In the Ancient Greek world (the world of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, often regarded as the birthplace of philosophy) a “symposium” was a banquet held after a meal, an “after party” of sorts that usually included drinking, dancing, recitals and engaging conversations on the topics of the day.
For our purposes in this course, the Symposium discussions will not involve dancing, recitals or a banquet, but they will provide food for thought on current ethical issues and direct application of the ethical theory discussed in each of these weeks.
It is almost impossible these days to turn on the news or log onto social media without encountering a controversy that cries out for ethical discussion. For these Symposium discussions, your instructor will choose a topic of current ethical interest and a resource associated with it for you to read or watch. Your task is to consider how the ethical theory of the week might be used to examine, understand or evaluate the issue.
This week, you will consider how virtue ethics applies to a controversy, dilemma, event, or scenario selected by your instructor. It is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a virtue ethics approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the chosen issue.
Your posts should remain focused on the ethical considerations, and at some point in your contribution you must specifically address the way a virtue ethicist would approach this issue by explaining and evaluating that approach.
If you have a position, you should strive to provide reasons in defense of that position.
You must post on at least two separate days, must include at least one substantial reply to a peer or to your instructor, and your posts should add up to at least 400 words.
Your instructor may include additional requirements, so be sure to pay attention to the prompt.
Hi class, this week we have a symposium where the approach should consider how to engage the topic via virtue ethics.
The focus topic for this week is to discuss what we need to have, as a society, to help individuals flourish and develop their own talents and ethical abilities. In other words, what is needed to help enable people to become virtuous, to become good citizens, and to be able to live rich, meaningful lives? To start thinking more about how to answer that, I would like you to watch the following two short clips from Martha Nussbaum to use and relate to in your response:
Martha Nussbaum is a contemporary theorist who bases some of the core concepts and reasoning of her approach to issues like social policy and ethics on some of the core assumptions of virtue ethics. See the following two clips to get a brief sense of how she does this:
Martha Nussbaum: 1 minute on translating Aristotle’s term “eudaimonia” as human flourishing, a complex idea not simply reducible to “happiness” in the common sense.
Building on that, here is Nussbaum from the 2008 film describing her views on applying that concept of human flourishing to thinking about the role of a good society or political arrangement. The clip is under 8 minutes:
From the last clip, the list of 10 capability categories Nussbaum discusses: