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Philosophy or Ethics

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Torture Interrogations


In my White Paper, I focused on educating the reader on the practices of torture and its use in prisoner interrogations, providing evidence supporting and condoning these practices, and ultimately suggesting policies to aid Army executives on the subject of torturing. The use of torture has been documented well throughout history, primarily used as a form of intimidation and aggression from one group to another. However, this ancient practice has turned into an information-gathering tool from incarcerated prisoners in modern times. These torture interrogations hope to physically and psychologically breaking down helpless prisoners to the point that they relay vital information to their torturers.

Evidence points to the United States Army as utilizing such techniques to gather intel from captive terrorists. While many countries admit to using torture interrogations, the fact that the United States uses similar strategies is nothing short of appalling. Though the United States is involved in a difficult War on Terror, the country who holds individual’s rights above all else should focus on leading by example with the way she treats her prisoners. Therefore, it is shocking that the United States has been implicated in numerous torture interrogation scenarios, such as Bagram Prison, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib.

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Would You Buy a White Paper? Last WWYD?


As you know, we have been doing short vignettes-“What Would You Do?”-all semester.  A survey sent to BU faulty about “dishonesty among students” got me thinking about the ability to buy papers on the Internet.  I surfed to samedayessay.com .  The following transcript is verbatim.  I only changed the name of the customer service rep a I worried she would potentially face some retribution.

Interesting points:

  • The company claims they sell papers to be guides only.  I did not see the disclaimer anywhere.
  • The cost to do my white paper assignment seemed around $425.
  • Maria thought it was sad how many “lazy” students would use the service, but she seemed to suggest it was more acceptable for students also working or with other extenuating circumstances.
  • I posed as a student for awhile.
  • I left spelling errors in for accuracy.

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so, I give you a topic and you can produce a 15 page research paper?

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Monday Mornings… And Other Alliterations


Voracious. That’s how I would describe my reading style. From the very beginnings of my lovely life, I have always loved to read. In fact, that’s how I skipped a grade – I was reading chapter books in kindergarten (a little ahead of the curve much?), and I began to split my time between kindergarten and first grade. Two years later, it was decided that I was precocious and apparently socially skilled enough (who knows where on earth they got that idea) and next thing you know, I missed out on the experience that was third grade.

To this day, reading is still one of my favorite activities. That’s all that I do when I’m home! One of my biggest regrets about school is how little time I have for non-academic readings. What a nerd, I know. But if I sat down with a book, I promise you I would get nothing done until I finished that sucker. So this week’s blog post was simultaneously exciting and annoying…. I got to look at fiction books! But…. I got to look at books I wanted to but knew I couldn’t read because otherwise I’d not do my work, fail my classes, and not graduate. Great.

So, this afternoon found me reluctantly heading towards the fiction section on the first floor. The first book to catch my eye was Monday Morning, written by Sanjay Gupta, MD. The cover is mostly black with a large white font, which made it stand out from the rest of the books with picturesque scenes of trees or lakes or other romantic sappy things. When I looked closer, I almost left it; I saw that it was written by a real doctor, who apparently is also the Chief Medical Correspondent to CNN. I’ll be honest, I want nothing to do with dry medical reports, especially if it’s all gonna be bad news. But then I saw the “a novel” line and I was instantly intrigued. A real doctor who is also a reporter who wrote fiction? Wait… what?

