The teacher is explaining a lot so it may seem like alot you just have to answer the questions 1) There are three parts (a, b, and c) to this question: a) What do you think (in your own words — really think about what he is saying; in fact, he may be saying several things here) is the meaning of Dr. King’s claim that: “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. b) Someone could respond this way: “I really do not want to be disrespectful in any way, but I have trouble believing that ‘An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I and millions of other people live our lives without much concern for people’s suffering happening ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ and we don’t appear to be any worse off. It’s a full-time job just to care about my friends and family. The truth is that I have enough problems to worry about — I’m just being honest — and I do not see how a refugee escaping civil war somewhere, looking for a new home, or someone I don’t even know fighting against cruelty and unjust treatment has anything directly to do with my life. Tremendous respect to Dr. King for everything he accomplished and, indeed, for giving up his very life to better our world. However, he is not making a plausible argument here. How could I really, in a tangible way, be affected by the suffering of those distant to me? If I stop and think about it, sure, I do feel bad for everyone who is being treated badly and unfairly, no matter who they are or where they live, but how is my sense of justice — right here and now, in my world — necessarily being threatened?” Do you think this is weak or strong? WHY? c) Someone could also respond this way: “Despite his admirable intentions, Dr. King is actually making a dangerous argument here. Once we say ‘a law can be broken if it violates a HIGHER, MORAL law,’ then we open up the floodgates to terrorists, criminals, and all kinds of nefarious people also trying to justify their actions on similar mystical reasons. ‘I am going to steal, because she is rich, and I need it more than she does. Distributing the wealthy is a Higher Moral Value than protecting so-called ‘personal property rights.” ‘My religion tells me what the One True Morality is. Why should I respect American laws when they contradict the True Interpretation of the True Sacred Writings?’ Dr. King is correct, in this sense: Why would a faithful believer put fallible human law above the perfect, eternal Divine Law? When faced with the choice of being characterized as ‘bad’ either in the eyes of a morally flawed society, or in the eyes of The All-Good Supreme Being, the latter weighs infinitely more heavily. Once Dr. King takes the focus off of the legitimacy of society’s laws, then he creates the philosophical space for someone else to argue, ‘But Dr. King — YOUR ‘moral law’ violates the REAL Moral Law which I believe.’ In short, the idea that all human-made laws are potentially unjust if in violation of some alleged ‘Higher Law’ (to be TOTALLY determined by each individual’s own internal reasoning or feelings) is, indeed, quite dangerous and self-destructive not just to American society but, more generally, to the entire civilized world.” Is this a weak or strong objection? WHY? 2) Why do you think people are so apathetic in the face of injustice? It is easy to say “We are in denial,” or “We are afraid,” or “We are ignorant (of the injustice),” but aren’t these often just rationalizations and cop-outs for failing to act, when you know you should? (After all, SOME people did stand up for others and suffered abuse and even death; if you make excuses for those who are selfish and cowardly and with no integrity, you fail to give respect to those moral heroes, and their sacrifices, throughout human history). On the other hand, maybe there are legitimate justifications that excuse us when we just stand by and do nothing so much of the time? Please explain. 3) (Please watch only until 7:20.) After reading Dr. King’s letter, how do you think Dr. King would respond if he was granted a chance to sit down with the man in the video clip? (Please think of King’s actions and beliefs, and how he said he prepares for confrontational situations, as described in his “Letter.”) 4) Otteson writes: “What about inequality? Capitalism does allow—and perhaps even requires—inequality. Because people’s talents, skills, values, desires, and preferences vary and because of sheer luck, some people will be able to generate more wealth in a free-enterprise system than others will; inequality will result. But it is not clear that we should worry about that.” In response, please watch this short video by Professor Richard Wolff: What is Wolff’s response to Otteson’s argument about economic inequality? Please be specific, AND explain who makes the more compelling argument, and why, on this topic. 5) Otteson writes: “[R]especting people as the irreplaceable and precious individuals that they are. That is [what] no other system of political economy has ever contemplated, let alone achieved [except capitalism].” Please watch these two videos: Please mention three negative experiences that the workers in the first video discussed. And then explain whether you think the argument in the second video is compelling or weak. Please explain why you take your position. 6) Otteson writes: “Capitalism assumes that each of us is a free moral agent, capable of leading his own life, of holding his head up, not begging leave or permission before he acts, not subject to correction from his superiors: a citizen, not a subject. Capitalism does not suppose that we are infallible; on the contrary, it is because no one is infallible that capitalism denies any of us absolute authority over others’ lives. It assumes only that as free moral agents, each of us has authority over himself and that each of us is sovereign over his own life.” Please watch this mini-documentary about workers in Japan: Do you think Mr. Sakai (in the film) proves or disproves Otteson’s argument here? Is Mr. Sakai proving he is the master of his own life under capitalism (think carefully about this question — his situation can be viewed from many viewpoints!)? Or is he proving the opposite? Please explain, showing you watched the clip carefully. AS A REMINDER, ALL VIDEOS AND LINKS MAY APPEAR ON THE FINAL EXAM.
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