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Discuss the following questions.
1. Why is it important to have certain values and principles? Do moral principles differ from country to country? Give specific examples. 2. Have people’s values changed over the generations, if so, how? Com-pare the view of morality with that of your parents’ (grandparents’) generation. 3. What types of crimes are most common in our country? 4. What crimes are least common in our country? 5. Are crime rates falling or rising in your country? What explanation can you suggest? 6. Can you think of the main reasons why people become addicted to drugs or alcohol? 7. How does our society treat drug users and alcoholics? Should we treat them like sick people or criminals? 8. What social classes are there in our society nowadays? 9. What is altruism? Are there a lot of altruists in Russia (in the world)? In what way do they help people? 10. What are the motives and ways of charitable actions? 11. What is the difference between a patriot and a nationalist? 12. What is religious fundamentalism? In what way is it dangerous for a society? Give specific examples. How do you understand the statement “Violence begets violence”?
Discussing the topic “SOCIETY” you cannot do without the notion of morality. It is related to the ancient categories of Good and Evil. Read the text below and say which of the human sins are most characteristic of people nowadays.
Some of the people in any society have always been immoral. A Greek theologian (богослов) Evagrius of Pontus first made up a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions. They were, in order of increasing seriousness, Gluttony (чревоугодие, обжорство), Lust (похоть), Avarice (алчность), Sadness (уныние), Anger (гнев), Acedia (праздность), Vainglory (тщеславие), and Pride (гордыня). In the late 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great reduced the list to seven items, folding Vainglory into Pride, Acedia into Sadness, and adding Envy.
Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities. Pride is also known as Vanity (тщеславие). Virtue against which it sins is Humility (смирение). Greed is the desire for material wealth ignoring the spiritual values. Its opposite is Generosity which means giving without having expectations of the other person. Envy is the desire for other’s abilities or status. Its opposite is Love which actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Anger is often our first reaction to the problems. Impatience with the faults of others is related to this. Its opposite is Kindness. Kindness means patience and compassion. Lust is the self-destructive drive for pleasure. It sins against self control. Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than one requires. Sloth is avoidance of physical or spiritual work. Its opposite is Zeal (усердие).
Read the text below to talk about the national variations in selection of the most important topics of social concern in Western Europe. What are the most important social problems in Russia?
MAJOR TOPICS OF CONCERN
In Western Europe, unemployment is by far the most important issue. When presented with a choice of 15 different areas of concern, every west European nation put unemployment either first or in the top three.
There were some national variations: Germany, Belgium and Britain put crime slightly higher than unemployment. France gave AIDS a very high priority, placing it second after unemployment. Italians were worried about corruption, Scandinavians about pollution, and the Dutch about religious fundamentalism. For Russians, however, crime is by far the most important topic of concern, followed by inflation and personal lack of money.
In addition, Europeans felt that unemployment was the main cause of poverty. Elsewhere in the world, people were more likely to select lack of education as the main reason. Europeans also put great emphasis on insufficient welfare, unlike the rest of the world.
People from the former eastern bloc put slightly less emphasis on unemployment and more on alcohol abuse. These countries also tend to be more concerned about the environment than they are about economic growth as is Austria, Britain, France, Hungary, Belgium and Holland and more concerned about the economy.
Mass media is known to make a great impact on public opinion. This opinion can be either positive or negative. Very often some of the mass communication media seem too offensive to society. Using the word-combinations below prove or reject the claim “There should be some kind of censorship in our country to control mass media”.
to affect moral attitudes of the young; to be critical of the cultural wealth; to be (get) involved with immoral activities; to be undesirable for people; to be unfair to the elder; to be unfit for children; to destroy a human psyche; to develop a doubting state of mind; to place an emphasis on human vices; to prohibit a book, film, an exhibition, work of art, etc; to propagandize immoral values, religious fanaticism or violence; to restrict (to place restrictions on) the availability of some TV programmes, periodicals, plays, etc; to underline the negative aspects of life.
The crime rate is increasing in Russia as well as in many European countries. What factors contribute to this process? Which of the following do you think can cause a considerable decline in crime rates? Explain your answer.
better economic conditions
better rehabilitation programmes for young offenders
improved leisure activities
more visible militia (police) presence in the streets
more serious punishment
What else do you think should be done by the government (each individual) to decrease the crime rate in Russia?
Role-play the situation.
Setting: a courtroom.
Participants: the jury (a group of twelve people who listen to all evidence about the crimes and then decide whether or not a person is guilty).
Goal: You are a member of the jury whose task is to consider the four cases before they pass the verdict.
Cases under consideration:
a) The teenager called the secondary school to say that the school had been mined and was going to blow up in an hour.
b) The man shot in the knee the unarmed man who had broken into his house. The “victim” spent six months in hospital as a result of his injury and is still unable to walk.
c) The small business is caught selling unlicensed videos and CDs.
d) The teenager hacked into a bank’s computer system and introduced a virus.
Now decide on the variants of punishments:long prison sentence; short prison sentence; community service; fine; a formal warning. Explain your decision.
ARGUMENTS IN PRACTICE
REASONING: EFFECTIVE OR FAULTY? SOME OF THE COMMON FALLACIES (зд. ошибка в аргументации)
Reasons why faulty reasoning occurs are various and many. Some of them are hasty generalization, attacking for personal characteristics, false dilemma, an appeal to patriotism, etc.
For example, on the basis of experience with two or three members of an ethnic group we may form the prejudice that all members of the group share the characteristics that we have attributed to the two or three in our experience. The statement “All British are very reserved” is an example of what is called HASTYGENERALIZATION.
You might hear someone complain “How can my physician advice me on a diet? He’s overweight”. This accusation ignores the validity of the advice the doctor may offer. This type of fallacy is ATTACKINGFOR PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.
The statement “Love football or you are not a man” poses a situation which is called FALSE DILEMMA.
One more common fallacy is AN APPEAL TO PATRIOTISM,which may allow people to omit evidence. In the following advertisement the makers of Zippolighters make such an appeal in urging readers to buy their product – It’s a grand old lighter Zippo – the grand old lighter that’s right here in the good old USA!
IT’S HELPFUL TO REMEMBERthat, even if you cannot name the particular fallacy, you can learn to recognize it and avoid it in your argument.
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