I glanced at the inside cover to find a synopsis which goes a little something like this: “Every time surgeons operate, they’re betting their skills are better than the brain tumor, the faulty heart valve, the fractured femur. Sometimes, they’re wrong. At Chelsea General, surgeons answer for bad outcomes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference, known as M & M. This extraordinary peek behind the curtain into what is considered the most secretive meeting in all of medicine is the back drop for the entire book. Continue reading

Successful Value Chain Management


Onslaught of Green

Consumers are finding it more and more challenging to differentiate goods and services that are advertised as environmentally friendly. According to a 2010 study by TerraChoice, an independent testing and certification organization, there are 73% more green products on the market today than in 2009.1They also revealed that roughly 95% of green products are being greenwashed to some degree (based on their seven sins of greenwashing).1 While this study focused on home and family products, the purchasing power of greenwashing is evident across many industries. Greenwashing can be defined as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.2 Additionally, Wikipedia defines green washing as a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote the perception that an organization’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.3,4 While most organizations do not outright greenwash, any exaggerated behavior is inappropriate: greenwashing is “an extremely serious matter…it is insidious, eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability-related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy,” stated in a report by Ogilvy & Mather, a huge advertising firm.5 The Federal Trade Commission does provide guidelines for environmental marketing claims, but these are not enforceable.6,7 It has been the responsibility of corporations to not jump on the green public image bandwagon, spend resources on environmentally sound practices, and inform the public about the truthful environmental impacts of buying and using their products.

Fundamentals

A helpful document for corporations is Ogilvy’s guide on brand management: “From Greenwash to Great: A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing (without the Greenwash).” The guide presents a framework that speaks to an honest green story starting from inside the company, not from a marketing idea that is created and spun for consumers.8 A company that has started in an honest place is Levi Strauss & Co. The company was founded in San Francisco, California in 1853 and created the very first pair of blue jeans in 1873.9 The Levi’s brand has become one of the most widely recognized brands, positioned as the original and authentic jeans brand. It’s merchandising and marketing seeks to reflect the brand’s core attributes: original, definitive, honest, confident, and youthful. It is obvious the company is proud of its history and heritage: “People have worn our products during the seminal moments of social change over the past 150 years.”10 The company has a long lineage of corporate social responsibility: shorter work weeks were implemented to mitigate the massive lay-offs happening during the Great Depression; factories were racially integrated prior to the Civil Rights Act; was one of the first companies to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as remaining committed to the pandemic; established a set of Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines; and joined the Federal Labor Association (FLA) efforts to improve working conditions around the globe.11,12,13 According to Ogilvy’s brand management guide, environmental improvements and benefits need to be measurable, verified and significant to the product’s real footprint.14 Beyond their corporate social responsibility, Levi’s is considered a pioneer in sustainability, making efforts to minimize their environmental footprint in all levels of their operations. Continue reading

The Cost of Safety: Ethics and the Airline Industry


INTRODUCTION

Today, regional airline carriers account for more than half of all domestic flights in the United States, as major airlines have been outsourcing more of their flights.  According to the U.S. government Accountability Office, the regional airlines are responsible for the last six fatal commercial airline accidents (Dillingham).  Thus, their business operations, especially with respect to safety standards, implicate a variety of ethical dimensions and perspectives.

THE STORY OF THE REGIONAL CARRIERS IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Over the past thirty years, a major transformation has been occurring in the United States airline industry.  It began in the late 1970s when the U.S. government deregulated the airline industry, which inevitably led to increased competition among the major airlines to offer lower airfares (Cunningham, et al).   In response, the airline companies created the regional industry and developed a new business operating strategy called the hub and spoke model as a way of lowering costs.  Basically, the major airlines created central hubs in large cities or metropolitan areas and began relying on small regional carriers or commuters to feed their domestic network system (Wei & Yanji).  (See Appendix A) Continue reading

Employers Creative Use of Facebook


Social media and social networking sites are becoming more and more popular in today’s world as a means of communication and marketing. The most used social media site that has emerged is Facebook which is used by all groups of society. Approximately 45% of employers (who the exact employers are is inaccessible due to confidentiality issues) are using Facebook as a means for screening potential job applicants (Rosen). Employers have recently started asking candidates for their username and passwords as part of the job hiring process (Castillo). If candidates say no, they are immediately eliminated from the job pool which is detrimental in a time when unemployment rates are relatively high. The process of employers viewing candidate’s profiles and now even requesting their user name and password has brought up ethical and legal questions concerning privacy rights. While employers “believe they have the right to obtain as much information as possible about applicants” by using social networking sites, many others feel it is an invasion of privacy (Byrnside, 458). The legality of the issue is being explored in the courts but the ethics of the employer is still in question. By utilizing Robert Nozick’s Entitlement Theory to understand the ethical issues that stem from this dilemma, I feel as though the employers are not entitled to access candidate’s Facebook profiles. Continue reading

