Applied ethics essay week 8

Wk 8

Outline: Applied Ethics Essay


This assignment is designed to help you begin work on your Applied Ethics Essay due in Week 9. In this assignment, you will create an outline of what you will be writing in your essay. An outline is a tool used to organize your thoughts. You do not need to flesh out all your ideas, but briefly state your ideas along with supporting details that you will use in your final essay.

Begin by reading through the following cases. Choose one that interests you, and select one of the moral questions to respond to. Then, develop an outline that you will use to structure your final essay.

Your outline must include the following:

Briefly state a clear position on the moral question presented.

List relevant facts of the case.

Identify clarifying concepts you will use to analyze the case.

Describe an ethical standard pertinent to the case.

Include at least four references with proper SWS citation and explain how the information in that reference is relevant to your position. At least two of these sources will be from your textbook and other course materials.

See Sample Outline [DOCX] for an example of how this might look.

Strayer Writing Standards

This course requires the use of Strayer Writing Standards. For assistance and information, please refer to the Strayer Writing Standards link in the left-hand menu of your course.

Learning Outcomes

The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:

Analyze how ethical standards impact moral decision making.

Case Study: Criminal Justice

USA PATRIOT Act and Academic Freedom (Boss, 1, p. 488)

A senior at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, was visited at his parent’s home by federal agents after he requested a copy of The Little Red Book, Mao Tse-Tung’s book on communism. The student who requested the book through the university library’s inter-library loan was doing a research paper on communism for a class on totalitarianism and fascism. The two agents who came to his home said the book was on a “watch list” and that the student’s background, which included “significant time abroad,” prompted them to investigate.

His professor told reporters that he suspected that there is a lot more monitoring of student and faculty activities by federal agents than most people realize. The professor also reconsidered a class that he was going to teach on terrorism because he feared it might put the students at risk. “I shudder to think of all the students I’ve had monitoring al-Qaeda websites, what the government must think of that,” he said. “Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless.” 

The USA PATRIOT Act overrides library confidentiality laws. The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to monitor college students’ and professors’ library borrowing records, Internet records, and e-mails, as well as international travel and phone calls. In addition, librarians are bound by a gag order. Once records are requested, librarians are not allowed to tell the person who is under investigation.

Several libraries have protested the PATRIOT Act. Librarians in Santa Cruz, California, for example, are shredding library records daily. Libraries in some other states are posting warning signs and passing out leaflets. The American Library Association passed a resolution calling sections of the PATRIOT Act a danger to constitutional rights. 

Question:Should the PATRIOT Act infringe on people’s freedom of speech?

Case Study: Health Care Ethics

Jennifer Johnson: Maternal Drug Use and Fetal Rights (Boss, 2, p. 104)

When 23-year-old Jennifer Johnson arrived to give birth to her fourth child, hospital drug tests found traces of cocaine in her blood. It was later revealed that her other children had all been cocaine-affected babies. A Florida judge found her guilty of delivery (through the umbilical cord) of a controlled substance to a child. Johnson was sentenced to 15 years of probation, drug treatment, random drug testing, and educational and vocational training. She was ordered to participate in an intensive pre-natal care program if she should ever become pregnant again. 

According to the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, an estimated one in five women use illegal drugs. The cost of caring for a cocaine-exposed infant can run into the millions of dollars. In response, several states have passed civil child abuse and neglect laws, which state that taking illicit drugs or alcohol during pregnancy constitutes child abuse. As a result of these laws, thousands of women have lost custody of their children and some have even been jailed or placed in mandatory drug treatment programs. As in the case of Jennifer Johnson, addicted women can avoid prison by agreeing to undergo drug treatment.

Choose one of the following questions:

Question 1: Are hospitals that routinely perform drug tests on any pregnant woman “suspected of being a drug user” violating the privacy rights of the woman?

Question 2: Does a pregnant woman who plans to carry her fetus to term have a moral obligation to refrain from using substances that are harmful to the fetus? If so, does the obligation necessarily depend upon the personhood or moral status of the fetus? Can we have a duty to refrain from behavior that might harm persons who do not yet exist?

Case Study: Environmental Ethics

Animal Liberation in the Science Lab (Boss, 2, p. 447)

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a loose organization of radical animal-rights activists in more than 40 countries, ALF activists target science laboratories, slaughterhouses, and the fur and lumber industries. Since its founding in England in 1976, the ALF engaged in hundreds, if not thousands of reported direct actions. One of the most publicized actions in the United States took place in 1984, when five members of the ALF broke into the Experimental Head Injury Lab at the University of Pennsylvania and stole files and videotapes of experiments. The videotapes showed gruesome scenes of terrified baboons in vises with their heads being smashed by pistons while the researchers joked around. The tapes showed operations being performed on primates without regard for their pain or for standard research procedures. After taking the videotapes, the ALF ransacked the lab.  

In the controversy that followed the release of the tapes to the public, Dr. Thomas Gennarelli, the director of the lab, defended the research, claiming that the animals had been properly treated. He also accused the ALF of setting back medical research. Both the university and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which gave the lab a new grant to repair the damage, supported Dr. Gennarelli. The ALF responded to the accusation by comparing the lab experiments to those conducted by Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele on Jews in concentration camps. Protesters supported the ALF by staging demonstrations on campuses and at the NIH offices. In 1985, the secretary of Health and Human Services stopped federal funding for the head injury program, and the university agreed to pay a fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act. The members of the ALF were not prosecuted for their actions.

Although the ALF defines itself as nonviolent, the FBI regards groups such as the ALF and its sister organization the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) as “violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists [who] now pose one of the most serious terrorist threats to the nation.” In 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated the ALF a “terrorist threat.” The ALF has a policy of nonviolence toward living things, including people engaged in animal experimentation.

Choose one of the following questions:

Question 1: Were stealing the tapes and ransacking the lab morally justified? 

Question 2: Is animal experimentation morally justified if the Animal Welfare Act is not violated?

Case Study: Business Ethics/CSR

Patenting Genetically Engineered Life Forms (Boss, 1, p. 169)

In 1873, Louis Pasteur received a U.S. patent for the manufacture of a yeast that was free of disease. The first patent in the United States for a genetically engineered life form was granted in 1980 when the Supreme Court, in Diamond vs Chakrabarty, held that a human-created micro-organism was a new and useful “manufacture,” and hence patentable. Since then, more than three million genome-related patents have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), some of which cover genetically engineered humans. The year 2007 marked the first application for a patent for an artificial, human-created life-form—a microbe.

Despite the legal status of biopatents, there is still considerable controversy about the morality of the practice. Canada does not permit patents for “higher life forms,” such as the oncomouse. China, India, and Thailand prohibit the patenting of any animal. The European Union only permits such patents “provided the potential benefits of the ‘invention’ outweigh the ethical and moral considerations, in particular the suffering of animals.”

People who favor biopatents argue that researchers should be rewarded for their discoveries. People would not put the money and years into genetic research unless they had some mechanism for protecting their inventions and investment through patents. Those who are opposed question the assumption that science will advance faster if researchers can have exclusive rights to their inventions. They also point out that the monopoly on certain products and the high royalty costs owed to patent holders may discourage product development,

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