Merit, Desert and Values

Louis Pojman is a renowned philosopher who had contributed a lot in the anticipation of the concepts of desert and merit. The paper includes a brief argument associated with the statement by Louis Pojman. According to Louis Pojman, the virtuous are rewarded and the vicious punished in proportion to their relatives. The stance by Louis Pojman is not agreeable by most of the theologians and on its brief analysis, one would be able to identify that the statement could not be understood easily without referencing the work of Louis Pojman. In particular, the statement of Louis Pojman does have a merit. We shall discuss the agreement with the statement of Louis Pojman on the basis of integrated arguments.

The background of Louis Pojmans statement is the use of the two basic concepts of ethics namely merit and desert. Louis Pojman had profoundly accounted the concepts with his stance on the basis of brief account to the historical context in his work, Merit Why Do We Value It To Louis Pojman, the statement regarding the virtuous and vicious was a proposal of appointing the method providing the people what they deserve. The background of the statement also points out the intensions of the people that lead them to the path of desert.

According to some of the theologians and philosophers, desert means the characteristics and talents that one possesses. But the statement is agreeable because it demolishes the basis of desert as characteristics and natural talents of individuals. The statement originates the concept of desert as a result of deeds and objectives of individuals. Louis Pojman describes desert as deserving. Desert is easy to understand concept as it lies in each and every aspect of our lives. Childhood is full of deserts in the shape of rewards from parents by being mannered child. Desert turns into the matter of getting honor because of being wise. Thus desert is always with us in terms of being rewarded. The statement of Louis Pojman has potential to create a dogma for everyone to gain self reliance and confidence to live a life free from disgust and materialism.

Similarly another concept that makes up the second half of the statement is Merit. Louis Pojman describes merit as the result or fruit of acquired by keeping an attribute within that does something worth for the betterment of a society. It is the acquired attribute that tends to keep the concept of merit alive in a society. For example a person taking care of older people who have been left out by their parents could be goodness and acquired attribute of that person. On the basis of his acquired attribute to do well for a society makes him get the desert and merit. Acquired attributes of positivity brings a cause in a society to stay away from the evil and vice. In this way merit is given in a society to subjugate the failures and murder of human values.

It is the dependency of both the concept merit and desert that they could not deliver the message of the statement of Louis Pojman alone. Together the concept of Merit and desert provides an interpretation with a definite understanding of the society as a whole. Moreover it is the quality of the concepts that works as a method and a golden rule for the people to live a prosperous life.

The statement of Louis Pojman demonstrating the concepts and phenomenon of desert and merit has a potential to spread the need for the societies to adopt the method that implies justice in a society where there is a possibility of an outburst of unjust circumstances and frequent abuse of values and systematic order in a society. Furthermore, the statement provides a sense of motivation to the members of a society. With the implementation of the statement as a method for conducting prosperous lives and practicing social behavior, it is predicted that people would fairly develop thoughtful ways towards understanding of spirituality in the relations of human to every aspect of life.

If one would go against the statement on the basis of projecting implications against the merit and desert than it would be unacceptable to agree with account of method where the merits and deserts are given on the basis of characteristics of an individual.

The statement is not new as it had been implemented in the civilizations which now rule the history. It is true that one would deserve what he tends to achieve in a society. Vicious will be and should be punished on the basis of their intensions and objectives to sustain the way of life in a society. Similarly, people who have attained positive attributes to gain spiritual development in a society deserve deserts and rewards. Thus on the basis of above arguments it could be said that Louis Pojmans statement is agreeable that the virtuous are rewarded and the vicious punished in proportion to their relative deserts.

Critical comparison between Rawls and Nozicks theories of Justice

The relationship which should exist between the state and an individual has always been a subject of contention as far as political philosophy is concerned. John Rawls is among the philosophers who are known to have done a considerable amount of work in this subject. His work titled A Theory of Justice seeks to establish the best manner in which an individual and the state should exist. Robert Nozick is also a renowned scholar on this subject. His work Anarchy, State, and Utopia, focused on whether there was a possibility of formulating distributive justice, and not necessarily focusing on a particular distributive justice. Each of these authors developed justice principles and their implications for governments role. Rawls appears to have based his work on the Social Contract Theory context, which is logical as well as egalitarian. He arrives at a conclusion which is reasonable and appealing. Despite his good work, his work still exhibited some grey areas which he did not seem to have taken into close consideration. His work did not seem to conclusively address the issue of the fundamental tension that exists between equality and liberty. This is the fact that prompted Nozick to highlight this neglected aspect.

Rawls initiated his work with the Kantian statement which stated that every individual has an inviolability whose foundation is on justice and cannot be overridden even by the whole society welfare. He however continues ahead and expresses the fact that he may be having a contradicting opinion to that premise. Rawls first agrees that there is some tension in the relationship between the whole society and an individual. In the context of his theory, he emphasizes on justice principles as the only means of reconciling the interests of these two parties. The society is described as being a cooperative venture that is aimed at offering mutual advantage. The society is characterized with conflicts and common interests. Every human is interested in himself and as such conflicts seem to be an inevitable aspect of life. It is also true that when human beings cooperate, they are more likely to realize better lives than would have been the case when they did their things individually. When the fruits of cooperation among the individuals in a society are realized, it is human nature to want to get the better part of it. There is always a stiff competition between the members of a given society. There is also the need to work together within the society to achieve common good. These two aspects seem to be in competition.

Rawls feels that some principles are needed to govern the manner of dividing such advantages based on the possible social arrangements which exist. These principles which are formulated to govern the distribution of goods within the society are what he referred to as the Principles of Justice. Good principles are supposed to emphasize on equality as well as fairness. The people within the society are expected to agree to such kinds of principles, and this can only happen when they are deemed to be just. Rawls feels that they should be in such a way that every individual accepts them. The acceptance should not be based on the current situations of the individual members instead, the acceptance should be universal even if their current conditions were to change from one extreme to the other. The class, social status, asset distribution and abilities should not take a centre stage in the formulation of such principles as they are bound to change. This means that the social contract should not take into consideration, some of the factors that portray inequality. The agreement among the individuals in the society is done in a manner such that no individual focuses on his own advantage within the society. It is thus based on equality. Rawls feels that any individual who is free, self interested and rational is expected to prefer these principles when they are in a similar situation. These are the basis of his principles.

His first principle was that every individual within a society is supposed to have the equal right to extensive liberty which is compatible with the liberty for other individuals within the same society. Rawls appears to be synchronous with other theories of social contract. Rawls believes that the individuals are supposed to respect other peoples basic liberties provided their liberties are not compromised. His second principle stated that the inequalities which exist socially and economically have to be modified so they can be advantageous to everyone and that they should be linked to positions which anyone can rise to. This second principles seems to be having two main components, the first being that wealth inequalities should be to the benefit of the whole society, the second part is that every individual in the society should have equal opportunity within the society. Rawls feels that natural fortune should not act to the advantage or the disadvantage of an individual. Nobody deserves to be allocated a better starting platform within the society.

Rawls feels that these principles uphold justice. He states that the social values like liberty, opportunities and wealth should be distributed in an equal manner. When such values are to be distributed unequally, then it should be to the advantage of every individual within the society. Rawl does not strongly criticize equality. He only feels that people, who are going to give up their liberties for this inequality, should benefit from it. The benefit they get from inequality should be greater compared to the case when equality is increased. These two principles are plausible since individuals can give up some of their basic liberties to benefit from the social as well as the economic gains which result. There is the possibility that some individuals in the society can violate his first principle basing their reason on the second principle. He avoids that possibility of inconsistency by emphasizing on his first principle as having greater social good. Nozick feels that these principles formulated by Rawls do not take individual freedom into consideration.

Nozick begins his work by basing some of his thoughts on those that had already been put forward by Kant. He however feels that some of these thoughts needed modifications to fit in the political philosophy context. Nozick argues that an individual should never be used as the means of acquiring certain good unless he is willing. An individual has the right of choosing what he wants in his life. Nozick wonders why the rights of a single individual cannot be violated for the benefit of the whole society. He answers the question by stating the society is made up by individuals, each of whom has his own life. When the rights of an individual are violated in the interest of the good of the society, then this can be deemed as taking him as a means which is not acceptable. Rawls felt that a rational individual would prefer his second principle. This meant that if an individual in his own will chose to be used as a means then that would no longer be considered a violation.