Nozick’s False Advertising


For the second paper in our class, I will be focusing on the ethics surrounding false advertising. This issue is concerned with the rights of others compared to the rights of freedom of speech. In deciding how to go about pursuing such a topic, I thought it would be valuable to perform a cited reference search on Robert Nozick’s Entitlement Theory essay. This article discusses justice and inequality based on entitlement, thus I thought there may be some intriguing essays that reference his work using an entitlement perspective to discuss the ethics of advertising.

I utilized Google Scholar to perform a cited reference search on Nozick’s essay and over 10,000 articles were found. Performing a search within these results for “false advertising,” I discovered 18 articles that cited Nozick’s Entitlement Theory and discussed false advertising. Immediately, I found one article titled “Advertisements, stereotypes, and freedom of expression” that appeared to be exactly what I would want for my topic. Unfortunately, this article could not be obtained with Bucknell’s privileges, so I went back to the results and found another article entitled “The Value of Rights” that also focused on my aforementioned topic. Continue reading

Hartman’s Article Cited by Thesis 20 Years Later


I chose to explore Edwin Hartman’s article “Donaldson on Rights and Corporate Obligations” for this week’s cited reference search blog post.  Just to recap, the article discusses Donaldson’s belief that certain fundamental human rights generate correlative duties for the corporation, including 1) the duty to avoid depriving people of their rights, 2) the duty to help protect people from such deprivation, and 3) the duty to aid those who are deprived.  Hartman introduces a fourth category of duty to the list, which he refers to as the duty to avoid helping to deprive. He argues that the corporation is not obligated to contribute to protecting anyone from deprivation, but it needs to make sure that no action it takes helps the depriver succeed in depriving.

Since the article was published in 1991, I thought that it would be interesting to see what other publications have cited it since then.  Using Google Scholar, I found that Hartman’s original article had only been cited by 3 other publications.

The one I chose to examine more closely is “La responsabilidad moral de la empresa. Una revisión de la teoría de Stakeholder desde la ética discursiva”/”The moral responsibility of the business. A review of the Stakeholder theory from discursive ethics”.  It is a doctoral thesis presented by Elsa González Esteban and directed by Dr. Domingo Garcia-Marza of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón.  It was published in 2011, so it is rather recent information.  In total, it has 576 pages and it is written in Spanish.  Continue reading

Stakeholder Pressure Keeping You Up At Night?


For the blog posting this week I chose to use a “piece of knowledge” on Freeman. An optional reading for our session 4 class back in February was Edward Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation.  Ever since taking Management 101 the concept of stakeholders has interested me: how to identify who is a stakeholder, are their various levels, how does one encapsulate the needs of stakeholders and somehow make that align or fit within what the mission of the overall corporation is, etc.

I searched Stakeholder Theory and Freeman within the Web of Knowledge database. Since Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation itself is within another piece of work, I browsed around a bit, checking out other pieces of work by Freeman regarding stakeholder theory. I spent some time searched within those for different terms, such as Wal-Mart, but did not come up with many results nor any I was particularly interested in. I eventually narrowed my focus onto Stakeholder Theory and “the corporate objective revisited” . This has been cited 76 times within the Web of Knowledge database! In settling on this document, I began sifting through the  76 items cited; I wasn’t really thrilled with this set of resources either. I eventually found an article that, from it’s abstract at least, appeared really interesting: Social Sustainability in Selecting Emerging Economy Suppliers by M. Ehrgott, F. Reimann, L. Kaufmann, and C.R. Carter. The source of the article is Journal of Business Ethics. I did a cited reference search on this article as well, but it has only been cited 3 times within Web of Knowledge.

