Pedagogical strategy for teaching Intro students how to write Philosophy essays: the essays are evaluating whether or not you understand how to make moves in a particular game. Both chess and checkers use the same board, but the rules for making moves and the objectives are different. By analogy, the rules of the Epicurus game and the Kant game differ. If you’re asked whether something would be moral in the Epicurus game, you’re being asked to make moves to show it is conducive to tranquility, pleasure, and freedom of anxiety. You play the game well when you’re able to present a set of reasons showing that it would or would not be conducive to that end (eg, why it wouldn’t be wise or “moral” to pursue a degree as a surgeon). In the Kant game, moves are determined by whether they can be universalized for both an action and its converse (I contend the categorical imperative must always be applied to an action and its converse to determine whether it’s a duty or a custom; no contradiction is generated in the universalization of having premarital sex, nor not having premarital sex so abstinence is a custom, not a moral duty). The final aim, of course, is to determine what the game allows you to do and whether it’s a good game. You must understand the game first, however, and why it was devised.
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