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Abigail Worden
UC-410: Ethical Issues and Contemporary Religious Conviction
Final Exam
A. Compare and contrast, with an example: Mill and Nietzsche
There are a variety of arguments that school boards have used to support cutting time and
funding from art and music programs: economic recession, prioritization of state and national
achievement testing, and claims that such activities hold no strictly academic value. Placing the
availability or dismissal of arts-based programs in elementary and middle schools under the lens of
philosophy provides a new perspective: one that examines the issue outside the governmental lines of
monetary and testing value. Specifically, by examining the views of John Stewart Mill and Frederich
Nietzsche, we can see how two generally opposed philosophers find commonality in support of the arts.
Mill values art on its existence as a higher pleasure; while Nietzsche disdains the notion of that
particular idea, he would argue in favor of art in its defiance of elitist societal constructs.
In Mills Utilitarian philosophy, art is proven to be pleasurable on the basis that it is desired by
many. From the beginnings of the earth to modernity, art and creativity have existed, been sought after,
and enjoyed. Art must, then, fulfill some innately human desire. Furthermore, art has its place as a
higher, rarer quality of pleasure. According to Mill, the quality of a pleasure is evidenced by how it is
preferred by many above other, lower pleasures. Arts quality, then, is proven by history: the Golden
Age of any society, times of wealth and prosperity with greater freedom of choice for how an individual
could live, are always accompanied by expanses in art, music, drama, and other creative forms. When
these societies had the chance to live outside the base need of day-to-day survival, the pleasure of

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furthering artistic pursuits flourished. The admirable Renaissance man was not one who was gifted in
one particular subject of academia, but who possessed a variety of talents in thought and art.
Setting aside grandiose implications of arts place in global culture, it can simply be said that
children in regimented, test-based classes in math and reading would most likely prefer to spend part of
their day engaged in art and music. While it can be argued that children do not have capacity for reason
to judge these activities beyond fun or not fun, does the pain of losing money that could be
budgeted to sports or renovations, or the pain of an hour spent away from education aimed to boost
testing scores, truly outweigh the pleasure of children finding enjoyment in pursuits that allow them to
create and explore in ways that strictly academic testing cannot?
Mill would say that art is a higher pleasure, desired and preferred by many. Nietzsche would
argue that notion is based on the erroneous assumption that the interests of all people can be
considered morally equivalent. If the higher quality pleasure is viewing an art gallery, and the lower
pleasure a dinner at McDonalds, a 40-year-old, middle class, white males preference for the art gallery
cannot be judged by the same standards as a homeless womans preference for McDonalds.
Appreciation for the value of art developed from the aristocracythe wealthy and powerfulwho had
the time and ability to find pleasure in it, and therefore oppressively deemed it valuable to all. The same
Renaissance man who possessed more complete happiness to Mill is more completely a beast to
Nietzsche, as that man established moral superiority through privilege of fortune and circumstances well
outside the grasps of the slaves.
However, Nietzsche also wrote that the oppressive, powerful classes determine value based on
what they consider harmful, thinking, If it is harmful to me, it is harmful in itself. School boards who
sacrifice art programs in financial strains, favoring test-based academics and sports, only do so because
they consider taking losses on either to be more harmful to themselves, not necessarily the children

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affected. Further, Nietzsche states that it is the nature of every healthy aristocracy to do to other groups
precisely what they would refrain from doing to themselves. In other words, the wealthy would keep
their participation in and appreciation of art to themselves, denying access to others. Schools that
prioritize academic testing, where success is entirely dependent on a students upbringing, indoctrinated
values, and likelihood of not possessing a learning disorder, are far more oppressive to poorer groups
than schools that provide opportunities for students to express themselves creatively. Art by nature
attempts to exist outside of individual statuseducation, socioeconomic level, or gifted ability. It is not
intended to be graded on basis of correct/incorrect, but instead used as an outlet of expression, and a
chance for children to have an identity outside of a numerical score.
All revolutionary movements in art first began as reactions against the popular style in place at
the time. Creative outlets have always been the voice of the other, those outside the aristocracy, and
their chance to overcome the standards of their oppressors and push new ideas through the cracks.
While inevitably these movements were always absorbed and taken up by the elite, that beginning spark
cannot be discounted. A believer of Nietzsche would support arts power to damage tradition, and allow
the oppressed to more fully experience lifeeven if they would also believe that appreciation for art
originated from the oppressors in the first place. A Utilitarian would take the stance that the higher,
more desired pleasure of art, in culture and in school-age children, outweighs the cost of the lesser pain
of money. Both philosophies favor allowing children to explore and discover their artistic side, even if it
comes at the sacrifice of less time spent training for a test.

