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Utilitarianism,   Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks

Week 1 – Discussion

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Utilitarianism,   Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks

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Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses.

Utilitarianism,   Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks

This discussion assignment   requires you to submit at least four posts: an initial post, two reply   posts to fellow students in threads other than your own, and a revised post   in response to the professor’s feedback.

Prepare Icon

Prepare: The initial post in this discussion must be informed by   the required material for this discussion. Your preparation should focus on   three classical ethical theories that are fundamental in any ethical analysis:   utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Since the subject of your   examination is the Starbucks case, make sure to view the relevant multimedia   carefully with an eye toward the various ethical problems that this company   has had to confront.

Reflect Icon

Reflect: Keep in mind that although the notion of the moral good   will vary among ethical theories, they often produce the same or similar   results. So you should focus on the differences in (a) the intent and (b) the   consequences of the action under examination. In utilitarianism, for example,   the consequences of the action are weightier than the intent. Accordingly,   even if the intent was morally questionable, the action is nonetheless   morally good if it achieves good consequences for most. The opposite would be   the case if the action were being examined from a deontological point of   view. These reflections will aid your selection of an ethical theory for your   initial post, as well as your critical examinations of the analysis from   fellow students.

Write Icon

Write: Start your initial post by identifying two   characteristics of utilitarianism, two characteristics of virtue ethics, and   two characteristics of deontology. Organize this part of your post so that it   is clear which characteristics belong to which ethical theory. You can do   this by means of subtitles, or by presenting a table. You should aim to write   one complete and clear sentence for each characteristic rather than just one   or a few words.

Then, take the position that   Starbucks is guided by utilitarianism and analyze how the notion of the moral   good in utilitarianism leads to a unique approach to ethical problems. The   way to do this is as follows:

  • First, present an ethical problem confronted by        Starbucks. You can choose one such ethical problem from the video.
  • Then, apply the characteristics of utilitarianism        that you identified for this discussion in the attempt to solve this        problem.
  • After this, analyze how the notion of the moral good        present in utilitarianism, and the characteristics that you identified in        particular, shape the approach to solving this problem.

Revise: This is your chance to correct any oversights or errors   in your initial post, or show your improved understanding of the ethical   theories and their applications. Start by reading the feedback provided by   your professor to your initial post, either directly to you or to your fellow   students. Use this as an opportunity to learn from your professor, especially   with regard to the best ways to apply the course material and your research   to your analysis. On the basis of what you have learned in this process, post   an improved revision of your initial post that applies the additional   knowledge that you have gained.

Remember that your grade depends   on the quality of your initial and revised responses, not just on the   submission of an attempt at improvement. It is thus to your advantage to post   the best initial post you can and then to also improve that best effort as   much as you can through revision. Taking this process seriously will help you   develop the skills you need to do well on the final project.


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