Final Examination. Two hours. Closed book.
December 15, 2006
Note: You may notice some overlap between a few questions. Feel free to use this to your advantage (you can re-use ideas when appropriate; of course if you make the same mistake in both places, you will lose points in both places).
A1. Andrea Dworkin thinks that pornography
(a) intrinsically harms women
(b) usually liberates women when the photographer is female and usually oppresses women when the photographer is male
(c) is immoral but should be legal
(d) is morally acceptable when it portrays women who do not deserve to have a human dignity
A2. Bertrand Russell, in “A Free Man’s Worship”, says that even though in the end all human life perishes, and the earth goes back to the “nebula”, in the meanwhile we should:
(a) band together with fellow human beings, in love, fighting the darkness
(b) deceive ourselves that life has more meaning than it does
(c) go to other stellar systems, to avoid the destruction of this one
(d) live for our short-term pleasures, enjoying the present moment, and not caring for others, since life is pointless
A3. Aristotle thinks that human happiness consists (at least primarily) in:
(c) the exercise of virtue
(d) the possession of virtue
A4. Socrates in the Euthyphro tries to refute Euthyphro’s view that
(a) the gods are morally good
(b) the gods exist
(c) the pious is defined as what Hera loves, while the brave is defined as what Ares loves
(d) the pious is defined as what the gods love
(e) worms can be spontaneously generated from manure
A5. Which of the following would be closest to Thomas Aquinas’ view of the command of a king when that command is intended to benefit just the king and not the common good:
(a) it is always immoral disobey such a command
(b) this can happen in the case of a prince but not a king
(c) this command is not a law
(d) this never happens—everybody always intends to benefit the common good
A6. Marx thinks that if you get paid enough, your labor is guaranteed not to be alienated.
A7. The deterrent defense of capital punishment is centered on the claim that:
(a) crime is in the mind of the beholder
(b) criminals deserve death for some crimes
(c) killing criminals discourages others from committing crimes
(d) there is no such thing as free will
A8. Peter Singer in his paper on famine relief argues that giving to the starving
(a) is a duty
(b) is a good thing to do, but not a duty
(c) is counterproductive
(d) is selfish
A9. William May says there are four basic views of sexuality, depending on whether one sees sexuality as good or bad, important or unimportant. Which of the following is not one of these four?
A10. Which of the following is not a statement that Kant holds (as far as we can tell from the reading):
(a) people should be treated as ends, not mere means
(b) the right maxim is universalizable
(c) what makes an action right is that it is pleasant
(d) what makes an action right is that it is rational
1. perfect vs. imperfect duty, in Mill's Utilitarianism
2. moral relativism vs. error theory of morality
3. the strong vs. the weak form of Singer’s famine-relief argument
4. divine vs. casual views of sex
5. contradiction in conception vs. contradiction in will, in Kant’s thought
6. immoral actions vs. injustice, in Mill’s Utilitarianism
7. consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist moral theories
8. lust vs. sexual attraction, in John Paul II’s thought
9. hedonistic vs. non-hedonistic utilitarianism
10. first vs. second form of the categorical imperative
C1. What is utilitarianism? One objection to utilitarianism is that we just do not have the time to try to figure out the precise consequences of our actions, especially the long term ones—the calculations would be too hard. How does Mill make use of the story of the Nautical Almanac to respond to this objection? Suppose an objector asks: “But how do I know when to use the Almanac and when to figure out all the consequences myself?” How can Mill best respond? Can Mill successfully defend utilitarianism against the claim that it is too hard to figure out what you should do given utilitarianism? Why or why not?
C2. (If you choose this question, you cannot also choose C3.) State Kant’s First Categorical Imperative and explain carefully the two different ways that it could be violated. Find the most plausible candidate for an action that is both (a) morally innocent and (b) violates the First Categorical Imperative. Find the best response on Kant’s behalf to the objection that the First Categorical Imperative gives the wrong answer in the case of this action. (Hint: You may want to carefully examine the maxim.) Is this response satisfactory?
C3. (If you choose this question, you cannot also choose C2.) State Kant’s First Categorical Imperative and explain carefully the two different ways that it could be violated. Find the most plausible candidate for an action that is both (a) morally wrong and (b) does not violate the First Categorical Imperative at all. Find the best response on Kant’s behalf to the objection that the First Categorical Imperative gives the wrong answer in the case of this action. (Hint: You may want to carefully examine whether the proposed maxim is the one that the person is really acting on.) Is this response satisfactory?
C4. Certain kinds of cases are alleged to present a difficulty for the utilitarian, because the utilitarian answer seems to diverge from common sense. Give one such case. Describe the case in detail. Discuss how a utilitarian might try to respond to the case, say by citing long term effects. Could one modify the case in response to the utilitarian’s response? Who wins the argument and why?
C5. (Hard.) What is Euthyphro’s definition of the “pious”. Carefully explain Socrates’ circularity objection to Euthyphro’s definition of the pious. How could Euthyphro best defend his definition of the pious against this objection? Would the defense be satisfactory?
C6. (Hard.) Raz explains commands by saying that a command involves an attempt to give us both a second- and a first-order reason. Explain this, carefully saying what these reasons are reasons for. Wolff thinks that by obeying a command, we are immorally giving up our autonomy by refusing to weigh all the factors relevant to the decision. How might Raz respond? Who would be right? Why?
D. Applied essay:
A friend of your needs ethical advice and tells you the following story by phone:
My friend George is a finalist for a large departmental scholarship. There is only one other finalist, Mark. George is my friend. I don’t know Mark very much, but I know that both George and Mark are equally talented, but Mark has somewhat greater financial needs. I just found out that the essay that George submitted for the competition was plagiarized from a paper of mine that he borrowed “to get some ideas”. Should I turn George in? If I do, Mark, who has greater needs, will get the scholarship. My friendship with George will be over, and he will feel betrayed. George will be in serious trouble with the Honor Council, and may receive a significant penalty.
In your essay, answer all of the following questions, in about one paragraph each.
(i) What do you think is the best Kantian answer in this situation in light of the first form of the categorical imperative? How might someone who actually accepts this form of the categorical imperative object to this answer, and how would you refute the objection?
(ii) What do you think is the best Kantian answer in this situation in light of the second form of the categorical imperative? How might someone who actually accepts this form of the categorical imperative object to this answer, and how would you refute the objection?
(iii) What do you think is the best hedonistic utilitarian (Mill or Bentham style, it's up to you) answer in this situation? (Make sure you consider both short and long-term consequences.) How might someone who is also a hedonistic utilitarian object to your answer, and how would you refute the objection?
(iv) What advice would you yourself give, and on what grounds. If you base your personal answer on some specific ethical system, such as the Kantian, the utilitarian or other, you should explain why you think this system is true. Note that you will not be penalized for giving a reasoned argument for a position that you expect your professor to disagree with.
E. Personal comment
Has this course changed your thinking either about some general or specific ethical issue, and if so, how and why? (Three or four sentences.)