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4.8/5

Political Science

1.       Please watch (or read) one of the five following selections. The first four are movies; the last is a short story. Most, if not all, of the movies are available on Youtube. ·         Foreign Correspondent (1940: dir. Alfred Hitchcock), starring Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, and Herbert Marshall ·         High Noon (1952: dir. Fred Zinnemann), starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly ·         Return to Paradise (1998: dir. Joseph Ruben), starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, and Joaquin Phoenix ·         Brokeback Mountain (2005: dir. Ang Lee), starring Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anne Hathaway ·         “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” by Tobias Wolff, a short story contained in his collection The Barracks Thief and Selected Stories   2.       Drawing on the ideas of Epicurus or Epictetus – one, and only one, of those two and no others! – address the following issues, depending on which movie/story you watch/read: ·         Foreign Correspondent – consider the character of Stephen Fischer (Herbert Marshall), head of the Universal Peace Party. Give two or three reasons to think that in spite of his politics he was a decent man; then give two or three reasons to think that in spite of his concern for his daughter he was basically a bad man. ·         High Noon – in a scene near the end of the movie Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), a Quaker pacifist, shoots an unarmed man in the back and kills him during a lull in a gun fight between the man she shoots and her husband. Give two or three reasons to think that she did the morally right thing in killing the man and two or three reasons to think that she did the morally wrong thing. ·         Return to Paradise – give two or three reasons to think that Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) did the morally right thing by returning to Malaysia and two or three reasons to think that he did the morally wrong thing by returning. ·         Brokeback Mountain – give two or three reasons to think that Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) is basically a man with a good character and two or three reasons to think that he is a man with a bad character. ·         “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs” – give two or three reasons to think that Mary’s speech at the end of the story was a morally proper thing to do and two or three reasons to think that it was the wrong thing to do.   3.       By “drawing on the ideas of Epicurus or Epictetus” in bullet point 2, above, I mean bringing some of one of those thinkers’ ethical ideas to bear on the question of the moral rightness or wrongness of what these fictional characters do. View the character’s actions as a committed Epicurean or Stoic might. For instance, you might say, “Epictetus would view Amy Fowler’s action as wrong because of his idea that… In this case, what she should have done from his perspective was…”   4.       None of you will (probably) face circumstances anything like those of the characters in these stories. But the purpose of this assignment is as an exercise in using important moral theories and in giving a certain kind of attention to human actions and to human characters.

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