Week 2 discussions
When Siding with the Majority (graded)
As our opening page states, Mark Twain warned that “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”It is likely that your parents warned you “not to follow the crowd,” or your school counselors warned you about “peer pressure.”
The United States utilizes a democratic republic form of government, which espouses the “majority rule” in many instances. For example, when passing laws, Congress and state Legislators use majority voting. When electing our officials, the majority rules. But, is our government unethical?
This week’s thread will look at two or three “examples” of majority findings or rules.
We will bring new ones in throughout the week, so be sure to visit back at least every other day and post your thoughts.
Here is our first one for the week:
The great majority of people seem to find nothing objectionable about the use of commercials in children’s television programming. Yet a distinguished panel commissioned by the National Science Foundation found reason to disagree. After reviewing 21 relevant scholarly studies, they concluded:
It is clear from the available evidence that television advertising doesinfluence children. Research has demonstrated that children attend to and learn from commercials, and that advertising is at least moderately successful in creating positive attitudes toward and the desire for products advertised. The variable that emerged most clearly across numerous studies as a strong determinant of children’s perception of television advertising is the child’s age. Research clearly establishes that children become more skilled in evaluating television advertising as they grow older, and that to treat all children from 2 to 12 as a homogenous group masks important, perhaps crucial differences.
Do you think the majority view is correct in this case? What difference would it make that a majority thinks this way?
Do you think the use of commercials in children’s television programming raises any ethical questions? Do explain.
Do you wish to place evidence for what you say before your classmates?
The Struggle of Good vs. Evil (graded)
Personal struggles with one’s own tendencies, desires, lusts, and self-interest have placed people in conflict with other people and their own communities farther back than any of us can read. We read about the struggles of others in history — what about ourselves? Yes, us! What about our experiences of being ourselves?
When we look back in history, we find people who are not so different from us — struggling with their human nature — and trying to live ethical lives in whatever way they can do so. They aspire to live ethical lifes and find themselves failing again and again.
St. Augustine in the 5th Century held that although we feel free to make choices in life, our true nature as human beings includes a persistent disregard for what is good. On this view, we are sinners whose only hope for redemption lies in the gracious love of a merciful deity. Whatever I do on my own, Augustine would argue, is bound to be wrong; whatever I do right, must be performed by God through me.
St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century brought Aristotle’s theories back into “vogue,” soon afterSt. Augustine’s death (if 800 years is soon, that is.) He allowed humanity to have a bit of secularity along with faith, and his ethics allows for a Natural Law which can be found in the heart of man. Please be sure to listen to our Saints’ Debate on the lecture tab before working in this thread.
So, here we are in the 21st Century with all the sophistication and technology of the age. Does this account of human nature fit well with your own experience of human action? That is, do you observe (in yourself and others) an inclination toward evil instead of toward good? Bring in examples of scenarios which bolster your view, or which tend to bring your view (or others) into question.