PHI 208 Arizona State University Week 3 Symposium Discussion


Week 3 Symposium [WLOs: 2, 3] [CLOs: 3, 4, 5]

If you are having trouble starting this video, please access it here (Links to an external site.).
Video transcript can be accessed here.

In the Ancient Greek world (the world of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, often regarded as the birthplace of philosophy) a “symposium” was a banquet held after a meal, an “after party” of sorts that usually included drinking, dancing, recitals and engaging conversations on the topics of the day.

For our purposes in this course, the Symposium discussions will not involve dancing, recitals or a banquet, but they will provide food for thought on current ethical issues and direct application of the ethical theory discussed in each of these weeks.

It is almost impossible these days to turn on the news or log onto social media without encountering a controversy that cries out for ethical discussion. For these Symposium discussions, your instructor will choose a topic of current ethical interest and a resource associated with it for you to read or watch. Your task is to consider how the ethical theory of the week might be used to examine, understand or evaluate the issue.

This week, you will consider how deontology applies to a controversy, dilemma, event, or scenario selected by your instructor. It is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a deontological approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the chosen issue.

Your posts should remain focused on the ethical considerations, and at some point in your contribution you must specifically address the way someone with a deontological view would approach this issue by explaining and evaluating that approach.

If you have a position, you should strive to provide reasons in defense of that position.

When responding to peers, you should strive to first understand the reasons they are offering before challenging or critiquing those reasons. One good way of doing this is by summarizing their argument before offering a critique or evaluation.

Week 3 Symposium (Discussion 2)

Please read the description above and/or watch the video explaining the symposium and its requirements. If you are still unsure about how to proceed with the discussion, please send me a message!

This week, we will consider how deontological (Kantian) ethics apply to our “duty” to take time to be alone. The title of this week’s short article is, “Before you can be with others, first learn to be alone.” This idea has many applications beyond social distancing, and I am looking forward to reading everyone’s interpretations.

For example, in a world where everyone is so busy all the time, what moral obligation do we have to seek solitude? Is the pursuit of some solitude part of our duty to fully develop as human beings? Remember that Kant’s ethics are based on the concept of the categorical imperative: whatever it is that I do is an expression of what I think all people should universally do in return. Additionally, Kant is always seeking to always treat others as an end in themselves, and never as a means.

Craft your thoughts from Kant’s perspective—if, on the one hand, you say that there is no need for solitude, then you are saying that no one in the entire universe requires it. On the other hand, if you say there is a need for solitude, then you are saying that there is a duty for all people to seek out this time for themselves. This “no wiggle room” attitude is a hallmark of Kant’s approach (and the source of much frustration!).

Think about the duty to “be alone” and please read (or listen) to this short article found here: (Links to an external site.)

Just like last week, the symposium discussion is a chance for us to discuss together relevant ethical issues and to see how they align (or do not align) with our course material.

For this discussion, make an initial post (by Thursday at 11:59pm) on a specific idea related to the article above. Your post MUST involve some kind of argument for or against the necessity of solitude. As always, I would like to stress that you avoid wishy-washy posts, and try not to use language such as “I agree and disagree” or “I can see both sides.” Put yourself in the mind of Kant, and take a position either completely for or against from the ethical standpoint developed in this week’s readings.

Please keep your posts focused on the ethical considerations, and at some point in your contribution you must specifically address the way you would approach this issue in terms of deontology, and if you agree about the need for solitude, give an example of what you yourself do to express this “duty” in your own life.


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