1 Case Study #1

Choose only one case!

Application of Ethical Egoism and Ethical Relativism

INSTRUCTIONS: Please read carefully and follow precisely!

Choose a case study from among the five case studies attached. Read your case study carefully and then follow the steps below in writing your second case study assignment.

Note: Do not repeat the case study nor summarize the case study.

  • Identify the ethical issue in the case and explain why you think it is an ethical issue and not a legal or policy issue only.
  • Moral Agent(s): Identify the person or persons you think are responsible for bringing about the ethical issue (moral agent), and explain how they brought about the ethical issue.
  • Moral Recipients: Identify the person or persons, who you think may be seriously affected (for better or worse) by the actions of the moral agent(s); and explain the consequences of the moral agent’s action on this person or these persons.
  • Define: Ethical Egoism and Ethical Relativism
  • Explain: Explain what you think an ethical egoist and ethical relativist would advise as the right thing to do in this case and why.
  • Consequences: Trace out the consequences of each theory as applied to the case.
  • Strengths & Weaknesses: Explain what you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the ethical egoist’s advice and ethical relativist’s advice. (See step # 3 for help on this!)
  • Your Position: Argue for what you think is the right thing to do in this case by following exactly the ABCD Guide to Ethical Decision-Making (found under “Files Directory, Sakai).

FORMAT & LENGTH: Please word-process your essay and convert it to a PDF file if you do not use Microsoft Word. Your case study should be a minimum of three (3) pages, but you may write more if you like.

LATE PENALTY: One letter grade deduction for each calendar day late.

The Cases.

Choose only one! Remember to apply both theories!

Case #1: “Outside the Fold” Source: https://www.scu.edu/the-big-q/the-big-q-blog/outside- the-fold.html

*DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in these cases are fictional.*

Alexa comes from a close-knit Chinese family. Her parents came to the United States from Beijing in 1981 so that her father could attend college. Alexa was born in California, and her parents chose to remain in the U.S. Although they are comfortable in their adopted homeland, they remain very traditional about certain things. In particular, they expect Alexa to marry a Chinese boy.

Alexa, however, doesn’t see things the same way. When she went away to college, she was open to dating people from every ethnicity. She started seeing Brian, an Irish Catholic guy, two months into their freshman year. Now a junior, Alexa is expecting a visit from her parents, and Brian would like to meet them.

Should Alexa introduce Brian to her family? Is it racist for Alexa’s parents to oppose interracial relationships?

How would the ethicists (ethical egoists and ethical relativists) advise you to answer this question? How would you answer this question? Why in both cases?

Case #2: Crusading at the Dinner Table

Source: https://www.scu.edu/the-big-q/the-big-q-blog/crusading-at-the-dinner-table.html

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional. **

Towards the end of her senior year of high school, Grace volunteered for a local animal rights organization. Although she was always an animal lover, she had never really considered the issue of animals being raised to be eaten. During her time with the organization, she became passionate about animal rights and became a vegetarian. She was also able to convince her parents to become vegetarians.

Now a new freshman, Grace faces a dilemma. Everyone around her seems to eat meat. Though the dining hall offers plenty of vegetarian options, she is unhappy about the presence of meat as a constant feature among the offerings.

Grace isn’t able to put aside her feelings about the suffering of animals. Going by her own experience of having her eyes opened to the cause, Grace is convinced that spreading knowledge about the suffering of farm animals is the only way of converting more people into vegetarians.

On one hand, she feels she has a duty, when sitting at a table with people who are consuming meat, to express her beliefs. On the other hand, she knows that directly confronting people about their choices tends to alienate them. She would like to establish good relationships and friendships with the people around her, but she would also like to express her beliefs and teach people about her cause. Should Grace confront her friends at the dining table?

How would the ethicists (ethical egoists and ethical relativists) advise you to answer this question? How would you answer this question? Why in both cases?

Case Study #3: “Browsing or Cyber-stalking?

Source: https://www.scu.edu/the-big-q/the-big-q-blog/browsing-or-cyberstalking.html

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

Lauren is a junior at a small university. While she finds she fits in at her college, her decision to attend was based on following her high school boyfriend of two years, Dave. After two more years of dating in college, Dave decides he wants to go separate ways, and thinks it best if the two don’t see each other anymore.

Though they have no face-to-face interaction, Lauren maintains her online connections to Dave. She constantly checks on what he is doing and who he is spending time with through his Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and tweets. She often shows up at restaurants or bars he says he is attending, and “accidentally” runs into him, to force real life interaction.

A few weeks later, Lauren is browsing Dave’s Facebook and notices that he is spending a lot of time with a sophomore at their university, Emily. She immediately feels jealous and starts to monitor Emily’s social media pages as well. She even begins comparing herself with Emily to her friends, complaining about how Dave “lowered his standards.”

It’s been several months since Lauren’s break up with Dave, and while they haven’t spent time together in person, she knows the ins and outs of his life. She talks about him so much to her friends, that they’ve started to become sick of it. She’s also making herself miserable because her online monitoring isn’t letting her get over her break-up. One day, one of Lauren and Dave’s mutual friends approaches Dave and tells him Lauren has been checking up on him and his new girlfriend on social media. Dave is surprised and disturbed by the information.

