Philosophy 1200 - Philosophy and Society (honors)
Study Guide for Exam #1
Exam #1 is an in-class exam. Check the syllabus for the date. Bring a bluebook. Also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink -- no red ink, no pencil. Like all our exams, Exam #1 will be a closed-note and closed-book exam.
What You're Responsible For. The questions will be short-answer-type questions. The study questions below will give you an idea of the sort of questions you can expect. You are responsible for the following topics:
- the material on arguments (from the best explanation, from analogy)
- Marquis on abortion
- Thomson on abortion
- the treatment of animals
- world poverty
You are responsible for the related readings from our Readings page.
How to Prepare:
- Re-read the readings.
- Review what we did each day.
- Study your notes from class. For any days you missed, be sure to get the notes from one of your class mates. It is very hard to do well on my exams if you have missed material that was presented in class.
- Write out answers to each of the study questions below.
- Come prepared with questions on Review Day, which will be the class meeting before the exam.
- Come see me in office hours, or make an appointment to see me at some other time, or email me to clear up any lingering confusions.
Let me emphasize the importance of actually writing out answers to these questions. We often think we understand something -- until we try to put it in writing. Only then do we realize we don't really understand it. If you don't write out your answers, you won't know what you don't know.
- Present and explain Marquis' main argument. This will require identifying his main thesis, explaining what is meant by "prima facie," identifying his theory of the wrongness of killing, and explaining how that works (including explaining what is meant by "future like ours").
- Many anti-abortion arguments appeal to a theory of the wrongness of killing different from Marquis' -- namely that killing is wrong when the individual killed is human (i.e., a member of Homo sapiens). Explain why this theory seems unsatisfactory.
- (a) What is the desire account of the wrongness of killing? Illustrate it with an example.
(b) What does it imply about abortion?
(c) Explain one of Marquis' objections to the desire account of the wrongness of killing.
- (a) What is Paske's personhood account account of the wrongness of killing? Be sure to explain what is meant by 'person' (you can use our definition from class, if you like). Illustrate it with an example.
(b) What does Paske's personhood account account of the wrongness of killing imply about abortion, and why?
- (a) Explain Paske's reason for preferring his personhood account over Marquis' future-like-ours account that has to do with gericide? What do you think of this objection to Marquis' account? (Gericide is the killing of an elderly person.)
(b) Explain Paske's reason for preferring his personhood account over Marquis' future-like-ours account that has to do with the cat-person case. This will require explaining that case in detail. What do you think of this objection to Marquis' account?
(c) Imagine someone in a temporary coma. Presumably, it would be wrong to kill such an individual. Do you think Paske's personhood account can explain this? Explain your answer. Do you think Marquis' future-like-ours account can explain this? Explain your answer.
- Suppose a couple decides not to conceive a child. In doing so, they make it so that one fewer person with a future-like-ours exists. Does Marquis' account therefore imply that what they do is wrong? Explain.
- (a) Explain the question of personal identity over time.
(b) Explain the two answers to the question that we discussed in class (the biological theory and the psychological theory). Illustrate how they disagree by describing a case (not having to do with abortion) over which they disagree.
(c) Explain what each of these theories implies about Marquis' argument against abortion.
- (a) Explain in your own words the anti-abortion argument Thomson discusses at the beginning of her paper (this is the one we called in class the "standard anti-abortion argument"). Be sure your explanation includes the idea of a "clash of rights."
(b) Explain why someone might think that the right to life is a more stringent right than the right to decide what happens in and to your body.
(c) One way to support one of premises in the "standard anti-abortion argument" is by appeal to the idea that there is no sharp line (or no non-arbitrary point) at which the right to life is acquired. Explain how Thomson would undermine this appeal.
(d) Present a view about when the right to life is acquired that you think is clearly false, and explain why it is false.
(e) Explain Thomson's case of the violinist and how this is supposed to undermine the "standard anti-abortion argument."
- Present, in line-by-line format, the argument by analogy that Thomson would give for the conclusion that it's morally permissible for a woman to have an abortion.
- According to one objection to Thomson's positive argument, the case of the violinist and a normal case of unwanted pregnancy fail to be morally on a par because, in having sexual intercourse, a woman tacitly consents to letting a fetus that might come into being use her body for life support.
(a) Explain, by means of an example, how tacit consent can in general generate obligations.
(b) Do you think that a woman who has sex voluntarily, knowing that there is some chance that pregnancy will result, does in fact tacitly consent to letting a fetus that might come into being use her body for life support? Explain.
(c) Even if a woman does tacitly consent in this way, do you think this generates an obligation on her part to let the fetus use her body? Explain.
- The responsibility objection to Thomson's position on abortion contends that the case of the violinist and a standard case of unwanted pregnancy are not morally on a par.
(a) What exactly is the difference between these two cases that the responsibility objection claims is morally relevant?
(b) Introduce a case (e.g., the Jogger case we discussed in class) that supports this objection, and explain how it supports it.
(c) In class, we discussed a case ("Doctor") designed to help Thomson reply to the responsibility objection. Explain the case, and how it is supposed to help Thomson.
- Beckwith discusses a case in which a man takes all reasonable precautions to avoid becoming a father, but nevertheless does become a father. What does he think this shows about Thomson's position on abortion, and why?
- (a) Present, in line-by-line format, Norcross' Argument by Analogy.
(b) Give the rationale for each premise. Doing so will require, among other things, explaining the details of the case of Fred, and explaining why Norcross thinks buying and consuming factory-raised meat is analogous to the case of Fred.
- According to one objection to Norcross' Argument, purchasing and consuming factory-raised meat is not morally on a par with Fred's behavior because, in the case of Fred, the puppies need to suffer in order for the cocoamone to be produced, but in the case of factory-farms, the animals don't need to suffer in order to produce the meat (their suffering is a mere side-effect of the production process). Describe a variant of the Fred case that suggests that this difference is in fact NOT morally relevant, and explain exactly why it suggests this.
- According to another objection to Norcross' Argument, purchasing and consuming factory-raised meat is not morally on a par with Fred's behavior because raising animals for food is a very natural and long-standing human practice, but torturing puppies for cocoamone is not. Evaluate this objection (i.e., tell me whether you think it is good; if you think it is good, explain why, and if you think it is no good, explain why it fails).
- (a) What is the causal impotence objection to Norcross' Argument?
(b) Describe in detail what you take the be Norcross' strongest response to the causal impotence objection.
(c) Evaluate that response.
- (a) What is the concept of moral status? That is, what is it for a thing to have moral status. (I'm not here asking you to tell me what you think the correct theory of moral status is, rather I'm asking you to identify the notion that such a theory is about.)
(b) Give an example of something that uncontroversially has full moral status, and an example of something that pretty clearly has no moral status.
(c) State Speciesism (as a theory of moral status), and give a counterexample to it (this requires not only explaining the example, but also explaining why it is a problem for Speciesism).
(d) State Kantian Rationalism, and explain what the term 'rational' means in it.
(e) Explain the "problem of marginal cases" for Kantian Rationalism. Do you think this really is a problem of Kantian Rationalism? Explain.
(f) State and explain the theory we called Rationalist Speciesism.
(g) For each of the previous two objections (that you presented against the previous two theories of moral status), explain why Rationalist Speciesism avoids it.
(h) Explain and evaluate an objection to Rationalist Speciesism.