Study Guide for Exam #2
To study for Exam #2, write out answers the following questions. Be sure to answer the questions completely -- don't assume that the reader knows anything about the topic; don't assume that the reader already knows the details of the stories that are used in the arguments. Answer these questions so that a friend of yours -- who knows nothing about philosophical ethics -- would go away knowing the answers to these questions. Also, be very precise about the words you choose. After you write down each sentence, read it over and be sure it means exactly what you want it to mean.
1. (a) State our formulation of utilitarianism (AUh). Be sure to
explain the meaning of the technical terms in the theory. Explain the main idea
of the theory in your own words.
(b) We have seen several defective formulations of utilitarianism, such as MU (Mill's Utilitarianism), GHP (the Greatest Happiness Principle), AUx, and AUm (see Handout 7). Pick one of these defective formulations. Prove that it is not equivalent to AUh. (To do this, you need to come up with a concrete case -- one that lists several alternatives and their consequences. Then you need to show that AUh and the defective theory disagree about the moral status of one of these alternatives.)
(c) Why is AUh a better formulation of utilitarianism than the defective formulation that you chose?
2. (a) What question is a theory
of value supposed to answer? What question is a theory of welfare supposed
(b) What does axiology have to do with the question of whether God exists? Explain your answer in detail.
(c) Explain the difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Name something that is often thought to be intrinsically good. Name something that is usually thought to be merely instrumentally good. Is a theory of welfare supposed to tell us what things are intrinsically good for people or what things are instrumentally good for people?
3. (a) State Welfare Hedonism.
What computation do you need to perform in order to determine the total amount
of welfare in a person’s life, according to Welfare Hedonism?
(b) Present, Explain, and Evaluate an argument against Welfare Hedonism (either The Matrix Argument or Kagan’s Deceived Businessman Argument (p. 157-158)).
4. (a) Does AUh imply that we are always obligated to calculate the utilities
of each of our alternatives before acting? Explain your answer.
(b) Present, Explain, and Evaluate an argument against AUh having to do with promises (either the Promise-to-the-Dead-Man Argument or Ross's Argument from Promises).
5. (a) Present, Explain, and Evaluate the Organ Harvest Objection against AUh.
(b) Describe a trolley case that is analogous to the organ harvest case. Many people think that it is ok to sacrifice the one in order to save the five in the trolley case, but not in the organ harvest case. Do you agree? If so, what do you think accounts for the moral difference in the cases? If not, why do you think people are inclined to think it is wrong to save the five in the organ harvest case?
6. (a) State the Kantian principle "Respect for Humanity."
Given this principle, what do you think Kant would say about the Organ Harvest
case? Why? What about the Trolley case?
(b) Explain the Kantian idea of “universalizability,” and its relation to moral rightness. Describe a case in which Kant’s view seems to yield a more plausible result than AUh.
(c) Under what conditions can a utilitarian think punishment is justied? Under what conditions does a Kantian think punishment is justified? Which view about punishment do you think is more plausible, and why?
Parts of the reading you don't need to know for the exam:
Mill's Proof (pp. 114-119)
The preference theory of welfare (pp. 159-164)
The Total View (pp. 164-171)
Culpability, Fairness, and Desert (pp. 177-182)