Given this initial overview of consequentialist vs. deontological approaches, review the initial example of promise-keeping vs. enjoying pizza and beer with friends. In particular:

(A) How did you initially analyze the dilemma – i.e., more as a consequentialist and/or more as a deontologist? (As the use of the “and/or” suggests, while there are sharp differences between the two positions, it is possible for us to use both in some combination or another.)

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(B) Now that you’ve had a chance to review and explore these two frameworks, try applying them to another ethical dilemma – ideally, one affiliated with the use of digital media. In doing so:

(i) Describe the dilemma as fully and accurately as you can.

(ii) Explain what your own initial response to this dilemma might be.

That is, what would you decide to do, and how would you decide what to do?

(iii) Then apply each of these frameworks to the dilemma as best you can – perhaps with the help of cohorts and/or your instructor. Make clear how each framework leads to a given outcome or decision regarding possible acts or choices.

(C) Given the dilemma you choose to analyze, does the consequentialist approach lead to the same ethical conclusion as a deontological approach or to a different one? Especially if the outcomes are different, which outcome more closely fits with your own initial response to this dilemma (i.e., your response in B.ii)?

(D) Especially if your initial response/s mesh/es well with either a consequentialist and/or a deontological response, do you see any additional reasons, insights, arguments, analytical approaches, etc., offered by consequentialism and/or deontology beyond those that you initially used in approaching this problem?

What are these, and do you think that they may prove useful in approaching other ethical dilemmas as well? (In Kantian terms: can you universalize these – or are they just useful in this particular case?)

(E) Especially if the outcomes of these two different approaches are different, what does this difference mean? That is, are we forced, for example, to choose between one or the other approach, such that one is always right and the other always wrong?

If you say “yes,” can you justify (provide good reasons, argument, evidence for) your response?

If you say “no,” again, can you justify (provide good reasons, argument, evidence for) your response?

3. Meta-ethical frameworks: Relativism, absolutism (monism), pluralism Ethical relativism These contrasts between utilitarian and deontological ethics suggest, on first glance, a meta-ethical view called ethical relativism. That is, in the face of (often radically) different ethical frameworks and claims, it is tempting to believe that these differences must mean that there are no universally valid ethical norms, values, approaches, etc. Rather, all such norms, values, and approaches are valid only relative to (i.e., within the domain of) a given culture or group of people. Such ethical relativism is even more tempting as we gain more knowledge and experience of how people live, think, and feel in cultures different from our own – a knowledge increasingly commonplace in a world ever more interconnected by digital media.

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