ‘life of the rational element’ also can be used in two senses, we must make it clear that we mean a life determined by the activity, as opposed to the mere possession, of the rational element. For the activity, it seems, has a greater claim to be the function of man.
5 The proper function of man, then, consists in an activity of the soul in conformity with a rational principle or, at least, not without it. In speaking of the proper function of a given individual we mean that it is the same in kind as the function of an individual who sets high standards for himself: the proper function of a harpist, for example, is the same as the function of a harpist who has set high standards for himself. The same applies to any and every group of individuals: the full attainment of excellence must be added to the mere function. In other words, the function of the harpist is to play the harp; the function of the harpist who has high standards is to play it well. On these assumptions, if we take the proper function of man to be a certain kind of life, and if this kind of life is an activity of the soul and consists in actions performed in conjunction with the rational element, and if a man of high standards is he who performs these actions well and properly, and if a function is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the excellence appropriate to it; we reach the conclusion that the good of man is an activity of the soul in conformity with excellence or virtue, and if there are several virtues, in conformity with the best and most complete.
6 But we must add ‘in a complete life.’ For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one sunny day; similarly, one day or a short time does not make a man blessed and happy.”

Customer’s note: Additionally, please use the format shown below when creating the essay.

Opener:

Background Information:

7 Seminar Questions:

Closure:

Customer’s note: I will also attach an example of a completed Socratic Seminar Starter Essay below.

“The Declaration of Independence:” Theory of Government

“Opener: Imagine you move to a country where you are stripped of your freedoms. You can’t practice the religion of your choice. You can’t speak out against the government. All media, television, radio, music, etc are strictly monitored and selected by the government. What other rights might you be stripped of? What rights would you have the most difficult time living without? Background Information:
There were 56 signers of the document, the most notable being John Hancock. Their ages ranged from 26 to 70 (Benjamin Franklin) and included two future presidents (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams). There were signers from each of the 13 colonies; some were merchants, some were doctors, and some were lawyers or judges.
There were many events that led the Declaration of Independence, most of these being ridiculous taxes imposed by the British government. One such tax, or act, was the Tea Act, passed by Parliament on May 10, 1773. It was designed to help the East India Company which was floundering financially and had eighteen million pounds of unsold tea. This tea was to be shipped directly to the colonies and sold at a bargain price. The radical leaders in America found reason to believe that this act was a maneuver to buy popular support for the taxes already in force and to undercut the business of local merchants (Citation). Seminar Questions:
1. What assumptions about human nature are made in the document?
2. According to the document, does the argument for declaring independence depend on belief in God? 3. What is meant by “all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”? Do you think this is true? (top of page 90) 4. Who is the intended audience for the document? What makes you think so?
5. Are all the listed grievances violations of unalienable rights?
6. Why do the writers appeal to the Laws of Nature as well as to the Laws of Nature’s God in justifying their break with Great Britain?
7. Is the right to overthrow the government an unalienable right?
Closure: In his writings, Aristotle states that a government should first provide the necessities of life to its people, and then provide those things that contribute to the good life. Hobbes says that the government’s job is to bring order and security to its people. Locke says that the government’s job is to preserve the lives, liberties, and possessions of its people. Which do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? Explain.”

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Imagine we ensure that all people involved in the production of pornography do so entirely voluntarily. Also imagine that we ensure that all those who consume pornographic materials do so entirely voluntarily. Should pornography nonetheless be banned? In answering this question, you are at liberty to use any readings from this module, such as Mill’s On Liberty. But make sure that your essay considers MacKinnon’s views on this matter.

The Trial of Charles I

This paper is about the trial of King Charles I in 1649 and its relation to the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. It should cover the Hobbes’ contract theory, his “state of nature” , and his “Leviathan” and “Behemoth”. It should discuss whether anyone had the rightful authority, according to Hobbes’ philosophy, to try the king. Finally it should discuss what influence the trial and Hobbes’ philosophy has had.

I’ve attached my rough draft. The specific sources listed at the end can but don’t need to be used except for Leviathan and Behemoth.

Module 7 Ethics Town Hall 3: Liability

Ethics Town Hall 3
This image is currently unavailable Purpose
Our objective here is to evaluate the extent to which businesses are responsible for the impacts of their products, services, and operations on consumers and their communities.

This image is currently unavailable Directions
The opening statement and rebuttal have different due dates.

This image is currently unavailableDebate Topic:

Our case study for this debate is the Thierer reading on autonomous vehicles (“robot cars”). Suppose that a nationwide adoption of computer-guided driverless vehicles would result in a massive overall annual reduction in road fatalities, saving thousands of lives. But suppose that, in order for this to be possible, individual passengers will have to relinquish control over how vehicles respond to impending accidents, possibly sacrificing the life of one passenger to save a greater number of others involved in the crash. This tradeoff would save many more lives than would be sacrificed. And because the entire system would be automated, no one involved in any crash would be responsible for causing it. Your question is: should society implement this system? Why or why not? Spell out your reasons.

Please read the debate guidelines (Links to an external site.).
Read the tips for debate:
Wilson, J. (2016, August 22). Debate tips: A few tips for those daily arguments you get into (Links to an external site.).
National Speech and Debate Association. (n.d.). Debate training guide. (Links to an external site.)

