“Privacy and Perfect Voyeurism.”

  1. Explain and carefully evaluate the argument Tony Doyle makes in the essay titled “Privacy and Perfect Voyeurism.” Your analysis should address the weaknesses and strengths of Doyle’s position. Doyle’s argument relies on a significant number of thought experiments. Aim to shed light, in the expository part of your essay, on the underlying point conveyed by these examples. Keep in mind that this can and should be done without getting bogged down in the details of Doyle’s thought experiments. You may want to consider the implications of your analysis for the pleasure theory of value and utilitarianism more generally.
  2. In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill makes a number of observations about human nature that in his view establish that individual liberty is what best promotes happiness. A philosopher with a less optimistic view of humanity might take issue with this claim on the grounds that the conduct of human beings is shaped by desire and emotion to a far greater extent than Mill supposes. A society that prizes and promotes individual liberty will therefore be one in which the majority become slaves to their desires for wealth and material possessions and will lead selfish, unfulfilling and ultimately meaningless lives. The failure of Mill’s account of human nature suggests that personal liberty may not be the key to happiness.

A more plausible hypothesis is that individuals would be better off in a conservative society that imposes standards of right conduct, a robust value system and clearly defined conception of the good life. The majority in such a society will have meaningful lives and a sense of purpose, the argument goes, and they will be concerned with, and actively promote, the welfare of others. At times when it is necessary to do so, they will set aside their personal interests and concerns and work together for the common good. A conservative social and political order, it would seem, will more effectively promote individual happiness.

Begin your essay by explaining Mill’s observations about human nature and his argument that they provide support for his conception of the relationship between personal liberty and happiness. Then, consider how Mill might respond to the conservative argument outlined above. Which position, in your view, is better supported by the balance of reason? The conservative or liberal? Be sure to give reasons for your answer.

  1. Immanuel Kant distinguishes between the public and private use of reason in an essay titled “What is Enlightenment?” Explain the distinction Kant draws and show how it fits into and supports his broader, more ambitious goal of encouraging enlightenment in society as a whole. Carefully evaluate Kant’s distinction, his broader goals and the relationship between them. Kant’s essay can be found here: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/enlightenment.htm
  2. Explain and then carefully evaluate Aristotle’s account of the virtue of friendship.

Sample Solution