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B. This course is called Ethical Issues and Contemporary Religious Conviction. Discuss the
relationship between religion/God/gods and moral theory.
The laws, standards, and ethical expectations found in religion and religious texts were some of
the earliest motivators of civilized society. Morality and ethics grew from religion, based on the early
need for broadly accepted laws and civility, but also grew beyond religious constructs as society formed
and the needs changed from seeking black or white, right or wrong, and into exploring and defining
shades of grey. Moral theory expanding outside of religious doctrine provides the deepest examination
of lifeone that still allows the existence of unanswerable questions.
Pieces as early as Platos Euthyphro demonstrate how the idea of piety, service to the gods
through holy acts, guided moral behavior and constructed boundaries within which to live ones life. In
Euthyphro, what was believed to please the gods determined who lived and who died, who was guilty
and who was innocent, and whether an action was morally defensible. The court system attended by
the figures in the story originated from these beliefs: right and wrong, goodness and evil, examined
through the perspective of what the gods willed. Religion set in place the earliest moral laws, as in the
Commandments of Christianity dictating absolute shalls and shalt nots by which a person was
expected to live in order to be good.
The idea of morality is so innate to religion that it can justifiably be said that the two originated
together. Without religion to develop moral theory, the goodness of actions could not be judged by
implications broader than how they directly affected individuals involved. Religion built moral standards
that gave actions universal weight. Any action could be judged on an equal plane of how it brought
about or went against an absolute, timeless goodness, not just the mortal evaluation of the comparative
few directly involved. Could Kant have proposed categorical imperative, actions of ultimate goodness, if
the belief in God as a figure of universal, all-powerful goodness had never been theorized?

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Religion may have created the earliest moral theory, but just as religion broadened the weight
of ones thoughts and actions beyond themselves, moral theory and ethics have developed to broaden
past the religion that brought them into existence. Nietzsches philosophy presented that standards of
religion and the Bible have only survived across time because those in positions of power and wealth
have determined them to be effective tools in cultivating unquestioned habit from the masses. Religion
creates a slave mentality, as a sacred few religious leaders lay tyrannical authority to be absolutely
followed by others who are weakerwhether less educated, less powerful, or both. This is death to
logic, to the use of introspection and reasoning to see actions and ideas as complex and varied instead
of simply right or wrong.
To provide an example, in Socrates asked Euthyphro if there was reward expected in exchange
for ones holy acts in service to the gods. Christianity easily answers this with the promise of heaven:
eternal, perfect life of ones immortal soul after an earthly death. However, moral theory beyond such a
simple answer questions if a life lived for the expectation of a reward, heaven, and escape of
punishment, damnation in Hell, is truly morally good. As Kant would say, such a life is based in
hypotheticals, and not led by the good will of duty necessary for a truly moral life. The mention of hell
brings another question: if the God on whom the first moral theories were built truly embodies ultimate
goodness, and loves all of His creations, why must the threat of hell exist in the first place? If it is to
punish sinners and wrongdoers, then why would a God who is all-loving and all powerful create sin to be
committed, or evil to be exacted on the world by warlords, terrorists, rapists and worse? The commonly
presented defense that Gods mysterious ways are blessings behind-the-scenes is a sugarcoated
answer that fails to explain away events like the Holocaust or Sandy Hook school shooting.
When religion is relied upon as the sole determining factor of good and evil, it waters down the
complexity of such broad ideas. Subscribers to those beliefs are never required to thinkonly obey