Nozick expressed the opinion that no central distribution, group, or individual should be charged with controlling all resources within the society. It should occur in a joint manner. The distribution should take place in such a manner that individuals within the society get the goods they need from the others while satisfying the needs of the others too. Rawls disputes whether justice can be traced in such kinds of transactions. Nozick came up with the Principle of Holding to justify his claim. Nozick feels that a person is entitled to a holding if he acquires it justly. The second component in his claim is that if an individual gains holding after a transfer that is just, then the person is entitled to such kind of holding. The third component of his claim is that no other individual should be entitled to the holding if they do not fulfill the first or the second parts of his claim. This implies that any distribution can only be just if, every individual in the system is entitled to it. His principles can acquire a historic dimension, which is the main difference between him and Rawls.

Nozick feels that Rawls bases his justice principle on distribution that does not take the historic aspect into consideration. This can be equated to redistribution that is not even concerned about the original owner. This ignorance is what makes the equality as well as fairness which Rawls was advocating for. Nozick does not consider this distribution just. He does not find a good reason why an individual who did not have a good should be given at the expense of those who had been with the good at an earlier stage. Nozicks line of reasoning is plausible in the sense that a prisoner who is sentenced for a jail term is there because of a reason. Rationally, the person is supposed to be there. If we consider the perspective that had been formulated by Rawls, then the individual ought to be set free to achieve equality and the historical aspect of his detention should not be taken into consideration. This renders the argument of Rawls less plausible, unless he incorporates an historical perspective into distribution.

Nozick acknowledges that Rawls argued that inequality should be to the benefit of every individual. Also he agrees that Rawls prioritized his first principle. He concludes that if an individual did not have a liberty that could be violated, then he would not submit to the society. If we were to uphold the principles of Rawls, an individual who has trained and gain expertise in a certain field or sport and is able to attract a large number of enthusiasts to his performance if the individual charges the people he would be deemed to be violating peoples right to have wealth. He is required to pay back his gain to the society since that was natural talent. If the person had worked very hard to acquire that talent, then it should not be classified as being natural. Often it is very difficult to differentiate hard work from talent. Distribution should thus be according to the value and service offered and not necessarily based on morality. Nozick bases his distribution on Rawls first principle, which ensures that liberty is not violated.

Rawls did a commendable job in his works on the relationship between and individual and the state. He is credited with laying the foundation as far as this concept is concerned. His theory was mainly based on the Social Contract Theory. Nozick criticized portions of his work because some inconsistencies which had emerged.  Though, Nozick came up with his own theory on the subject, the theory was largely seen to be consistent with the one which had been formulated by Rawls. Nozick excluded the second principle that had been proposed by Rawls claiming that it was antagonistic to the first one. While this claim had some truth in it, Rawls had given it a thought and gave greater importance to his first principle. Liberty as well as choice was the main aspects of his theory.

Nozick felt that an individual needed to have the opportunity to choose what he wants as is the case in a market. A person is bound to choose what serves him best. Distribution in this context entailed an individual getting greater good by virtue of the possibility of serving the needs of other people. Distribution which is based on Rawls first theory only is deemed to have inviolable liberty. The relationship between an individual and the state still remain a much contested issue in the society. This subject still enjoys a great deal of studies and researches.

An Analysis of Into the Wild by Jon Krakhauer

The concept of the Good Life is a relative one which can receive as many definitions as there are many people in search of it. One such search is illuminated in the life of Christopher Johnson McCandless or Alex Supertramp who went into the wild in search of his own concept of the good life. The life he left for the wild may be already be, to some people, one that is good considering that he came from a privileged family and has already obtained a college degree from Emory University. With his college degree and savings, he would have been capable of being successful in his professional and personal life. But he left this life to become a drifter and hitchhiked his way to Alaska. The reason for which Chris did so is what Jon Krakhauer delved into in his book Into the Wild.

Chris was one of those people described by James Gallien who pick up a copy of Alaska magazine, thumb through it, get to thinkin Hey, Im goin to get on up there, live off the land, go claim me a piece of the good life. (5) Gallien was the electrician who gave Chris a ride to the border of the Denali National Park. It can be deduced that Chris definition of the good life is one which is basic, where there is no need for money, property, lavish clothing or food and social status. It also means establishing a relationship with nature and ultimately relying on it not only as a source of basic needs such as food and shelter but also as the foundation of ones being. One of his journal entries signed in his pseudonym, Alex Supertramp, on May 1992 best reflects this concept

Two years he walks the earth.No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, cause the West is the best. And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
The scene in Chapter 4 is very symbolical to Chris definition of the good life. It was in this chapter where the abandoned vehicle of Chris was found by a National Park Ranger named Bud Walsh on Detrital Wash. The yellow Datsun had no license plates and carried some of Chris baggage such as his guitar, clothes and some food. There was a note found on the windshield which said This piece of shit has been abandoned. Whoever can get it out of here can have it. (26) It was also evident that Chris burned all of his money before he left. Again, it can be noted here that Chris did not give much importance to money or personal property. In this scene and by his action of burning his money, he made a strong statement that you do not need money or other material stuff in order to survive.
I am of the belief that Alex was both successful and unsuccessful in his search. He was successful in that he was able to leave his comfortable life and live the life that he wanted. He lusted for something which he cannot find in his old life and by being able to search for it was a triumph in itself. Some people would have been afraid of leaving ones home because of the danger one would face in the outside. Its more than leaving ones comfort zone it is leaving ones security parameters wherein one is bound to meet unkind conditions as a result of having no money and no permanent abode. These obstacles did not deter him nor did it seem to have crossed his mind. In fact, as retold by his parents, it was not the first time that Chris set off in this kind of adventure because after his high school graduation, he left on a travel coming back two days before he entered college in which he suffered from hunger coming back several pounds lighter in which time he also got lost in the Mojave Desert.
He was unsuccessful not because of his death but because of its cause. He died due to starvation because being penniless he depended on nature for food. Being ill-equipped in many aspects  age, experience and gear, he was helpless from the harsh conditions the life he chose. To continue Galliens observation of the people from the Outside, he said further that But when they get here and actually head out into the bush--well, it isnt like the magazines make it out to be. The rivers are big and fast. The mosquitoes eat you alive. Most places, there arent a lot of animals to hunt. Livin in the bush isnt no picnic. (5) This was exactly what Chris faced which led to his untimely demise.
I think his naivet and idealism greatly contributed to his fate. Coming from a privileged life, he was not trained to live in such conditions. He was not armed with the right gear, tools and provisions to survive the wilderness but he believed there was no need for this. Apparently, he knew or maybe he felt this as is reflected from the message on the postcard he sent to Wayne Westerberg from Alaska on which he said

Greetings from Fairbanks This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here. Please return all mail I receive to the sender.It might be a very long time before I return south. If this adventure proves fatal and you dont ever hear from me again, I want you to know youre a great man. I now walk into the wild. Might be a very long time before I return South...I now walk into the wild.

I learned three things about the Good Life from Chris story. First is that the concept of the Good Life is not universal, thus, it is not the same among all people. Everyone has their own concept of it and each ones life is a journey in search of it. Some people may consider being wealthy and famous as having a good life. Others may define it as being able to work on something which one loves. Some may even find a good meal or finding that one true love synonymous to good life. Learning so, what is important is learning to respect each others differences in opinion regarding this subject.

I also learned that having a good life requires sacrifice. Chris sacrificed what would have been a comfortable life. He left his home and donated his money leaving him penniless and homeless. He would not have experienced hunger at any time but by choosing to leave, he experienced extreme hunger as evidenced by his body weight when he died. He would not have to worry about where to sleep. Nor would there be a need to live in other peoples homes. However, he willingly endured all of this because of his desire to live his concept of the good life. It also seemed that even as I view it as a sacrifice, Chris considers it otherwise. Apparently, as can be gleaned from what he wrote to Ronald Frantz, it gave him some sort of relief having to escape his old life

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a mans living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
Sacrifice may not only refer to what you leave behind like Chris. It would also refer to the hard work you will have to put into the process of your journey towards the good life. This could mean the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional or even financial investments you put in to achieve it.

Finally, I learned that not all people would understand what you do in order to live the good life. This is probably because not all people define it the same way. As for Chris, he received criticisms from people such as the one cited in the book which said,  The prevailing Alaska wisdom held that McCandless was simply one more dreamy half-cocked greenhorn who went into the country expecting to find answers to all his problems and instead found only mosquitoes and a lonely death.

My concept of the good life is one where a balance is achieved between what one is expected to do and what one wants to do. Each of us is responsible for something or someone in our lives. No one can say that life can be lived without worries because what kind of life would you have if you are not working at or for anything at all. Good life, then, is being able to accept that responsibility and creating a positive life around it. It is at this juncture that I express a view which is in contrast to Chris McCandless. Whatever our status in life rich or poor, educated or illiterate, businessman or drifter, we are all members of a society wherein people expects us to fulfill some social roles. These roles can put us a strain on us but delivery is important because for society to work, its members must attend to their functions. To have a good life, you must first fulfill your duties and responsibilities not only in relation to yourself but also to others because no matter how some people resist the idea, it is true, that no man is an island.

