Philosophy 220, Fall 2016/Ethics

Weekly Essay #6
Philosophy 220, Fall 2016
The sixth Weekly Essay is due in Blackboard by 11:59pm on 10/27/2016
Answer the following essay, in answering, you should consider both your own view on the
question AND what the ethical theories we?ve studied thus far would indicate that we should
think about the topic.
If you use any direct text from either the textbook or any external sources, be certain to quote
that text properly. Also, include references/citations for any works which influenced your
thinking ? including the course texts. (there are many sources available to help you with
citations, as a quick reference, Purdue university?s ?Online Writing Lab? or O.W.L website can
be handy.)
Question: The twenty civilians selected to go and live on the Mars colony were set an unusual task. On
the red planet there would be a number of goods, including accommodation, food, drink, and luxury
items. They had to decide, before they went out, on what basis those goods would be distributed. But,
crucially, they did not know what the most important tasks would be on the colony. All the work could
be manual, or none of it. It might require great intelligence, it might be better suited to those less in need
of mental stimulation.
The first suggestion made was that everything should be shared equally: from each according to
their abilities, to each according to their needs. But then someone raised an objection. If there was lots of
work to be done and someone refused to do their share, wouldn?t it be unfair to reward them with an
equal slice of the cake? Surely there needed to be an incentive to contribute?
The objection was accepted, but that just seemed to lead to more problems. Fairness did not
appear to mean the same as giving everyone the same. But what did it mean?
That is the question you are to answer: what constitutes fairness, using the example of this Mars
colony, how (roughly speaking) should they divide up their goods?

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