Phil 1200 - What We Did Each Day

Past days are in bold text -- this indicates what we actually did.

Future days are in grey text -- these plans are tentative.


Topics Covered

Reading Assigned
(readings always due by next class meeting)

Important Announcements Made, Handouts Handed Out, Other Notes

Tu 8/26
  • Syllabus
  • Role
  • Marquis, "Why Abortion Is Immoral," pp. 68-76.
Th 8/28
  • Marquis' Thesis
  • "prima facie wrong"
  • "seriously immoral"
  • "normal fetus"
  • Marquis' Account of the Wrongness of Killing: the Future-Like-Ours Account
  • Four Attractive Implications of this Account
  • A Fifth Implication
  • Marquis's Argument formally stated.
  • First Objection to Marquis: the Desire Account of the Wrongness of Death
  • Problems for the Desire Account
  • Boonin and Oddie, section 4.3 from their Introduction, pp. 17-20.
  • Paske, "Abortion and the Neo-Natal Right to Life," pp. 77-83.


Tu 9/2
  • Second Objection to Marquis: the Personhood or Discontinuation Account of the Wrongness of Death
  • Three Senses of 'Person': persons in the biological sense, persons in the psychological sense, persons in the moral sense
  • Paske's Reasons for Preferring the Personhood Account to the FLO Account: (a) gericide; (b) cat-person serum
  • What Marquis Might Say to These Objections
  • Paske's Personhood Account of the Wrongness of Killing
  • Problems for this Account
  • Third Objection to Marquis: The Contraception/Failure to Conceive Objection (presented through the Case of Dick and Jane)
  • Why This Objection Fails (Two Ways To Understand Marquis Thesis)
  • Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," pp. 95-105.
  • Had Pop Quiz #1
Th 9/4
  • A Standard Anti-Abortion Argument
  • The Rationale Behind P2: th e Idea of a "Clash of Rights" between the right to life and the right to decide what happens to your body; why the former right seems more stringent than the latter
  • Ways to try to establish P1:
    (i) Marquis' Future-Like-Ours approach
    (ii) The idea that there is no sharp line (or no non-arbitrary point) at which the right to life is acquired.
  • Objection to (ii) above: birth, being connected to the mother, viability
  • Responses to these Objections
  • The standard way this argument has been debated
  • Thomson's Bold Move
  • The Case of the Famous Violinist
  • How the Case of the Famous Violinist Makes Trouble for the Standard Anti-Abortion Argument
  • A Dual Role for Thomson's Violinist: (1) to refute the Standard Anti-Abortion Argument; (2) to provide the basis for Thomson's Positive Argument For the Permissibility of Abortion
  • Boonin and Oddie, section 4.1 from their Introduction, pp. 10-13.
  • Beckwith, "Arguments from Bodily Rights," pp. 108-114 (pay special attention to the first, third, and fourth objections)
Tu 9/9
  • Thomson's Positive Argument
  • Two Main Ways to Object to Arguments by Analogy
  • Two Things One Needs to Establish to Object to P2 of Thomson's Argument: (i) a difference between that cases that is (ii) morally relevant
  • Some Potentially Morally Relevant Differences Between the Violinist Case and a Case of Unwanted Pregnancy:
    (i) the woman is at a greater risk of physical harm from being pregnant that you are from being attached to the violinist;
    (ii) the woman is in the predicament she is in as a result of a voluntary act on her part, but you (who are attached to the violinist) are not in the predicament you are in as a result of a voluntary act on your part;
    (iii) being pregnant is a natural state of affairs while being attached to a violinist is not
    (iv) the fetus is the woman's son or daughter, but the violinist is a stranger to you.
  • Had a Pop Quiz Today
  • Did a group exercise: groups came up with potentially morally relevant differences between the violinist case and a case of unwanted pregnancy; as a class, we explored whether we thought they really were morally relevant differences.
  • Both readings for Tuesday are available as pdf's on the website.
  • Remember: no class Thursday.
Th 9/11
Tu 9/16
  • 3 cases:
    (i) Teens sentenced for cooking puppy in oven;
    (ii) Dogfighting Charges Filed Against Michael Vick;
    (iii) Norcross' Case of Fred
  • Norcross' Argument by Analogy
  • Why P2 of Norcross' Argument by Analogy Seems Initially Plausible
  • Objections to P2 (i.e., potentially morally relevant differences between Fred's behavior and eating factory-raised meat):
    1. Fred keeps the same puppies alive but factory farms put animals out of their misery;
    2. Fred directly causes the suffering of his puppies but meat-eaters don't directly cause the suffering of cows, pigs, chickens, etc.
