Case Analysis IV

Instructions

Format

Hardcopy of the following Case Analysis, assigned Tuesday 4/23, is due the day of the final examination, Tuesday 5/7, as described below. As before, I do not mind students working on the case analyses in groups--it is, in fact, encouraged--but your case analysis must be your own. Be sure that your case analysis is as complete, well-expressed, clear, and precise as you can make it. This means in particular that you anticipate and meet any objections in the analysis. This case analysis is worth 150 points, as per the syllabus. If you have any question, puzzle, or require clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me (berkich@gmail.com; 3976, 944-2756). Finally, the following maximums and minimums must be scrupulously observed:

  • No less than 10pt font.
  • No less than 1.5 line spacing.
  • No less than 1 inch margins on all sides.
  • No more than two pages, one-side per page.
  • Multiple pages must be stapled.
  • The case analysis number and your name must appear at the top of the first page (there is no need for a title page, however.)

Note that these are maximums and minimums only. You may, for instance, write less than two pages or use greater than a 10pt font. That said, failure to observe these requirements will result in a score of 0 for the assignment.

Important: We are seeing some students who seem to think that the phrase "you may, for instance, write less than two pages" means it is perfectly reasonable to fully answer the questions in a single paragraph or even a single page. The phrase "you may, for instance, write less than two pages" should be understood in the same sense as "you may also, for instance, get a D or an F on the analysis for want of developed argumentation." If grades just don't matter to you, then submit a paragraph or two. If, on the other hand, grades do matter to you, then you should come to see the challenge of the assignment as one of squeezing everything you need to write down to two pages.

Writing Advice

In light of the above admittedly serious constraints on the space available for your case analysis, it is extremely important that you excise any and all extraneous or redundant material. For example, the phrases "It can be argued that", "I claim that", "I think that", or their kin preceding a sentence add absolutely nothing to the sentence, take up valuable space, and are in fact wholly redundant. Of course it can be argued that, claimed that, or thought that, or you would never have written it!

Every word must count for answering the question. Philosophical writing is thus austere, but terribly precise. Such is its virtue. That said, writing philosophy can be jarring at first, especially for those who have labored and suffered under the delusional five-paragraph essay regime.

For additional advice on writing philosophy, I encourage you to study some of the advice linked from the Writing Philosophy page. Not all of the advice applies directly to these case analyses, to be sure. Nevertheless, there is much sound and helpful advice to be had about writing in general and writing philosophy in particular.

Above all, bear in mind that in a good case analysis,

  • Arguments are clearly stated in such a way that the conclusion and assumptions would be obvious to any student not taking this course.
  • Assumptions are clearly justified whenever they are controversial.
  • Theoretical assumptions (your theory of choice, typically) are stated explicitly and the resulting argument does not deviate from these assumptions.
  • Steps taken in the course of an argument are clear in such a way that any student not taking this course would be able to follow them.
  • Wherever applicable, the arguments found in the various texts we have read should be utilized but should be restated in such a way that anyone not taking the course could understand the argument.

A few further comments may help.

First, the requirement that you clearly state the arguments does not imply that you should put them into the formally-valid-numbered-lines form that we adopt in class. Of course, that is absolutely the clearest way to state an argument. Yet it is also rather difficult to do for people who have not had a course in logic. So for these cases we strongly recommend that you write your arguments in paragraph form in such a way that the steps taken in the argument from the assumptions to the conclusion are clear.

Second, if you take as your theoretical assumption Hedonic Act Utilitarianism, say, it is mandatory that you not suddenly start arguing about the unhappy consequences of an action as if you had assumed Eudaimonic Act Utilitarianism. In other words, stick to the theory or theories you've assumed (or been assigned, as the case may be.)

Third, you should strive to write as clearly as possible. Try to avoid confusing your reader with complicated sentences and disconnected thoughts. Remember, you are gaining skills you will someday have to use. One of those skills is the ability to express your ideas in such a way that anyone can understand them. This does not mean that you will be graded on grammar per se. You should nevertheless strive as far as possible to express yourself clearly and effectively. If, in grading these cases, we are unable to understand what it is you are trying to say, you will not be given the benefit of the doubt. We will not read between the lines or otherwise assume you meant something more astute than what you actually wrote.

