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Assignment Questions

The Problem of Rights and Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism Assignment:
The problem of Moral Rights. Read carefully “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin in Thought Probes, as well as Jan Narveson’s commentary “Morality and Marilyn.” In Rosenstand, read Ch. 7 pp. 300-318, pp. 320-326 to help you understand the problem of rights. Use Rosenstand to quote extensively on the problem of rights and utilitarianism.

a) Do not waste any time outlining the plot of the “Cold Equations.” Assume the reader knows the problem.
b) Define the ethical position Barton is operating under and state why, on the surface, this is the best course of action. Are you in agreement with Barton and his commander? Can you think of any other solutions to this dilemma?
c) Read carefully Narveson’s comments (pp. 275ff) on fundamental rights, derivative rights, and moral rights. Have Marilyn’s fundamental rights been violated? Have her moral rights? What is the difference? What are Narveson’s concerns? You should incorporate in your discussion Rosenstands distinction between “negative” rights and “positive” rights as well.
d) What are the weaknesses in dealing with human problems from the ethical position you’ve defined in (b)?
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