The Common Good standard of rationality raises the difficult issue that not everyone has the same vision of what is for the common good.
A good example is the conflict over segregation which exploded, sometimes violently, in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s. Please go to the Public Library web site and read the first 3 chapters of the book Warriors Don’t Cry (Links to an external site.) by Melba Pattillo. (You do not have to borrow the book, just click on the READ A SAMPLE button.) Then post your reflections on the following questions: According to the Common Good standard, was it rational to want to perpetuate segregation? Was it rational to try to end segregation? Are opinions about whether segregation was morally justified or unjustified relevant to answering the previous questions?
Note: I insist that you read the book excerpt linked above before answering the questions. It is very interesting, pretty short, and well worth your time. I want to see your answers reflecting this by much more that just prefacing it with “After reading the book excerpt, I think that…”
A more recent example is the January 6th, 2021 coup attempt where organized far-right groups stormed the Capitol to try to overthrow the presidential election results and force Trump’s reappointment as President. In the aftermath, the media have frequently called “rioters” those who stormed the Capitol. In a riot, a mob violently lashes out in anger or in despair at anything nearby with no clear plan or objective. Do you think it is accurate to say that in a riot people behave irrationally? Is this what was going on at the Capitol, an explosion of irrational behavior? Did the far-right groups who invaded the Capitol appear to have had a coherent program for enhancing the common good, e.g., installing Trump as President? If this attempted coup had succeeded, it would have ended the nearly two and a half century-long American experiment in democracy. Does this make their behavior irrational? Do you think the common good would have been enhanced or set back if they had succeeded? Explain as clearly as you can the difference between a riot, an insurrection and a coup. Is the corporate media correct in labelling those who stormed the Capitol “rioters”?
Note well: this is to be an exercise in critical thinking. Merely repeating talking points you saw on social media or heard from talk show pundits will be considered worthless.
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