Study Guide for Final Exam

(note: removed One Liners on cloning (#'s 25-27);
you're no longer responsible for any cloning material for the final)


Guidelines.  The final exam will take place on Thursday, May 20 at 8:00 a.m. in HASA 126.  You will be required to write one essay, which will be taken from Section One of this study guide.  I will put two of the essays below on the exam, but you won't know in advance which two.  You will be able to choose which one of the two to answer.  The remainder of the exam will consist of a subset of the questions from Section Two. On the actual final, each section will be worth half of the grade for the exam.

The final is open-note and open-book. So the best way to prepare for the exam is to take this study guide as if it were a take-home exam. Refine each essay (or at least three out of the four) until you are satisfied with it. Research the questions from Section Two until you are confident in your answers to them. Then just bring in the fruits of your labor to class on exam day. While I encourage you to study with your classmates, the notes you bring in must be your own.  The submission of duplicate or near-duplicate answers will be considered cheating.

The exam will be a bluebook exam. Bring a blue- or black-ink pen for the exam -- no red pen, no pencil. I think we have the room for two hours, so you should have no trouble finishing the exam.  See the syllabus for some remarks about what I look for in your writing.

Before proceeding, please read this note on Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating arguments.


Section One - Essay

For each numbered item below, write an essay that addresses each of the lettered sub-items. I have set up the essay questions in this way (viz., with lettered sub-items) because I have found that, if I don't, students tend to skip some parts of the question. To be sure you address each part of each question, and to make it clear in what part of your essay you are doing so, you may even write the letters ('(a)', '(b)', '(c)', etc.) directly in your essay, if you wish.

  1. (a) Present Gay-Williams's "Argument from Nature."
    (b) Explain this argument.  (That is, give the rationale for each premise of the argument (even if you don't accept them).  One of the premises is a moral principle.  When explaining that premise, state and explain the general ethical theory the principle is based upon.)
    (c) Evaluate the argument.  If you think the argument is sound, then present what you consider to be the best objection to the argument
    and explain why you think the objection ultimately fails.
  2. (a) Present The No-Moral-Difference Argument for Voluntary Active Euthanasia (inspired by Rachels).
    (b) Explain this argument.  (Hint: explaining one of the premises will require describing a case involving a potential
    candidate for euthanasia.  Explaining the other premise will require, among many other things, a presentation of one of the central thought experiments of Rachels's paper.)
    (c) Evaluate the argument.
  3. (a) What is the Survival Lottery?  Describe the details of the system.  Explain the main alleged benefit of instituting the Survival Lottery.
    In "The Survival Lottery," Harris discusses a "playing God" objection to instituting the survival lottery (or to killing person A in order to save persons Y, Z, R, and S).  The simplest way to present the argument is as follows:
                  1. To kill A in order to save Y, Z, R, and S is to play God.
                  2. It always morally wrong to play God.
                  3. Therefore, it is morally wrong to kill A in order to save Y, Z, R, and S.
    (b) Explain the argument.  In order to do this, you will first need to say what is meant in the argument by 'play God'.  But don't give your own interpretation; instead give the interpretation that is suggested by Harris's text.
    (c) Under the interpretation of 'play God' that Harris's text suggests, the argument is obviously unsound.  Identify the false premise and explain why it is obviously false.
    (d) What do you think of the Survival Lottery?  Supposing the system could be implemented as designed, free from abuse, do you think it should be implemented?  Why or why not? 
  4. In class we discussed two of Singer's arguments against animal experimentation. I called one 'An Argument Against Animal Experimentation' and I called the other 'A New Argument Against Animal Experimentation'.
    (a) Present one of these two arguments (as I formulated it in class).
    (b) Explain that argument. (When explaining the argument, you need to provide the rationales only for the premises. Although the argument in question has five lines, only three of them are premises.)
    (c) Evaluate the argument. If you think the argument is sound, then present the objection to the argument that we discussed in class (and that Singer's considers). When doing so, present the theory of moral standing that supports the objection. Say why you think the objection fails.


Section Two - One Liners

Guidelines: The "blanks" in the fill-in-the-blank questions may correspond to more than one word.

  1. The distinction between ________ euthanasia and ________ euthanasia corresponds, respectively, to the distinction between killing and letting die.
  2. True or False?: By 'euthanasia', Gay-Williams means what we mean by 'active euthanasia'.
  3. True or False?: In the passage we studied, Aquinas gives a "playing God argument" against suicide.
  4. Sum up Natural Law Theory in a slogan (as we used the term 'Natural Law Theory' in class).
  5. According to your instructor, what does it mean for an act to be in a person's "best interest"?
  6. According to hedonism, one life is better for the person who lives it than another if and only if _______ .
  7. True or False?: If hedonism is true, then it is impossible for an act of suicide to be in a person's best interest.
  8. True or False?: Like Rachels, Gay-Williams appears to be very suspicious of "slippery slope" arguments.
  9. Gay-Williams contends that the legalization of active euthanasia would lead to "an overall decline in the quality of medical care." Does Brock consider this potential consequence of legalizing VAE?
  10. True or False?: The American Medical Association's position is that passive euthanasia is morally permissible but active euthanasia is morally wrong.
  11. Rachels's cases of Smith and Jones is supposed to establish that there is no morally relevant difference between ________ and ________ .
  12. True or False?: In Rachels's view, most actual cases of killing are more reprehensible that most actual cases of letting die.
  13. Would a utilitarian accept the idea that the killing-letting die distinction is morally relevant?
  14. Brock considers two kinds of argument against active euthanasia. He writes that "The first kind of argument is that in any individual case where considerations of the patient's self-determination and well-being do support euthanasia, it is nevertheless always ethically wrong or impermissible." Give a concrete example of this first kind of argument (you may write out the argument or you may refer to it by name if it is one with which we are all familiar).
  15. True or False?: Brock advocates weakening the general legal prohibition against homicide.
  16. True or False?: Brock maintains that although VAE should be legalized, doctors should not be the ones performing it.
  17. Instituting the Survival Lottery seems to be analogous in many ways to flipping the switch in the Case of the Runaway Trolley.  What in the former corresponds to the trolley? What corresponds to the five people on the track? What corresponds to the one person on the alternative track?
  18. True or False?: Harris acknowledges that those who are in some way responsible for the fact that their organs have failed should not be entitled to receive new organs in the Survival Lottery.
  19. True or False?: According to Harris, the most serious objection to instituting the Survival Lottery comes from the sixth commandment.
  20. Although Singer's paper is called "All Animals Are Equal," he really means to be talking about only _______ animals.
  21. What does it mean to say that a thing has "moral standing"?
  22. True or False?: The fact that the owner of some car would be justifiably upset by having her car destroyed shows that that car has moral standing.
  23. What, according to Singer, is a "speciesist"?
  24. True or False?: Cohen maintains that we have no obligations to animals.