What should Dave do, keeping in mind they are all still students at the same university? Is Lauren’s “online monitoring” equivalent to cyberstalking? What is the line between checking up on your old friends and stalking them? Have you ever personally engaged in cyberstalking or know of someone who has? Do you notice cyberstalking as a trend on college campuses?”

What would an ethical egoist advise Dave to do? What would an ethical relativist advise Dave to do? Explain!

Useful Resources:

Cyber-stalking laws: https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx

North Carolina man sentenced for cyberstalking Maryland woman: https://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/statesville-man-sentenced-prison-cyberstalking/4FESNTXSYJB4DM62DAPV4LQGIQ/

Woman sentenced for cyberstalking and 369 Fake Instagram accounts: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article235430687.html

Case #4: The Ethics of Ghosting

(Excerpted from the article: https://depauliaonline.com/32546/opinions/the-politics-of-ghosting-is-it-ever-okay/)

Ghosting- definition:

informal : the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc. Romeo one minute, where’d he go the next? Ghosting is when you go poof and literally disappear out of someone’s life without a word or explanation. Samantha Burns Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghosting

“Julia is a 21-year-old student. She was friends with Steve for months, while hiding the fact that she had a crush on him. They randomly hooked up one night, and Steve asked her out on a date a few days later. Eager to see him again, she said yes. After no word from him for a few days, she texted him to ask if the date was still happening only to receive no response. She sent Steve another message: “cool thx for ignoring my text.” Again she was rebuffed. They’ve since seen each other out in public, and he has continued to ignore her completely. After asking Julia out, he completely ghosted her.

“Even though it’s happened to me from guys and made me feel horrible, I think it’s in a lot of people’s nature to avoid confrontation especially if you don’t have ties to someone,” Julia said. “I know I’m not the only one that thinks that because why else would people do it? It’s out of lack of the maturity to confront people.”

The ethical questions: 1. Is ghosting ethical according to an ethical egoist? Explain. 2. Is ghosting ethical according to an ethical relativist? Explain.

Resources: https://depauliaonline.com/32546/opinions/the-politics-of-ghosting-is-it-ever-okay/



Case #5 Losing Admission to Harvard

In early June 2017, The Harvard Crimson reported that Harvard had rescinded the admission offers of at least 10 students who had previously been admitted to Harvard’s Class of 2021.1Harvard rescinded these offers because of the students’ participation in a Facebook group devoted to sharing highly offensive memes—including memes joking about sexual assault, child abuse, and the Holocaust, and memes mocking racial or ethnic minorities.

While the Facebook group was not affiliated with Harvard, it was exclusively for members of Harvard’s Class of 2021, and was formed by students who found each other on the official Facebook group for students admitted to that class—a page managed by the university’s Admissions Office to help students connect with each other before arriving on campus. To some people, Harvard’s decision seems like an objectionable form of censorship or thought-policing. For instance, one student interviewed by The Crimson thought that as long as people aren’t directly harming or threatening someone else, they “can post whatever they want because they have the right to do that,” adding that it was just “people doing stupid stuff.”

Moreover, since this Facebook group was not officially affiliated with Harvard, this may seem like an unwarranted intrusion into students’ private social media lives. Partly due to such concerns, some colleges shy away from monitoring students’ social media. The University of California system, for instance, issued a statement that “Social media presence plays no role in our admissions process. […] Only if an incident is reported to us that purportedly violated our Principles of Community and/or Student Code of Conduct, will it be investigated in the proper channels.”3Others defend Harvard’s decision. Students are frequently reminded that their social media activity has consequences. In fact, the official Facebook group for Harvard’s Class of 2021 explicitly states, “As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”

In this case, many people think that the offending students simply crossed the line. “I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about,” said another student interviewed by The Crimson—“those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters.” Additionally, some people argue that Facebook groups like the one in question promote a less respectful culture, and undermine colleges’ attempts to establish safe and welcoming learning environments—especially for members of socially disadvantaged groups that are often targets of vicious memes. Thus colleges have a responsibility to place a check on their students’ social media behavior.

But some who agree that the students should not have shared these offensive memes still worry that having their admissions rescinded was too harsh a penalty. Perhaps there was a better way to make this into a learning opportunity for these students and their peers. Rescinding admissions offers, it might even be argued, could have a chilling effect on student speech, and might ultimately scare students away from discussing important issues openly and honestly in an online setting. But then again, maybe not—there is a clear difference between engaging in an open and honest debate about sensitive topics, and sharing patently offensive jokes.

How should the right to students’ free speech be weighed against colleges’ interest in promoting safe and welcoming learning environments? What would an ethical egoist say? What would an ethical relativist say?






Works cited: Cases 1-3 found at The Big Q: https://www.scu.edu/character/cases/

Case #4 taken from the Article: “The Politics of Ghosting” https://depauliaonline.com/32546/opinions/the-politics-of-ghosting-is-it-ever-okay/

Case #5 https://nhseb.unc.edu/files/2018/01/SECURE-2017-2018-Regional-Cases.pdf


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IDIS 302: Cases and Theories Copyright © by Antoinette Martsoukos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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