VEE_Mid Term_2019 Solutions (A1 & B1 Batches)

Cheating in the examination is not only a moral crime but it also goes against the Duty Ethics of Bhagavad Gita as explained by Radhakrishnan. Justify the statement using illustrations from everyday life. Also, evaluate cheating as a phenomenon (cheating in general) using Kant’s first and second maxim of Categorical Imperatives for its moral value. (3+1.5+1.5)

Bhagavad Gita’s duty ethics is based on the idea that non-performance of one’s duty leads to committing of sin. Krishna urges Arjuna to fight even though the battle is fought with the near and dear ones and it may result in sorrow. Non-fighting here also would tantamount to engaging in consequences and Bhagavad Gita teaches detachment from consequences. Cheating actually occurs because we fear failure and hence, bind ourselves to the consequences. A student’s duty basically is to hone up one’s skills to the optimum level and cheating actually is a deterrent to this objective. It takes away one from one’s duty of excelling in the chosen area.

Kant’s first principle is the universalisability principle which treats an act moral/ethical only if it could be universally applied without any contradiction. Cheating cannot be universalised. No one who cheats will prefer being cheated.

Kant’s section principle mandates that human beings, neither in their own person nor in the person of the other, should be used as mere means. Cheating both takes away autonomy from other people as well as works against the humanity of the doer by impacting that person’s character negatively and depriving her/him of a chance of proving herself/himself capable of fair play.

What is the difference between pleasure and happiness as defined by Matthieu Ricard? Explain Tal Ben Shahar’s model of happiness. Explain briefly the significance of “Engagement” and “Signature Strengths” in the pursuit of happiness.  (1+2.5+2.5)

For Matthieu Ricard, pleasure is a sensation contingent upon time and object whereas happiness is a state of mind defined by serenity, peacefulness etc.

Tal Ben Shahar’s SPIRE Model of happiness contains five elements:

  • Spiritual Well-being: obtained through a meaningful and mindful life
  • Physical Well-being: displayed by a healthy body and mind and their healthy connect
  • Intellectual Well-being: nurtured through the enhancement of one’s learning and experience
  • Relational Well-being: enhanced through constructive and nurturing relationships
  • Emotional Well-being: reflected through the capability to handle emotions or emotional resilience in crisis-like situations

Martin Seligman defines “engagement” as an all-absorbing activity in which one is immersed so entirely that one forgets the sense of time. The deployment of signature strengths in an activity helps one achieve such a level of engagement.

Describe the principles of “Fairness as Justice” as propounded by John Rawls and the role of “Veil of Ignorance” in achieving this. Do you think it will, in some way, address the unequal treatment of people on social and economic grounds? (2+2+2)

John Rawl’s principle of “Fairness as Justice” refers to: 1. Equal basic liberties for all 2. Social and economic inequalities to satisfy the following two conditions: a. fair equality of opportunity for all and b. social and economic inequalities to be arranged for the greatest advantage of the least-advantaged members of the society.

Such fairness can be achieved by using the “Veil of Ignorance” by the representatives of the people sitting in the original position. The veil of ignorance shall be a thought experiment in which these representatives are deprived of any knowledge of their social or economic status and natural endowments. The veil of ignorance also screens out specific information about the current society. This will help in getting a clear view of the permanent features of a just social system.

The use of “veil of ignorance” in the distribution of resources will help a great deal in curbing the inequalities in resource distribution. This can be understood from the example of two siblings fighting over the larger share of a cake. If the one who is cutting the cake does not have the first right to choose, she/he is likely to cut the cake in two equal parts. In the same way, if one is not aware of one’s own socio-economic status, one would try to minimise the inequalities to safeguard one’s own future.

Do cultural Identities limit the possibilities of human cultural exposure and experience? If yes, how; if not, why not. Illustrate using Thandie Newton’s idea of “Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself” the way to recognize imposed human separateness and realise human oneness. (2+4)

They do in two ways: a. One’s own cultural surroundings may not allow a person to be open to choosing from any other culture and additionally, the other cultures may be hostile if a person attempts to engage with them; b. a person’s identity as perceived by others is generally guided by the prevalent prejudices surrounding the cultural and physical markers of identity.

Thandie Newton, having gone through the pangs of racism as a back atheist kid in a while catholic school, recognises self as a projection when she starts dancing and singing. She argues that a child is born without any sense of self and hence, with a sense of oneness with the surroundings. The sense of oneness is soon lost as a part of growing up and a sense of distinct and separate cultural identity is imposed upon a child and further, the obsession with self image as guided by the market forces takes over.

Thandie Newton as a part of her dancing learns to lose her self and be one with the surroundings and during acting comes face to face with adopting and living a different self. Hence, using her personal experience of dancing and acting, Newton demonstrates human separateness born out of the projection of self and a possibility of human oneness achieved through suspension of it and inculcation of empathy.

Is it good to have Secular Ethics or Ethics with God as an essential element of it? Justify your preference for either of the two. Briefly explain the role of Conscience in making ethical value judgments. (1.5+1.5)

Secular Ethics relies on basic human values (as proposed by thinkers like Dalai Lama) such as Compassion, Forgiveness, Tolerance, Honesty, Truthfulness etc. The advantage here is that such a system of ethics is propelled by respect for human dignity and there is abundant of scope for human love and care.

On the other hand, the application of Ethics with God will more depend on the conception of God that a philosophical system may have. If the God is conceived as a Judge (punisher), the fear may also lead to some unethical applications of the system. The commodification of God in a religion may as well lead to hostility to other religious system. If god is believed to be loving and caring, the system may generate the same human values as are visible in the above system.

Both conceptions of Ethics (Secular Ethics and Ethics with God) are capable of guiding an ethical system, provided they focus on the centrality of human welfare and work to protect human dignity.

Human Conscience is a repository of all human learnings, experiences and the value and belief system. It helps us analyse any human deed and arrive at ethical value judgments about it. The quickness and soundness of ethical value judgments will reflect a strongly built Conscience.

Racism and Sexism (Gender Bias) are everyday phenomena in Indian Society. Comment on the statement using examples from everyday life or media advertisements etc. (3)

Racism gets displayed in judging a human personality with reference to behavioural and intellectual traits based on fairness of skin colour. Matrimonial advertisements explicitly asking for or advertising fairer skinned bride or cosmetics luring people towards a fairer complexion for gaining confidence and professional success reflect racism.

Sexism divides the society into masculine and feminine beings. Associating the adjective “lovely” with feminine and “handsome” with masculine is a sexist treatment of human beings by the commercials of cosmetics. It can also be seen in dividing human labour in gender roles such as, cooking for women, financial responsibilities to men, etc. or dividing them across the lines of emotional and rational.

Non-recognition of trans-gender or third gender as a part of normal society and denial of equal social rights to LGBT are another examples of