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ETHICS, TERM PAPER
INSTRUCTIONS
Please follow all the instructions for this paper, as found in the syllabus,
including the due date (AS FOUND IN THE ANNOUNCEMENTS – NO
LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED AND NO PAPERS ACCEPTED THROUGH
EMAIL — ALL PAPERS MUST BE SUBMITTED THROUGH CANVAS).
This is how you should plan your paper:
Page 1
– please summarize with great detail (showing you watched
carefully) the “White Like Me” Documentary (found online:

(**CREDIT CANNOT BE GIVEN IF YOU WATCH THE TRAILER ONLY,
SINCE THE TRAILER DOES NOT SHOW CRUCIAL PARTS**)
Page 2
– please answer these questions:
a) What was the weakest argument or point made in the film?
b) Please explain if you find X.) or Y.) more compelling (stated below), and
then explain why the OTHER side (i.e. the one you disagreed with most)
was not convincing – please be specific.
X.)
“Mr. Wise,  I have three objections
to your film.

A.) Your movie is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE
to racial equality.  You are not helping to heal
wounds but are only making things worse by
bringing up that which divides us as a nation.
We need to MOVE BEYOND RACIALIZED
THINKING, not see it ALL THE TIME.  If we
want a color-blind society, then we must
actually practice being color-blind.  Talking
about white people’s privileges keeps us in the
racist past, not moving forward toward a future
where we ‘are judged not by the color of our
skin by the content of our character’ (King).
B.) It is time to stop the ‘blame game’ and the
‘guilt game’ and accept that we ALL have
problems, not just racial minorities – very poor
whites, for example, are, on average, suffering
much more than middle class Hispanics and
middle class African Americans; why not talk
about their plight, too?  You are clearly
FIXATED on race, yet economic CLASS

matters a great deal, as well; why FORCE
EVERYTHING into a racial framework, when
reality is more complicated than that?  Of
course, racism still exists, and we should fight
it.  But there are A LOT of other issues that are
equally – or in some cases, more – deserving of
our attention, if we were really objective about
it.
C.) You act as if racial minorities today are just
HELPLESS VICTIMS of white supremacy
(how empowering is this characterization?), as
they truly were during the horrors of legalized
chattel slavery.  BUT IT IS NOW THE 2000s,
and people have CHOICES now how they live
their lives, which means we ALL have
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. EVERYONE
has a responsibility to bring themselves up, no
matter where they are at in life.  We ALL have a
reason to complain and blame our bad
circumstance on someone else – but promoting

a “Black and Brown skinned people are
victims” mentality is doing them no favors.
Racial minorities today need the OPPOSITE
message of “DREAM BIG” and “ACHIEVE
SUCCESS through YOUR OWN HARD
WORK AND PERSONAL SACRIFICE.”
White people alive today do not force racial
minorities to live in high crime areas, or refuse
to go to college, or have shorter life spans
because of personal choices to have bad diets.
White supremacy is NOT the ONE and ONLY
cause of every single problem in African
American and Hispanic communities.  Yet your
documentary assumes it is all the ‘white man’s’
fault.  This is hardly fair or accurate, and, I’m
sorry to say, shows you have an agenda and are
NOT an objective researcher.”
Or…

Y.)
Mr. Wise, or his supporter,
might reply this way:
“A.) Being
color-blind is itself a form of white
privilege.  If you are facing horrible
stereotypes, internalized racism,
unfair treatment from the criminal
justice system, etc. everyday, this
society will REMIND you ALL THE TIME
that we have not achieved a color-
blind society.  The only way to heal
our society is to ADMIT we have a
serious problem with white supremacy,
that we white folks still get unearned
advantages because of our skin color,
and resolve to do what we have to do
to FIX THIS PROBLEM, NOT BRUSH IT OFF,

ONCE AGAIN.  We should only stop
talking about and seeing race when
race will no longer affect how you
fare in life, as it unfortunately does
now.
B.) Of course, other groups besides
racial minorities suffer terribly, and
these other injustices should end.
But you committed a Red Herring
fallacy.  Why are you focusing on all
these other issues – please make your
own documentary about poverty and poor
white people, and I would eagerly
watch it; but please don’t change the
subject – I made a film on the
uncomfortable contemporary reality of
white privilege.  As has been said

before,
“It begins with the Jews, but
it does not end with the Jews.”
As
the saying goes, if you hate Jewish
people, you will probably hate many
other groups, as well.  In a similar
way, some of us BEGIN fighting white
supremacy, but soon learn that we need
to fight poverty, sexism, anti-LGBT,
religious discrimination, and so
forth.  Racial minorities, like white
folks, have all kinds of economic
classes, genders, sexual orientations,
and religions, so, yes, we definitely
have to fight for the rights of
EVERYONE.  “An injustice
anywhere
is
a threat to justice everywhere”
(King).