Furthermore, I would like to add that the good life to me is not an absolute concept because as each of us live our lives, our views of it change. What we perceive yesterday as the good life maybe different from our perception tomorrow. What is important then is not the concept but what we do in order to achieve it. It is also best to qualify that our efforts in order to achieve it should also be seen in the light of the people around us.

Living the American Dream Accessibility and Dynamic Character

Frederick Douglasss speech, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July, addresses the very meaning of being a welcome American or an outsider. The notion of an American Dream, for Frederick Douglass, cannot be limited to a fixed moment in history.  Nor can the American Dream ever be an ultimate end that is capable of being finally achieved.  It is fair to infer that, although Douglass clearly characterized the independence secured by the American colonialists as represented by the Fourth of July as a distinctly white achievement, he also envisioned and embraced a more dynamic notion of an American Dream in which people of all colors might eventually share.  Douglass did not reject the American Dream as a set of guiding principles encouraging struggle against unjust laws and unethical institutions, though he certainly rejected a more narrow conception of the American Dream as these principles were applied during his life, and it is reasonable to suggest that he was simply advocating a qualitatively different version of the American Dream than was commonly understood at the time.

Specifically, he viewed the American Dream as a sort of perpetual struggle against tyranny whereas many Americans at the time seem to have viewed the American Dream as a fixed reality previously established through the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, the establishment of the United States Constitution, and the implementation of American governing institutions and laws.  Douglass rejected this notion of a static and fixed American Dream, thus his assertion that the Fourth of July was a celebration which belonged to others, and he instead articulated a dynamic version of the American Dream which quite accurately predicted future struggles for freedom and equal rights in the newly established United States of America.

The American Dream would seem to have both philosophical and practical features.  Philosophically, the American Dream is ostensibly rooted in notions of liberty, freedom, and equality.  These notions imply a colorblind nation, in which racial injustices are both unethical and illegal, and that merit alone will determine an individuals successes and level of happiness.  These achievements, a result independence from Britain, were never truly achieved for black people in America.  Worse, as Douglass laments, racial traits alone were enough to ensure ever possible sort of injustice including being owned a piece of property.  The American Dream clearly did not apply to blacks in any substantial manner.  The blacks had their liberties constrained, their freedom at times eliminated through slavery, and there was no equality in any sense of the concept.  Practically, the American Dream was quite elusive given the fact that blacks were considered and treated as outsiders.  Douglass wrote his famous Fourth of July speech as a freed slave and did not consider his new freedom an automatic pass to the American Dream.  Quite the contrary, he stated that the American Dream was basically designed for the benefit of white Americans and that those people of other races would have to fight in order to benefit from the American Dream or simply leave America.  Douglass obviously stayed and sought to inspire the black struggle to contest racial injustices in order to make the American Dream more accessible to blacks.

For Douglass, the American Dream was inextricably linked to history and to the tendency of human beings to organize themselves in a series of master-servant relationships. Although the precise nature of these master-servant relationships might differ over the course of time, whether landowners and serfs in England or plantation owners and slaves or indentured servants in America, the one consistency in the organization of human affairs in Douglass view seems to have been the creation and the implementation of hierarchal relationships in ways that reinforced and perpetuated different types of inequality.  These inequalities, in turn, might be derived from a variety of distinguishing classifications based on race, religious orientation, or gender.  To be sure, given his extraordinary life experiences, Douglass was primarily concerned with inequalities and injustices which derived from master-servant relationships related to racial differences nonetheless, in terms of his approach to the concept of an American Dream, his arguments certainly transcended inequalities based on racial differences and he sought to frame the American Dream in terms of a larger type of human aspiration for equality when master-servant relationships have arisen.  Douglasss version of an American Dream, as a result, might be best characterized as one which envisioned constant struggles against unjust political, social, and economic relationships.

In terms of living the American Dream, as Douglass viewed it, citizens must always be critical of hierarchal relationships, they must to some extant ground their critical thinking in these respects on sound ethical principles in which justice and equality and overarching principles, and they must recognize that because master-servant relationships are natural in governing systems that citizens must always be vigilant against abuses based on insidious classifications of human beings.  Realizing the American Dream remains a challenging problem even today because of the different conceptualizations of the American Dream.  It is fairly clear that, in terms of realizing an American Dream, Douglass correctly anticipated that the American ideals were elusive and that the American Dream was a dynamic rather than a static phenomenon.

Instructor-Student Relationships

What would happen if I saw naked pictures of my classmates and my instructor posted on the internet  Then I would never be able to go to class again without thinking about my indecent professor.  And if the local media broadcasted it, then I would never be able to mention the name of my university without anyone snickering about my pornographic school.  While it may be great for the press, it would be terrible for me.  Therefore, the university should develop a formal policy that explicitly addresses romantic and sexual relationships between faculty members and students because an instructor is a role model, a professor has to be mentally fit to teach, a teacher has to be fair to everyone, an instructor needs to be sensitive to the religious and gender philosophies of others, a professor must be mindful of the schools reputation and the school or teacher potentially faces lawsuits.  The policy should explicitly state that all instructor-student sexual relationships are strictly prohibited.   Anyone found violating this policy will be investigated and given a chance to a fair hearing.  However, he or she will undergo disciplinary measures, up to or including termination, if he or she is found guilty.   The policy will also require all instructors to voluntarily disclose any existing sexual relationships between them and any student.  They will have to either terminate their relationship with the student or resign as faculty from the university.  The policy will also reward anyone who reports an existing instructor-student sexual relationship which was not voluntarily disclosed.

First, the teacher must act like a god.  If he acts like a deity, then students are more likely to believe and follow what he or she is saying.  People follow someone they believe is higher than them.  But sex is seen often as something animalistic.  And if the instructor is just another animal like the students, then why would they follow them.  Like a god, it would even be advisable for the instructor not to be seen eating, sleeping, or even going to the restroom.  He or she dresses at a higher level than the students, but like a god, every now and then, he or she goes down intentionally to the students level in an act of compassion whenever the situation is professionally called for.  This creates an image that the gods also have a heart.  Not an animalistic, lustful one, but a compassionate one.  Other countries like China, Japan, Korea and Singapore treat their teachers with respect because they view the ancient teacher Confucius like a god.  And they deal with ungodly teachers accordingly and seriously.

Second, an instructor should be mentally-fit for work.  Even some corporations today prohibit married couples from working in the same department.  The reason is simple.  People in love are like people on illegal drugs.  It has been demonstrated by scientists that a person in love releases neurotransmitters in his or her brain that mimic LSD.  This may give the lover a cloud-9 high if love is reciprocated, but if it is not, it will make him or her feel like a terrorist.  This type of hostility may vent out during class lectures, tests, grading and other important instructor duties that require complete mental fitness.

Third, the instructor must be fair to everyone.  If the instructor loves someone in class, he or she may favor him or her over the others in terms of grading, assignments, tests and so forth.  Its a conflict of interests between him or her and the other students and the university.  Other students may also use it as an excuse to challenge the teachers fairness in grading them even if they were graded properly.
Fourth, an instructor must be sensitive to the religious and gender philosophies of others.  While liberals may feel that it is okay for teachers to have sex with their students, conservatives may disagree.  Conservative Christians and Muslims may even see it as an evil act and denounce the university as an evil school, making the teacher a possible target of unwanted terrorism.  Moreover, same-gender relationships including marriage are now being openly discussed and in some states, it is very much lawful.  If the instructor has same-gender relationships with students, the class will probably not be able to concentrate during the lectures, possibly thinking about their queer professor.
Fifth, an instructor must be mindful of the universitys reputation.  In the past, news was slow to spread, and most of the time, it was confined to the local vicinity.  But now, because of the World Wide Web, digital information can spread across the globe at the speed of light.  Also, satellites and cable television now facilitate live broadcasts around the world at any time of the day and night. With this type of technology, one of the girls that a professor might be sleeping with might install a web-cam while they have sex for the entire world to see.  Or she may take nude photos of the professor making love with her and post it all over the internet for everyone to see.  Now, once students recognize their professor in x-rated films, they may naturally spread it to others and it may even reach the media, which could broadcast the news worldwide in an instant.  From then on, it will not just be the porno professor who will become world-famous it will also be the university he works for and the other students studying there.  On the other hand, if it is all kept secret by a student, it could be used to blackmail the professor.  And she could extort many things from him.

And lastly, an instructor must be cautious against potential lawsuits against himher andor the university.  If a professor is allowed to court students, the professor may cause unintended harassment, leading to possible lawsuits.  He or she may flirt with students and it may cause them discomfort.  They may think that he or she is harassing them like a dog in heat.  They may take advantage of the situation by calling their lawyer, who will want to maximize his or her profits from any lawsuit.  And if the university has liberal or unclear policies about instructor-student relationships, the lawyer may also use this to sue the school.  The lawyer may even exaggerate the unclear policy and say that the school promotes sexual harassment because it does not blatantly oppose teacher-student relationships.   Thus, this could lead to numerous unintended and unwanted lawsuits to both the instructor and the university.

While currently, the Instructor-Student Conflict of Interest policy in the Universitys undergraduate Academic Calendar states, In order to avoid conflict of interest, instructors are expected to refrain from entering into any relationship with a student which may compromise, or which may reasonably appear to compromise, the instructors exercise of professional responsibility, I believe that it is insufficient.  Lawyers and spin doctors can always find a loophole in any policy.  They can stretch and spin the idea of conflict of interest and may even say that it is in the interest of the university to have loving professors because love is an art that educators need to get their messages across to their class.  They can say that teachers are artists who need to be creative, and part of their creativity is their expression of love to their students.  Even the definition of compromise or reasonably appear to compromise could be spun around.  The instructor could say that his or her sexual relationship with his or her student does not compromise their professional responsibilities.  In fact, they may say, it even enhances it because they are inspired everyday by the presence of their loved one in school.  And without that daily inspiration they would be dead as a lifeless rock.

Even most Canadian universities who have a we dont prohibit, but we discourage teacher-student relationship policy are too vague, uncertain and lax about this issue.  If they dont prohibit it, they are allowing it even if they look down on it.  This means, for fearless instructors, they will still do it even if their peers may not be agreeable.  Since they will not be fired, their acts will continue, to the detriment of both the students and the school.

In conclusion, the university should create a very clear and explicit policy about instructor-student relationships.  It should clearly state the procedures and penalties without hesitation or without being wishy-washy.  This will protect the interests of not only the university and the students but also the professional interests of the instructor.

The Situation

Amongst the issues that were able to get the attention of millions of people from different walks of life is the fight for the rights of animals. Indeed it has grown from local conservative issues to global campaigns to stop the onslaught on one of the worlds finite resource. This essay will take off from the last word of the last sentence- resource. As Khan (2002) puts it, the global crisis regarding the rights of animals can be rooted from the problem of equating animals as a resource (18). This trend puts the place of animals from the ranks of living things to the new classification defined by the global trade and the pressuring economies- resources. As the Dalai Lama (2002) stresses, animals of all species are being threatened not just because of the expansionist stance by the global economy but more so because of the existence of human actions that are not in line with the needed commitment in the values which should be inherent to an individual- humanitarian values (20). The choice of refusing to believe that animals may have the ability to intellectually process the horrors of their deaths in slaughterhouses, laboratories and even recreational game hunting expeditions justifies all of their deaths. In short, they are being hunted, butchered and even stuffed because of their ignorance. As Kahn (2002) clearly puts this issue into play, humans have been able to justify the deaths and maltreatments they have caused on animals through the loop holes of the term wise use (17). This continually happens as if history and time cannot account for the continuously increasing populations of priced animal resources such as tusker elephants and whales. The too economic perspective used by humans can even make the existence of other species irrelevant and invalid in achieving the goals set upon by those who are involved in this trade (Kahn 2002, 18). This essay will use these contexts pointed out clearly to explain the relevance of animal rights and feelings even in this highly scientific world.    

For the sake of organization, this essay will exhaustively use this stand point on the context set out by Coetzees The Lives of Animals. The text provided by Coetzee through his book will be compared with one of the leading texts that aim to establish the foundations of consciousness on animals. Nagels What is it like to be a bat will be used to validate or contradict the points laid down by Coetzee in his book. The conclusion of this essay will use both of these texts to drive out an intelligible generalization on the pressing issues of animal rights. The similarities found in their texts will be used to emphasize the value of animals apart from the fact that they are vital in the world economies. On the other hand, their contradictions will be used to explain the possible loop holes in the generalizations made by these men to assume their present day stances regarding the rights of animals. Ultimately, at the end of this essay an answer to the question Should rationality be the only basis for the recognition of animal rights is deemed to be arrived at backed up with proofs and evidences from these two major authors and other leading writers of this topic.

Coetzees Lives of Animals Attitude and Assumptions
For this essay, chapter three of Coetzees Lives of Animals will be used to argue for the issues pushed forth by Coetzee regarding the issue of animal rights. Most conservationists opted to press and lobby their advocacies through legal battles strongly played on scientific battlefields. Surprisingly, Coetzee attempt to pursue the same goal of asserting the rights of animals, but only through a different manner- critical discourse. This critical discourse pushed forward by Coetzee in the chapters three and four of his book uses the context set upon by many philosophers regarding the relationship of rationality to the assertion of animal rights (Lodge 2003, np). In this chapter Coetzee used different situations to situate its readers to the context of his writing. Coetzee used the conditions of those who are in the concentration camps during the Reichs rule to magnify the effects of over rationalizing the value of life and even more the dangers of equating it as an answer to many rational reasons, economics being one (Lodge 2003, np). Coetzee through the personification of Elizabeth Contello pushed forth the issue that rationality cannot always account for everything that exists (Lodge 2003, np). The logic is simple more particularly for the work of Nagel (1974) which implies that rationality is the subjective part of experience because it is too abstract to understand. As Nagel (1974) put it at its best, perception is not objective in any ways there are different ways of perceiving a single event. Individuals such as human beings have their own rights as a human being and as a member of the dominant species (np). Following this line of thinking, it becomes too immature to assume the direct correlative assumptions regarding rationality and the existence of animal rights. Humans for the longest time recorded forced themselves to become the masters of the world. Luckily, Coetzee (2003) was able to discuss the possible harms of such thinking by citing the harms done by the Jewish persecution during the reign of the Reich (np). This comparison was used to show that removing the human and utilitarian factor between rights and rationality can result to the same horrors. As Lodge (2003) comparatively analyzed the Jewish persecution and animal rights, they have the same moving factor- exploitation (np). They are both fueled by exploitation instead of use and a growing assault on the personal subjectivity of experience and rationality. The Nazi regime assumed that Jews cannot possibly bring anything good to this world that is why there is a necessity to exterminate them, in the same way that butchers kills millions of animals for the sake of economically valuing the lives of similarly alive animals. Both of these populations have shared the same fate of being alienated from their rational selves. However, according to Lodge (2003) there is a vital difference, the Jewish persecution has already ended but the butchering shows no sign of stopping (np).

Nagel and the Bats Mind
One of the leading scholars that paid mind to the philosophical aspect of asserting animal rights is Thomas Nagel. He used consciousness to answer the possibilities that rationality and assertion of rights belong to the same group of mental faculties. Everything that an individual or a species know would rely on a great collection of consciousness. As Nagel (1974) would define it, consciousness is the time where the physical and mental experiences jive in such a way that it creates a new knowledge for the holder of such consciousness (np). Obviously, human relations can be proved to exist through the consciousness of many different and similar men. This is assumable because the assumer is a human being. Nagel in his essay situates the assumer apart from the assumed by trying to find a way to know what is inside the mind of a bat. Nagel (1974) encounters a problem in his assumptions through the pressures of finding a way to see whether is it really true that human beings are the only mammalian species knowledgeable enough to have their very own consciousness (np). On the other hand, Nagel is also troubled by proving that it is not only human beings who have developed to have the same mental faculty. This difference can be attributed to the lack of experiences which can be experienced by human beings such as Nagel to assess whether other species have their own consciousness. If there is only one good thing in Nagels essay it is that he was able to establish that human beings cannot really tell or assume that animals cannot feel or mentally process what is happening to them. Instead, Nagel (1974) assumes that unless human beings can establish the fact that animals are incapable of rationality, humans should always reflect on the possibility that there is something to be and feel like a certain animal, as for Nagels essay the bat (np).

According to Nagel (1974) Humans in return have limited spectrum of imagined and actual experiences because they only have a singular perspective of living (np). As for the case of the bat, the perspective of the bat can only be seen through human eyes if the humans would situate themselves to the same experiences possibly present in the bats consciousness. Nagel (1974) confirms that indeed human beings have the scientific capability to magnify the actual and physical attributes of bats to gain a sense of knowledge regarding the species (np). But still, to know what the bat sees and feels through his actual and physical attributes can never be achieved because it is exclusive for the bat alone.