    3. The Causal Impotence Objection: if Fred quits eating chocolate, this will lessen suffering, but if you quit eating meat, this will have literally no effect on the suffering of any animals; Norcross' replies to this: (a) you might be the one at the threshold; (b) your quitting eating meat will cause the threshold to be reached sooner; (c) the case of chocolate mousse à la Bama
    4. We've always eaten meat and this is natural for us to do; this isn't true of what Fred does.
  • Had POP QUIZ #3
  • Exam #1 will be on Thursday, October 2. The Tuesday before that will be a review session.
  • We are switching Affirmative Action to Week 8 (10/14-10/16).
Th 9/18
  • The Concept of Moral Status
  • Theories of Moral Status
  • Speciesism
  • Counterexamples to Speciesism
  • Rationalism
  • What Cohen would mean by 'rational'
  • Problems for Rationalism: the problem of marginal cases
  • Speciesist Rationalism
  • Problems for Speciesist Rationalism
  • A Possible Lesson from Marginal Cases?: It's Wrong to Do to Mammals What It Would Be Wrong to Do To Marginal Humans
  • Sentience
  • LaFollette, "Licensing Parents," pp. 340-347.
Tu 9/23
  • LaFollette's Thesis
  • Two Ways LaFollette's Thesis Could be True: "In Theory" and "In Practice"
  • LaFollette Argument, an Argument from Inference to the Best Explanation
  • The Uncontroversial Views/Judgments LaFollette Wants to Explain
  • LaFollette's Account of Them (also P1 of his argument)
  • Rationale for P1
  • Why LaFollette's Account of Licensing Applies to Parenting (P2)
  • Some Practical Objections to LaFollette's Thesis:
    (i) Too hard to enforce -- i.e., to prevent people w/o licenses from getting pregnant.
    Reply: could have penalties for this; could still require a license to keep child.
    (ii) Too hard to tell who would be a good parent.
    Reply: but maybe not too hard to tell who would probably be a really awful parent (and just preventing these people from becoming parents would be an improvement over current system)
  • Some Theoretical Objections to LaFollette's Thesis:
    (i) his system would punish people for things they haven't done, which is unfair.
    Reply: The only sense in which LaFollette's system does this is the sense in which all licensing systems do this, but we think many licensing systems are justified
    (ii) Parenting is too important to us, too central to many people's well-being for the state to deny it to some people
    Reply: We already deny parenting to some people who want to adopt, and this is justified.
    (iii) LaFollette's account of licensing would have us license too much (e.g., skiing, cooking, bike-riding)
    Reply: it wouldn't, since these activities are far less dangerous than the activities his account implies should be licensed
  • Frisch, "On Licentious Licensing," pp. 348-352.
  • Lemieux, "Parent Licensing," pp. 352-354.
  • Exam Week next week:
  • Tu 9/30: Review Day
  • Th 10/2: Exam #1
  • Draft of Study Guide Is Up
Th 9/25
  • An Argument by Analogy Inspired by LaFollette
  • Group Discussions of this Argument
  • Objections by Groups to P2 of the Argument by Analogy:
    (i) in adoption, the child belongs to someone else, but in having a child biologically, it's is your child ;
    (ii) there is a right to have children biological, but no right to adopting a child;
    (iii) a person can become a biological parent accidentally (and so it might be unfair to require a license to do it), but one can't
    become an adoptive parent biologically.
  • LaFollette's Response to the Idea that Our Children Are Our Property (i.e., to (i) above);
  • Why This Response Is Implausible
  • A Better Response
  • Objections by Groups to P1 of the Argument by Analogy:
    (i) just as the golden retriever didn't need prior approval to care for the tiger cubs, neither do we to care for children we didn't give birth to.
  • How the rights-based objection ((ii) above) connects up with LaFollette's Main Argument (from before): it suggests we add a fourth condition to LaFollette account of licensing
  • An Independent Justification for this Four-Condition Account: the (putative) right to own a gun
  • What This Four-Condition Account Implies, If There Is a Right to Be Biological Parent
  • LaFollette's Reply to the Putative RIght to Be a Biological Parent
  • Had POP QUIZ #4
  • Got into groups to discuss the Argument by Analogy Inspired by LaFollette
  • Exam #1 in one week
  • Do a lot of prep before Review Day, which is Tuesday
Tu 9/30
  • Review for Exam #1
Th 10/2
  • Had Exam #1
  • Ericsson, "Charges Against Prostitution," pp. 258-268.
Tu 10/7
  • Returned Bluebooks
  • Discussed the Grading of Exam #1
  • Went Over Exam #1
  • Played Taboo (Philosophy Game) as a Class
  • Some Potential Examples of Harmless Wrongs (aka "intrinsic wrongs"): Some Promise-Breakings, Some Acts of Disrespect
  • Might Incest Be Intrinsically Wrong?
  • Shrage, "Should Feminists Oppose Prostitution?" pp. 272-274.