C.) Most of the problems you mentioned
ARE indeed clear LEGACIES of the
slave/Jim Crow experience, which have
been passed down to each generation,
even until today.  Remember that
‘emancipated’ slaves were NOT given
reparations – they were given the
LEGALIZED TERRORISM of the KKK and
hostile/apathetic white folks.  That
huge amount of RELENTLESS INTER-
GENERATIONAL TRAUMA and FINANCIAL LOSS
you do not simply overcome with a
positive, ‘can do,’’pull yourself
up’ attitude.  That is WAY too
simplistic.  However, even if you are
correct and racial minorities do have
SOME share in responsibility for their
plight, SOME RESPONSIBILITY IS NOT
TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY.  We white folks

can do a lot to recognize our white
privilege and do whatever we can to
oppose white supremacy, fight bigotry,
and become anti-racists – that’s
what we SHOULD do, so why don’t we?”
Pages 3 & 4
–  please summarize (showing you watched EACH ONE
carefully, with many examples), and explain what the moral/spiritual costs
are for those who see grossly unethical practices and yet say nothing (we all
know the financial and other costs of speaking up, but what about the
HIDDEN costs of staying silent in such situations?).
a)   “The Whistleblower”:
https://www.pbs.org/video/playing-rules-ethics-work-
whistleblower/
b) “The Corporation” (excerpt):

Page 5
– please read Martin Luther King’s famous essay, “Letter from a
Birmingham Jail” (Available many places online).
For the first half of the page, please summarize carefully what he was
arguing, with many details.
For the second half of the page, please explain why you choose a) or b) to be
more compelling:
a)
Dr. King’s personal example in his own
life and the inspiring argument he offers here
are both amazing.  However, if you are not

religious, you are likely to be puzzled to some
extent by his constant and unnecessary
references to religious language and ideas.
But is his argument even conceivable
OUTSIDE of a religious worldview?:
“If there is even one moral absolute, it invites the
question, “What kind of world view explains the
existence of this moral rule?”
Atheism can’t make any sense of it. Neither can
most Eastern religions. If reality is an illusion, as
they hold, then the distinction between good and
evil is ultimately rendered meaningless.
Something like the Judeo-Christian or Muslim
idea of [G-d] must be true to adequately account
for moral laws.
Morality grounded in [G-d] explains our hunger
for justice—our desire for a day of final
reckoning when all wrongs are made right, when
innocent suffering is finally redeemed, when all
the guilty are punished and the righteous are
rewarded.

This also explains our own personal sense of
dread. We feel guilty because we are guilty. We
know deep down inside that we have offended a
morally perfect being who has the legitimate
authority to punish us. We also know we will
have to answer for our own crimes against [G-d].
In the end, we’re forced to accept one of two
alternatives. Either relativism is true or morality
is true. Either we live in a universe in which
morality is a meaningless concept and are forever
condemned to silence regarding the problem of
evil, or moral rules exist and we’re beholden to a
moral [G-d] who holds us accountable to His
law.”
(
https://www.str.org/articles/evil-as-evidence-for-god#.W8joyS6-MzQ)
As a result, even if (G-d forbid) 100% of humanity
was so foolish to believe some obvious evil – blatant
cruelty to the innocent, blatant racism, blatant child
abuse, etc. – are good, IT WOULD NOT MAKE
THESE EVIL THINGS GOOD.
THEY WOULD STILL BE OBJECTIVELY
WRONG, and you KNOW this is true!
Why?