Nagel and Coetzee in a Spoonful          
Nagel and Coetzee focused their discussions in troublesome establishment of what is believed to be and to be like for for both human beings and animals. Coetzee (2002) established through Elizabeth Contello that it is more probable that human beings are continuously failing to take into account that other living beings such as animals are capable of feeling and rationalizing. Nagel (1974) puts that humans cannot assume such thing because their consciousness are limited to the experiences which can be gained by a human being (np). Their failure to situate themselves in the perspective similar to that of animals make them prejudicial to the call that maybe animals need rights and protection in the same way that human beings need the same mechanisms.

Nagel (1974) continually reiterates along his essay that perceptions are not objective because they belong to the subjective part of consciousness (np). Coetzee (2003) assumes the same thing by implying that animals and humans are two set of species that have differentiated means of gaining experience. Even if they differ in the manner that their experiences show up in their perception of the world, rationalization of experiences is still present to both species (np). The problem arrived at through the complexities of the consciousness, experience and perspective is well displayed by Elizabeth Contello through her hysteria regarding her vegetarianism, she sees for sale meat as evidences of a brutal murder which is excused from the laws that usually govern murder cases. If Nagel is to explain that situation, he would simply say that such situation is a result of the discrepancy of the discerned experience of Elizabeth Contello that molded her consciousness which latter results to such perspective in the form of her hysteria. In a way Coetzee simplifies the analysis presented by Nagel, from a bat which cannot be understood Coetzee transformed the bat to Elizabeth. She is just like the bat which can never be understood by others. As for Elizabeth those that criticize her ways (vegetarianism being one) can never understand her stand on animal rights because they have different perspective on the subject at hand. Coetzee morphed the point of Nagel to a more human form to make more people see the relation of the points that they are trying to make- no one can be the judge of others rationality. As for this essay, humans cannot judge the rationality of their own kind (Elizabeth and her critics) what more when it comes to animals.

Human beings can no longer use the justification through ignorance when they opt to butcher animals, simply because they cannot really tell if the animal is ignorant at all or incapable of rationalizing. As illustrated by Coetzee (2002) and Nagel (1974), no one can really judge whether species (human and animals) have their own mental faculties needed for rationalization simply because their experience and point of view cannot be shared by others. Following the discussions earlier it can be concluded that rationality is irrelevant for conserving the lives of animals, because it is impossible to assess. Instead, lives of animals should be assessed according to a moral code of actions as said by Gandhi (2002) these actions will not subject any species (human and animal alike) to any form of process which may deny them of their right to be recognized in terms of existence and the rights that come along with it.  


Foundationalism is the organization of ones belief in a way that is well planned like in an architectural edifice. Such a structure has its integrity founded in two features a strong foundation as well as a superstructure of anchorage beams strongly supported to the aforementioned foundation. A system of proved beliefs could be structured through two analogous features. This is considered a foundation of very firm unshakable maiden principles as well as a superstructure of extra propositions anchored to the foundation through an inference which is unshakable. One such foundationalist system is that of Descartes which deal with the metaphysical understanding of things. Descartes is of the opinion that meditations have a destructive component which he compares to the preparations of an architect prior to the laying down of a foundation.

Foundationalism brilliantly permits knowledge expansion from the very first principles. All the same, Descartes is of the opinion that a complementary way is required to help in discovering the true original first principles. Descartes provides a method of doubt in exploring the subject here.  He is of the conviction that everything should be demolished completely and begin again all together from the foundations. To construct knowledge, Descartes construes doubts which are skeptical as the basic tools of epistemic destruction.

Generally, Descartes gave an answer to skepticism, the most burning epistemological query. The argument according to Descartes is that we should begin by taking our subjective states of psychology taking into consideration our perception as the basis and later go ahead to give an argument towards the world in general.  He also added that the events of the mind have no pertinent use to the things in the physical. Simply, Descartes foundationalism constitutes three things we begin with the obvious and that which we are sure of we can bring a justification of other ideas by construing them from the obvious ones then by combining the first two things, we get the most reasonable ideas.

On the other hand, coherentism does not agree to the soundness that is highlighted in the regression argument which makes an assumption that the validation of a proposition takes another kind of proposition. As held by such philosophers like Aristotle, the process of justification and validation of a proposition is a holistic process. A proposition is not justified as a part of an inferential reasoning chain. The justification comes as a result of the proposition joining together with a particular system of which it is part of.

The main censure which has faced coherentism is indeed the simplest state of the view point held by people with the truth in the theory of correspondence.  This is a theory stating that the falsity or truth of a given statement is determined through the way the statement is pertinent to the world and whether it explains precisely that particular world. This is a clear indication that there is no obvious method through which a system of coherence can relate to anything that could exist out of its circles. It is therefore seen as though there is a likelihood of constructing a theory of coherence that does not really correspond to what indeed takes place in the real world. There is therefore a possibility of coming up with a system which is wholly coherent while at the same time being very false.

Foundationalism verses Coherentism
It is necessary for coherentism to give much details of what it refers to as a system being coherent. At least, there must be a logical consistency which coherence must include. It needs some level of integration of the different system components. This is because a system that has many explanations which are not related is not as coherent as one that makes use of a single explanation stating that, all other matters are equal. However, a theory having an explanation for a divergent phenomena making use of other explanations which are not related is not that coherent as that which uses a single explanation for the divergent phenomena.

From the look of things therefore, a foundationalist approach is somehow better than making use of a coherent system. It is good to first get wind of the obvious things and those that we are certain about. Foundationalists seem to have a more efficacious approach in explaining the knowledge about things. It is also sounds logical when justifying other things by looking at the way they relate with the more obvious ones. The construing process of the new things is a very logical approach in the justification of the knowledge about them. However, neither of these two has been accepted fully.

Ernest Sosas View on Foundationalism and Coherentism
The rival perception according to Sosa is that coherentism tries to overcome problems by signifying that instead of a hierarchy of convictions and beliefs, where some are inherently validated and some are justified through other beliefs, each and every belief is justified in a similar manner. This is in terms of their position and place or in terms of belief, a raft which is not the case in foundationalism pyramid (Sosa 1980).  Sosa has offered readings in through epistemic or else intellectual values, general capacities in telling the truth from falsity or even to make the correct and right discriminations in a scope of relevant conditions.

The theory according to Sosa applies the reliability requirement to justification. Sosa is of the view that foundationalism has the two branches rationalism and empiricism. According to the rationalist, it is only a rational institution that can offer a secure foundation. Moreover, it is only deduction that can lead the way to establishing a new knowledge based on that foundation. Sosa claims that the knowledge model here is an axiomatic system where theorems come as a result of a reasonable deduction. Rationalists were therefore the logicists who made efforts to reduce all concepts in mathematics to axioms which are evident by themselves. On the other hand, empiricists according to Sosa accept both foundations as in the rational institution and the foundations based on sensory experience (1980). He regards them as unsuccessful in their efforts of reducing each and every substantial reality to sensory experience.

However, empiricism is more liberal compared to rationalism in that  it acknowledges a wider foundation which is provided by the rational institution and also the sensory experience it admits to both inductive and deductive reasoning. All the same, this is not satisfactory according to Sosa. Sosa considers the knowledge earned through observation in the immediate surrounding without any instruments. Sosa says that this observational knowledge cannot be described simply by deduction or induction from what an individual could know by introspection of their sensory experience. Sosa is also of the opinion that induction through enumeration is not sufficient neither is the use of abductive inference.

In summary, Sosa says that foundational empiricism puts forward three ways for a conviction to comprise knowledge foundationally. These include the rational institution ones personal experience introspection and the direct observation of the immediate surroundings of everybody.  As seen through Sosa, the rational institution has a problem where a person could be right in being compliant to a truth which is necessary even though they could be found guessing. This simply states that the individual does not know anything. Therefore, the problem is that an explanation is needed of what brings the difference between the beliefs constituting the rational institution from those which do not. This is in particular when both beliefs are true with apodictic need. Just being simple alone will not amount to our distinction because people will often see the same subject from different perspectives. Moreover, neither observation nor introspection is ever a source of crucial knowledge to be trusted.

According to Sosa, the criteria used for knowledge are all proposed giving reference to the necessary basic truths, sensory familiarities or surfaces which are objective. All of these according to Sosa enjoy their own particular character autonomously of what any individual could be found to believe in. When there is failure in such foundationalism, a lot of people may turn away from the presumed realism and move towards a notion of language or universal view or may be a conceptual plan as a thing that comprises reality. Sosa reflects back on Quine in drawing this conclusion. Quine has the conviction that reality is determined by science. Moreover, Sosa reviews Putnam who holds to the belief that reality is realized through language as well as thought the ideal if not a must the actual. However, Sosa says that these kinds of theories lack coherence (Sosa, 1980).

