Week 1 – Discussion
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Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Refer to the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric under the Settings icon above for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.
Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks
This discussion assignment requires you to submit at least four posts: an initial post, two reply posts to fellow students in threads other than your own, and a revised post in response to the professor’s feedback.
Prepare: The initial post in this discussion must be informed by the required material for this discussion. Your preparation should focus on three classical ethical theories that are fundamental in any ethical analysis: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Since the subject of your examination is the Starbucks case, make sure to view the relevant multimedia carefully with an eye toward the various ethical problems that this company has had to confront.
Reflect: Keep in mind that although the notion of the moral good will vary among ethical theories, they often produce the same or similar results. So you should focus on the differences in (a) the intent and (b) the consequences of the action under examination. In utilitarianism, for example, the consequences of the action are weightier than the intent. Accordingly, even if the intent was morally questionable, the action is nonetheless morally good if it achieves good consequences for most. The opposite would be the case if the action were being examined from a deontological point of view. These reflections will aid your selection of an ethical theory for your initial post, as well as your critical examinations of the analysis from fellow students.
Write: Start your initial post by identifying two characteristics of utilitarianism, two characteristics of virtue ethics, and two characteristics of deontology. Organize this part of your post so that it is clear which characteristics belong to which ethical theory. You can do this by means of subtitles, or by presenting a table. You should aim to write one complete and clear sentence for each characteristic rather than just one or a few words.
Then, take the position that Starbucks is guided by utilitarianism and analyze how the notion of the moral good in utilitarianism leads to a unique approach to ethical problems. The way to do this is as follows:
- First, present an ethical problem confronted by Starbucks. You can choose one such ethical problem from the video.
- Then, apply the characteristics of utilitarianism that you identified for this discussion in the attempt to solve this problem.
- After this, analyze how the notion of the moral good present in utilitarianism, and the characteristics that you identified in particular, shape the approach to solving this problem.
Revise: This is your chance to correct any oversights or errors in your initial post, or show your improved understanding of the ethical theories and their applications. Start by reading the feedback provided by your professor to your initial post, either directly to you or to your fellow students. Use this as an opportunity to learn from your professor, especially with regard to the best ways to apply the course material and your research to your analysis. On the basis of what you have learned in this process, post an improved revision of your initial post that applies the additional knowledge that you have gained.
Remember that your grade depends on the quality of your initial and revised responses, not just on the submission of an attempt at improvement. It is thus to your advantage to post the best initial post you can and then to also improve that best effort as much as you can through revision. Taking this process seriously will help you develop the skills you need to do well on the final project.
Requirements for Your Initial Post:
- Your initial post should be at least 400 words in lengthand have citations and references in APA notation. It should address the prompt in its entirety. This means that you should not split your response to the prompt in multiple posts. Your examination should be both thorough and succinct. This is a combination that demands time and thought, so give yourself sufficient time to draft and revise.
- Please be advised that until you post, you will not see what your fellow students are posting. Once you submit your post, you will be able to view the posts from your other classmates. You can then proceed to reply to at least two different threads based on the required material for this discussion on virtue ethics and deontology.
- Your list of references for your initial post should include the video and the other required material for this discussion, including Section 1.3 of the textbook on Starbucks, as well as the Instructor Guidance and any other announcements presented to you by your professor. Use all of the material presented to you in the course and by your professor, in addition to any other sources that you consulted to inform yourself about Starbucks (but not Wikipedia or similar sources).
- Your initial post for this discussion should be submitted no later than the end of Thursday (11:59 pm, U.S. Mountain time).
Requirements for Replies to Other Threads:
- At least two of the four posts required should be in the form of replies to fellow classmates in threads other than your own.
- Each of your replies should be at least 200 words and informed by the course material. As such, the replies must have citations and references in APA notation. Your list of references for each reply should include all of the course material that has informed your reply, in addition to any research that you have obtained on your own.
- One of your replies should identify the notion of the moral good in deontology and compare that to the account of utilitarianism in Starbucks presented in your fellow student’s post. Analyze how these different notions of the moral good lead to different approaches with regard to how to address the problem even if, ultimately, the result turns out to be the same or similar.
- In your second reply, you should identify the notion of the moral good in virtue ethics and compare and discuss that to the account of utilitarianism in Starbucks presented in your fellow student’s post. Analyze how these different notions of the moral good lead to different approaches with regard to how to address the problem even if, ultimately, the result turns out to be the same or similar.
- Your replies should focus on the specific examination presented by your fellow student and should include an examination of whether or not the characteristics of the ethical theory were identified well, and whether or not their application and analysis were also carried out successfully. Providing such an examination is not an attack on your fellow student but an attempt to work together with your fellow student toward the better understanding of the ethical theories employed, as well as their application.
Requirements for Revising your Initial Post:
- Submit a revision of your initial post by either replying to your own post, or to the feedback provided to you by your professor.
- There is no minimum word requirement for your revised initial post. But you should always explain the reasons for revising your post so that it is clear what you are doing. If you are revising only a few words, or an application of an ethical theory, you should avoidsubmitting a post with vague language such as: “duty ethics works better here” or “I did not consider that the end does not justify the means.” It is important to recognize that no one can read your mind so you need to provide the setting for your revision (Why? What prompted it? What course material informed you?), and it is important to write in clear language and complete sentences.
- Consider your revised initial post as your chance to correct any oversights or errors in your initial post, or to show your improved understanding of the material and its applications to the case at hand. You may, for example, come to the realization that your conclusion did not take into account important factors necessary for your evaluation of the situation.
- You should maximize the improvement of your initial post by employing your professor’s feedback as a guide. Keep in mind that you may not always receive direct feedback from your professor. But your professor will have submitted feedback in the discussion to other posts. So read your professor’s feedback whether it is addressed to you directly or to other fellow students. This will give you much to think about and apply to your own post.
- If your professor or a fellow classmate responds to your revised initial post, and on this basis, you find good reason to submit yet another revision (in addition to a revision that you may have already submitted), then by all means do so. Keep in mind that four posts is the minimum, not the maximum number of posts that you may submit. The more you improve your initial post, the more you will benefit both in terms of your learning and most likely your grade.