First Reflection Paper Assignment
Woody Allen’s “The Shallowest Man”
Even though there are good reasons why he is not the morally shallowest person in the story, Lenny Mendel does not engage in deep ethical reflection, especially after he visits the hospital and meets the nurse. The questions of whether it is right to use a dying man as a means to lure an engaged woman away from her fiancé and whether it is good to do so by deceiving both Iskowitz and Miss Hill in the process are moral considerations that seem worthy of deep ethical reflection. Such reflection–and the duties, virtues, motives, choices, intentions, and results it could lead to– might enable Mendel (and all of of us) to overcome obstacles to moral progress such as fear, being overly judgmental, selfishness, refusing to judge, desire, low self-esteem, and lust.
The topic for this paper is for you to judge whether personal moral progress is important enough for you to engage in the sort of deep ethical reflection that Mendel did not. Specifically identify what deep ethical reflection involves and requires—things like fair judgment, honesty, thinking beneath the surface of our beliefs, considering others in addition to ourselves–and then support why it is or is not the case that personal moral progress is important enough for you to engage in such difficult and demanding reflection. What is such progress and why is it worth all the effort?
Your purpose in writing this paper is to explore the thoughts, questions, confusions, and insights you have had throughout our discussions of this story in even greater depth. It is important that you share your thinking process with me, rather than simply the conclusions you reach as a result of this process. The issues you will grapple with are difficult but you will write a better paper if you allow yourself to become entangled in these difficulties rather than avoiding them. Your paper will not be judged on the basis of its results but rather on how thoroughly you respond to the topic, the seriousness with which you have read and considered the reading, how deeply you explore the ideas and questions raised in class, and how thoughtfully you support your position. It should not re-tell the story nor should it be a report on the story or on the author. I am looking for your reflections on the story within the context of our class discussions about it; discussions whose focus has been ethics–the philosophical study of morality.
No plagiarism. Remember that this paper must be typed and should be at least four full pages in length. Please double-space and use 1” margins all around so that I can easily write comments. Please use 12 font or smaller. You need only an original title and your name and date as headers on your paper. There is no need for additional space between paragraphs other than the one that double-spacing automatically provides. All paragraphs should be indented. You must follow the citation protocol as articulated on the plagiarism handout for all quotes. All definitions must be coated from this reading.