Sosa sa ys that some may not adopt the concept of antirealism but instead may turn to the concept of coherentism. This is because they are of the idea that confrontation that exists between the beliefs that we have and reality is ridiculous. By stating this argument, Sosa opens the doorway to coherentism which apparently is being offered as the more efficacious alternative. Sosa says that the distinguishing feature of the theory of coherence is the argument that nothing could be taken as the main reason for having full conviction in a belief. This is because the belief as described through the coherence theory must come through another one that already exists. Sosa continues to state that it is meaningless making use of a basis or validation source of another type. In the process of explaining this, Sosa refers to Rorty who has the conviction that there is nothing which counts as a validation not unless through giving reference to that which we have already adopted or accepted (Sosa, 1980).  Moreover, the argument herein is that there is no path of going out of our beliefs, convictions and language in order to look for a kind of test except through coherence.

Evaluation of Sosas Approach
The approach and analysis given by Sosa concerning foundationalism and coherentism sounds somehow logical. What apparently is devastating according to Sosa is the conception of knowledge as an issue of a mere true conviction and belief that is justified argumentatively as seen in the aforesaid argument. If then people will think of validation of ideas as thus fundamentally argumentative, then it is required that a room be left for another method through which a belief can lead to the getting of knowledge leave alone it being consequently justified. A belief leading to knowledge by way of a particular process which is casual does not really count in the perceptions held by many people. The absolute confrontation of beliefs with reality as held in a foundationalist approach as perceived by Sosa through such philosophers like Rorty and Davidson does not find a real application. Sosa, in the review of foundationalism and coherentism has really highlighted the importance of giving much space of scrutinizing beliefs before they are justified to become authentic.

The question now remains can there be a version of either foundationalism or coherentism which responds to these objections If so, how might they be The answer to this question is YES. There is a method which can be applied to deal with the problems experienced in the foundationalist approach. This alternative method begins by identifying these challenges as follows first, something is lacking in a supporter believing an important truth that is complicated for him or her to understand it by merely having belief in it two, something is also lacking in the introspective conviction that the individual has visual familiarity of a dodecagon surface at a point where this shape is very complex in discrimination and identification through introspection lastly, something is also lacking in the belief through observation that somebody has a dodecagon  surface prior to discrimination and identification merely be sight. Therefore, direct knowledge in foundationalism should be right not merely through accident but through a non- inferential faculty that enhances the creation of beliefs on the issue in question ensuring a soaring success ratio.

Summary of Safety, Risk Acceptability and Morality

Previous attempts to define safety have failed to address the subjectivity introduced into by such definitions. Macpherson reckons that their attempts have failed because both Lawrence and his successors define safety in terms of the notion of risk acceptability (378). It then follows that for any definition of safety to be plausible it must seek to define safety in other terms other than risk acceptability.  This is what Macpherson sets out to do.

Attempting to define safety in terms of risk acceptability, however attractive the option, is ultimately an effort in futility. In most cases it would appear that regardless of the extent to which something is deemed as unsafe, there are always people who will consider the risks and judge them as acceptable. Take stunt riders for instance. They engage in activities that most of us would deem as being unsafe and risky, yet they appear to willfully accept some degree of risk. Macpherson attributes this to the fact that people have different standards of risk acceptability i.e. we judge risk differently (381).

While safety is objective, risk acceptability is subjective. What is unsafe to one person should in effect be unsafe for another but the same cannot be said of risk acceptability. Macpherson asserts that this is because risk acceptability considers and takes into account the potential benefits to be accrued from taking the risk and in contrast safety does not (381). The subjectivity stems from the fact that what is beneficial to one person may not be perceived as such by another.

The concept of safety can take two forms. We deem something to be unsafe if there is a probability that it will cause harm or there is the chance of harm being caused to it. For simplicit, Macpherson terms the two categories as unsafe qua cause and unsafe qua recipient respectively (382). The two terms need to be defined so as to get a wholesome view of what it really means for something to be termed as unsafe.

Several conditions must be fulfilled to warrant something to be termed as safe or unsafe qua recipient. Macpherson articulates that the object must have considerable value, there must be a significant probability of loss occurring and there must be a set of circumstances that could bring about a loss in value (382-383). Similarly several conditions must be met for something to be termed as unsafe qua cause. Top of the list is that there must be what Macpherson terms as an interaction context (384). This details that to be safe or unsafe qua cause is dependent on the identity of the person interacting and the nature of that interaction. Something can be safe for somebody to use in one way but the same object can prove to be unsafe if put to another use. The other condition is that for an object to be termed as unsafe qua cause, the loss must not have been intended in any relevant way (384-385). This last condition precludes objects that would naturally not cause harm but are used intentionally in a way that causes harm from being termed as unsafe qua cause.

Macpherson is quick to point out that subjectivity may still creep into his definition of safety (385-387). The use of the term probability in his definition may be interpreted to mean degrees of belief. As he reckons, this may introduce subjectivity back to the definition since different people have different degrees of belief. This can however be factored into the definition of unsafe qua cause by stating that the probability should be based on the opinion of somebody who has all the necessary information about the object. Subjectivity may also be introduced by the concept of value. This is because the very nature by which people attach importance to things is a highly subjective matter.

Macpherson is in concurrence with the idea that epistemic certainty affects peoples judgments on what is safe or unsafe (387-388). Epistemic certainty coupled with what an individual knows to be true helps to question the reliability of different knowledge claims and decide what to base judgment on.

The concepts of risk acceptability and safety correspond with the consequentialists viewpoints and the deontological viewpoints respectively. The deontological viewpoint, just like the safety concept works on absolutes, with the nature of the action being the only determinant as to whether something is morally right or not. In contrast, the consequentialists viewpoint much like the notion of risk acceptability, considers the benefits to be gained from any decision. Macpherson notes that this comparison underscores the need to define safety and risk acceptability as distinct terms (390). Only then will the two viewpoints get a base for their arguments.

From the course work, a contrast can be drawn between the concepts safety and cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is of the belief that x is right if a majority of people in a certain culture believe that it is right. From the foregoing discussion, safety is associated with objectivity. This implies that for something to be deemed as being safe, then a majority of people must consider it as such and not a selected few. In contrast the concept of risk acceptability can be compared to subjectivism theory. This is true because the very concept of risk acceptability is highly subjective and it depends on the person taking the risk.

Macpherson states that consequentialists base their moral decisions on the benefits to be accrued from undertaking a certain activity. This is in concurrence with what consequential ethics, discussed in the coursework deem to be permissible or impermissible. Consequentialists base their judgments on consequences i.e. if the consequences are good then the activity is considered ethical. This introduces the element of subjectivity because what may be considered beneficial good by one person may not be seen as such by another. It therefore becomes difficult to distinguish between subjectivism and consequentialism.

From the coursework deontological ethics considers something to be ethical if it fulfills a duty. Macpherson agrees with this notion when he asserts that the deontological viewpoint is objective. This implies that if an activity meets a certain criteria then it is considered as moral. Macpherson therefore agrees with deontological ethics.

A Personal Philosophy of Knowledge

Every individual possesses a philosophy of his own.  He may not be able to identify what school of thought it belongs and he may not be able to articulate it but it is what governs every impression he gets out of everything he sees. His tools for analysis and for formulating resolutions for issues that he confronts are the material expressions of the philosophy he bears.  The philosophy of knowledge is the foundation of an individuals perspective of every thing that surrounds him.  Otherwise called as epistemology or theory of knowledge, this is primarily concerned with the characteristics and confines of knowledge.  Through studying epistemology, an individual is able to define knowledge and the process which he undergoes in acquiring it.  After comprehending such definition and the procedure for obtaining it, he becomes capable of reaching a conclusion on what he knows after an evaluation.  He also gains the ability to discover the method of knowing what he knows.

As an individual, I have my own philosophy of knowledge.  All my decisions and corresponding actions are influenced principally by ideas nurtured by such philosophy.  I may share the same philosophical nature with other individuals.  I am a pragmatist because I am a product of my own time.  This the era of pragmatism, a time when science is advancing so quickly and discovering new sets of laws that continues to break long-standing beliefs and conventions.  This is an era when ideas are accepted not because of their profoundness but for their use value.  However, I am not just a pragmatist because I cannot avoid being influenced by it.  I subscribe to this philosophy of knowledge because I truly believe in it.  Pragmatism is not just an alternative to rationalism and empiricism.  I consider it as a practical viewpoint that is pluralist and, therefore, seeks the end of fruitless debates.  (Cornish  Gillespie)  This essay is an attempt to discuss the nature and purpose of the philosophy of knowledge that I subscribe to.  I shall also point out here the methods of acquiring knowledge as well as the applications in management.  Finally, I shall present a personal action plan that is a reflection of my pragmatist philosophy.

