Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory

Study Guide for Exam #2


Exam #2 will take place on Thursday, October 28th in class. Bring a bluebook. Also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink -- no red ink, no pencil. Exam #2 will be a closed-note and closed-book exam.

You are responsible for all the material we've covered since Exam #1. This includes both the lectures and the readings.

How to Prepare:

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.

Study Questions

Below when I ask you to "evaluate" some argument, I am asking you for your own opinion about it. If you think the argument is unsound, you need to identify which premise is false and explain why you think it is false.

  1. (a) What is the fundamental project of the normative ethics of behavior?
    (b) State a sample theory in the normative ethics of behavior.
    (c) Refute this theory.
  2. (a) State a defective formulation of act utilitarianism.
    (b) Explain why it is defective.
  3. (a) State AU. Be sure to define 'hedonic utility', 'maximizes', 'hedon', and 'dolor'.
    (b) Does act utilitarianism imply that it is always right to calculate utilities before we act. If so, explain why. If not, explain why not by giving a counterexample (to the claim that it is always right to do this accordin gto AU).
  4. (a) Explain the organ harvest objection to AU. Doing so will require telling the story behind the objection, and presenting the relevant line-by-line argument. Also give the rationale for P1 of the argument.
    (b) What is wrong with the following rationale for P2 of this argument?: "P2 is true because if the doctor were to kill her patient in order to save the five others, people would no longer trust their doctors. They would be afraid to go to hospitals and so would be dying in great numbers of easily preventable diseases. This would be disastrous."
    (c) Do you think the organ harvest objection is a good objection to AU? Explain your view.
  5. (a) Explain the difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Give plausible examples of each.
    (b) Explain the difference between value for some subject and value period. Give plausible examples of each.
    (c) Suppose you wanted to determine whether being alive is intrinsically good. How would you go about doing this? Illustrate how this works. What answer do you get?
  6. (a) State and explain Hedonism about Welfare.
    (b) Do Hedonists about Welfare believe that a life devoted to sensual pleasures (a life of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll") is the sort of life we all ought to live? Explain.
    (c) State and explain the Argument from Psychological Hedonism for Hedonism about welfare. Be sure to give the rationale for each premise.
    (d) Evaluate this argument.
  7. (a) Describe Nozick's experience machine.
    (b) Does Hedonism about welfare imply that we definitely ought to enter the experience machine? Explain.
    (c) State what you take to be the strongest version Nozick's argument against Hedonism about welfare based on the experience machine. Give the rationales for each premise.
    (d) Evaluate this argument.
  8. (a) State and explain the Desire-Fulfillment Theory of welfare (be sure to define 'desire satisfaction' and 'desire frustration')
    (b) