1. What does Stanley Milgram’s “Perils of Obedience” have to tell us about efforts to standardize professional ethics? What does Milgram believe is the relationship between the obedience and individual morality? And how would Milgram evaluate Edward Snowden’s decision to leak classified information about what he believed to be unconstitutional practices within the NSA?
2. Using MacIntyre’s theoretical framework (that is, by reference to terms like “internal goods,” and “external goods”), explain why someone who loves the child depicted in MacIntyre’s “chess” example might offer her some candy to play chess when she doesn’t want to play? And why might one offer her twice as much candy if she plays well? Refer directly to the paragraph in “The Nature of the Virtues” where this is discussed, making sure to explain all its relevant aspects.
3. Consider Seumas Miller’s comments on Searle’s discussion of deontic powers:
Consider an incompetent surgeon who is incapable of performing a successful operation on anybody. . . By virtue of being a fully accredited surgeon this person has a set of deontic properties, including the right to perform surgery, and others have deontic properties in relation to him . . .Moreover, these deontic properties are maintained in part by, say, the Royal College of Surgeons, his colleagues and the community. However, the surgeon simply does not possess the substantive functional capacities of a surgeon. The deontology is there but the underlying functional capacities are not. Accordingly, it is arguably false to claim that he is a surgeon. If someone cannot perform, and knows nothing about, surgery he is surely not a surgeon, irrespective of whether he is the possessor of the highest professional qualification available, is treated as if he were a surgeon, and indeed is widely believed to be the finest surgeon in the land . . .
How would Searle respond, do you think? Do you find anything objectionable in Miller’s claims here? Explain clearly.
4. Should scientific institutions take account of social or political pressures in determining the best course of action in solving scientific problems? Can they avoid doing so? For instance, in discussing the medical community’s desire for “clean” trials, Epstein writes that some treatment activists argued:
the defense of science put forward by mainstream researchers was an ideology designed to promote the kind of science they happened to do as the only kind that could be called science. (p. 423) Is there merit in this charge?
5. According to Heinz Leugenbiehl, “professional ethics cannot simply be the subject of abstract philosophical analysis. It needs to be looked at in the context of particular cultural domains.” Explain why he believes this to be the case, using his case studies as the basis for your argument. And how, if at all, might this relate to MacIntyre’s argument for the different definitions of virtue across the ages?
6. On page 426 of Steven Epstein’s essay, in discussing Gieryn’s “boundary work” thesis he argues that the “recent reconfiguration of the boundaries (Gieryn 1983) between the “inside” and the “outside” of biomedicine has been the outcome of struggle.” Can the same be said for the “inside” and “outside” of engineering and its subfields?
Your task here is to do an analysis of a moment of “struggle” over norms within engineering, and questions of relevant expertise. Examine the discourse around the official NIST investigation of the collapse WTC Building 7, and determine:
1. whether that investigation was conducted in a way that conformed to the norms of engineering-based investigations of this sort. Determine whether the investigation sought to, and did successfully, answer the relevant questions raised about the fate of the building, or whether legitimate questions remain; and
2. how organizations critical of the NIST narrative have fared in making a case for their own expertise as a basis for rejecting the official narrative (an example of such a group would be Architects & Engineers for 9/11 truth, www.ae911truth.org). In your view, is this an organization whose voice should be considered an expert one?Why or why not? Some potential resources (there are many others):