Tutor profile: Oliver S.
Subject: World History
Explain the central principle of utilitarian reasoning. Justify common reasonings for remaining committed to, or breaking with, utilitarianism.
The central principle of utilitarian reasoning is that something is moral or right if it benefits a majority of people. This justification can be used for everything from corporate policy to the bizarre notions concerning plastic furniture covering for “resell” value. As with all philosophy, it has been interpreted and used as justification for racism and imperialism and other immoral acts solely on based on the words on the page. But much like Communism and Socialism, which also sound great on a page, these philosophies become something quite different when people, especially those with an agenda looking for justification, come and read it… An example of commitment to utilitarianism is the advertising mantra that came up with plastic couch covers in the first place. It was likely a random whisper that evolved into a concept for entire advertising campaigns based on appeal to gendered bias, or how they explain it; appealing to women. The key to selling a product is creating a need, even if it is an unconscious one fostered by attitudes. And ad campaigns have certainly found success in playing the sexes off against one another, be it in questioning feminity that was used to get women to use deodorant, or a similar notion for shaving implements for women and how imprecise they are. As such tools are usually based around a preference (such as the color pink), its actual functionality is seen as secondary. After all, a utilitarian adherent would say that once you’ve convinced a customer that they need something (not merely WANT it), you’ve done your job as a paragon of that philosophy: by benefitting the majority, it is a moral action, even if it is simply a majority of the stockholders. An ideal example of breaking with utilitarianism is how Dilbert creator Scott Adams describes the banality of criminality and the emotions involved. They speak of “since trans fats kill more people than muggers every year, wouldn’t it be more “logical” to throw all a city’s resources at such food purveyors than crime? Forget all the other human factors…” In this, we can see that this philosophy is only applied liberally in human history, rather than across the board, or even in cases in which its mere definition would make it a valid solution for experimentation. Philosophy is meant to serve as a counter to emotion, and even when it can work in tandem with emotional responses (such as with crime), it rarely is. After all, even though the above seems like an eminent solution to crime, at least in mathematical terms, there are those “majorities” who very much believe in the presence of crime as a good thing as a means of distraction. After all, if being “tough on crime” is a majority opinion among Republican governors and lawmakers, isn’t believing in addressing crime a utilitarian ideal, as it can certainly “benefit” them? (though few others…)
Subject: US History
How did the Atlantic Slave Trade attempt to dehumanize enslaved Africans?
The ship’s conditions, benignly described as “stinking”, tell you about the journey known as the Middle Passage? Does it look like a comfortable journey that you would willingly take a part in? Even if you consider human beings as cargo as was the understanding at the time, does it seem wise to pack the hold as tightly as they did? (think of the La Amistad incident in which dozens of slaves were drowned overboard due to lack of space). Were the enslaved able to maintain their culture, their right to marry who they wanted, their children after birth? Reflect on this quote: “Everywhere planters preferred so-called “men-boys,” along with “women-girls,” young adults whom they could put to work immediately and who would reproduce the labor force.” What do it say about the type of slave they wanted? For what purpose beyond mere work? How does this speak to the concept of institutionalized slavery? Lastly, at the advent of the planation system, in which slaves had to work longer and harder than ever due to the emergence of the cash crop (tobacco, rice, and cotton), new working conditions and punishments drastically affected their already difficult and laborious existence.
Subject: European History
How did Galileo deal with the contradictions between evidence of his senses and biblical teachings? What do u think about the compatibility of science and religion?
Religion and science tell the same story in different terms, and most of history’s great scientists (Sir Isacc Newton) found no contradiction between them. Both systems work together, as it is the stubbornness of people that keeps them irreconcilable (or believed to be as such)? Those in positions of power who seek to start conflicts concerning these questions are merely being obfuscatory.
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