Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School, Department of Politics, and University Center for Human Values WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Professor Amy Gutmann Louis Marx Hall 302 258-4798; email@example.com Spring, 1999 Lecture: Tuesday 10:30-11:50 Frick 120 Mr. Jacob Levy (Course Administrator) Corwin Hall 243 258-4767; firstname.lastname@example.org Course web site: http://www.princeton.edu/values/301/ This course examines the nature and validity of arguments about moral issues in public policy. We focus in Part I on the means of policies-the problem of "dirty hands"-and in Part II on the ends of policies-the problem of "hard choices." We discuss throughout the responsibility of citizens and those who govern in our names. Each week, except the first, there is a 90-minute lecture period (on Tuesday) and a precept. The first week, there is a lecture on both Tuesday and Thursday (and no precept). I devote part of many lecture periods to class discussion. Our aim in each unit of the syllabus is to identify the ethical issue, analyze it with the aid of the assigned theoretical readings, and relate it to specific cases in public policy. The challenge throughout is to consider how we-as democratic citizens or accountable officials-would propose to resolve the ethical controversy in a way that is publicly justifiable. Some of the assigned readings integrate the theoretical and practical concerns, but generally we have to undertake that task on our own in lectures, class discussions, precepts, and writing assignments. Comments in each unit serve as a guide to thinking and writing about the readings. The course is designed, on an experimental basis, to try to teach good writing beyond the basics of the writing requirement. Our aim is to think clearly by writing clearly, and to write clearly by thinking clearly. To this end, you are expected each week to submit short exercises, no more than 300 words, to your preceptor. These exercises serve as a springboard for email correspondence and office-hour discussions between you and your preceptor about your writing. The weekly assignments also are intended to help you improve your two 6-8 page papers. As important, the intense practice in constructing good arguments should more generally help refine your writing and thinking. The email exercises will be graded, not individually, but as a whole. By the end of the course, students should be able to present a strong case for positions that they have good reason to think-and therefore wish to persuade others-are worth defending in public. Readings: The cases in the assignments are either in the Gutmann and Thompson casebook, Ethics and Politics: Cases and Comments, Third Edition (indicated as GT), or in the course packet (indicated as P). The paperback edition of the casebook (third edition) is available for purchase at the University Store. The following required readings are also available for purchase (in paperback) at the University Store: Dennis Thompson, Political Ethics and Public Office; Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars; John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism; Ronald Dworkin, Life's Dominion; and Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement. All other required readings are included in the course packet that is available for purchase at Pequod Copy, 6 Nassau Street. All of the required readings, including copies of the course packet, are also on reserve in the WWS Library. Course Requirements: In addition to studying the assigned reading, you are required to: (1) submit short weekly writing assignments (starting the second week of the course); (2) participate in precept and class discussions; (3) write two papers (6-8 pages in length) based on the required reading; and (4) take the final examination. There is no midterm examination. Each of the weekly assignments is due by 11 p.m. on Tuesday of the week in which we discuss the topic. Each week there will be a question to answer, an assigned problem, or an assigned topic for these pieces of no more than 300 words each. The assignments are to be turned in electronically, by saving them in the appropriate file on the course's shared server; an additional handout will explain the mechanics, or you can consult the course web page. Your preceptor will return comments to you by noon on Saturday, in your folder on the shared server. Some weeks you may be expected to revise a previous writing assignment; and you are free to revise and expand a short assignment in writing one of your papers. One of the two 6-8 page papers is due by noon on Friday, March 12 (before spring break). The other is due by noon on Monday, May 3 (the first day of Reading Period). Late papers will not be accepted. The final examination will consist of three questions that you will be asked to answer in three hours. At the time of the examination, I select the questions at random from a longer list of study questions that I distribute ahead of time. Each short paper counts 20 percent. The email assignments, graded as a whole, count 20 percent. Participation in precepts and class discussions count 20 percent. The final examination counts 20 percent. Each component of the course must be completed satisfactorily to receive a passing grade for the course as a whole. Attention to Writing: Good writing is very valuable, and it takes time. In order to insure that students in the course receive close attention to their writing, precepts are limited to no more than 10 students each. Preceptors are committed to giving each student the requisite time and attention not only within the precept but also outside of it, through email, office hours, and other times to be arranged between students and preceptors. Each student should meet with his or her preceptor at least once in each half of the semester. All the preceptors and I also meet in a weekly seminar to discuss the subject matter of the course, good writing, and the best techniques of teaching both together. Syllabus and Schedule of Lectures: Introductory Lecture: Approaches to Ethics and Public Policy (February 2) Jeremy Bentham, "Of the Principle of Utility," in The Principles of Morals and Legislation , pp. 1-7. (P) Bernard Williams, "A Critique of Utilitarianism," in Smart and Williams, Utilitarianism For and Against, pp. 96-99, 108-118. (P) Thomas Nagel, "Two Standpoints," in Equality and Partiality, pp. 10-20. (P) Part I: The Means of Policy The Problem of Dirty Hands: Doing Wrong to Do Right (February 4) Michael Walzer, "Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands," in M. Cohen et al. (eds.), War and Moral Responsibility, pp. 62-82. (P) Dennis Thompson, Political Ethics and Public Office, "Democratic Dirty Hands," pp. 11-39. What moral principles should constrain the means that politicians and other public officials use in making public policy? In pursuing important public goals may officials legitimately use means that would otherwise be wrong? Walzer discusses the views of Machiavelli and Weber, two important sources for our understanding of the problem of dirty hands. Walzer also presents his own approach to the problem. Thompson suggests why democracy-and our responsibility as democratic citizens-should make a difference in our understanding of the problem of dirty hands. Violence and the Rules of War: The Decision to Drop the Bomb (February 9, 16) Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, chs. 1, 3, 8-9, 16-17. Henry L. Stimson, "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb." (GT) Colin Dueck, "Alternatives to The Bomb." (GT) The use of violent means to serve political ends is the most striking illustration of the problem of "dirty hands." In a framework that mixes consquentialist and deontological perspectives, Walzer formulates and tries to resolve some of the most significant problems in the theory of justice in war. The decision to drop the atomic bomb in World War II is among the most controversial uses of violence in contemporary American history. Walzer also applies his theory to this case. The case helps us consider a series of critical questions about the use of violence in politics: What is wrong with violence? Is violence always wrong? Always wrong except to prevent violence? Or only wrong if it causes more harm than good? What should be the content of moral rules of war? Does the distinction between combatants and noncombatants make moral sense? Does the doctrine of double effect make moral sense? How would you apply principles of morality in evaluating the decision to use the atomic bomb in World War II? Deception: Lies and Evasions (February 23) Machiavelli, "How Princes Should Honour Their Word," in The Prince (1513), Ch. XVIII. (P) Sissela Bok, Lying, pp. 17-31, 73-106. (P) Case Graham T. Allison and Lance M. Liebman, "Lying in Office." (GT) Deception is another morally problematic means that public officials claim to be justified by the necessities of politics. Machiavelli suggests that politics makes deception by public officials justifiable. Bok provides a more critical analysis of several forms of deception that arise specifically in political life. "Lying in Office" includes a series of short examples that illustrate the wide range of situations in which public officials are tempted to lie. We need to ask: What is wrong with lying and deception? Is it always wrong to lie? What (if any) excuses and justifications for lying are acceptable. Is there something special about politics that makes deception inevitable, justifiable, or both? Under what conditions, if any, is it justifiable for a public official to lie? Do degrees of untruth (from the incomplete statement to the blatant lie); various audiences (the public, the press, subordinates, superiors, and officials not in one's own branch of government); and various kinds of motives (national security, electoral advantage, policy advocacy) make a moral difference? Secrecy: Privacy, Publicity, and Public Office (March 2) Jeremy Bentham, "Publicity," from An Essay on Political Tactics in The Collected Works, Vol. II, pp. 310-15. (P) Dennis Thompson, "The Private Lives of Public Officials," in Political Ethics and Public Office, pp. 123-47. (P) Case Jillian Dickert, "Privacy and Publicity: The Senate Confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas." (GT) "Secrecy and Publicity in the The Clinton-Lewinsky Affair" (to be distributed.) Publicity, as Bentham argues, is a valuable rule of politics. But privacy and confidentiality, unlike deception, are themselves valuable. Secrecy therefore seems both to protect and to violate important values. Thompson presents standards for discriminating between justifiable and unjustifiable intrusions upon privacy, which can be applied and assessed in light of the case studies. What is wrong with secrecy in government? Are Bentham's exceptions to the rule of publicity adequate? Why is privacy valuable? What are the reasons for granting public officials less privacy than ordinary citizens? Can the value of publicity in either case be reconciled with that of privacy and confidentiality? If so how? If not, what value should be sacrificed and why? Part II: The Ends of Policy The Problem of Hard Choices: Competing Ends (March 9) John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (Library of Liberal Arts), chs. 2-3, pp. 9-43. Robert Goodin, "Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy," in Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy (1995), pp. 12- 27. (P) Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, "The Promise of Utilitarianism," in Democracy and Disagreement (1996), pp. 165-198. Case Esther Scott, "The Risks of Asarco." (GT) What is the fundamental difference between a utilitarian approach to choosing among competing ends and an approach that counts not only consequences but individual rights as well? What are the strongest arguments for and against each approach in politics? What are the most serious objections to a utilitarian cost-benefit approach to policy analysis? Assess the strongest response that a utilitarian can offer to these objections. What, if anything, makes cost-benefit analysis a morally problematic way of determining policy with regard to the environment? In what ways, if any, does Ruckelshaus's practice offer an alternative to cost-benefit analysis? A supplement to it? Assess what you consider the strongest way of resolving the controversy in the Asarco case. Distributive Justice: A Right to Health Care (March 23) Charles Fried, "Equality and Rights in Medical Care," Hastings Center Report (February 1976), pp. 29-34. (P) Amy Gutmann, "For and Against Equal Access to Health Care," in R. Bayer et al. (eds.), In Search of Equity (1983), pp. 43-68. (P) Michael Walzer, "Security and Welfare," in Spheres of Justice (1983), pp. 64-94. (P) Case Pamela Varley, "Defunding Organ Transplants in Arizona." (GT) Does government have a responsibility to secure certain basic opportunities for its citizens? If not, why not? If so, what opportunities must it provide, and to what extent? Should the government subsidize expensive life-saving treatments, such as organ transplants? The controversy over the Arizona legislature's decision to stop funding most transplants poignantly raises these questions. Consider the strongest moral case that can be made for and against a right to health care. Should health care be considered a more important good than others? Which others? What are the moral and practical limits of satisfying the demands of equal access to health care? Was the Arizona legislature's decision to terminate funding for most transplants justifiable? If a life-saving medical treatment is scarce and cannot be provided to all who need it, how should it be distributed? Liberty and Life: Legalizing Abortion (March 30); Funding Abortion (April 6) Legalizing Abortion (Week of March 30): Article by Judith Jarvis Thomson, in "A Defense of Abortion," in J. Feinberg (ed.), The Problem of Abortion. (P). Ronald Dworkin, Life's Dominion, pp. 4-117, 148-178. Richard Stith, "On Death and Dworkin," Maryland Law Review (1997), pp. 289-297, 328-358. (P). "Submission to the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Medical Ethics, by the Linacre Centre for Health Care Ethics," in Luke Gormally, ed., Euthanasia, Critical Practice, and the Law, pp 115-133. (P). Case Jack Hitt, "Who Will Do Abortions Here?" The New York Times Magazine (1998), pp. 20 ff. (P). Funding Abortion (Week of April 6): George Sher, "Subsidized Abortion," Philosophy & Public Affairs, 10 (Fall 1981), pp. 361-72. (P) Case U.S. House of Representatives, "Funding Abortion." (GT) The abortion controversy is no more settled in philosophy than in politics, but we may make some progress toward understanding it if we try to appreciate the force of the best arguments on both sides or, more accurately, on the several sides. Legalizing Abortion: As you sort out the issues that divide Thompson, Dwokin, Stith, and the Linacre Centre's submission, keep in mind that our chief concern is what the government's position should be on legalizing abortion. Is it possible for the government to take a morally neutral position on the permissibility of abortion? Must we decide whether the fetus is a person in order to settle the abortion question? If we assume that the fetus is a person, does it follow that women do not have the right to have an abortion? Does it make any moral difference whether a woman voluntarily risks having a child? Can someone consistently believe that abortion is wrong but the government should not prohibit it? Can we evaluate the state of affairs described in the case independently of our belief in the rightness or wrongness of abortion? Funding Abortion: Sher explicitly discusses the question of funding, and proposes a moral compromise that he believes respects both pro-choice and pro-life positions. Funding is also the issue in the debate in the U.S. House. Is it unfair for the government not to fund abortions for the poor as long as they are legal? Is there a morally defensible principle other than fairness that would favor funding? Is there a morally defensible principle that would oppose funding? Sher suggests that legalizing but not subsidizing abortion is a fair compromise between the pro-life and pro-choice positions, although it does not completely satisfy the moral claims of either. Is compromise a reasonable way of provisionally resolving this public controversy? Are these the best terms or are there better alternatives? Life and Liberty: The Death Penalty (April 13) Articles by David Conway, Jeffrey Reiman, and Ernest van den Haag in A.J. Simmons et al. (eds.), Punishment (1995), pp. 261-73, 274-307, and 324-32. (P) Case Dead Man Walking [Movie: showing to be scheduled] Moral disagreement over the death penalty also runs deep for reasons that are worth taking seriously, whatever position we ultimately hold on the issue. What are the fundamental values that stand on the side of the state's taking the life of a person who is convicted of a heinous crime? What are the fundamental values that stand on the side opposed to capital punishment? Can these values be reconciled? What, then, are the strongest arguments for and against the death penalty? To what extent do these arguments draw upon fundamental moral values? Upon empirical claims about the deterrent effects (or lack thereof) of capital punishment? Who should ultimately decide whether or not capital punishment is legalized in a constitutional democracy? How should they decide? Equal Opportunity: Racial and Sexual Discrimination (April 20) John Kekes, "The Injustice of Affirmative Action Involving Preferential Treatment," in S. Cahn (ed.), The Affirmative Action Debate (1995), pp. 193-204. (P) Ronald Dworkin, two articles on affirmative action, The New York Review of Books. 10/22/98, pp. 91-102; 11/5/98, pp. 56-60. (P) Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, "The Ambiguity of Fair Opportunity," in Democracy and Disagreement (1996), pp. 307-345. Case "Affirmative Action at AT&T." (GT) Affirmative Action in University Admissions (to be distributed.) How should a society allocate valuable opportunities and social advantages such as higher education and well-paying jobs? Is "to each according to his or her merit" the most defensible principle by which to allocate higher education and well-paying jobs? If so, what is individual merit in each case? If not, what other principle(s) might be relevant? What is the difference, if any, between affirmative action and preferential treatment? With what principles does a policy of preferential admissions or hiring come into conflict? Can preferential admissions or hiring policies respect individual rights? Can they maximize social utility? Does it morally matter who bears the burden of preferential policies? Is preferential treatment fundamentally unfair because it disadvantages those who have themselves committed no wrong? Can preferential treatment be justified for all members of a particular group, or only some, or none? Evaluate what AT&T and the University of Texas did, and explain what you think they should have done. Are there good reasons for using significantly different standards to assess admissions practices by public and by private universities, or for using different standards to assess employment practices in government and those in private corporations? Concluding Lecture (April 27) WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY FIRST PAPER 6-8 pages Due March 12 by 12 noon You need not do any additional reading for the paper, but you should do additional thinking beyond what you have done in any of your earlier writing exercises. Be sure to use your paper as an opportunity to challenge yourself to think through a moral problem, rather than to summarize the readings or lectures. The paper is an opportunity for you to try out a new argument or criticize an old one, or both. Below are some examples of paper topics. Feel free to choose your own topic in accordance with the guidelines above. 1. Is a consequentialist calculation a sufficient basis for justifying the use of bad means in politics? Is it a necessary basis? Discuss with regard to one of the case studies in the first half of the course. 2. Is violence only wrong if it causes more harm than good? Discuss with reference to the bombing of Hiroshima. 2a. Writing only a few months before President Truman accepted his advice to use the atomic bomb against Japan, Secretary of State Stimson said that the "rule of sparing the civilian population should be applied as far as possible to the use of any new weapon." In defending his recommendation to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stimson wrote that: "My chief purpose was to end the war in victory with the least possible cost in the lives of the men in the armies which I had helped to raise." Was Stimson right in the first instance or the second? On what terms, if any, was the dropping of the bomb justified? 