Homework #3 (due Wednesday, March 27th)

- Read the article by Sterling Harwood, "Eleven Objections to Utilitarianism," (pp. 179-192 in Pojman).
- Pick one of the eleven objection he discusses.
- Write a short paper (type-written, double-spaced, stapled together) in which you:

1. Clearly identify, by number, which one of the eleven objections you have chosen.

2. Explain the objection, making sure to explain exactly how it is supposed to show that AUh is false.  (The best way to do this would be to put the argument in a line-by-line format, like this:

1. If AUh is true, then ______________.
2. But it's not the case that _____________.
3. Therefore, AUh is not true.

And then give the rationales for each premise.  But you're not required to present the objection as a line-by-line argument, if you prefer not to.)

3. Explain what Harwood thinks of the argument, and why he thinks this about it.  (Hardwood thinks some of the arguments he discusses are pretty good; others he thinks aren't very good.)

4. Evaluate the argument yourself.  Do you think it decisively refutes AUh?  If not, which premise of the argument do you think is weak, and why?

On Monday the 25th, we'll have a question & answer session about this assignment.  So start it before then.  Be sure to have thought about the objection you plan to discuss before then.  Have a draft of your paper ready by then.  If you don't begin before Monday the 25th, you won't have any questions to ask.

Some tips for this assignment:

* Be sure to do all four of the things asked above -- no more, no less.  If I were you, I would divide my paper up into four numbered sections, to make it absolutely clear what part of your paper addresses what part of the assignment.

* Use Feldman's text as a model.  The sort of writing done in the Feldman book is exactly the sort of writing we're looking for in philosophy -- extremely clear, precise, simple, literal.  Look, for instance, at Feldman's discussion of the "Too High for Humanity" objection (pp. 36-38).  Feldman's discussion is beautifully organized.  He begins by explaining the "basic idea" behind the objection:

"These objectors seem to be claiming that utilitarianism requires that we always act from a certain kind of motive ... a desire to 'promote the general interests of society' ... " (p. 36).

He tries to make the objection sound persuasive:

"But it appears that only rarely do we act with such a lofty motive ... " (p. 36).

Then he makes the objection more clear and precise, by putting it in line-by-line format.  Then he presents very clearly Mill's reply to this argument, being sure to state explicitly which premise Mill would reject.  Use Feldman's style as a model for your own.

* Note to those who choose Objection #5 in the Harwood piece: you should know that AUh is form of "total utilitarianism," not "average utilitarianism."  Therefore, you need to discuss only Harwood's objection to total utilitarianism.  Treat it as an objection against AUh.

* You might want to avoid choosing Objection #6, since it's an objection to a very different version of utilitarianism, called "rule utilitarianism" (Feldman devotes Ch. 5 of his book to rule utilitarianism.)  But if you're feeling ambitous, and feel you can also explain rule utilitarianism along with the objection, go for it!

* Start early.  Have a draft ready by class on Monday the 25th.  Ask questions on that day about the objection you chose.




Homework #2 (due Monday, Feb. 11)

Write a short paper in which you:

(i) Identify and explain the way in which Common Cultural Relativism is incoherent
(ii) Suggest how CCR can be modified to be made coherent
(iii) Discuss your reaction to this new view. Do you find plausible the idea that morality is based on what society thinks? Why or why not?

Answer to HW#2



Homework #1

Write a short paper in which you defend your view on some ethical issue. Be sure to make it absolutely clear what your view is. Then go on to say why you think it is true.