Th 10/9
  • Got into groups, and discussed an Argument from Analogy that Prostitution is Morally Permissible
  • Some of the Potentially Morally Relevant Differences Between Paying for Sex and Paying for a Massage Were Discussed:
    (i) Massage therapists are trained and certified, prostitutes are not.
    people pay for massages for therapeutic reasons, but people pay for sex just for pleasure
    (iii) having sex with someone for money violates that person, while getting a massage from someone for money does not.
    (iv) paying for sex involves sex, but paying for a massage does not
    (v) having sex for money is risky, while giving a massage for money is not.
  • Then as a class we discussed these allegedly morally relevant differences
  • Some were judged to be not morally relevant
  • Others were judged to be question-begging
  • Had POP Quiz #5
Tu 10/14
  • Guest Lecturer: David Boonin on Affirmative Action
Th 10/16
  • Guest Lecturer: David Boonin on Affirmative Action
  • Haslett, "Is Inheritance Justified," pp. 697-714.
Tu 10/21
  • Talked for a little while about term papers for the course
  • Reviewed Affirmative Action Material
  • Discussed Three Reasons AA might be wrong:
    (1) it discriminates against people applying for jobs or admissions to school on bases other than their qualifications for the job or for admission to school;
    (2) it discriminates against such people on the basis of race;
    (3) it discriminates against such people on the basis of race when race isn't a qualification
  • Discussed One Reason AA Might Be Obligatory:
    (1) it corrects for pre-existing biases against minority applicants
  • Discussed Potential Problems for All of These Arguments
  • Exam #2 will be next Thursday
Th 10/23
  • Why, Intuitively, Property Rights Entail Inheritance Rights
  • Haslett's General Strategy
  • Some Facts About Economic Inequality in the US
  • Why Income Inequality May Not Disturb Capitalists
  • A Key Claim of Haslett: Wealth Inequality Due In Large Part to Inheritance
  • Two Main Features of Capitalism
  • First Ideal of Capitalism: Distribution According to Productivity
  • Contrast with Corresponding Socialist Ideal
  • Why Inheritance Seems to Violate Distribution According to Productivity
  • Second Ideal of Capitalism: Equal Opportunity
  • NOT Equality of Outcome (and why)
  • Why Inheritance Seems to Violate Equal Opportunity
  • Haslett's Analogy of Running a Race
  • Questions about this Analogy
  • Third Ideal of Capitalism: Freedom
  • Freedom in the Broad Sense
  • Why This Ideal Supports Abolishing Rather then Keeping Inheritance: Adding Up Freedoms; the Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth
  • (no new reading; Review Day Tuesday)
  • Had Pop Quiz #6
Tu 10/28
  • Review Session
Th 10/30
  • Exam #2
  • Singer, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality," pp. 537-544.
Tu 11/4
  • Returned and Went Over Exam #2
  • Some Facts about World Poverty
  • Singer's Main Argument
  • Premise 1: the axiological premise
  • Premise 2: The Strong Version of Singer's Principle
  • The Justification of Premise 2: Inference to the Best Explanation from the Case of the Shallow Pond
  • Premise 3
  • Unger's Statistics: $200 to save a life
  • The Radicalness of the Conclusion of Singer's Argument
  • Arthur, "World Hunger and Moral Obligation," 544-547.
  • Slote, "Famine, Affluence, and Empathy," pp. 548-556.
Th 11/6
  • The Strong Version of Singer's Principle vs. the Moderate Version of Singer's Principle
  • Arthur's Counterexample to the Strong Version of Singer's Principle
  • Does This Counterexample Apply to the Moderate Version of Singer's Principle?
  • An Argument Requiring No Principle: A Singerian Argument by Analogy
  • Potentially Morally Relevant Differences Between the Shallow Pond case and Failing to Give More to Famine Relief:
    (i) Proximity; What is Really Behind Proximity: Ability;
    (ii) Repeatability;
    (iii) Certainty;
    (iv) Number of Others Who Can Help
    How a Person with Normal Empathy Would Respond (Slote)
  • Chadwick, "The Market for Bodily Parts: Kant and Duties to Oneself," pp. 492-499.
  • Tadd, "The Market for Bodily Parts," pp. 500-506.
Tu 11/11
  • Kant's Formula of Humanity
  • Examples that Illustrate Kant's Formula of Humanity
  • Some Trolley Cases: Trolley, Bridge, Trap Door, Loop
  • A Kantian Argument Against Selling Body Parts
  • Problems for the Kantian Argument: Organ Donation (Tadd's Point)
  • Chadwick's Main (?) Argument Against Organ Selling
  • How Our Rejection of The Kantian Argument Suggests a Rejection of Chadwick's Argument
Th 11/13
  • Nelson's Quest
  • Three Principle that Might Work: (8) Desert, and (3) Degradation
  • Nelson's Argument against (8).
  • How Consent Can Turn an Act that Would be Treating a Person as a Mere Means Into One that Isn't
  • Consent and the Bridge example
  • How Coercion Can Make Genuine Consent Impossible: the Sly Rapist
  • Another example: the Coercive Kidney Buyer
  • How This Casts Doubt on "Tadd's Point" (and Thereby Supports the Original Kantian Argument Against Organ Selling)
  • Might it be that anyone (or most anyone) who is prepared to sell an organ is in such dire straits as to be unable to give genuine consent?
  • Kass, "Preventing a Brave New World," pp. 682-685.
  • Elliott, "Uniqueness, Individuality, and Human Cloning," pp. 686-687.
  • Had Pop Quiz #8
  • The document on the Term Paper is now up. Start on your term paper now. Aim to turn it in early.
Tu 11/18
  • What is cloning?
  • Reproductive Cloning vs. Therapeutic Cloning
  • Possible Reasons To Be Against Cloning (given by students):
    (i) Would be physically harmful to clone (short lifespans, prone to organ failure, physical deformities)
    (ii) Would be psychologically harmful to clone (e.g., self-esteem issues resulting from being the copy of someone)
    (iii) Being a copy of another person is an affront to human dignity
    (iv) Would lead to less diverse gene pool (which can be bad for a species)
    (v) Would be used for questionable purposes (to makes slaves, experimental subjects, super-soldiers)
    (vi) It's playing God
  • The Playing God Principle (PGP): it's wrong to play God.
  • What PGP has been used to oppose: cloning, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, abortion, sex selection of children, pre-implantation genetic screening.
  • Group exercise:
    (i) come up with an interpretation of 'playing God' (in the form: to play God is to ______ );
    (ii) Does the principle you get with you plug this into PG
    P rule out the practices advocates of the PGP want it to rule out?
    Is the principle you get with you plug this into PGP a plausible principle?
  • Hershenov, "An Argument for Limited Human Cloning," pp. 688-691.
Th 11/20
  • 8 Objections to Cloning
  • Reply to Gene Pool Objection
  • Reply to Questionable Purposes Objection
  • The Argument from Harm against Cloning
  • Two Kinds of Harm a Clone Might Suffer: Physical and Psychological
  • A Principle of Non-Maleficence
  • An Account of Harm
  • Objections to the Argument from Harm: How It Could Be that Cloning Might Have the Effects Cited In Support of P1, But It Still Be True That Cloning Doesn't Harm the Clone (Since Being a Clone is Better Than Non-Existence)




Tu 12/2
  • Review Day for Exam #3


Th 12/4
  • Exam #3


  •  Papers due Tuesday!


Tu 12/9
  • Term Papers Due
  • FCQ's
  • Return Exam #3
Th 12/11
  • Review Day for Take-Over Exam
Sa 12/13  Take-Over Exam: Saturday, Dec 13, 2008, 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM


PHIL 1200 Home