3. How sound is the doctrine of double effect, and its distinction between combatants and noncombatants, in determining justice in war? Discuss with regard to the conduct of World War II. 4. Pick one of the cases related to secrecy (Thomas/Hill or Clinton/Lewinsky). What criteria should citizens use when determining when the demands of democratic publicity should override the demands of privacy? Give reasons why the criteria you defend are better than the alternatives. 4a. "If you think that the Senate was right to hold public hearings on Thomas/Hill, then you cannot consistently approve the Senate's decision to deliberate behind closed doors about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair." Give reasons why you agree or disagree with this position. Be sure to present the best arguments for the other side. 4b. How should the Senate Judiciary Committee have handled Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas so as to best reconcile or balance the competing values of publicity in democratic government and respect for the private lives of public officials? Be sure to explain why publicity and privacy are valuable in the first place. 5. Discuss what difference, if any, there is between a consequentialist and deontological answer to the question "Should Jim shoot the Indian?" and what difference, if any, your answer has for evaluating an actual political decision that we have covered in the course. 6. By what moral principles and under what conditions can deception in politics be justified? Develop your answer by reference to several examples of deception in "Lying in Office." 7) Evaluate and compare the role that consent plays in deciding whether to justify the deception by John Lindsay and by Elizabeth Jackson in the two mini-cases on "Lying in Office." 8) Compare the role that several different (and important) moral considerations play in justifying or criticizing the deceptions in two or more of the mini-cases of "Lying in Office." 9. Present the strongest arguments against a utilitarian approach to choosing among competing ends in politics and respond to those arguments. Alternatively, present the strongest arguments in favor of a utilitarian approach and respond to those arguments. 10. To what extent, if any, does Ruckelshaus’s practice in "The Risks of Asarco" offer a defensible alternative to a utilitarian cost-benefit analysis? 11. Why is it important—or is it important—that citizens and public officials are willing and able to address the strongest arguments that support positions in a political controversy that they oppose? Respond with reference to at least one political controversy discussed in the first half of this course. 12. Are there any morally relevant differences that would justify giving more or less publicity to the allegations that Clarence Thomas was lying about his behavior toward Anita Hill than the allegations that Bill Clinton was lying about his behavior toward Monica Lewinsky? Be sure to say what values can be served by publicity and secrecy in each of these cases. WWS 301/ POL 308: Ethics and Public Policy Second Short Paper Due May 7 Sample Paper Topics (1) What difference, if any, would a utilitarian approach to choosing among competing ends and an approach based on individual rights make in deciding how to allocate scarce resources? What are the strongest arguments for and against each approach? Discuss with reference to the controversy over funding organ transplants in Arizona. (2) Defend what you consider the strongest method(s) of resolving the controversy in the Asarco case. In so doing, consider whether Ruckelshaus's way of handling the regulation of Asarco offers an alternative or supplement to the method of utilitarian (cost-benefit) analysis. (3) On what basis can the strongest moral case be made for or against a right to health care? Consider whether and why health care is properly considered a more important good than others. Which others? Use examples from the reading and case study. (4) What would acceptance of equal access to health care require of the government? What are the moral and practical limits, if any, of satisfying the demands of a principle of equal access to health care? Illustrate your argument with examples from the readings and case study. (5) Was the Arizona legislature's decision to terminate funding for most transplants morally justifiable? If so, how can the distribution of a life-saving medical treatment on the basis of wealth be justified? If not, how can a government avoid the problem of the bottomless pit of spending social resources to satisfy every need of every member of society? (6) Must we decide whether the fetus is a person in order to settle the abortion question? If we assume that the fetus is a person, does it follow that women do not have the right to have an abortion? Does it make any moral difference whether a woman voluntarily