Utilitarianism,   Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks  

Ashford 2: – Week 1 – Discussion


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses.


Utilitarianism,   Deontology, and Virtue Ethics: Case Study: Starbucks


This   discussion assignment requires you to submit at least four posts: an   initial post, two reply posts to fellow students in threads other than your   own, and a revised post in response to the professor’s feedback

Prepare: The initial post in this   discussion must be informed by the required material for this discussion.   Your preparation should focus on three classical ethical theories that are   fundamental in any ethical analysis: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue   ethics. Since the subject of your examination is the Starbucks case, make   sure to view the relevant multimedia carefully with an eye toward the various   ethical problems that this company has had to confront.

Reflect: Keep in mind that although the   notion of the moral good will vary among ethical theories, they often produce   the same or similar results. So you should focus on the differences in (a)   the intent and (b) the consequences of the action under examination. In   utilitarianism, for example, the consequences of the action are weightier   than the intent. Accordingly, even if the intent was morally questionable,   the action is nonetheless morally good if it achieves good consequences for   most. The opposite would be the case if the action were being examined from a   deontological point of view. These reflections will aid your selection of an   ethical theory for your initial post, as well as your critical examinations   of the analysis from fellow students.

Write: Start your initial post by   identifying two characteristics of utilitarianism, two characteristics of   virtue ethics, and two characteristics of deontology. Organize this part of   your post so that it is clear which characteristics belong to which ethical   theory. You can do this by means of subtitles, or by presenting a table. You   should aim to write one complete and clear sentence for each characteristic   rather than just one or a few words.

Then, take   the position that Starbucks is guided by utilitarianism and analyze how the   notion of the moral good in utilitarianism leads to a unique approach to   ethical problems. The way to do this is as follows:

  • First, present an ethical        problem confronted by Starbucks. You can choose one such ethical problem        from the video.
  • Then, apply the        characteristics of utilitarianism that you identified for this        discussion in the attempt to solve this problem.
  • After this, analyze how the        notion of the moral good present in utilitarianism, and the        characteristics that you identified in particular, shape the approach to        solving this problem.


Revise: This is your chance to correct   any oversights or errors in your initial post, or show your improved   understanding of the ethical theories and their applications. Start by   reading the feedback provided by your professor to your initial post, either   directly to you or to your fellow students. Use this as an opportunity to   learn from your professor, especially with regard to the best ways to apply   the course material and your research to your analysis. On the basis of what   you have learned in this process, post an improved revision of your initial   post that applies the additional knowledge that you have gained.

Remember   that your grade depends on the quality of your initial and revised responses,   not just on the submission of an attempt at improvement. It is thus to your   advantage to post the best initial post you can and then to also improve that   best effort as much as you can through revision. Taking this process   seriously will help you develop the skills you need to do well on the final   project.


Requirements   for Your Initial Post:

  • Your initial post should be        at least 400 words in lengthand have citations and references in        APA notation. It should address the prompt in its entirety. This means        that you should not split your response to the prompt in multiple posts.        Your examination should be both thorough and succinct. This is a        combination that demands time and thought, so give yourself sufficient        time to draft and revise.
  • Please be advised that until        you post, you will not see what your fellow students are posting. Once        you submit your post, you will be able to view the posts from your other        classmates. You can then proceed to reply to at least two different        threads based on the required material for this discussion on virtue        ethics and deontology.
  • Your list of references for        your initial post should include the video and the other required        material for this discussion, including Section 1.3 of the textbook on        Starbucks, as well as the Instructor Guidance and any other        announcements presented to you by your professor. Use all of the        material presented to you in the course and by your professor, in        addition to any other sources that you consulted to inform yourself        about Starbucks (but not Wikipedia or similar sources).
  • Your initial post for this        discussion should be submitted no later than the end of Thursday        (11:59 pm, U.S. Mountain time).


Requirements   for Replies to Other Threads:

  • At least two of the four        posts required should be in the form of replies to fellow classmates in        threads other than your own.
  • Each of your replies should        be at least 200 words and informed by the course material. As such, the replies must        have citations and references in APA notation. Your list of references        for each reply should include all of the course material that has informed        your reply, in addition to any research that you have obtained on your        own.
  • One of your replies should        identify the notion of the moral good in deontology and compare that to the        account of utilitarianism in Starbucks presented in your fellow student’s        post. Analyze how these different notions of the moral good lead to        different approaches with regard to how to address the problem even if,        ultimately, the result turns out to be the same or similar.
  • In your second reply, you        should identify the notion of the moral good in virtue ethics and compare and discuss that        to the account of utilitarianism in Starbucks presented in your fellow        student’s post. Analyze how these different notions of the moral good        lead to different approaches with regard to how to address the problem        even if, ultimately, the result turns out to be the same or similar.
  • Your replies should focus on        the specific examination presented by your fellow student and should        include an examination of whether or not the characteristics of the        ethical theory were identified well, and whether or not their        application and analysis were also carried out successfully. Providing        such an examination is not an attack on your fellow student but an        attempt to work together with your fellow student toward the better        understanding of the ethical theories employed, as well as their        application.


Requirements   for Revising your Initial Post:

  • Submit a revision of your        initial post by either replying to your own post, or to the feedback        provided to you by your professor.
  • There is no minimum word        requirement for your revised initial post. But you should always explain        the reasons for revising your post so that it is clear what you are        doing. If you are revising only a few words, or an application of an        ethical theory, you should avoidsubmitting a post with vague language        such as: “duty ethics works better here” or “I did not consider that the        end does not justify the means.” It is important to recognize that no        one can read your mind so you need to provide the setting for your        revision (Why? What prompted it? What course material informed you?),        and it is important to write in clear language and complete sentences.
  • Consider your revised initial        post as your chance to correct any oversights or errors in your initial        post, or to show your improved understanding of the material and its        applications to the case at hand. You may, for example, come to the        realization that your conclusion did not take into account important        factors necessary for your evaluation of the situation.
  • You should maximize the        improvement of your initial post by employing your professor’s feedback        as a guide.        Keep in mind that you may not always receive direct feedback from your        professor. But your professor will have submitted feedback in the        discussion to other posts. So read your professor’s feedback whether it        is addressed to you directly or to other fellow students. This will give        you much to think about and apply to your own post.
  • If your professor or a fellow        classmate responds to your revised initial post, and on this basis, you        find good reason to submit yet another revision (in addition to a        revision that you may have already submitted), then by all means do so.        Keep in mind that four posts is the minimum, not the maximum number of posts        that you may submit. The more you improve your initial post, the more        you will benefit both in terms of your learning and most likely your        grade.


Carefully   review the Discussion Forum   Grading Rubric   for the criteria that will be used to evaluate this Discussion Thread.

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