It is NOT my or your opinion that they are wrong –
they are OBJECTIVE FACTS ABOUT THE
WORLD, since ethics is GROUNDED in Absolute
Moral Laws, created by the Almighty.
And you know these are objective, spiritual facts
about the world when you ask yourself, “Where does
my sense of right and wrong come from?”
Parenting, biology, evolution, etc. cannot adequately
explain our profound ‘moral sense’ that, just like Dr.
King showed so clearly in his powerful article,
something can be moral yet illegal, and legal yet
immoral.  The human law is NOT the DIVINE LAW.
MORALITY IS NOT JUST ONE’S OPINION – there
is a RIGHT AND WRONG.
Even if we debate the gray areas, we all know there
are some unquestionable Moral Truths, such as the
Golden Rule.
If that is so, then there must be Someone Supernatural
who created and enforces what you know to be real
about morality, and Dr. King’s argument falls apart
unless you accept this logical conclusion.”

Or…
b)
“Yes, we should ALL admire Dr.
King’s great moral example – we should
all aspire to make our lives as selfless,
engaged, aware, courageous, and
meaningful.
But we must admit he wrongly assumes
or implies ethics must originate from
religion.
The best approach is to defend ethics
based upon a non-supernatural basis.  We
all have different ethical views TO AN
EXTENT, but almost all people in all
cultures agree that murder is wrong,
lying is wrong, etc.
Those are not grounded in religion at all –
they are grounded in rationality.  We
cannot function in a society where
murder and lying were openly allowed.
So it is rational to respect life and be
honest (barring rare exceptions).

This whole idea that “Killing someone
innocent, for no good reason, is immoral”
is objectively true ONLY IF a
Supernatural Being commanded it to be
true is not convincing.
We KNOW this is true, and if we don’t
know it, we can REASON with ourselves
to show it is true.
We feel guilt for not doing the right thing
because we are social animals who are
hardwired to have empathy; when we fail
at this, our evolutionary equipment
(burned into our consciousness over
millennia) screams at us ‘YOU ARE
THREATENING YOUR STATUS IN THE
GROUP – YOU MAY NOT LIVE TO PASS
ON YOUR GENES!,” and that is usually
sufficient to get us on the right path
again.
No need to invoke the Supernatural for
this.
The proof that this is true is that if ANY
authority – human or Divine – were to
command something that YOU KNEW IN
YOUR GUT to be 100% IMMORAL, you

KNOW YOU COULD NOT CONVINCE
YOURSELF IT WAS MORAL.
You may do it out of fear, or you may try
to lie to yourself, or you may be
brainwashed, but if you are CLEAR IN
YOUR OWN MIND, you cannot be
convinced something is moral when YOU
KNOW it is immoral.
So, just because a human leader or even a
Divine Creator commands something, it
still must be processed by our own
internal moral conscience, a conscience
that can be explained by science and is a
NATURAL fact about the world.
As a result, an atheist could have just as
easily made all the arguments Dr. King
made in his essay.  Dr. King was religious
and his audience was religious, so it was
appropriate for him to use that language
to talk about ethics.
But in most secular contexts today it is
unnecessary to assume moral laws have a
supernatural basis.”
Page 6
– please summarize (offering many examples, showing you watched
carefully) this documentary, “Witness: Voices from the Holocaust” (found
online) –
please be very specific.


Page 7
– for the first half of the page, please summarize what is covered in
this short documentary about those who rescued people during the
Holocaust –
please be very specific.

For the second half of page 7, please respond to this objection:
“Look, these two videos have contradictory messages,
which I cannot reconcile.
The first one ends with the somewhat pessimistic,
unanswered question, “Has humanity learned anything
from all this senseless misery, racism, and mass killing?”
But the other one makes you feel uplifted and positive
about what human beings are capable of.
So, which thesis is true?
a)
“Human beings are capable of almost
limitless cruelty and evil, as if we needed
to even state the obvious.
When this does happen throughout
history, few of us – if any – really
internalize the lessons we can learn.  As a
result, we are doomed to continue
repeating such horrors because, time and
again, we succumb to our selfishness,
fear, laziness, apathy, prejudices, etc…