The philosophy of knowledge evolved in accordance with the development of science.  During the early periods, when the scientific research and the means of production was still rudimentary, man still could not explain what brought into existence the things that he observes around him.  Due to this inability, it was natural for thinkers of those times to uphold a non-empirical or a priori knowledge.  Ancient Roman and Greek philosophers such as Plato were the most prominent proponents of a priori knowledge.  This kind of human knowledge does not rely on the material evidence, which is usually perceived through the use of the five senses of hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell. (Moser  vander Nat p.1)  Instead, it asserts that an object can be known even if the senses do not confirm its existence.  This is because a priori or non-empirical knowledge only depends on sheer reason.  (Kant p. 431)  Immanuel Kant was one of the earliest critics of non-empirical knowledge and rationalism.  He pointed out the weakness of the argument that an objects existence can be confirmed without the application of sensory experience.  Such assertion is grounded on the belief that the idea presupposes the material object.  Hence, even if it is unproven by conditions required by the use of the senses, an object can still be considered real. While Kant criticized rationalism, he never went to extent of being a materialist.  He was, in fact, an idealist.  Indeed, he upheld the empiricist notion that knowledge can be achieved by the use of the senses or by observation.  However, he also held the belief that ethical concerns and beauty are non-empirical.  He insisted that the definition of beauty and ethics are not borne out of observation but by influential ideas.

With the advance of science and its characteristic practice of proving a hypothesis with the use of practical experimentation, the dominant Kantian idealism and philosophy of knowledge was replaced with empiricism. Aside from scientific advancement, other factors that contributed to the growth empiricism were religious, political, and cultural.  Empirical knowledge began to take shape when the major schisms shook the dominant Catholic Church.  People began to question the absolutism of religion as highlighted by the rise of Protestantism.  It was also the time that anti-monarchy sentiments began to grow particularly in Italy during the Renaissance.  The Renaissance was not just a period of artistic progress it was also a time when, due to Italys political conditions, ideas regarding liberty and republicanism became more articulated.  (Skinner p.69)   At that time, transportation also became more developed, allowing the possibility of people of different countries interacting with each other.  The cultural exchange that occurred especially with the east, allowed western philosophy to be infused with a new mode of thinking, which include many ideas that broke the truths regarded by the west, particularly Europe.

Scientific discoveries are not static processes.  As man seeks further explanations for the nature of things, efforts at discovering and experimenting continue ceaselessly.  Because of this, whatever was accepted as truth before could be disproved later by more recent discoveries.  The process of proving and disproving the existence and nature of things, however, leads also to development of the theory of knowledge. Rationalism was replaced with empiricism.  The philosophical debates on what conditions of sensory experience should prompt sources for empirical knowledge laid the basis for the growth of pragmatism.  While pragmatism clearly points out the inadequacies of rationalism, it does not absolutely differ with empiricism.  It depends on knowledge acquired from scientific observation of material evidences.  It relies on sensory experience. (Markie)  However, while empirical knowledge subjects itself to debates, pragmatism brings about the resolution of arguments by simply focusing on the use value of ideas.  Whatever idea is useful and has been proven as such by practice is considered correct and true.  On the other hand, ideas, which values are only appreciated in the level of theoretical discourse, are practically useless.  Therefore, whether these are accurate and true is not the issue.  It is whether such ideas are helpful, especially in the realm of basic human needs.  After all, from my pragmatic point of view, the purpose of knowledge is to develop mans basic tools for survival.  Basic intelligence was necessary in order to improve the early mans capability to acquire food.  Now, intellect is important so that political policies and the supporting cultural factors are formulated in order to enhance modern societys economy.  Modern philosophy may seem primarily to be food for the intellect.  However, its value can only be appreciated if it is used for transforming economically and politically restrictive structures.  Intellectual discourse is good only if it leads to concrete and practical gains for the human being and society.  Karl Marx mentioned that philosophers do not have uniform interpretations of the world.  It was the mid-1800 and the debate between rationalism, which was then described as idealism, and empiricism, which Marx considered as materialism, was raging.  He further expounded that while philosophers worldview vary, the important point is that the world must be changed.  (The German Ideology p.123)  I consider such statement as pragmatic although there were criticisms on some of Marxs economic theories as no longer relevant nowadays.

I subscribe to pragmatism because the current development in all fields of sciences, from biology, physics, economics and politics all serve the purpose of improving mans individual and social conditions.  With such developments, these are times when theories can no longer be proven as true or correct by merely surviving the polemical barrage from those who disagree with it.  The source of knowledge is no longer just the sharp reckoning of philosopher who relies solely on logic or syllogism. The truth is not just a mere invention of the mind.  It should be based on material substantiation and it should undergo of the process of experimentation before a conclusion on its objectivity is achieved.  To determine the correctness of a theory, it must first be put into practice.  Practice is the most concrete proof of a theorys validity.  However, such practice should also be relevant to man and his societys needs.  Principally, it should serve the economic interest of human beings.  It should contribute to the development of production.  Otherwise, both practice and theory can become useless.  For a pragmatist, further discussions on the validity of it both can only be a waste of time.  There are no prescribed standards for which truth can be evaluated.  There is only use value to consider.

From a rationalists point of view, the acquisition of knowledge mostly depends on logic or in concepts that are not formulated after actual experience using the senses.  Because of this, a rationalist may often cite intuition as the basis of how he arrived at a certain conclusion. In Kants transcendental idealism, he pointed out that such concepts are inherent in the human mind.  This is clearly a subject-based knowledge acquisition.  In this case, a person does not gain knowledge about the thing itself but on what he purports it to be. This is very much similar to Platos theory of forms, which asserts that ideas are the highest substantiation of reality.  (Ross p.155)  Such process of acquiring knowledge is no longer accepted nowadays though primarily because it is obviously subjective and does not in any way conform to the standards of science.

The empiricists would naturally criticize the falsehood of rationalisms definition and process of acquisition of knowledge.  However, they would also explain that rationalism was a natural product of its time.  The low level of scientific development was the material condition that prompted the mind to make such non-scientific and subjective conclusions.  Empiricism asserts that knowledge is acquired only from sensory experience.  Therefore, in order to discover the nature or the objectivity of a theory, it first applies it to practice. Actual practice or experimentation is the only methods in which the senses are utilized for observation or verification of the results.  Ibn Tufail, who influenced John Lockes empiricist philosophy, described the mind as a tabula rasa that absorbs knowledge from observation. (Russel p.224)  However, the empiricists may also have to struggle explaining why certain mathematical and ethical laws have been proven true by mere logic or the by the workings of the mind.

As a pragmatist, I consider the methods of the empiricists in acquiring knowledge as the only acceptable process.  However, I would not go through such process though if I perceive that the theory I am trying to prove through practice and experimentation is not relevant at all to further my particular concrete interest.  If I deem it important in relation to my career, to my personal objectives, or to my social agenda, I would certainly go through the process of discovery, sharing, and then application.  By discovery, I would use my senses in determining and getting raw data and information.  Because, I already have accumulated prior knowledge through the varying levels of theoretical and practical education, I have the capability to synthesize my conclusions drawn from sensory experience with what I already know.  Therefore, I combine knowledge extracted from material evidences such as those provided by conclusive surveys and assessments with intuitive notions or opinions, which are products of accumulated previous knowledge. Aside from this combination of explicit and tacit knowledge, discovery also entails socialization.  Socialization means the fusion of tacit knowledge of other individuals.  (Becerra-Fernandez et al. p.54)  The search for knowledge over a certain issue or object becomes a collective effort in a certain degree. To achieve this, I may either call for a meeting of such concerned persons or consult with them individually.  I consider the former as a better venue for such approach though.  Along with discovery is the capture of knowledge.  At this point, I externalize knowledge by converting what I know tacitly into unambiguous expressions, whether it is through numbers, verbal or written reports, or graphical presentations.  Since these are just pieces of synthesized information, I will have to raise these again into a higher level of comprehension.  I internalize these explicit forms and create an abstract of what I learn.  In scientific experimentation, this may be considered as the process of formulating a hypothesis.  However, what is important here is not whether I can create a hypothesis or not.  It is my ability to reach a more profound understanding of the knowledge I have captured from both tacit and explicit sources.
The knowledge acquired through the simultaneous process of discovery and capture will have to be tempered in another process in order to achieve a higher level of objectivity.  This is the part when such knowledge is shared or communicated to others.  In terms of management, there are purposes for this particular process.  One is to create a condition where people are more intellectually-equipped to perform a certain function related to the knowledge provided to them.  Two is to provide a more comprehensive background for them, a condition in which they may be able to develop creativity and initiative in performing their tasks without deviating from the objective.  Three is to share knowledge to more individuals or departments.  (Becerra-Fernandez et al. p.55)   Besides these three factors, however, I also consider this sharing as another venue for raising the objectivity of knowledge.  As a manager, for example, I will still consider certain policies made in the confines of a boardroom subject to changes depending on the response of the employees below.  There may be instances that what is thought of as true in a management-level meeting may not be so in the perception of the employees who will be affected the most by it.  Should this occur, the moment such policies or decisions are shared opposition will certainly rise from the ranks.  This is an ominous sign that such decisions may not work effectively.  Therefore, I will have to make adjustments and recreate knowledge. All these interactions with individuals are valuable in creating knowledge. A specific time and space is, therefore, necessary for such interaction to take place.  (Nonaka  Nishiguchi p.19)