Opening Statement
Respond to the debate prompt. Explain your position on the question posed and justify your stance by providing reasons and evidence in the clearest terms possible. Please add “Opening Statement” in the first line of the post.

Rebuttals
Please respond to at least one classmate’s opening statement. Explain and justify your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with their position and the reasons for it they gave.

Please post your opening statement and rebuttal by clicking the Reply button below. The rebuttals should be posted as replies to other students’ opening statements.

Module 7 Ethics of Consumerism
Overview
In this module, we take a close look at the extent to which businesses are responsible for the impact of their products, services, and operations on consumers and their communities. We will find that issues of ethical leadership incumbent upon stakeholders arise on all sides of these relationships.

Learning Objectives
Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

Practice nuanced dialogue around ethical responsibility in a leading industry.
Begin to reflect from a philosophical standpoint on the role and value of legal regulations on emerging technologies.
Weigh and balance the competing goods of public health, private profit, and consumer rights.
Key Concepts
This module focuses on the following major topics:

Ethical problems of risk and responsibility within the insurance industry
Liability ethics around the transformative, emerging technology of automated vehicles
A practical case study raising ethical questions about protecting vulnerable persons from harmful products
Summary of Module Learning Activities
This section outlines the activities that you will complete in this module. It is recommended that you complete the readings in the module prior to submitting the assignments.

Readings
All readings below that are listed with page numbers are in our Ciulla et al. reader.

Stanley J. Modic, “How We Got into This Mess,” p. 283
Adam Thierer, “When the Trial Lawyers Come for the Robot Cars,” p. 303
Case 8.2: “Children and Reasonably Safe Products,” p. 306

A basic organizing assumption behind the material covered in this module is that businesses are responsible for their own operations, services, and products. But this starting point only leads to further and controversial questions about what should happen when bad things happen in the course of doing business. It can be tricky to determine the ethically (and legally) appropriate distribution of responsibility between the company, the consumer, and the community at large. This module’s main business (pun intended) is therefore to investigate such questions from a variety of perspectives.

Module 7 is organized around a set of concepts laid out by lawyer Peter Huber in his piece entitled “Liability.” There he addresses what he sees as an ongoing crisis in product liability law. Huber’s call for tort reform raises tough questions about how we should balance the need to hold companies accountable for the damage their products or operations cause to the public against the need to protect businesses from frivolous litigation and to ensure freedom in the marketplace.

One key concept to focus on in Huber’s essay is tort liability. Tort law, Huber explains, “is the law of accidents and personal injury.” It is used to adjudicate the conflicts over rights and responsibilities that arise when things go wrong. Someone has to step in and assign blame for harms caused by some to others in society. Courts provide this service. Tort law therefore aims to protect people’s rights and resolve disputes in a reasonable manner using fair procedures.

So far, so sensible. But Huber claims that this area of litigation has ballooned since the 1960s to such proportions that it has become a massive net drain on our society’s financial and other resources.

As you read and evaluate Huber’s argument, bear in mind the crucial distinction he draws between the concepts of contract/choice (“the realm of human cooperation”) and tort/coercion (“the realm of unchosen relationship and collision”) (p. 279).

Another concept to reflect on as you assess Huber is “safety tax.” This is the tax he makes so much of in his provocative (and polemical) opening remarks. What is the significance of Huber’s decision to frame the impact of tort liability in terms of an invisible but costly tax? It is clearly a bit of a metaphor, since, as he points out himself, the safety-adjusted price attached to products and services under the current tort paradigm is not the result of legislation or public referenda. Is this metaphor misleading
or revealing? The same questions apply to Huber’s rhetorical framing of the transformation in tort law over a few decades since the 1950s as a “violent revolution.”

Huber argues that the “revolution” in tort liability has made itself felt not only around automobiles (perhaps the most obvious venue for costly accident risk) but also in the area of contraceptives, childhood vaccination, workplace safety. Consider each of these areas in turn, being mindful of how risk and benefits enter into people’s dealings with each other in them. How would you map Huber’s distinction between “private choice” and “public choice” legal paradigms onto these areas? Which paradigm seems the best fit for each area?

Another key concept in Huber’s piece is strict liability. Huber locates the early origin of this expanded category of tort liability in a 1962 Supreme Court ruling. He defines strict liability as a “great leap” in the revolutionary “shift from consent to coercion in the law of accidents” (p. 281). Strict liability is a legal standard whereby a party to a dispute is responsible for the consequences resulting from something they make or do even in the absence of negligence or criminal intent. In the area of product liability, which is Huber’s focus here, strict liability means that providers of products or services are held responsible for any injury caused by those products or services without the finding of fault. This means businesses are held liable even in the absence of negligence or explicit or implicit agreement to accept such responsibility. The increasing legal dominance of strict product liability has meant that liability for harm caused by accidents has been increasingly assigned to businesses in a wider range of cases.

As you absorb Huber’s concluding remarks, consider whether you agree with his view that the triumph of the doctrine of strict liability in tort law represents a misstep in how we allocate responsibility for injury caused by accidents.