column called “ ask W r i t i n g

column called “ ask W r i t i n g

Assignment description (please write about option 1): 

Write a 1000-1500 paper on the following topic. Papers are due December 07, 11:59PM EST.  Please make sure to submit the paper through the appropriate link on Quercus. Please, also make sure to write only your student number. Do NOT write your name on your paper (papers are graded anonymously).

Kant and Mill: Advice Columnists

The New York Times has a column called “Ask the Ethicist,” in which people seek advice from Kwame Anthony Appiah (Links to an external site.), a philosopher at New York University. Below are two of the letters requesting advice.

Choose only one of these letters. What do you think would be the advice that Mill and Kant would give to this person? Would you agree with either philosopher on this advice?

Make sure you explain your answers and argue for your view.

NOTE: For the Kant part of your answer, please discuss only one of the formulas of the categorical imperative.


For nearly his entire life, my 80-something-year-old father has been a quiet, gentle and deeply religious man who went to Mass and said the rosary daily. Although his political views have always been conservative, he has also always believed in kindness and fairness. Since the start of the pandemic, his social interactions have become severely reduced, limited to daily calls from me (I live across the country), weekly visits from my brother and the occasional shopping trips and church attendance. As our mother passed away before the pandemic, his one loyal companion has been his iPad and YouTube. Because of his viewing of religious programs, YouTube has increasingly steered him toward conservative media, so that he is now obsessed with right-wing extremist politics and is absolutely against taking the Covid vaccine. Every time my brother or I have a conversation with him, he talks politics and pushes his views, and even after we asked him to stop, he tries to get the last word in by sending us angry emails or texts. Now both of us try to avoid having any interactions with him. I have the password to his YouTube account from a year ago when I helped him with a tech problem. In order to preserve our relationship, I’m thinking about going into his account to delete and pause his viewing history, and perhaps put in some links to more wholesome entertainment such as music and soccer to counter the constant bombardment of extremism. My justification is that if he is being brainwashed by an algorithm, then I might as well use the algorithm to steer him back to his old self so that we can at least have a normal conversation. What is your view on this?