1. Rachels points out that Socrates and many other thinkers who believe in God have shown that even if one accepts a religious picture of the world, rightness or wrongness of our actions cannot be understood merely in terms of conformity to divine commands. The same is true for sacred religious texts.
What is your understanding of how these religious thinkers arrived at the conclusion that we can understand right and wrong without the help of a divine being or reference to religious texts?
What reasons can be offered for the rightness or wrongness of an action that do not make reference to a divine being or command?
2. Read the NPR article “A Girl Gets Her Period and Is Banished to the Shed” and then answer the following questions: How would a cultural relativist respond to this practice? What reasons would a cultural relativist offer for his or her response? If you look at this practice from the perspective of the culture-neutral standard (discussed in Chapter 11), how is your response different from that of the cultural relativist? What reasons, from the perspective of the culture-neutral standard, could be offered against the view of the cultural relativist?
Greenhalgh, Jane. A Girl Gets Her Period and is Banished to The Shed: #15Girls. NPR. 17 Oct 2015. www.n.pr/2IbXJjq. Accessed 30 April 2018.
3. In Chapter 12, you learned about utilitarianism, which claims that we should always try to produce the greatest possible benefit for everyone who will be affected by our action, including nonhuman animals. Additionally, utilitarians argue that we should be impartial, that we have a moral duty toward others regardless of their relationship or proximity to us. Peter Singer, is a contemporary utilitarian, who argues that we should use our disposable income to help others, including the poor in countries other than our own. Watch the below video of Peter Singer discussing the movement known as ‘effective altruism’ and respond to the following questions: do you agree with the utilitarian view that we are obligated to help others regardless of their geographic location? Do you agree with the utilitarian view that we are morally obligated to reduce the suffering of animals (utilitarians argue in favor of veganism)? Provide reasons to defend your responses.
Peter Singer – Effective Altruism, an Introduction. YouTube video file. [4:38]. Science, Technology & the Future. 2014, Aug 28. youtu.be/IZgItfi4eJ4
Singer, Peter. About Peter Singer. www.petersinger.info/about/. Accessed 30 April 2018.