decides to risk having a child? (7) Can the situation of abortion providers and of access to abortion that is described in the case study be evaluated independently of one's belief in the rightness or wrongness of abortion? Evaluate the situation described in the case study from the most defensible pro-choice perspective and the most defensible pro-life perspective, and offer reasons for why one perspective is more defensible than the other. (8) Evaluate the arguments for and against funding abortion that were invoked in the debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Is it justifiable for the government not to fund abortions for poor women as long as abortion is a legal and constitutional right? In answering this question, be sure to consider what principle(s) favor funding and what principle(s) oppose it. (9) Sher suggests that legalizing but not subsidizing abortion is a fair compromise between the pro-life and pro-choice positions, although it does not completely satisfy the moral claims of either. Is compromise the best available resolution to the public policy question? If so, are these the right terms? If not, what is a better resolution? (10) What are the ethical and empirical considerations that stand on the side that favors and on the side that opposes capital punishment? Can these considerations be reconciled? If so, how? If not, how should the controversy over capital punishment be decided? (11) Under what conditions and for what reasons, if any, is giving preference in university admissions to disadvantaged minorities justified? In answering this question, be sure to consider the strongest arguments against the position you defend. (12) Evaluate the AT&T settlement. If you are critical of any part of it, explain what you think AT&T should have done, and why. If you support any part of it, explain why it is better than the alternatives. In either case, be sure to indicate the criteria you are using to evaluate the different parts of the settlement. (13) Explain whether and why it is morally consistent either to oppose the death penalty and support legalized abortion or to support the death penalty and oppose abortion. Be sure to draw upon arguments from the readings and case studies. (14) What principles should be used to decide what medical procedures are funded by the government for indigent patients? Answer with reference to both the controversy over funding organ transplants in Arizona and the controversy over funding abortion. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Professor Amy Gutmann, email@example.com A brief checklist for writing a good paper: Remember to do all the reading ahead of time and begin working on your paper far before the deadline. Before you write a final draft, check that you can honestly say yes to the following questions. Before I begin writing, do I have in mind an interesting and intellectually challenging question or problem raised by the lectures and readings? [If you are having difficulty choosing a topic, jot down some of your ideas and contact your preceptor.] At the beginning of the paper, do I succinctly state the question that I propose to answer or problem that I shall try to resolve? [A good writer typically re-writes the introduction many times, and does not finalize it until the paper is completed.] In the body of the paper, do I offer a systematic set of arguments? [It is far better to make a few strong arguments rather than many weak ones.] Do I address the strongest challenges to my arguments? [Try out your arguments on your fellow students who disagree with you and invite them to respond.] Have I carefully edited and proofread the paper? [Read the paper over once more after the last time you make any substantive changes in the argument. Ruthlessly delete repetitions, polemics, cliches, and flowery rhetoric.] Remember: If, after working long and hard, you are not making progress, contact your preceptor or me for help. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY FIRST WRITING EXERCISE Due Feburary 9 at 11 pm The Decision to Drop the Bomb on Hiroshima "No man, in our position and subject to our responsibilities, holding in his hand a weapon of such possibilities for … saving those lives, could have failed to use it." (Henry Stimson, "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb"). "In the summer of 1945, the victorious Americans owed the Japanese people an experiment in negotiation. To use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting such an experiment, was a double crime." (Michael Walzer, "Hiroshima") Begin a discussion against either Stimson’s position or Walzer’s position on terms that are most likely to command your opponent’s attention and respect. To help you think about what you might do, begin by picking the position as stated above—either Stimson’s or Walzer’s—with which you disagree more. Then, in approximately 150 words, state that position succinctly and in a way that shows that you understand the moral strength of your opponent’s position. Be sure to state a general moral principle—not one that is apparently self-serving or tailored to defend just this particular position—that supports your opponent’s argument. Then, in approximately another 150 words, respond to your opponent’s argument. Do not try to respond comprehensively (which is impossible in 150 words). Respond by pointing out the single greatest moral weakness in your opponent’s argument. Try to make your argument in such a way that your opponent can recognize the strength of your argument, just as you can recognize the strength in his. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY SECOND WRITING EXERCISE Due February 16 by 11 p.m. Evaluating the Decision to Drop the Bomb on Hiroshima Your assignment is to begin evaluating Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima where you left off last week. Here’s how to proceed. Imagine a smart and morally serious student who is taking this course and who has read your first writing exercise. (By all means, talk to some students in the course and exchange your first writing exercises with them. Try to defend your position against that of at least one student who disagrees with it.) Take approximately 150 words to make this other student's argument. Make sure it is stronger than the one you first offered on your opponent’s behalf. An argument can be stronger in several senses. (1) It may invoke or rely upon a more important moral principle or set of facts about the case. (2) It may be stronger by virtue of claiming less. It may acknowledge some truth in the opposing view (as a result of the first round of argument) and show that, conceding this truth, there is still a case to be made overall in its favor. (3) It may more clearly express any or all of the above. Then take approximately 150 words to respond to the opposing argument of your fellow student. Defend your own position on Truman’s decision to drop the bomb in a way that should change your fellow student’s mind or at least lead her to acknowledge some truth in your perspective. Keep in mind the various ways in which you can strengthen an argument. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your fellow student is smart and morally serious. She might change her mind if you could offer a sufficiently strong response to her moral argument. Even if she does not, she will better understand why someone as smart as you disagrees with her. Your challenge is formidable because her argument is stronger than the first one you made (in the first writing exercise) on behalf of your opponent’s position. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY THIRD WRITING EXERCISE Due February 23 by 11 p.m. Deception: Lies and Evasions A morally relevant distinction is one that identifies a characteristic that helps one decide whether or not an action is justified (or to what extent it is justified). One example of a morally relevant distinction is whether or not the most important purpose that the deception serves is publicly defensible, although not all deception that serves a publicly defensible purpose is justified. (This is one reason why we need to look for more than a single morally relevant distinction.) Use this writing exercise to find morally relevant distinctions between uses of deception in two mini-cases. In mini-case #1, President Kennedy engaged in deception in the course of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In mini-case #2, Mayor John Lindsay deceived in the course of an electoral campaign. Without attempting to decide whether these uses of deception were justified, clearly and succinctly (300 words total) describe the two or three most morally relevant distinctions between the two cases and provide a reason why each is a morally significant distinction. We will use these distinctions in class on Tuesday to evaluate the deception in these and other cases. For now, just focus on the significance of the distinctions themselves. FOURTH WRITING EXERCISE 300 Words, Due March 2 by 11 p.m. Democracy depends on publicity. Unless we know what public officials are saying and doing, we cannot hold them accountable. Protected by secrecy, public officials can use all sorts of bad means to pursue all sorts of bad ends. Yet democratic citizens also value secrecy. Secrecy preserves human confidentiality and dignity. We may want to use secrecy selectively to focus our attention on matters that are more politically relevant than (for example) the sexual lives of public officials. During the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, Senators and their staff made numerous decisions, both large and small, in which they gave priority to considerations of either secrecy or publicity. For example, Harriet Grant decided not to pressure Anita Hill to come forward out of a concern for how publicity might damage Hill (E &P, p. 77). For your writing exercise, select one--and only one--decision (other than the one just mentioned) from "The Senate Confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas," and state as precisely as you can the values of privacy and publicity that are at stake in that decision. Then offer the best brief argument you can-comparing the values of privacy and publicity that are at stake-either in favor of or against the decision you have selected for discussion. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Fifth Writing Exercise Abortion and the Sacredness of Life 500-600 words (NB: Not the usual word limit.) Due Tuesday, March 30, at 11 pm This week's assignment asks you to identify and articulate the central argument in one of two selections from the reading, and then offer a strong counter-argument, which shows that you understand the force of the original argument. The relevant selections are Dworkin, Life's Dominion, pp. 84-94; and Stith, "Death and Dworkin," pp. 337-347. Each selection discusses several issues, responds to various objections, and makes more than one argument. But each also has a central argument, which it is important to understand. In the writing assignment on Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, we asked you to identify a single decision moment. Here we ask you to identify the most important argument. Here's how to proceed: Choose the selection that defends the position contrary to your own on abortion. (You may select either if you are undecided.) In 250-300 words, identify and explain the central argument of the passage, making the argument in your own words as persuasively as you can given the space constraints. Then, in another 250- 300 words, make the strongest counter-argument or criticism, being sure that you show that you recognize the force of the original argument. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Writing Exercise for Week Nine Funding Abortion 300 words This writing exercise asks you to take a position on whether, in light of the fact that there is a constitutional right to abortion in the United States, a policy of not subsidizing abortion for poor women is a morally defensible compromise for pro-choice advocates to make to pro-life advocates, and to defend your position with one major argument. Here's how to proceed: If you think that no subsidization is a morally defensible compromise (in light of the constitutionality of abortion in this country), explain why in one paragraph (with your single strongest argument). In another paragraph, explain what you would say to the poor woman who cannot afford an abortion while her middle-class counterpart can. If you think it is not a morally defensible compromise, offer your single strongest argument for why it is not. In another paragraph, explain what you would say to opponents of legalized abortion who complain that it is bad enough to live in a society that condones the unjustified killing of unborn children, but subsidizing such killing is still worse and far more than they should be expected to bear. WRITING EXERCISE FOR WEEK 10 Due April 13 by 11 p.m. 300-400 words If you favor capital punishment, identify and respond to the single strongest argument that is opposed to capital punishment. If you oppose capital punishment, identify and respond to the single strongest argument that defends capital punishment. Helpful hint: If you find it easy to respond to the argument you have chosen, you probably have not chosen the strongest one. WWS 301/Politics 308 ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Final short writing assignment: Affirmative Action Due 4/20/99 at 11 pm "This is not fair," critics of racial preferences in university admissions argue. Racial preferences undermine fair opportunity of admissions based on merit. The abolition of racial preferences is unfair, supporters argue. Racial preferences are necessary for fair opportunity in our social context. In two paragraphs, briefly describe the single strongest understanding of fair opportunity that each side of this debate can invoke against the other. Be as careful, fairminded, and morally convincing in both your descriptions as possible. Your readers should be hard pressed to tell which side you are on. Post-Final Writing Exercise Due Thursday, 4/29, at 11pm. The purpose of this assignment is for you to evaluate the writing exercises, not for us to evaluate them (or you). Many ethical issues in politics inflame and polarize people. In your writing assignments, you have been asked to take a stand on such issues, and also to justify your views to others, to understand opposing arguments, and to think carefully and imaginatively about the competing values that are at stake in search of a resolution that is better than the available alternatives. Your preceptors and I have all been very impressed with the quality of your responses to these assignments. We now want to know what your own assessment of their value has been. We therefore ask that you reread all of your short assignments in the order that you wrote them, and then write us an evaluation in a paragraph or two (or however many words you need to convey your thoughts). In your evaluation, please reflect on whether the assignments helped you to acquire or improve your deliberative and argumentative skills and virtues, and whether and why you think these (or other) skills and virtues are important in a democratic society. Please feel free to add any additional thoughts about the writing exercises and their relationship to the course more generally. We would also be interested in knowing what features of the course you think should stay the same or change for next year.