Marino concludes that simple studying of ethics theories will not improve a person’s morals; one has to analyze themselves critically and understand their values. This will provoke them to do the right thing. To support his conclusion, Marino uses testimonial evidence through Kierkegaard, anecdotal evidence through his personal experience in the hotel, and analogical evidence by comparing Festinger’s theory to the example of the poor and lower taxes.
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Testimonial evidence in the form of referring to Kierkegaard convinces the reader because Kierkegaard is a legitimate authority. He is considered to be the first existentialist philosopher in history. Marino explains his view on ethics, and that conscience plays an essential role in guiding our morals and balancing moral principles and self-interest. The second evidence of the first premise is his mentioning of Socrates and Aristotle as one the founders of ethics.
The second premise is Marino’s real-life example of Kierkegaard’s theory about how he spilled ink in the hotel. At first, he wanted to contact the management immediately; however, he reconsidered this decision the next day after rationalizing it with friends. Another piece of evidence is the example of him going to the restaurant and him choosing whether he wants to help a homeless person on the way.
Finally, the third premise is analogical evidence, which refers to Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. Despite that, cutting welfare is not beneficial for the poor; it will motivate them to search for a new job – a belief that does not conflict with the moral principle of helping poor people. Another evidence of this is his theorizing about a potential ethics workshop and how it would work.
Three reality assumptions: people are naturally drawn to do the right thing, self-awareness will make the person act right, and studying ethics can only be done in an elitist context. The author’s value assumptions are that he believes honesty is essential for the betterment of society, people’s moral judgments should be based on what they already know about the world, and the results should be achieved through hard psychological work.
The premises seem rational because they connect to the author’s conclusion. The assumptions seem reasonable but only for the readers who tend to believe in essentialism. All terms are adequately defined. For example, he explains the notion of Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. Another piece of evidence that would be helpful for the conclusion is to consider that the ethics classes might be more valuable than the author thinks if they provide tools for self-reflection. Marino appears to be slightly condescending at the article’s beginning while criticizing middle schoolers’ ethics classes. He mocks one of his undergraduates who suggested this idea by implying she is naïve for “earnestly believing” in the power of ethics courses.
The author does not seem to have apparent red herring fallacies. It is difficult to determine whether the assumptions are true because they depend on the reader’s affiliation between the essentialist and constructionist philosophies. The author heavily relies on the power of conscience and less on studying ethics, which makes the assumption less objective. The argument is valid because all premises are strongly connected to the premises. The argument is not entirely sound because it is based on different types of premises but is slightly subjective. However, the article, in general, has a valid form.
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The author’s primary bias is the power of self-reflection to provoke the right act. Many people are self-aware that they are not morally correct, but they still act in their self-interest. However, I believe Marino’s argument despite a few assumptions. The argument is perceived to be sound if the reader agrees with assumptions and less sound if they do not. The agreement is essential for accepting the conclusion because, without the alignments between the premises and the author’s points, the arguments do not stand valid. The argument can be truly worthwhile because the author provides a compressive study on the utility of ethics and their application to real-life problems.