Critically assess the claim that the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten was irresponsible for publishing the satirical cartoons of Muhammad in 2005.
On September 30th 2005, twelve satirical cartoons most of which were representations of the prophet Mohammed of Islam, were published in a Danish newspaper called Jyllands-Posten. The drawings, which included a representation of Mohammad with a bomb as his turban or under his turban, were printed alongside an article about self-censorship and freedom of speech in society and in the press.
The drawings were commissioned by Flemming Rose, the cultural editor for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. They came about after Kare Bluitgen, a Danish writer had found it impossible to find an artist willing to illustrate his childrens book about Mohammad. Rose commissioned the twelve artists to depict Mohammad to highlight this difficulty as three artists turned down the offer to illustrate Bluitgen's book saying they feared violence and the backlash that would ensue from the Muslim community, eventually an artist agreed to illustrate the book, but anonymously.
“One [artist declined], with reference to the murder in Amsterdam of the film director Theo van Gogh, while another [declined, citing the attack on] the lecturer at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute in Copenhagen” – Bluitgen
The refusal of the first three artists and their fear of illustrating the book was seen as a sure sign of self-censorship and led to a lot of debate in Denmark. In the following months the cartoons spread across the world and to Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Not long after this, essentially all Muslim countries saw demonstrations or riots being held. There were many passionate expressions of distress and anger, mainly on two grounds: firstly that Muslim belief does not accept pictorial representations of the Prophet and second that the cartoons associated the Prophet and Muslims generally, with terrorism and violence. What was originally a Danish newspaper’s article to address the issues about freedom of speech against respect for minorities, caused the already present internal tensions within Muslim countries as well as with the secularised Europe with its Christian majorities to ignite. Many threats against the lives have been made, which caused the people responsible for the publishing of the drawings to even go into hiding. There were calls for the UN to intervene and protect religions against unlimited freedom of speech. Boycotts against Danish good in Muslim countries began and several Arab countries eventually closed the doors of their embassies within Denmark.
Responses to the Cartoons and Riots:
Muslim Response was as stated above, uniformly not in favor of the cartoons across the board, labeling them blasphemous, disrespectful and Islamophobic. And also there was also the large violent response by a section of Muslims. Leaders and those in power in Muslim countries and society also took action, calling for boycotts and demanding embargos, eventually closing embassies in Denmark.
Jyllands-Posten’s response to the protests from Muslim groups in Denmark and around the world was to publish two open letters on its website, defending the right of the newspaper to publish the drawings but at the same time apologising for any offense the drawings may have caused, these were in both Danish and Arabic. The second letter was also available in English, it included:
“In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.”
Muslim community leaders requested a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister to discuss what the Muslim community saw has an ‘ongoing smear campaign in Danish public circles and media against Islam and Muslims”. The Prime Minister refused to hold such a meeting as he believed the Muslim representatives wished him to take legal...
...The controversy in question is simply a series of cartoons which were first published in a Danishnewspaper (Jyllands-Posten) in 2006. This controversy has recently been stirred by a reprinting of the article in many European newspapers in a stand of solidarity for freedom of speech. The original (and subsequent) publication(s) led to a public outcry, and sparked violent protests in the Islamic world.Danish Muslim organizations staged protests, while the cartoons were being reprinted in more than 50 other countries. Critics of the cartoons call them “culturally insulting,” “xenophobic,” and even so far as “blasphemous.” Supporters claim that the cartoons simply illustrate an issue important to current events, and the publications of such cartoons simply an exercise in the worldwide right of free speech.
When trying to formulate a response to such a controversy, one could ask themselves if they are more of a relativist, or an objectivist. Relativism is a ethical position which can be defined as a belief that a stance on moral dilemmas do not reflect universal moral truths, simply that they make a claim relative to the social, political, cultural, or personal beliefs of the person. Objectivism is an ethical position which states that certain acts can be objectively right or wrong. As you can...
...‘Criticallyassess the claim that the word ‘good’ has no real meaning’
Meta ethics, meaning above ethics, is the attempting to codify the meaning of the language used in ethical debate. It tries to establish a coherent language in which debate can take place. It is important to not confuse Meta ethics with normative ethics like Natural Law and Utilitarianism; they try and set the normal rules for behaviour in society. Much of the twentieth century philosophical thought was consumed by an examination and questioning of language in a number of fields including ethical language, involving some of the largest names in philosophy over the course of the century.
One of the biggest issues in meta-ethics is the problem that ethical language has a tendency to use ordinary language in an extraordinary way. J.L Mackie demonstrated this issue effectively in his 1977 work ‘Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong’ with his illustration of the relativity of the meaning of ‘big’ and ‘tiny’; that is a big mouse and that is a big elephant was the example he used, this means that the word big has no set value and is not relative. To further confuse this issue, the structure of the sentences themselves is almost identical when the same words are used in a moral and a non-moral sense. Therefore saying this means there is no difference in moral weight between the non-moral sentence ‘this pen is good’ and the moral sentence of...
Criticallyassess the claim that religious language is meaningless (35 Marks)
Religious language has been argued about by many philosophers with regards to whether or not the ways in which we speak about religion are meaningful. This issue of religious language is concerned with the methods by which man talks about God in concern with theist or atheist ideologies. For some, religious language is meaningful and full of purpose while others see it to being pointless.
The first assertion of the meaningless of religious language is the school of philosophical thought known as Logical positivism. Friedrich Waismann who was a member of the Vienna Circle. Logical positivism he saw as the belief that “Anyone saying a sentence must know under what conditions he calls it true, and under what conditions he calls it false. If he is unable to state these conditions, he does not know what he has said. A statement which cannot be conclusively verified cannot be verified at all. It is simply devoid of any meaning.”
