Your task in this part is the same as it was for the two critical essays: state your position on some question and provide reasons for your position in clear and cogent prose. In this case, however, you will be expected to use not only the conceptual resources from this course, but also the previously analyzed documents regarding SSFL. Previously analyzed resources: -I came across a new essay by Warren Olney, a long-time public radio reporter, from a website called Zócalo Public Square. – Ted talk from Onora O’Neill’s work on trust helps understand the relationship between the government and the people who live near SSFL. O’Neill’s value of trust within relationships helps us understand the interaction between the government and the residents of the SSFL. Write a 1250-1500 word critical essay on one of the prompts below, drawing on at least one but no more than two philosophers studied in this course AND at least one but no more than three of the SSFL-related documents analyzed in parts one and two of this project, including the documentary, In the Dark of the Valley. Must include: A title An introduction that presents a clear and concise thesis, which states some position for which you will argue for in your paper. Body paragraphs that provide an adequate summary of the argument(s), position(s), and terms relevant for your chosen topic, as well as reasons in defense of your stated thesis and consideration of some possible objection(s) to your argument(s) or thesis. A conclusion that might re-summarize your paper in different terms, acknowledge some limitations of your argument or further questions that need to be addressed, or indicate to the reader some possible, broader implications of the views at stake in your paper. PROMTS: CHOOSE ONE 1-Ethics of whistleblowing.* Imagine it’s July 1959 and you’re a recently hired trainee at Atomics International assigned to work at its Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE), a new sodium graphite nuclear reactor. Atomics International, a subsidiary of North American Aviation, constructed the Sodium Reactor Experiment and housed it at a privately-owned test site in the easten Simi Hills referred to as the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). Initially, you were excited for this opportunity: the SRE has received local and national media attention, in part as a result of (you later discover) a public relations campaign by Atomics International; plus, the SRE was supported by a federal commission, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), tasked with turning the public’s attention to peaceful application of nuclear power as set forward in former President Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech. You felt you were part of a project that was cutting-edge and serving national interests. However, less than four months after accepting the job and receiving your security clearance, you arrived one night for your shift at the SRE to learn that there had been (through no fault of your own) a partial meltdown. You and other workers ask the officials there in the control room, “Can we tell our families what happened? Can we tell them that the radioactive gases may’ve gone right over our own homes in Chatsworth and Canoga Park?”
The officials discussed and replied, “No, you cannot. We don’t want anybody saying a word about it. We will report what happened to the public in our own due time.” Yet, during the next two weeks, workers are ordered to turn the damaged reactor on and off, despite high radiation levels, more emergency shutdowns, and the release of radioactive gases into the air, blowing into the nearby communities of Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley. In some cases, you and others note that the readings exceeded monitoring instruments’ capacity to measure them. Two years go by and the AEC creates an informational film to explain both the incident and the ensuing cleanup. The AEC reported that, although extensive core damage had occurred, no serious damage nor injury had occurred, and that the entire experience had only confirmed the viability of the technology behind the SRE. This conflicts with your own recollection of the events that took place, particularly the measures taken with respect to workers’ safety. Now, you’re contemplating whether to become a whistleblower – that is, whether and, if so, how you should call attention to what you believe to be a wrongdoing within Atomics International. Should you blow the whistle on your employer?
Why, or why not? *This hypothetical scenario is based on the testimony of John Pace, which is presented in (among other places) at ~15:00 in In the Dark of the Valley. 2-Trust and environmental justice.
Discuss the role of trust in the cleanup efforts at the Santa Susana Field Lab. Possible questions to discuss include but are not limited to: How can trust (or distrust) interfere with arriving at a just cleanup solution? How can trust (or distrust) help with arriving at a just solution? Why, if at all, is trust (or distrust) important for effective institutional reform or effective governance? How have the relationships of the stakeholders in the cleanup efforts been harmed by mistrustful deeds and how, if at all, can those relationships be repaired? Should cultivating trust be an aim of the cleanup efforts at SSFL? (If you focus on one of these questions, focus on only one. You’re welcome to investigate your own question on this topic, too, so long as it touches on the significance of trust in the case of SSFL.) 3-Politics and the value of the sacred Discuss the value of sacred places and its role in the cleanup efforts at the Santa Susana Field Lab. Possible questions to discuss include but are not limited to:
What type of value do sacred places represent, and should the be retained or even restored? Can the sacred be a part of a just solution in the cleanup efforts?
What limitations, if any, should there be on appeals to sacredness in shaping the decisions, policies, and practices of public institutions? Should rocks or nature in general be understood as having moral standing – that is, as having the status of an entity deserving of consideration in moral decision making?
How might the value of sacredness deepen the diagnoses and solutions of advocates for a cleanup at SSFL?
(If you focus on one of these questions, focus on only one. You’re welcome to investigate your own question, too, so long as it touches on the the role of the sacred in the case of SSFL.) If you need more instructions please let me know!