Week 1 Discussion Topic #1: What Would You Do?

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Please read the general discussion requirements above, as well as the announcements explaining the discussion requirements and answering the most frequently asked questions. If you are still unsure about how to proceed with the discussion, please reply to one of those announcements or contact your instructor.

After reading Chapter 2 of the textbook, including the “Ring of Gyges” story from Plato’s Republic, think about what you would do if you found a ring like the one the shepherd in the story found. What is one thing that you are unable or unwilling to do now, but would do if you had that ring? (Note: you are not being asked to describe what you would do if you had any power you wished. The ring in this story gives its wearer a specific power, and you are asked what you would do with that particular power.) The more honest everyone is, the more interesting this discussion will be. No judging, just thinking and discussing!

In the course of the week’s discussion, you will need to do the following (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Reflect on yourself:
    • What is the reason you would do that? Try to explain as concretely as possible what your reason(s) would be for using the ring in the way you envision.
    • If you think that your use of the ring would be considered unethical by most people, why would you do it anyway? What does that say about the importance of “ethics”?
    • If you think that your use of the ring would be considered ethical by most people,
    1. Reflect on society:
      • Would most people in our society consider what you do to be ethical or unethical? Why do you think this is, exactly?
      1. Engage with the text:
        • Based on what you said in response to the first two questions, does your response agree or disagree with Glaukon’s claims about ethics? (You will need to discuss your interpretation of Glaukon’s claims in responding to this question.)
        1. Discuss with your peers:
          • Read the posts of your peers and discuss their response to these questions. Consider, especially, whether or not you agree with their interpretation of Glaukon and what challenges this discussion raises about ethics.

          Remember that how you choose to address these questions is up to you; there’s no required procedure (for instance, you don’t have to answer each in a separate post or anything like that). The main thing is to get thinking and talking about these questions, and I look forward to reading your responses.

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