consider the following scenario: Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment the main character plots and carries out the murder of an old woman who has a considerable amount of money in her apartment. After killing her, he steals the money. He argues that

  • She is a malicious old woman, petty, cantankerous and scheming, useless to herself and to society (which happens to be true), and her life causes no happiness to herself or to others; and
  • Her money, if found after her death, would only fall into the hands of chisellers anyway, whereas he would use it for his education (no doubt at Brandman University).

Putting aside for a moment the small detail that the murder is a crime – is this action justified in some way? determine whether the answer is, “Yes”  or “No,” and discuss why.

In a minimum of 300 words, support the argument you made in class.   There is only one catch: you must use sources from this week’s readings and video clips provided below!!!  Be sure to cite your sources.

This weeks readings are the two ATTACHMENTS! and the video clips are provided below: YOU CAN ONLY USE THESE SOURCES!!!!

What is Ethics, What is an ethical life?:

Carol Gilligan on Women and Moral development

Ethical Leadership:

Dan Ariely, TEDtalk, Our buggy moral code


Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Civil Disobedience and obeying Just vs. Unjust laws (Closed Captioned)

Or other readings from the week:


The following readings from the Norton Reader

  • Mark Twain, Advice to Youth, (637)
  • Peter Singer, What should a Millionaire Give – and What Should You? (640)
  • Michael Pollan, An Animal’s Place, (681)
  • Steven Weinberg, Without God or other Norton Reader article selected by the instructor
  • Reg Saner, My Fall Into Knowledge or other Norton Reader article selected by the instructor
  • Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth, (976)

This week your readings begin with a lecture by the nineteenth-century author and humorist Mark Twain.  He offers advice that is serious, humorous, and ironic; for example, “You want to be very careful about lying; otherwise you are nearly sure to get caught” (550).  Peter Singer’s essay challenges not only ‘millionaires’ but everyone to end global poverty; Singer argues “…it should be seen as a serious moral failure when those with ample income do not do their fair share toward relieving global poverty” (588). Michael Pollan’s essay makes the point that we are separated from the origins of our food – where and how it reaches us. He poses an important moral question in the essay, “whether we owe animals that can feel pain any moral consideration” (624).  The Nobel prize-winning scientist, Steven Weinberg, also happens to be a professed atheist and his writings – like the selection for this week – include interesting philosophical and theological reflections. This week’s piece, written for a general audience, explores the tension between science and religious belief. The American poet, Reg Saner, uses wry humor as he describes a debate between himself and an anti-Darwinian and hard-core fundamentalist held before an audience of working-class Baptists. The final essay is one of Virginia Woolf’s best known works of nonfiction. Woolf observes and identifies with a moth in its death throes.   The readings for this week are interesting, challenging and varied; they will also help you complete your assignments for this week, so be sure to plan your reading time accordingly.

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