So, I wish I could be more optimistic, but
if we imagine humanity as a whole to be
like a single person, then we should ask if
it would be wise to give such a person
another chance to prove himself, after
such a horrid track record of abysmal
moral failures – if anything, that person
should be PERMANENTLY locked up as a
danger to self and others.  Just because
there are fleeting moments when that
person imagines and MAYBE even acts to
be moral, in no way justifies giving that
person the benefit of the doubt, GIVEN
HIS SOLID RECORD OF CRUELTY AND
APATHY IN THE FACE OF CRUELTY.
Humanity does not deserve another
chance at proving it cares about other
people or will act on its highest moral and
religious values.  When you learn about
the Holocaust deeply and fully, you must
accept that there is nothing and no one
you can trust in this world, since each of
us would surely act THE EXACT SAME as
all of those supposedly “Good, decent
Germans” who did ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING – even when the evidence was
irrefutable that their apathy results in the

murder of innocent men, women, and
children.
Just like them, we, too, will find a way to
live with ourselves and think of ourselves
as decent people when we are complicit
with immorality and injustice (think
about how easy you rationalize, even now,
your own behavior you know is immoral
– YOU KNOW IT IS WRONG BUT DO IT
ANYWAY, AND THEN LOOK AT
YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR WITH NOT
A SHRED OF SHAME; BE HONEST, YOU
DO THIS ALL THE TIME!).
Or…
b)
Yes, humans have done and still do
unspeakable things to each other.  But, if
you look carefully in history and today,
you will find that there have ALWAYS
been those who prioritize being an ethical
person at all costs.
Calling these people “heroes” puts a
distance between them and us, but the
REALITY is that EACH OF US can choose

to take the moral path, to do to others
what you would want done to you, etc.
It is COP-OUT to say “I could never do
what the rescuers did” or “I’m no hero” –
that’s self-serving nonsense.  It is
DIFFICULT to be moral!  It is RISKY!  It
is, at times, TERRIFYING!  It WILL
CERTAINLY COST YOU to be good!  But
you can still choose to do the right thing
anyway.
You and I COULD do what all the great,
everyday moral “upstanders” of history
have done, who have all rejected being a
passive bystander in the face of injustice
and cruelty.
Each time you hear the cry of someone
who needs you, and every time your
conscience is disturbed, you are being
TESTED.  Will you choose to prove the
pessimists right?  Or choose, in that very
moment, to actualize your highest moral
potential?
Will you prove the pessimists wrong by
SHOWING THE WORLD the IMMENSE
GOODNESS LYING DORMANT WITHIN

EACH OF US, only waiting to be
actualized?
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
After doing all of these readings and watching the movies, please
write your paper in this format:
1) In terms of citations, please use this style: (Author, Page
Number); if there are no pages, please use the (paragraph
number) method, referring to the number of the paragraph, in the
essay, you are referencing, such as: “Morality is perplexing,” he
said (paragraph 4). As long as I know where it is coming from,
then you will be fine.
Always give credit to your sources,
and please do not do anything remotely resembling
plagiarism (including having others write your paper for
you), since it cheats you out of an honest education and
can risk your academic career with serious
repercussions (all professors are encouraged to report
all instances of suspected plagiarism).  Remember that
your professors know your writing level and style by
now, and we are told to report all instances of suspected
plagiarism.
2) Please use the following specifications for your paper: font size
12, one inch margins all around, double spaced, times new roman
font, avoid using all bold or all capitalization, and double check
for spelling and grammar problems. No cover page is
necessary. You do not need a title; please just put your name on
the very top line of the first page. You can treat each page as
separate from the others, so no transitions or introductions are
necessary.
To get full credit, please be sure to follow all of
these conditions.
3) Again, please list your name only on the very top of the first
page (please do not list date, course name, title, etc.).

4) Again, no late papers accepted, so please plan to turn the paper
in early in CANVAS, under “Assignments.”
5) I encourage you to start on your paper immediately, so you do
not rush your paper. Please try to hand in something you are
proud of. A quality paper, as well as a hurried paper, are easy to
spot!
6) Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions along the way.
Writing a paper is work, of course, but you should also enjoy
getting the opportunity to analyze a point of view and get clear
about your own philosophical positions. (Always being open to
another point of view, remaining critical of all views especially
one’s own, and avoiding dogmatism are the hallmarks of a true
philosopher, and a thinking person in general.) So try to enjoy the
process of philosophizing and thinking deeply on these topics.
7)
It will be impossible to pass this paper without
showing a significant understanding of EVERY article
and movie covered, so please do not skip any of the
material.
8)
Good luck!
And, again, please email if you have any questions
or concerns.
****ALL MATERIAL MAY APPEAR ON THE FINAL EXAM****