PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Fall 2015
Prof. Chris Heathwood

T.A. Bodhi Melnitzer
University of Colorado Boulder

Study Guide for Final Exam

The final exam will come in two parts and will take place over two class periods.  Part 1 will consist of very-short-answer questions (multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank questions, and the like).  Part 2 will consist of short-answer questions (questions that can usually be answered in a sentence to a paragraph).  Those will be similar to the sorts of questions below.  Both parts are in-class, closed-note, and closed-reading exams.  For Part 2, you will need to bring a bluebook.

Part 1 will take place in class during the last week of classes.  Part 2 will take place during our allotted Final Exam period.  See syllabus for specifics.

For both parts of the final exam, you are responsible for all the topics and all of the readings that we have done since the midterm.  See syllabus for specifics.

Being responsible for the readings includes being responsible for the Reading Questions.  Some reading questions might even appear on the exam.  Though they wouldn't be the more obscure ones.

You are also responsible for everything we did in lecture, including what we talked about and what was on the slides and the chalkboard.  The slides are available on the course schedule on the syllabus.

To prepare for the exam, re-read any readings that you found challenging, re-take the reading quizzes, study your notes, study the lecture slides, and, most importantly, write out your answers to the questions below, as if it were the exam.  Do this before the review sessions, so that you will know what questions you need to ask.

In some questions below, I ask you to "Present, Explain, and Evaluate" some argument.  I am asking for something very specific.  To know what that is, see this document: Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating Arguments.

Study Questions

Rossian Pluralism

  1. Define 'prima facie duty'.  Illustrate the idea by means of an example.
  2. Present Ross's list of seven basic prima facie duties.  For each duty, say in a sentence what the duty is.
  3. State Rossian Pluralism (RP).  Explain the basic idea of the theory in your own words.  Illustrate the theory by applying it to an example (such as the promise/accident example or an example of your own devising).
  4. Consider this case: "Suppose that the fulfilment of a promise to A would produce 1,000 units of good for him, but that by doing some other act I could produce 1,001 units of good for B, to whom I have made no promise, the other consequences of the two acts being of equal value" (Ross, p. 34). 
    (a) What does Rossian Pluralism imply that the agent in this case should do -- keep the promise to A or break it so as to produce more total benefit? 
    (b) Why?  Thoroughly explain everything that is at issue in the agent's decision here.
  5. Consider this argument:
    P1. If we all successfully follow Rossian Pluralism, we'll be less happy as a whole than if we all successfully follow utilitarianism.
    P2. It would be irrational for us to follow a theory under which we would be less happy as a whole.
    C.  Therefore, it would be irrational for us to follow Rossian Pluralism.
    Give the rationale for P1. 

Slave Reparations

  1. What is "Robinson's Conclusion," as we formulated it in class?
  2. (a) What is the main moral principle that is at work in the Robinsonian Argument for Slave Reparations, as we formulated it in class?
    (b) What moral principle that we had earlier studied in our course does this principle most resemble?
  3. What is the second premise in the Robinsonian Argument for Slave Reparations, as we formulated it in class?
  4. The rationale that we gave in class for that second premise involved three steps.  Lay out each of these steps?
  5. Two of those steps are supported by recounting historical evidence.  For each of these two steps, give one example from history that supports it.
  6. Describe the analogy that we presented in class that is supposed to help explain how Robinson's view could be true.


  1. Present, in line-by-line format, Norcross' Argument for Vegetarianism.  (No need to give rationales for the premises.)
  2. According to one objection to Norcross' Argument, purchasing and consuming factory-raised meat is not morally on a par with Fred's behavior because whereas Fred directly harms his puppies, purchasers of factory-raised meat do not directly harm the farm animals.  Describe a variant of the Fred case that suggests that this objection fails, and explain why it suggests this.
  3. According to another objection to Norcross' Argument, purchasing and consuming factory-raised meat is not morally on a par with Fred's behavior because whereas Fred doesn't need to eat chocolate to be healthy, we need to eat meat in order to be healthy.  We presented a reply to this objection in class.  What was it?
  4. In a popular comment, a New York Times reader writes, "The bottom line is this: People have been consuming animals since people have existed."  There is an argument for the permissibility of eating meat lurking here.  Extract, Explain, and Evaluate that argument.  (Extracting, Explaining, and Evaluating is just like Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating an argument except that you yourself need to come up with the line-by-line statement of the argument for the first step.)

Marquis on Abortion

  1. Present and explain Marquis' main argument.  This will require identifying his main thesis, identifying his theory of the wrongness of killing, and explaining how that works (including explaining what is meant by the main technical term in it).
  2. Why, according to Marquis' theory of the wrongness of killing, would it be wrong for me to kill you?
  3. (a) Explain the "Failure to Conceive" Objection to Marquis' argument against abortion.
    (b) Explain why it fails.
  4. What is Paske's personhood account of the wrongness of killing?  Be sure to explain what is meant by 'person' (you can use our definition from class), and to give helpful examples of persons and non-persons.
  5. Why, according to Paske's theory of the wrongness of killing, would it be wrong for me to kill you?
  6. What does Paske's personhood account of the wrongness of killing imply about abortion, and why?
  7. Present, Explain, and Evaluate Paske's "Cat Person" Argument Against Marquis' FLO Theory.

Thomson on Abortion

  1. (a) Present and Explain the Standard Anti-Abortion Argument as we formulated it in lecture.
    (b) Which premise of this argument do most defenders of abortion try to attack?
    (c) Which premise does Thomson call into question?
    (d) How does she call it into question?
  2. Present Thomson’s Positive Argument for the permissibility of abortion.
  3. (a) According to the Responsibility Objection to Thomson’s Positive Argument, what is the morally relevant difference between a typical unwanted pregnancy and Famous Violinist that is supposed to undermine P2 of Thomson’s Positive Argument.
    (b) Present a case that suggests that this difference is indeed a morally relevant difference.
    (c) Evaluate this objection to Thomson’s argument.

The Meaning of Life

  1. Taylor believes that there are two main ways in which a life can be meaningful. 
    (a) What are they?  Describe each one.
    (b) For each of these ways, which version of Sisyphus had a meaningful life in that way?
    (c) Of these two ways, which, if any, does he think is a way in which our own lives can be meaningful?  Both?  Neither?  Just one?  Explain.
  2. What is it for a life to be meaningful according to Wolf?
  3. Explain one of the reasons that Wolf accepts this view of meaning as opposed to a purely subjective view of meaning.