In the early days of the Vienna Circle, a sentence was said to have empirical meaning if it was capable, at least in principle, of complete verification by observational evidence; i.e., if observational evidence could be described which, if actually obtained, could establish the truth of the sentence. Essentially, the verification principle asserts that a sentence has empirical meaning if...
...Criticallyassess the claim that conscience is a reliable guide to ethical decision making.
Conscience is something inside of us which distinguishes good from evil and makes us feel guilty when we have done something wrong. As defined by the Oxford Dictionary of English, is ‘A person’s moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one’s behaviour’. It plays a decisive role in any moral decision, and just like normative ethics, one can base their moral decisions on their conscience just as a utilitarian would base his moral decisions on the principle of utility – ‘greatest good for the greatest number’. However, on an assessment of whether the conscience is the most reliable guide for moral decision making is determined by one’s subjective view on what the conscience actually is, which has been tackled by many philosophers.
Freud (1856-1939), the founder of modern psychoanalysis, believed that the human psyche was inspired by powerful desires that begin at birth and need to be satisfied. These are critical to our behaviour up until the age of three and drive the id. For Freud there were two categories of desire at war within the id: ‘Eros' (the life instinct) and ‘Thanatos' (the death instinct). However, children quickly learn that the world puts restraints upon the degree to which these desires can be met. Humans therefore create the ‘ego', also known as the ‘reality principle', which takes into...
...“Criticallyassess the claim that religious language is meaningless”
Religious language has been argued about by many philosophers to whether or not the ways in which we speak about religion are relevant or meaningful. This issue of religious language looks at the way we talk about God, debate ideas and communicate our theist or atheist ideologies. For some, religious language is meaningful and full of purpose while others see it to being incomprehensible and pointless.
The Vienna Circle was made up of many great philosophers who were against metaphysics due to it leading to illogical thoughts like there being another world to ours. This view transcended onto the philosophical issue of religious language – David Hume for instance – thought that religious language was meaningless due to its irrational diction. A. J. Ayer furthered this point of view within the United Kingdom with a varied response to his ideas. It was through this logical thinking that the verification movement began. Verification claimed that language can only be meaningful if it can be confirmed through sense experience; this movement was based on science, rational thought process and empirical evidence. Simply put, the meaningfulness of a statement is illustrated through the means in which you verify it. An example of sense observation verification is if you were to say “My jumper is red”. Anyone can...
...Criticallyassess Descartes' three arguments for his claim that mind and body are distinct.
The concept of Mind-Body dualism is one that has its roots in early classical philosophy, with both Plato and Aristotle setting out strong arguments for this philosophy of the mind. The most famous proponent of this theory though is the “father of Modern Philosophy”, René Descartes. This belief fundamentally stems from the appearance of humans having both mental and physical properties, properties which seem to be radically different. As a response to this Descartes proposed that these properties are contained within two radically different substances, res cogitans, or thinking substance, and res extensa, extended substance. This thinking substance is what makes up a mind and the extended substance a body. Within his Discourse on Method and the Meditations, Descartes outlines three arguments for this distinction between the mind and the body. These arguments, varying in their strength, have been analysed fervently since Descartes published them, and much philosophy of the mind centred on Descartes theses until the beginning of the last century and debate still remains today.
The first argument that Descartes sets out in his Meditations for mind body distinctness is what has become known as the doubting argument. This argument first appeared in the Discourse (Descartes, 1971, pp. 32) and he expanded upon it in the Meditations (Descartes,...
...Criticallyassess the claim that conscience is a reliable guide to ethical decision making
In order for conscience to be consistently and absolutely reliable, infallible, it must stem from an infallible source - God. Alternatively, conscience might have a potential of ultimate reliability, if the faculty of conscience was dynamic and capable of solving problems i.e. if it was an innate part of human nature. St.Paul, Newman, Aquinas, Butler and Freud all argue on their ideas of what the conscience is and how reliable it can be towards ethical decision making.
St.Paul’s argument for the conscience can be found in the New Testament where the Greek word used for conscience is synderesis. This is the pain suffered by the one who goes against his or her moral principle. In Romans 2:15 Paul described the conscience as the witness to the requirements of the law being written on the hearts of those who are not under the law. In other words the conscience acts as a guide even where specific moral principles are not taken into consideration. It can be argued that St Paul’s conscience theory can be followed regardless of religious beliefs. However, some people may argue that St Paul’s idea of the conscience is undeveloped. There is no evidence to back up what he is saying as any reference to the conscience in the bible can only be referred to St Paul’s biblical writings. Therefore, we cannot say the conscience is...
...3) Criticallyassess the claim that people are free to make moral decisions (35)
Libertarians support the view that people have free will and so we are free to make moral decisions. For a Libertarian, the key evidence for this is the act of decision making in our daily lives. Hume states that “experience is what we see to be true”, each human being experiences the feeling of being free to make a decision. If experiencing any other action constitutes it to be true, then why not the same for free will? Libertarians argue that we have awareness of the choices we make; we can choose to do anything that we are capable of. Though we are influenced by our environment and experiences, ultimately we can make our own decisions, nothing is inevitable or determined. Libertarians hold the belief of a moral self; humans want to want to do things. For example, a smoker may think it would be a good idea to give up smoking, but their addiction is too strong for them to think it possible or in any way likely; they want to want to give up smoking. Humans are unique in this way and it is this which is called the moral self. Libertarians are dualists believing that the human mind is separate from the physical world. It is because of this that our reason and autonomy, our moral self, can transcend over other causal determinants. Kant argues that by applying reason to decisions we can escape any authority from cause and effect or desires and emotions,...