Final Examination. Two hours. Closed book.
December 7, 2007
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. The retributivist 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) living criminals are a bad example to others
(d) there is no such thing as free will
A2. 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?
A3. Andrea Dworkin thinks that the production of pornography is wrong because
(a) it harms men
(b) it harms women
(c) it is boring
(d) it is fun
(e) it is lucrative
A4. According to Camus, in the Myth of Sisyphus, human life is
(b) deeply innately meaningful, no matter what we make of it
A5. John Paul II thinks that lust is wrong primarily because
(a) it is pleasant
(b) it leads to economic inequality between the North and the South
(c) it leads to procreation
(d) it treats others as tools for sexual gratification
A6. Which of the following philosophical views is most likely to lead one to agree with the following statement: “If a dictator tells you that if you don’t shoot one innocent person, he will have ten other innocent people shot, then you have a moral duty to shoot the one innocent person, to save nine lives in total”?
(a) Error Theory
A7. According to John Locke, unowned land becomes ours when we mix our ____________ with it.
(d) none of the above
A8. In our reading, Marx argues that the problem of alienated labor is the fault of the workers in not taking sufficient pride in their work, and can be easily fixed by the workers simply taking more pride in their work.
A9. According to Aristotle, our goals go on forever: we want A for the sake of B, B for the sake of C, C for the sake of D, and so on forever.
A10. Mill thinks that rights are defined as what society should ______________ one in the possession of.
1. persons vs. biological humans, in Mary Anne Warren’s thought
2. love of friendship vs. love of concupiscence, in Thomas Aquinas’ thought
3. social vs. individual relativism
4. the strong vs. the weak form of Singer’s famine-relief argument
5. signs vs. symbols, in Tillich’s thought
6. consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist moral theories
7. demonic vs. nuisance views of sex
8. immoral actions vs. injustice, in Mill’s Utilitarianism
9. moral relativism vs. error theory of morality
10. alienated vs. non-alienated labor, in Marx' thought
C1. How does C. S. Lewis use observations about quarreling as an argument for absolutism? Give two criticisms of the argument, and for each say how C. S. Lewis would or could respond. Does his argument survive the criticisms?
C2. State Kant’s First Categorical Imperative (CI-1). Consider the case of the following two maxims: (1) “Play tennis on Saturday night because the courts are empty” and (2) “Make everybody miserable.” Some critics of Kant may think that these two maxims create a problem for Kant, because Kant allegedly has to say that the first maxim violates CI-1, and because Kant allegedly has to say that the second maxim passes the test of CI-1. Is it true that the first maxim fails the test of CI-1? Is it true that the second one passes? Why or why not? Is (1) the right way to describe the maxim of someone who plays tennis on Saturday night because the courts are empty, or is the actual maxim of such a person different? Why or whynot?
C3. Describe the way in which one (not necessarily Rousseau) might think that tradable property, differences in talents, inequality and various negative emotions like envy are all interconnected. Rousseau thinks that such interconnections mean that tradable property is a bad thing. This leads to two questions. Is he right that if there are such interconnections, then tradable property is a bad thing? Why or why not? And is he right that there are such interconnections? Why or why not?
C4. What would be the best retribution-based argument for capital punishment? Does this argument show that the state has the right to execute some criminals or that the state has the duty to do so? Now carefully state a plausible objection to the argument. Can the argument for capital punishment survive this objection? Why or why not?
C5. Utilitarianism appears to conflict with common sense morality, by apparently implying that sometimes one should deliberately kill innocent people. Give a case where utilitarianism appears to have such a consequence. Does the utilitarian have a way of arguing that even in a case like that, killing innocent people is wrong? (Hint: long term consequences.) Will this kind of solution work in every case? Why or why not? Do you think that if we could show that utilitarianism conflicts with common sense morality, this would show that utilitarianism is false?
D. Applied essay:
A friend of your needs ethical advice and tells you the following story by phone:
Jennifer, a good friend of your friend—someone you do not yourself know—is now paraplegic. Your friend has just found out that Jennifer had stabbed her husband to death ten years ago, in order to get his life insurance money. The police have never solved that murder. Jennifer is quite unrepentant of the crime. However, five years ago (i.e., five years after the murder) she was in a motor vehicle accident that left her largely paralyzed from the neck down. Consequently, she is exceedingly unlikely to commit another violent crime ever again (she can’t even hire a contract killer, because she would have to ask her personal assistant to make the phone call for her, since she is not audible enough on the phone herself). Your friend found out about the crime because she overheard Jennifer talking in her sleep, and Jennifer included details there that only the murderer would know (your friend discreetly checked out these details with police records). Jennifer lives in a state that would not impose the death penalty in a case like that. Should your friend turn Jennifer in to the police, assuming that the case could be proved?
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 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.)