The abstract provides great insight into what the study was about Continue reading

Shady Superpowers


One of my favorite shows is the British science fiction drama, Misfits. Currently filming its fourth season with an American production in the works, Misfits is just about everything you might want in a show – superheroes, evil villains, obscene language, clever writing, superb acting, dark humor, murder, sex, drinking, and a fantastic soundtrack.

 

The show follows a group of 5 early 20’s delinquents, sentenced to community service. In the first episode, they are struck by an electrical storm, and each delinquent develops some sort of superpower – immortality, the ability to rewind time, overhearing others’ thoughts, invisibility, and sexual power. Their probation worker is deranged from the storm, and one of our crew kills him in self-defense. Much of the first season revolves around “the gang” trying to prevent anyone from finding out about the murder, as they fear no one will believe that a group of juvenile delinquents has superpowers and had to kill their crazy probation worker in self-defense. It soon becomes clear to the viewer that each episode centers around one villain, usually a citizen who uses a power gained in the storm to harm others, and it is up to our quirky delinquents to stop each villain. Hilarity ensues.

 

In later seasons, more complex scenarios are introduced – other characters with complicated backgrounds enter the Misfits world, and questions of morality arise. At the end of the second season, our gang has finished their community service and is trying to adjust to normal life. By this time, (spoiler alert!) the appearance of “superpowers” within certain citizens has been outed to society, and their powers are no longer a secret. For some of the gang, their powers are a nuisance. The last episode of the season, a “Christmas Special”, centers around a discouraged vicar, who buys the superpowers of walking on water and telekinesis, and uses these powers to convince people he is the next Jesus. Meanwhile, the same dealer has bought the powers of the misfits. As the vicar exploits his new followers for money, he continues to buy more powers, including some of the gang’s. A follower of the vicar attempts to rob a bar where our misfits are currently day drinking, and in the process, kills one of the gang. Realizing that they cannot save her without their powers (especially the power to reverse time), they run back to the power dealer, who will sell them the remaining powers back for a much higher price than they recieved. What now?

Watch the scene below, starting at 30:00 – hulu will ask to you to log in due to mature content

Misfits “Christmas Special”

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A Family That Slays Together Stays Together


This week for the TV blog post prompt, I chose one of my favorite shows: Criminal Minds. It airs on CBS every Wednesday night at 9, and is currently in season 7. The show is made up of an elite group known as a subsection of the FBI: Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Sometimes referred to as the unit, the members include Rossi, Morgan, Garcia (computer whiz), Dr. Reid, JJ (communications), Prentiss and Hotch (head of team). Their base is located in Quantico, Virginia, but the unit is constantly called in by police departments and other agencies around the country to assist in crimes. These crimes the unit is called in to help solve typically have many layers and are extremely or disturbing cases. When the BAU is handed a new case, much of their job revolves around profiling and victimology. By piecing together the basic characteristics of the assailant(s) and analyzing them, the team can work in an effort to anticipate the next moves, and hopefully catch the unsub (unidentified subject) before it’s too late.

This past weeks’ episode is titled “A Family Affair.”  The Unit travels to Atlanta to investigate a string of murders. The victims have been prostitutes in the area who are stabbed to death in the same fashion. The Unit is called in because the frequency of these attacks continues to mount. The episode tells the story of dysfunctional family, the Collins. The Mother has been using pills, the Dad an alcoholic. They have one son, Jeffrey. Some years ago, there was a car accident. The Dad was drunk behind the wheel, the Mother in the front seat and Jeffrey in the back. Jeffrey is wheelchair-bound due to the accident, but blames his mother for what happened to him. Preview: criminal_minds_preview_a_family_affair_season_7_episode_16 Continue reading

Feeney Finds Out


The TV episode I chose to examine from a business, government, and society perspective is from the show Boy Meets World.  I am sure many of you are familiar with the sitcom comedy-drama, as it aired for seven seasons on ABC from 1993 through 2000, but for those of you who aren’t, I will sum it up.  Basically, the show chronicles the experiences and everyday life lessons in the world of Cory Matthews, your typical teenage boy from Philadelphia as he grows up from a young boy, through middle school, high school, college, and later married life.

