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Explore a range of examples and ideas for your Essays and Presentations and leave your comments.

By ToKTutor, Feb 11 2018 09:22AM

Example for Question 3:


What does an ethical ‘uniformity’ look like exactly? It means, presumably, that there are absolute standards of moral judgment like ‘Killing is wrong’ which can be applied equally to all real life situations of killing with the same result at the end: punishment for the perpetrators. Now this kind of absolutism might work in, for example a Christian context, in which the moral absolutes of the 10 Commandments are delivered by an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God, but such a view of morality has been undermined at least by the Euthyphro problem. What about other ethical theories like ‘consequentialism’ and ‘deontology’? Can the principles of these theories be applied uniformly to reach knowledge about ethical dilemmas? Take the notorious ‘trolley problem’ which tests the utilitarian principle ‘the happiness of the greatest number of people is to be maximised . Even here, it has been shown how many people who would pull a lever to save the five track workers and sacrifice the one track worker, therefore maximising the happiness of the many at the expense of the few, would fail to apply the same principle when posed with the choice of throwing a fat man over a bridge to save the five track workers. So if there’s no uniform application of principles, are we doomed to ethical relativism: what’s right for you is wrong for me? Moral Foundation theory suggests that we don’t actually apply ANY rational principles or standards in the face of ethical dilemmas, such as is it wrong to eat our dog after it dies? Or is it wrong to have sex with our sister? What we do is to express a moral emotion first. Often we can’t explain why we feel this way but end up constructing a post hoc rationalisation of why we feel like we do when pressed by some else to explain ourselves. Our moral emotions, according to this theory, are shaped by six fundamental types which make up the uniform moral landscape of our lives. The theory draws on evolutionary theory, suggesting that our moral emotions have a distinct survival value. The intensity of our moral feelings in different ethical dilemmas fluctuate between a spectrum of each binary emotion: care/harm; fairness/cheating; loyalty/betrayal; authority/subversion; sanctity/degradation and liberty/oppression…

By ToKTutor, Feb 4 2018 09:20AM

Example for Question 6:


Religious disagreement is an awkward thing. It doesn’t necessarily lead to ‘robust’ knowledge, like in science, because it isn’t based on testing a knowledge claim against the empirical facts. Religious disagreement is more about matters of interpretation regarding the nuances of scripture and how to apply the teachings of a sacred text into day to day action. The 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther’s ‘95 Theses’ in October 2017 underlines the nature of religious disagreement. His protest against the alleged abuses of Catholic Church led to the growth of ‘Protestantism’ and initiated the Reformation movement in history. On a philosophical level, the disagreement was about our connection to God. Catholics believe that the only way to know God’s Will is to be guided by Priests who are in constant holy communion with God through religious services. The ultimate authority of knowledge was, of course, the Pope. Luther challenged this idea by acclaiming that each individual could know God’s Will for her through her own personal communion with the DIvine – the inner voice of God is within us all and can be heard through a disciplined practise of prayer and meditation without the need for a priest or Pope as an intermediary. On a practical level, the Catholic Church had begun to grow very rich through, for example, the sale of ‘indulgences’. These were payments in return for promises for reduced punishment in the afterlife for sins committed on earth. Luther challenged this and other forms of corruption, urging that any religious donations of peoples’ hard earned money should go instead towards improving literacy amongst the general public so they didn’t have to rely on Priests to interpret the Bible for them. The overall impact on knowledge of this major religious disagreement was that it lead, after hundreds of years, to a general consensus amongst Catholics and Protestants alike about a series of important things. For example, that religion and politics wasn’t a good mix and that Church and State should be separate. Also, that universal education was a good thing and should be promoted globally. It took a lot of violence and bloodshed to get to this point and in some places this continues in different forms of religious conflict. And even though historians think that Luther’s gesture was fairly unremarkable at the time, people agree that it became a symbol of what resistance to the manipulation of knowledge and truth can look like.

By ToKTutor, Feb 1 2018 05:48AM

Example for Question 5:


In the Arts, especially in visual arts such as painting, when realism was the driving force of representing the world, the quality of artistic knowledge could be measured by judging the accuracy with which an art work mirrored its objects. This emphasis on realism reached its height in the Renaissance when aesthetic beauty was defined in terms of linear perspective and philosophical ideals such as humanism and virtue. The focus on mimesis endured until the 20th Century and, arguably, the advent of Cubism. Even when the Impressionist painters entered the scene, while they didn’t quite aim for an identical representation of reality, they were inspired by the invention of photography to capture reality in an instant of time. Here’s the main point: improvements in technology have led to a directly proportional increase in the accuracy of our images of our world. For example, Google Maps technology has vastly improved the quality of our knowledge of our landscape. So while art and creativity have evolved from the Renaissance to our increasing ability to construct virtual reality worlds which are indistinguishable from our own ‘real’ world, what are the limits of such ‘progress’ in knowledge? The ever developing world of AI technology raises not only practical concerns about how to construct more realistic and human machines, but also ethical concerns as to whether or not we should populate our world, real or virtual, with robotic men and women who simulate human interactions with us…

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