I’m trying to study for my Philosophy course and I need some help to understand this question.
Sometimes, engineers can produce designs or products that make our lives easier AND better. But it is also sometimes the case that an engineer chooses to sacrifice ease or convenience for the individual consumer in order produce something better for the greater good.
Such is the case with Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) and the Diamond Lane (now often referred to as the carpool lane of the HOV or high-occupancy vehicle lane). In her essay, journalist Joan Didion describes all the problems such a lane could solve, but also she describes the enormous hassle such a lane causes commuters. Even more interestingly, she quotes a Caltrans employee as saying, “We are beginning a process of deliberately making it harder for drivers to use freeways.”
Write no fewer than 200 words per question (800) total. This assignment is due no later than 11:59pm on February 24th. Late assignments will not be accepted.
In this essay, you’ll need to respond to the following questions:
A. Caltrans believed that reducing traffic and forcing people to commute was more important despite the fact that it would come at the cost of individual choices in the short term. Do you think that was the right decision? Explain and defend your answer.
B. In what circumstances is it ok to interrupt the daily lives of citizens or impose a burden (and ‘burden’ here can be interpreted in many ways) on ordinary people in order to produce a positive effect for the greater good. Thoroughly describe a specific example of when this would be warranted.
C. In general, which do you think is the more important ethical principle? Protecting the health and well-being of the overall community your products will affect or allowing all consumers and citizens to make personal choices, even if they have a negative consequence? In simpler terms, if forced to choose (meaning you cannot just say you’d ideally find a balance of both) which is more important to protect: personal freedoms or ‘the greater good’? Defend your choice.
D. Didion’s essay was written in 1977. Do a brief amount of research and report back on the current status of the Diamond Lane (now called the HOV lane). Was the project a success or a failure? Even if this project or projects like this end up as failures, are they still worth the risk? What payoffs are needed in order to take such risks?