Fourth, it is important that your understanding of the issues as they are spelled out in the articles be reflected in your own arguments. Some very smart people have thought long and hard about these problems, and you should learn to rely--critically, of course--on what they have to say.

Putting all of the above together, it is simply not possible to do a good job on a case analysis in less than the space permitted. It could well be argued that even the space permitted hardly suffices, and such an argument would have considerable merit. Suffice it to say that a single paragraph on half a page in a 14pt font (as we've seen) hardly counts as meeting the above admittedly high expectations--this said in full recognition that those who could most benefit from appreciating and respecting the point are also unlikely to bother with reading the point in the first place. We can but try.

Sexbots*

In the video game, Detroit: Become Human, a player confronts the unique world of android sex workers. The human patrons of Eden Club (home of the “sexiest androids in town”) rent an android, or androids, and do pretty much whatever they want with it and to it. Business is booming for Eden Club. “The good thing about androids is they’re up for whatever you want, you won’t get any diseases, and they won’t tell anyone. So why not go wild?”

The memories of the rented androids in this particular brothel are reset every two hours, which allows patrons to have privacy, leaving virtually no trace of a patron's actions with the sex worker androids. Although not explicitly discussed in the game, one would assume that if a patron killed a sex worker android (which happens in the storyline) that the patron would be forced to pay for damages or a replacement. Short of killing a sex android or disfiguring it such that it cannot be repaired, whatever a patron does with or to a sex android is their own business. Both male and female sex androids are found at Eden Club. And although also not portrayed in the game world in question, one can imagine that this or other clubs would have child sex androids as well, and animal sex androids, and any other type of android for which someone is willing to pay.

For many critics and supporters of prostitution, this would seem to be an idyllic solution to many of the current-day woes of the sex worker trade. As an example, there is reasonable evidence that individuals with violent sexual tendencies, especially those who want to physically harm non-consenting others for sexual gratification, are unlikely to change. Sex worker androids would allow them to carry out their predilections without harm to any individual person or persons. In this particular game, it is an open question whether or not the androids have evolved into sentiency or consciousness or personhood, but the point remains that sex androids could be a solution to the moral issues associated with the oldest profession in the world—a profession which is not likely to disappear in the foreseeable future.

A sex doll brothel that opened in Paris, France, in 2018 has caused a good deal of controversy, with numerous calls for its closure from various entities, including politicians and feminist groups who claim the brothel encourages rape fantasies. Dortmund, Germany, has had a similar brothel since 2017. And products like Realbotix’s Harmony model, AI Tech’s Emma, Synthea Amatus’s Samantha, and TrueCompanion’s Roxxxy might make brothels like Eden Club a reality in the very near future.

*From the 2019 National Ethics Bowl

Cases prepared by:

Robert Boyd Skipper: Chair, Case Preparation Committee
Robert A. Currie
Ellen Hunt (cases from AARP)
Cynthia Jones
Heather Pease
Jane McNichol

Suppose that the Real Doll manufacturer of sex-dolls, which already has lines of life-size male and female dolls such as those used in the French and German brothels, proceeds to develop sophisticated interactive control software to make their lines of sex-dolls into hyper-realistic sex androids as the above case suggests will likely happen.

Select and briefly explain the theoretical framework (either one of the Utilitarian theories, Kantian theory, or Social Contract theory) you find most intuitive and defensible, and use it to answer each of the following questions. Be sure to explain exactly how the theoretical framework you've assumed justifies the answers you think it provides.

  1. Would it be morally wrong to open a 'brothel' using hyper-realistic sex androids?
  2. Would it be morally wrong to open a 'brothel' using hyper-realistic sex androids catering specifically to sadistic (BDSM, think Fifty Shades of Grey or worse) fantasies?
  3. Would it be morally wrong to develop a line of hyper-realistic child androids and open a 'brothel' using them so as to cater specifically to pedophiles?
  4. Would it be morally wrong to develop a line of hyper-realistic animal androids and open a 'brothel' using them so as to cater to bestiality fantasies?