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Drama in Beverly Hills


One of my guilty pleasures is watching trashy, reality TV. One of my favorite shows is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo. Over winter break I got to catch up on the season and even got my dad into it! The show’s cast involves elite housewives in Beverly Hills who are in the same circle of friends. They all have very strong personalities and therefore there is a lot of drama that occurs on the show. The six major housewives include Taylor Armstrong, Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards, Kim Richards, Camille Grammer, and Adrienne Maloof as well as one of their common “friends” Brandi Glanville.

In the episode, Uninvited of season 2, a lot of drama unfolded at Kyle’s annual White Party. The party is held at Kyle’s house and includes all white decor and the guests have a dress code of white. All of the housewives were invited but of course there was bound to be an issue between at least two of the housewives. Camille, who was already at the party, didn’t feel comfortable with Taylor’s husband, Russell, coming to the party. Camille had repeated some of things that Taylor had told her about her abusive relationship with Russell. Continue reading

¡Apréndete idiomas nuevos!


One thing you may not know about me is my passion for the Spanish language. I have taken Spanish courses since I was in eighth grade, and it is my second major here at Bucknell. Last spring I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. One of the things that attracted me to the Spanish language was how widely used it is, especially in the United States. In fact, Spanish is the second most used language in the U.S, and there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S. then there are speakers of Chinese, French, German, and Italian combined. I always thought that knowing a second language would be helpful, and I even considered learning Chinese (I’m pretty sure manicurists  talk about me the whole time I get my nails done- how cool would it be to know what they are saying?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This picture shows the percentage of people in each of the states that speak Spanish)

 

Going abroad was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never felt so insignificant as I did when going to all of those amazing cities of cultural and historical importance. It is crazy to think about all of the different cultures there are in the world and how they are so drastically different from one another. Take Granada, for example. My host sister went to work at 9 am every morning and returned at 3 pm for lunch (the biggest meal of the day) and a siesta (nap) right afterwards. This is not to say that every working person has this same luxury, but I found it fascinating how slow the pace was in relation to the morning “rush hour” here in the U.S. It often bothered me how slow everything was there, but I learned that it is this way because Spanish people actually take the time to appreciate every encounter they have much more so than we do in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(La hermosa Alhambra de Granada)

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Clean water – Don’t take it for granted!


I found the story of Seth Maxwell, one of the 2011 Do Something Awards Finalists, to be particularly inspiring.  Seth, a 22 year-old college graduate from Los Angeles, CA, learned from a friend that almost 1 billion people lack access to clean water and that water-borne illnesses account for more than 80% of all global disease.  He found this information troubling and immediately decided to do something about it.

He began what became known as the Thirst Project in March of 2008.  Seth, along with eight of his friends, was committed to making a difference.  They invested all their cash – about $70 in total – and purchased 1,000 bottles of water.  They distributed the free water on Hollywood Blvd. and began educating the public, through informal conversations, about the clean water crisis.  In a single day, they raised awareness and more than $1,700 in donations! Continue reading

Does Surfing Hurt the Environment?


My Channel Island Al Merrick surfboard is one of my most prized possessions. This surfboard was given as a present to me for eighth grade graduation, and although I have since bought a couple different boards, my Al Merrick remains one of my favorites. Al Merrick is known as the most prestigious surfboard designing company and even sponsors such surfers as Kelly Slater, the most winning world champion surfer in the world.

