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20: NOV 5


  • We will continue discussing results of our work and exercise on justified partiality.
  • Writing: Position Paper on Justified Partiality

Justified Partiality: Theorizing the Public Problem

  • Forms of Public Partiality (Beneficence)
  • Favoring taxation to address social problems - depends upon current political climate and culture. Charitable giving is lower in Europe, partly because government does the job. Charitable giving per capita by country
  • Voluntary donations of time and money to causes - here's some info on charitable giving
  • Bequests and inheritances (some info on trends in estate taxes)
  • Resources for answering the question, "What do I owe to strangers?"
  • Motivational resources: self-interest and altruism.
  • Theoretical resources:
  • Rawls' difference principle (review)
  • Duty to an ideal. This could be a Kantian ideal of supporting reason and autonomy in others, or it could be a more traditional ideal about human dignity and the importance of supporting human life. You may certainly draw on values from your faith commitments and life experience, but try to explicate them in ways that might be attractive to others generally.
  • Virtue Ethics --
  • Utilitarianism -- The principle of utility has several theoretical virtues. For meeting acute human needs, it gives us a way of prioritizing need and calculating benefits.
  • Libertarianism -- A good starting point if you feel very minimal "collective" obligations (such as through taxation), but don't forget that Liberatarians answer questions of personal charity and beneficence just like everyone else.
  • You may want to blend features of several theoretical and motivational resources in crafting your position.
  • Additional considerations:
  • Theorize from more than one direction: You can think about obligations to people outside your preference network by thinking about what strangers might need from you given human needs and your values. You can also start your theorizing by thinking about what it would mean to satisfy your obligations to people in your preference network.
  • Breakdown your obligations to your preference networks. Family, friends, church. Big one is generational wealth. Is there a limit to how much money you would feel obligated to pass on to descendents? Depends upon priorities. If absolute priority, then "no".
  • Prioritize: Consider priorities for both personal preference and public preferences. Human health and life, economic development, etc. Priorities by distance (your community, country, region, world).
  • Small Group exercise on the limits of "justified partiality"
  • Imagine that you are already in your future your life. Your earnings are over $100,000 and you expect to sustain that income or a higher income until you retire. You have accumulated over 1 million dollars in retirement savings and expect a very good retirement income. You have taken care of your kids' college education, and you are on track to own your home and a vacation property. But you live in a country with high rates of homelessness, high inequality, and a small social safety net, relative to other wealthy countries. Under this scenario of income and wealth, would you be able to identify some limits to "justified partiality"? What principles would you use to decide that you had resources that you were not obligated to spend on your loved ones (and those in your preference network). Try imagining very concrete kinds of goods that you might be sacrificing if you define limits to your partiality. What values, if any, would make such trade-offs morally attractive to you?
  • Possibility 1: Even from a position of relative affluence, I would reserve almost all of my resources for my PN.
  • Possibility 2, 3, and 4: I might still pass along generational wealth, but would give to charities according to averages for my income, above average, below average.
  • Possibility 5:?

Justified Partiality Position Paper: 700 words

  • Stage 1: Please write an 700 word maximum answer to the following question by November 10, 2020 11:59pm.
  • Topic: What do we owe strangers (both those in our communities, societies, and world)? Develop your answer to this question first by thinking about the extent and limits, if any, of justified partiality. Present your view about the extent of justified partiality. Then try to identify intuitions you already have about obligations to strangers and use some of the theoretical resources we have discussed (and others that you wish to draw upon) to help you express your view of our obligations to strangers as a reasoned position drawing on ethical concepts and principles. Consider near alternatives to your view and try to say why you prefer your view to these alternatives.
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. Put a word count in the file.
  2. In Word, check "File" and "Options" to make sure your name does not appear as author. You may want to change this to "anon" for this document.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "JustifiedPartiality".
  5. Log in to Upload your file to the "'Justified Partiality' Position Papers" dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow, Content, and Insight areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by TBD, 2020, 11:59pm.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. The papers will be in our shared folder, but please do not edit or add comments to the papers directly. This will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with animal names in alphabetically order, along with saint names. You will find your animal name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, I will give you the higher of the two grades. Up to 14 points.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [1]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Q&W.
  • Back evaluations are due TBD, 11:59pm.