Application of such knowledge immediately follows after sharing it to all those concerned.  This will require direction and actual activities meant to realize an objective.  In management, this direction is to be performed naturally by the managers with the assistance of supervisors at the lower level.  The direction will have to be preset to the established policies, aims, objectives that have already been agreed upon through the interaction between management and the rank and file.  However, this does not mean that the acquisition of knowledge ends here.  In fact, I consider knowledge application as the most sensitive part.  It is here that the validity of an idea is subjected to actual realities.  Application is not the end of knowledge. It is when knowledge is given life through the activities done by the people of the company.  Once knowledge is applied, it provides both management and the employees an opportunity to raise their level of theoretical and practical understanding of their tasks.  The dialectical relationship of knowledge or theory with concrete conditions prompted by practice should provide them with new lessons.  However, this can only be done after management evaluates the results of the applications and once again interacts with the employees in order to share knowledge.

With the pragmatic premises stated above, my personal actions plan for acquiring and applying knowledge will certainly be one that does not have a clear boundary between acquisition and application.  If my objective is to make a dissertation, for example, it will be done through a continuous process of discovering, capturing, sharing, and then applying.  I will start out with certain ideas already learned from my studies but I will reinforce these by reading more literature, by discussing with peers, and by consulting my professors.  Once I deem that I already have enough information, I will begin synthesizing these and come up with a conclusion or a hypothesis.  This will be the subject of my treatise or dissertation.  I will share the analysis and conclusion of the dissertation with my peers in order to validate it further according to the responses.  However, the most important communication is when I deliver my dissertation to professors and subject my ideas to their reckoning.  This is when my knowledge is verified by people who have gained enough theoretical and practical knowledge.  Their findings and suggestions will not be the ultimate steps of my knowledges development.  It will be put into concrete practice, another venue for higher knowledge.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action has been debated more intensely than at any other time in its 35-year history. Many supporters view affirmative action as a milestone, many opponents see it as a millstone, and many others regard it as both or neither -- as a necessary, but imperfect, remedy for an intractable social disease.

Myth 1 The only way to create a color-blind society is to adopt color-blind policies.
Although this statement sounds intuitively plausible, the reality is that color-blind policies often put racial minorities at a disadvantage.

Myth 2 Affirmative action has not succeeded in increasing female and minority representation. Several studies have documented important gains in racial and gender equality as a direct result of affirmative action (Bowen  Bok, 1998 Murrell  Jones, 1996).

Myth 3 Affirmative action may have been necessary 30 years ago, but the playing field is fairly level today. Despite the progress that has been made, the playing field is far from level. Women continue to earn 76 cents for every male dollar (Bowler, 1999).

Myth 4 The public doesnt support affirmative action anymore. Public opinion polls suggest that the majority of Americans support affirmative action, especially when the polls avoid an all-or-none choice between affirmative action as it currently exists and no affirmative action whatsoever. As these results indicate, most members of the public oppose racial preferences that violate notions of procedural justice -- they do not oppose affirmative action.

Myth 5 A large percentage of White workers will lose out if affirmative action is continued. Government statistics do not support this myth. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, there are 1.3 million unemployed Black civilians and 112 million employed White civilians (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000).

Myth 6 If Jewish people and Asian Americans can rapidly advance economically, African Americans should be able to do the same. This comparison ignores the unique history of discrimination against Black people in America. Jews and Asians, on the other hand, are populations that immigrated to North America and included doctors, lawyers, professors, and entrepreneurs among their ranks.

Myth 7 You cant cure discrimination with discrimination. The problem with this myth is that it uses the same word to describe two very different things. Job discrimination is grounded in prejudice and exclusion, whereas affirmative action is an effort to overcome prejudicial treatment through inclusion. The most effective way to cure society of exclusionary practices is to make special efforts at inclusion, which is exactly what affirmative action does.

Myth 8 Affirmative action tends to undermine the self-esteem of women and racial minorities. Although affirmative action may have this effect in some cases (Heilman, Simon,  Repper, 1987 Steele, 1990), interview studies and public opinion surveys suggest that such reactions are rare (Taylor, 1994). Indeed, in many cases affirmative action may actually raise the self-esteem of women and minorities by providing them with employment and opportunities for advancement.

Myth 9 Affirmative action is nothing more than an attempt at social engineering by liberal Democrats. In truth, affirmative action programs have spanned nine different presidential administrations. Thus, affirmative action has traditionally enjoyed the support of Republicans as well as Democrats.

Myth 10 Support for affirmative action means support for preferential selection procedures that favor unqualified candidates over qualified candidates. Even though these selection procedures occasionally blend into one another (due in part to the difficulty of comparing incommensurable records), a few general observations can be made. First, of the four different procedures, the selection of women and minority members among equal or roughly comparable candidates has the greatest public support, adheres most closely to popular conceptions of fairness, and reduces the chances that affirmative action beneficiaries will be perceived as unqualified or undeserving (Kravitz  Platania, 1993 Nacoste, 1985 Turner  Pratkanis, 1994). Second, the selection of women and minority members among unequal candidates -- used routinely in college admissions -- has deeply divided the nation (with the strongest opposition coming from White males and conservative voters.) And finally, the selection of unqualified candidates is not permitted under federal affirmative action guidelines and should not be equated with legal forms of affirmative action. By distinguishing among these four different selection procedures, it becomes clear that opposition to stronger selection procedures need not imply opposition to milder ones.

Unemployment figures, particularly relating to racial minorities and women, have continued to climb in America since the Great Depression, with only a brief reprieve during World War II. Under President Harry Truman, Congress passed the Full Employment Act in 1946 to show governments commitment to providing employment opportunities to all Americans. However, as racial strife began to explode beyond the confines of the rural and urban ghettos in the 1960s and early 1960s, it was apparent that a more strident, encompassing plan was needed. It came in the form of what is called Affirmative Action. The purpose of this paper will be to discuss this plan and its necessity and weaknesses in light of todays prevailing racial and sexual inequalities.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, as part of his campaign for civil rights that began during the Kennedy Administration, spearheaded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress. Under the Act, Title VII specifically prohibited discrimination based an race, color, religion, sex or national origin in all employment practices, including hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, and provision of benefits (U.S. Commission on..., 1982, p. 2). Following its Passage with the Equal Pay Act which forbade employers from maintaining different pay scales for men and women who perform equal work.

These laws were revolutionary in the fact that they challenged longstanding practices which limited employment opportunities for minorities such as Jewish Americans or Japanese and Chinese Americans, who have all suffered discrimination, now have better income than whites (Beer, 1987, p. 64). It has never been shown that discrimination is the sole cause of statistical disparity it has never been shown that statistical disparity is an acceptable criterion for defining the problem of (discrimination) (Beer, 1987, p. 64). Such information asks the question whether affirmative action is the correct approach in resolving inequality in the work place. Then there is the concern about preferential treatment and the damage it may cause to those who suffer its consequences. Simultaneously, those who are beneficiaries of the program may come to question their own self-worth, to wonder if they really made it on their own or whether sex or ethnicity factored into their success. Opinion polls have shown that the American public accepts affirmative action in its nondiscriminatory, original concept. However, a 1984 poll conducted by Gallup revealed that Americans definitely are opposed to reverse discrimination (Beer, 1987, p. 65). It found that only ten percent endorsed preferential treatment, while eighty-four percent asserted that ability should be the main considered.

Are you for or against Affirmative Action as a strategy by which to address the historical legacy of inequalities in employment and

Some writers have criticized affirmative action as a superficial solution that does not address deeper societal problems by redistributing wealth and developing true educational equality. Yet affirmative action was never proposed as a cure-all solution to inequality.