III. Essay Question (20 points total)
First, pick one of the following three scenarios. Second, pick two of the following four philosophical schools of thought — Stoicism, Utilitarian, Nietzscheanism, and Kantianism. Third, write a three paragraph essay where the first two paragraphs describe how you would respond to the scenario if you ascribed to each of your two chosen schools of though. For example, if you pick Scenario #1 with Stoicism and Utilitarianism, paragraph one would be a Stoic’s response to Scenario #1 and paragraph two would be a Utilitarian’s response to the same problem. In the first two paragraphs you need to clearly explain why the philosophy in question would lead you to respond the way you do. The third paragraph should argue for which response you think is the better of the two. Write your answer on the back of the exam.
Scenario #1 (Adapted from “Love’s Gonna Get’cha” by KRS-1)
You are in junior high in a very poor neighborhood in New York City. Your father is long gone, and your mother works three jobs to support you and your two younger siblings. Even still, she barely manages to pay the rent and put very simple food on the table. Your school is a violent and poorly-funded institution. You have tried for weeks to find employment, but no businesses are hiring in your neighborhood. On top of it all, you just found out that your little sister is very sick, and needs an operation, or she might die. Your mother cannot afford it…. On your way home from school you meet a former classmate Rob. He drives a top-of-the-line Mercedes, because he is now your neighborhood drug-dealer. He offers to pay you $200 dollars every two days for simply delivering a brown paper bag to one of his associates. What do you do and why?
Scenario #2 (Adapted from Zadie Smith’s The White Teeth)
World War II has just started. You served in the French Air Force as a fighter pilot, but now Germany occupies your country. You are caring for your sick mother, because you are her only living relative. You have two choices. First, you could leave France for England and join the British Royal Air Force. You know that your expertise as a pilot could help win the war against Nazism. However, if you leave your mother, she will all but certainly die. Second, you could stay in France and care for your mother. You will not be able to help in the fight to liberate your country, but you might be able to nurse your mother back to health. What do you do and why?
Scenario #3 (Taken from Homer’s Odyssey)
You are Odysseus, a veteran of the Trojan War. On your voyage home you come to a place where you are forced to navigate your ship between two equally dreadful monsters. The first monster is Charybdis, The Whirlpool. If you steer near to Charybdis, you will either lose your whole ship or you will all make it out alive. The second monster is Scylla, The Hydra. If you steer near Scylla, you will definitely loose 6 members of your 30-man crew, but the other 24 will certainly survive. If you go between the two, your ship will definitely break apart on a shallow reef and you will all die. Which path do you pick and why?