week 4 critical thinking

Critical Thinking Essay

All ethical decisions affect others (by definition) and, as Aristotle points out, ethical decision making is achieved consistently only through practice. Given the outline of virtue ethics provided by Aristotle (i.e., seeking the real goods via the moral virtues), evaluate the moral permissibility of the conduct in question in each scenario. Important note on method: Critical thinking requires the ability to evaluate viewpoints, facts, and behaviors objectively to assess information or methods of argumentation to establish the true worth or merit of an act or course of conduct. Please evaluate these scenarios, first analyzing pros and cons of alternate views, before you come to a conclusion. Do not draw a conclusion first, and then try to find facts to support it—this frequently leads to narrow (and incorrect) thinking.

To properly evaluate the moral permissibility of a course of action using critical thinking skills

1.Begin with an open mind (no preconceptions!),

2.Isolate and evaluate the relevant facts on both sides,

3.Identify the precise moral question to be answered, and

4.Apply ethical principles to the moral question based on an objective evaluation of the facts, only then drawing a conclusion.

Return to Paradise

Joseph Ruben, Director (1998)

Vince Vaughan (Sheriff), Joaquin Phoenix (Lewis), and David Conrad (Tony) are three friends on a five-week vacation in Malaysia who use and possess drugs for recreational use while there. Two of the friends return to the United States, and they all go their separate ways.

Two years later a young lawyer, Beth Eastern (Anne Heche), tracks down the two friends in the United States, informing them that the third (Lewis) has been jailed for the last two years in Malaysia and faces a possible death sentence there for drug possession. A few days after they had left Malaysia from their vacation, police had raided their camp and found large quantities of hashish. Lewis was still residing there, so he was held responsible. He is scheduled to be put to death in eight days, and the only way the charges can be decreased is if the two friends come back to “paradise” and take their share of the responsibility. If they do, they both will spend three years in prison. If only one does, he will spend six years behind bars.

The film centers on the agonizing decisions of Sheriff and Tony in deciding if they should go back to Malaysia in the hopes of saving their friend. Return to Paradise poses one of the ultimate ethical dilemmas: Should you sacrifice your freedom for a friend, when you have at least partial responsibility for his predicament?

In a subplot, a journalist (Jada Pinkett) gets wind of the story of the pending execution in Malaysia and wants to write a story about it, but she is begged by the lawyer not to write about it because Malaysia is very sensitive about American criticism of Malaysian justice, and a critical story might endanger the agreement to reduce Joaquin Phoenix’s death sentence. The journalist must make the decision to either sit on the story because it might affect the outcome of the case, or to print it because it is an important story.


1.Would you return to face six years in prison to spare a friend’s life in a similar situation? What is your ethical rationale?

2.What are the ethical considerations of the journalist in deciding whether to publish the story, and what should her conclusion be?

500 word min. APA

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