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Why do you believe the things you do?

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PART A
Most people have views that are strongly influenced and informed by philosophy, often without realizing it. Discuss the following:
1. Identify a view you have - whether on politics, religion, science, culture, or even the media and entertainment - that might be regarded as being related to philosophy.
2. What kind of reasons do you have for holding that belief?
3. What figure from the history of philosophy section do you think might have some views that are similar, or at least relevant, to your own?
4. Explain why you chose that particular figure.

PART B
Many philosophers insist that our most strongly held beliefs should be examined and critically evaluated.
1. Explain what philosophers mean when they say that beliefs need justification?
2. What is the importance of subjecting our beliefs to critical scrutiny?
3. What are the advantages of believing something without examining it?
4. What are the disadvantages?
5. Identify a specific belief you have that you think is worth defending, and then explain your reasons for holding that belief.

Be sure to include logical reasoning as well as factual evidence in all your arguments.

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PART A
1. I believe that human beings have intrinsic value because they are created in the image of God. Their value is not based on their appearance, value to society, intellectual ability or wealth.

2. I believe the Bible is the word of God. The Bible teaches that God created the original humans (Adam and Eve) in His image. This means they contained a reflection of God's characteristics. Some of these characteristics include: creativity, emotion, personality, free will, the capacity for language, abstract thought and the desire for relationship. In spite of the fact that Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan instead of God, God pursued mankind motivated by His love and mercy. He sent his son Jesus to pay the price man had incurred for his disobedience; the penalty was death. Humans have value then because they are created in the image of God. The value of something is also determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. God was willing to give the life of his son Jesus in order for mankind to be restored to a right relationship with Him.

3. You should respond to this since you have the philosophy section. However, I would imagine that some of the things that Aristotle believed would support this position.

4. Aristotle spoke about virtue ethics. His idea was that a virtuous life was an ethical life. Pragmatism, ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines the reasons individuals have for holding to their beliefs. Most of our beliefs are influenced by philosophy, environment, tradition and a host of other factors. Understanding why we believe what we do is a strong deterrent to superstition and irrational beliefs. Over 930 words of original text along with links to sources for further research.

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Virtues and Utilitarian Ethics

Please help me with this:

Case Study:

The heart pacemaker is a modern wonder. The device has a timer that resets itself every time the patient's heart beats. If the heart does not beat on schedule (say, within 1.2 seconds), the pacemaker gives a stimulus that causes a heartbeat.

But the technology was not always so sophisticated, and its early limitations form the background of this true story, told to Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Director Thomas Shanks, S.J., by one of the participants. Although the events happened 20 years ago, the ethical issues they raise are still relevant.

It's 1975, and you are on the board of directors of a company that makes transistors. Among the many companies with whom you have a contract is one that makes heart pacemakers.

Pacemaker technology is in its infancy. When doctors implant a pacemaker, the patient's normal heartbeat is disabled, and he or she relies entirely on the device. If it fails, the patient's heart stops. Doctors are not very adept at installing the pacemakers, which are extremely delicate; there is even a story of a person yawning deeply, pulling the pacemaker wire in his chest, and dying.

After that and many similar incidents, the board begins to reconsider whether your company should sell to the pacemaker company. Members of the board feel this situation is a major lawsuit just waiting to happen and your company, as well as the company you supply, will be liable. In addition, you feel the specs the pacemaker company uses to test the transistors are not very strong.

You and the board decide to get out of the business before it's too late. You tell the pacemaker company representatives about your conclusion, and they respond, "You can't stop selling us the transistors. You are the sole remaining supplier for us. Everyone else has backed out for the same reasons you're giving. If you don't sell us the product, we'll go out of business. Pretty soon, no one will be making heart pacemakers, and many people need them. Without the pacemaker, people don't even have a chance."

You take that information back to the board. People around the table have different opinions. One person says, "This is a bad deal, and it isn't our problem. We don't make enough on this sale to make the risk worthwhile." Another person says, "We don't know how other companies use the transistors we sell them; why should we be concerned about this one? What about that baby who died when the transistor in the incubator failed? We didn't know how that company was using the transistor." Another person says, "I think we're missing the real issue here. Don't we have an ethical obligation to sell the product to the pacemaker company? What will happen if we don't sell to them?" Another person says, "Give me a break. Our only obligation is to our shareholders. And how did we get so stupid that we're the last source? I'm telling you, we don't need this." Finally, the chair of the board says, "OK. Let's make a decision."

As the story of the Sole Remaining Supplier was told to me, the Board conversation went pretty much the way the case describes it. Legal was saying, "This is a time bomb waiting to happen. Why are we even talking about this?" Engineering was bemoaning the lack of standards for testing the electronics of pacemakers, and the majority of the Board understood that they had a problem with no easy solution.

One of the people on the Board told me later that the founders of Silicon Valley were the sons (and a few daughters) of blue-collar parents. Their fathers were plumbers, electricians, and carpenters, who had passed on a core set of values to their children. This was the Valley before greed and early retirement (at the age of 30) had swept through it. So they took seriously their responsibility and duty to protect the rights of people who needed pacemakers at the same time as they balanced their fiduciary responsibility to the current company. They understood that "doing the right thing" did not have to be stupid, and that they could both do the right thing and do well for the company ("DO RIGHT" AND "DO WELL," rather than having to choose one or the other.)

So, they continued to sell to the pacemaker company. But they also instructed their engineers to develop more rigorous testing and technical standards they could hold the other company to. They reserved the right to stop selling if the other company did not improve its technical standards. They took steps to be sure they did not have a legal liability down the line and then turned it over to the other company to improve the quality of its products.

In these ways they felt they were reducing harms and maximizing utility. They felt it fair to single out the industry because it was new and standards were developing, an equal way of treating start-up industries. They felt they were showing compassion without sacrificing business, and were living out their parents' other virtues. In this way they felt that they were serving the common good, protecting people's rights to a promising new medical technology, the pacemaker.

Questions:

Virtues & Character

Question 1

Consider whether the action fits your self-image or the story you would like to tell about your life. The most excellent or virtuous people are usually thought of as those consistently acting with honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, prudence etc.
Business people often call this question the Mirror Test. If you do this action, will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning?

Question 2

Ask whether the action will fit the company's reputation or vision of what it would like to be.
An individual's actions represent and affect not only him/her but also the firm or organization he/she works in. The image of what the company wants to be will be found in the mission and vision statement, the core values, and the ethics code, as well as in the stories that are told about the heroes and the villains in the firm's history.

Question 3

Excellence refers to how well the activities of the organization are being done. Each activity, such as producing a product or service, marketing it to customers, financing the organization, accounting and maintaining controls, and so on can be done in the best possible way. Striving for too much perfection in any one of these areas; however, can have an effect on the ability of the firm to do the other activities and generate profits necessary to keep it in operation over the long-term. It the product or service is too perfect for the customer to afford it then the firm will fail.

Overemphasizing success, measured as profitability, can affect the excellence of the firm's activities, and thereby cause the firm to fail.

Actions that maintain the right balance between excellence and success are therefore the right ones.

Conclusion

Actions that fit your idea of what kind of person you want to be, and with the firm's idea of what it wants to be, are good actions.

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How do these answers compare to utilitarian ethics?

The case study and questions are also attached.

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