While I was riding this particular board, my life concerns revolved around the incoming swells and the tides of the ocean. I was the prototypical “beach boy,” blind to the broader environment in which I lived. And then, suddenly, the surfing world screeched to a halt. Clark foam, the surfing world’s number one foam supplier shut down due to EPA (Environmental Protection Agencies) requirements. This had a two-fold effect on the surfing world. First, supply had significantly immediately ceased, causing surfboard suppliers to increase the prices of all surfboards and find new ways of building boards. Secondly, one of the most “environmentally conscious” demographics (the surfing community) recognized that their main tool harms the environment. Continue reading

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but where did this best friend come from?


As Valentine’s Day is upon us, I’ve been contemplating on what type of item or object to blog about. Seeing as chocolate was covered (and made me have such a craving), I thought of what else is related to this special holiday, being chocolate and jewelry of course. My boyfriend came up to visit and celebrate Valentine’s Day. Luckily, I received a present early that’s given me inspiration to search more information on a popular jeweler: Zales.

My first stop for information was their website. In browsing around, great detail is given on the various facets of diamonds: clarity, cut, science, myth, carats, etc.  The one that caught my eye (no pun intended) was what are called conflict diamonds. I’ve never heard this term used before. The term I have heard of, which I feel is possibly more common, is blood diamonds. I’m sure some of us in class have seen the film Blood Diamond. Conflict diamonds in short are diamonds that come out of conflict zones. Continue reading

Business “Ethics”: How to Define Right and Wrong


In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on business ethics, many interesting points are raised on how to define, explain, and apply the concept of business ethics. Our class has already spent a considerable amount of time trying to define ethics and how they fit into our society, our government, and our businesses, and I suspect that those discussions were only the tip of the iceberg. So I was not surprised to find the article awash with conflicting definitions and views, which were both fascinating and frustrating to read about. Continue reading

C. Wright Mills “a born troublemaker”


Charles Wright Mills, 1916-1962

C. Wright Mills was born in Texas to a white-collar insurance broker and a housewife.  His childhood consisted of moving around a lot within Texas, causing him to grow up with many intimate friendships. After grade school, Mills anticipated an engineering career and enrolled in Texas A&M. One year later he transferred to the University of Texas. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in philosophy, and went on to receive his PhD. Mills became a Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and later, one of the most controversial figures in American social science. Continue reading

The Greatest Happiness Principle


There is something known as “The Trolley Problem” that is utilized as a hypothetical situation in the study of ethics and morality. There are multiple scenarios of the trolley problem, but here is just one: you are driving a trolley and on the track ahead of you, there are five men working who will be killed unless you pull a lever to divert the train to the other track. However, on the other track there is one man working who will be killed if you choose to divert the train. What would you do? Most people say that they would divert the train in order to save more lives.

This response aligns with the theory of Utilitarianism, which is a principle influenced heavily by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Essentially, Utilitarianism, which has been dubbed “The Greatest Happiness Principle,” is a consequentialist belief that actions should be based on maximizing the amount of happiness for the whole of society. John Stuart Mill wrote in Utilitarianism, “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain.” Therefore, the action of diverting the train follows utilitarian beliefs, as diverting the train will kill one person instead of five, which by simple reasoning, minimizes the amount of pain suffered by society as a whole.

Now let’s complicate the situation. Let’s say that the five men on the track are workers and the single person on the track is a pregnant woman or the President of the United States. Does this change anything? For many people, it probably does. I think a problem with Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism is that it frames the world and the decisions that people have to make in too simple of a nature. In a purely quantitative sense, killing the pregnant women or the President would still be killing less people than the five workers. However, Mill asserts in his argument that there are different levels of happiness and pleasure. Does saving the President fall into a higher order of happiness for the whole than the happiness that would result from saving the five workers? Questions such as these suggest that the principle of Utilitarianism is flawed in guiding our actions.

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BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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