Poli Sci 2nd Paper Final Draft

Poli Sci 2nd Paper Final Draft - Take Home Essay 2 TA: Matt...

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Take Home Essay 2 TA: Matt Mongiello With Spring Fling approaching, President Amy Gutmann issued an appeal to students to refrain from drinking. Although this appeal does not carry any legislative weight, the question is, what would the theorists David Hume, Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill think of the president’s actions? This paper, analyzing the question in the context of liberty, virtue and society will demonstrate that the theorists would agree with Gutmann's attitudes. However, Mill differs from the other two theorists in his implementation of Gutmann’s sentiments. David Hume argues that people do not do things because they are “good” or “bad”, but that there is a constructed system that guides citizens to act in certain ways. He explains that “our sense of every kind of virtue is not natural; but that there are some virtues, that produce pleasure and approbation by means of an artifice or contrivance, which arises from the circumstances and necessities of mankind.” (Hume, p.307) Hume believes that every action has a motive, and this motive relates to people’s short term, contiguous interests, or their long term, remote interests. In small societies, he explains that long term and the short term interests are aligned, but in large societies, this connection is broken, and people’s self centered tendencies get the best of them. “We are not able to regulate our actions by this judgment; but yield to the solicitations of our passions, which always plead in favour of what is near and contiguous”, he says.(Hume, p.343) Indeed, Hume views life as a balancing act between man’s self control and his passions, and he says that “we always consider the natural and usual force of the passions, when we determine concerning vice and virtue; and if the passions depart very much from the common measures on either side, they are always disapproved as vicious.” (Hume, p.311) As drinking tends to upset this balance and remove the controls for people’s passions, this behavior would certainly be considered vicious. While Penn might appear to be a small society, it in fact takes on the qualities of a large society, as it is exceedingly rare, if not impossible, to know everyone in one’s own class, let alone the entire school. As even the most sociable students may know only one in ten students, they can safely assume that any reprehensible behavior that they partake in while intoxicated will not dog them throughout college, and this notion entails the divide between contiguous and remote interests. As a result, Hume argues, government is necessary to prevent these short term passions from tearing apart society. And while President Gutmann’s moral challenge may not be backed by any concrete enforcement, she is appealing to man’s ingrained moral compass known as sympathy. As Hume subscribes to the utilitarian argument that people must have motivation to act in certain
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2012 for the course MGT 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at Texas State.

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Poli Sci 2nd Paper Final Draft - Take Home Essay 2 TA: Matt...

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