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what they have been told in order to please a higher power or guarantee their place in afterlife. Modern
moral theory is motivated by doubt and I dont knows to encourage examination of oneself and ones
actions outside of religious instruction. This class addresses the need for thought and understanding
beyond, because my religion says so, accepting such answers not as conviction, but laziness.
H. How do I know if I have been unethical to my cat?
Thinkers of every age have dictated a moral responsibility all human beings have to each other.
Kant believed that a moral life was one led by good will and duty to others and the law; Mill saw all
people as morally equivalent and their interests deserving of equal consideration. However, a humans
responsibility toward fairness and good will does not end at their own race. Causing unnecessary cruelty
through activity or inactivity in the care of animals is a different, but nonetheless present, moral fault.
In order to understand whether behavior toward a cat is good or not, it is first necessary to
determine if the cat itself is good. According to Aristotle, the purpose of man is to achieve happiness
through a good and noble life lived in accordance with reason. Deciding between pleasures and pains,
living between behavioral extremes and building good moral habits lead humans to live well. The
purpose of a cat, then, as a being incapable of reason, is to survive. Cats have enough sensory ability to
prefer pleasure over pain, but lack the reason necessary for virtue and weighing means between
extremes. Cats live lives of pleasure but not lives of happiness, which requires reason to design a higher
quality of life. However, cats do show that they are capable, to some degree, of choice. Cats have
displayed the ability to recognize praise, and, without threat of punishment, choose to perform praised
behaviors that are not necessary to their survival. This is likely to earn affection, which cats are capable
to giving in returnfurther behavior that, while beneficial to a cats social health, does not help them to
survive. This capacity for intellectual and social development elevates cats above other living things such
as bugs, worms, and fish.

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An ordinary persons responsibility toward living things is to treat them with good will. Pursuit of
a good and noble life based on Aristotles philosophy cannot be accomplished if only those capable of
higher reason were deserving of fair and noble treatment. Otherwise, what could be said of infant
children or people with disabilities who are not capable of the same cognition? While children have the
potential to be capable of reason with age, they also have the potential to abuse that reason to harm
others, causing more pleasure than pain to their environment in their lifetime. A cat will never take up
an AK-47 and mow down an elementary school, or promote hate speech against minorities. If we choose
to follow the golden rule, and treat humans who commit these atrocities as morally equivalent to all
others, do we not also have a responsibility to treat comparatively harmless animals with fairness? If we
argue Nietzsches perspective, humans are no more than cruel animals who systematically oppress each
other. If humans are animals capable of the worst cruelty, it can be argued that we have a moral
responsibility towards animals whose lack of ability to reason also makes them less prone to hatred and
Taking a Kantian argument, all actions are evaluated not by their consequences, but by the good
of their will. It is impossible for any will to consciously cause pain in another living thing to be goodit
can never be universally willed that it is right to inflict pain on living things, so long as those living things
are not persons. Otherwise, we would be faced with the same dilemma regarding infants, people with
disabilities, and those in comatose states. No action motivated by a desire to cause pain can be morally
good. Even if someone feels they can achieve happiness or pleasure as a result of setting a cat on fire,
the will driving this action is corrupt. From Nietzsches perspective, the action is perhaps even an
aristocratic notion that favors causing pains to weaker, lesser others that one would never inflict on

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Having made a case that unjust cruelty to a cat is immoral, the next question is then if someone
who owns a cat and fails to care for it properly has behaved immorally. In this regard, Mills stance on
Liberty contends that those who are in a state to require being taken care of by others must be
protected. While Mill speaks on human children, the point stands that someone who has chosen to own
a cat, has domesticated it into their home, as made it a creature dependent on their care. An individual
who is sovereign over his own body and mind who elects to take responsibility for a living thing also
takes responsibility for the cost: their inaction in poorly caring for a cat is as much immoral as active
action against the cat. A cat that spends days starving resulting from the laziness of its owner is a victim
of a moral crime.
A cats capacity for feeling, and ability to judge against pleasures and pains gives it a level of
moral value that while far beneath humankind, is not insubstantial. Taking conscious, malicious action
against a cat is immoral; any human capable of enough reason to elevate themselves above the cat is
capable to know that they are causing unjust suffering, enjoyment in which can never be accepted as a
universal law. If reason is all that defines a person, then some animals are persons and some humans
are not persons, and others may commit crimes the likes of which are more bestial than human.
Therefore, the average humanbut especially the cat ownerhas a moral obligation to treat the animal
with the fairness it deserves as a living thing if they must also treat all humans regardless of their
personhood status as valuable. The unfortunate conclusion to this argument is that the mass breeding,
slaughter, and environment of constant fear and pain surrounding meat production makes it immoral as
well, since those animals are just as capable of feeling and affection. Sadly, Ive trapped myself in this
conclusion and see no way out besides accepting my immorality and continuing to enjoy bacon.