Study Guide for Exam #1 - Elementary Theories in NEB

(for the exam, you are responsible only for numbers 4, 5, and 7)


Some instructions:
   -   When I say to "state" a theory, I mean just to write down the sentence that is the theory.
   -   When I say to "explain" the theory, I mean to explain the meaning of any technical terminology in the theory and to explain the main idea behind the theory in your own words.
   -   When I ask you to "explain" an argument, I want you to give the rationale behind each premise.  That is, I want you to explain, for each premise in the argument, why someone would think that premise is true.  (There is no need to give the rationale for the conclusion, because the conclusion follows logically from the premise (so long as the argument is valid.)  (A note on explaining conditionals.)
   -   If ever you think that an argument is unsound, you must identify which premise of the argument you think is false, and say why you think it is false.


1. (a) What are the core areas of ethics?  Name a question that is asked in each core area?
    (b) What is the fundamental project of the Normative Ethics of Behavior?  (Be sure to explain the difference between act tokens and act types; be sure to define or otherwise explain the meaning of the following terms: 'morally right', 'morally wrong', 'morally obligatory', 'criterion of moral rightness', 'necessary condition', 'sufficient condition'.)

2. (a) What is an argument?  What does it mean to say that an argument is valid?  What does it mean to say that an argument is sound?
    (b) Can a sound argument have a false conclusion?  If so, invent an example of a sound argument with a false conclusion.  It not, explain why not.
    (c) Can an argument in which every line is false be valid? If so, invent an example of a valid argument in which every line is false.  It not, explain why not.
    (d) Suppose we have an argument with a certain conclusion.  If you say that that argument is unsound, are you thereby saying that you think the conclusion is false?  (In other words, if an argument for a conclusion is unsound, does this show that the conclusion is false?)  Explain your answer.
    (e) Suppose we have a valid argument for a certain conclusion.  Suppose you think the conclusion is false.  Are you thereby saying that you think that one of the premises is false?  (In other words, if a valid argument has a false conclusion, must it have at least one false premise?)  Explain your answer.

3. (a) State and explain 10C (the theory based on the Ten Commandments).
    (b) Present and explain the "Abe the Abuser" argument against 10C.  Be sure to give the rationale for each premise of the argument (that is, the reason to think that the premise is true).  Do you think this is a sound argument?  If not, which line do you think is false, and why?

4. (a) State and explain DCT (the Divine Command Theory).
    (b) Discuss three reasons some people have thought that DCT is true.
    (c) Present and explain Plato's Euthyphro Argument against DCT.  When explaining the argument, give the Socratic question about God and moral wrongness, and give the answer Socrates would give to this question.  Give at least one reason for this answer.  To which premise of the argument is Socrates' answer relevant?  Finally, say why the conclusion is not that DCT is not true, but rather that DCT is not a true criterion of moral rightness.
    (d) What is your reaction to DCT and to the argument against it?  Do you find the theory at all plausible?  Why?  Do you think Plato's argument is sound?

5. (a) State and explain CR (Cultural Relativism).  (Be sure to explain what a moral code is.)
    (b) Discuss some of the assumptions behind CR and why they might be problematic.
    (c) Does CR imply that everyone should be more tolerant of the practices of other cultures?  Explain your answer.
    (d) Present and Explain the Cultural Differences Argument in favor of CR.  Do you think this argument is sound?  Why or why not?
    (e) Present and explain the argument against CR known as the Reformer's Dilemma.  Be sure to say what a moral reformer is.  When you are explaining the second premise of the argument, discuss some particular moral reformer who you might think was not mistaken.  Say why you might agree with the moral views of this reformer.  Do you think the Reformer's Dilemma is sound?
    (f) Present and explain the Globalization Advice argument against CR.  Do you think this argument is sound?

6. (a) State and explain Conceptual Relativism.
    (b) Present and explain the No-Conflicts argument against Conceptual Relativism.  (You may use either the version Feldman presents in his book or the version I presented in class (involving my wife Nicki and the Eskimo Nanook).)

7. (a) Discuss the assumptions about pleasure and pain that are made to formulate Ethical Egoism.  
    (b) State and explain EEh (Ethical Egoism, of a hedonistic sort).  Be sure to explain each of the following concepts: alternatives open to an agent, the consequence of an alternative, the hedonic utility of an alternative, the agent hedonic utility of an alternative, the idea of an action maximizing agent hedonic utility.
    (c) Present and explain the Closet Utilitarian Argument in favor of EEh.  Discuss one problem for each of the premises of this argument.  Do you think this argument is sound?
    (d) Before presenting his "Refutation of Egoism," Feldman discusses three other arguments arguments against EEh (what he calls E
1): one due to G.E. Moore, one due to Kurt Baier, and the last called the Promulgation Argument.  Explain just one of these arguments in detail.  Be sure to make clear what the conclusion of the argument is.  Be sure to explain how that conclusion is argued for.  What does Feldman think of the argument?  If he thinks it is unsound, which premise or premises does he disagree with?  What do you think of the argument -- do you think it is sound or unsound?
    (e) Present and explain Feldman's "Refutation of Egoism."  Do you think this argument is sound?