Contests

Contest #3 - "An Argument for Abortion"

Consider the following passage:

"In my view, a woman is always allowed to have an abortion.  Here's why.  The fetus is inside the woman.  This makes the fetus a part of the woman.  Since it's obvious that we all have the right to do whatever we want with our body, including any part of it, it follows that women are allowed to have an abortion.  Case closed."

Here is the contest:

(a) Extract a valid, line-by-line argument from this passage.

(b) Give the rationale that the author would give for each premise of your argument.

(c) Prove that the argument is unsound.

The first acceptable answer that I receive by email will win the contest.  The prize: 10 points on Exam #3.  This is quite a substantial prize.  It will raise the winner's exam grade by one full letter grade.  I decide whether an answer is acceptable.

The deadline for this contest (and for Contest #3, which still has yet to be won) is Friday, May 23 at noon.  If no one has won the contest by then, the points will not be awarded.

Contest #2 - "The Desire-Satisfaction Theory of Welfare"

On pp. 159-164, Shelly Kagan discusses the "preference theory of well-being."  (I called it the desire-satisfaction theory of welfare in class.)  Kagan discusses an argument against this theory near the bottom of p. 160, and another argument on p. 161.  Here is the contest.

(a) State and explain the preference theory of well-being.

(b) Pick one of the two arguments mentioned.  Extract a valid, line-by-line formulation of the argument.  Present, Explain, and Evaluate this argument.  (When you evaluate it, really evaluate it -- decide whether you think it is sound or not.)

(c) Finally, explain the way in which Kagan's suggests the theory can be modified so as to avoid the objection.

The first acceptable answer I receive by email will win the contest.  To claim the prize, the winner must present his or her answer to the class.  I decide whether an answer is acceptable.

The prize: 10 points on Exam #2.  This is quite a substantial prize.  It will raise the winner's exam grade by one full letter grade.

Contest #1 - "The Golden Rule"

The bible says that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  According to http://www.fragrant.demon.co.uk/golden.html, this idea is "found in the scriptures of nearly every religion."  Moreover, "It is often regarded as the most concise and general principle of ethics."

So the website seems to be claiming that the Golden Rule provides an answer to the fundamental project of the Normative Ethics of Behavior.  Let us, then, state the Golden Rule as a fully general ethical theory:

GR:   an act is morally right if and only if in performing the act, the agent treats others as he or she would want to be treated.

The contest is as follows.  Come up with your own argument against GR and Present, Explain, and Evaluate it.  The conclusion of your argument should read, "Therefore, GR is not true."  The first adequate answer I receive by email will win the contest.  To claim the prize, the winner must present his or her answer to the class, the week of Feb. 24.  I decide whether an answer is adequate.

See Handout 4 for guidance on how to Present, Explain, and Evaluate arguments.  Be sure you format your answer as I have done in the examples on this handout.

The prize: 10 points on Exam #1.  This is quite a substantial prize.  It will raise the winner's exam grade by one full letter grade.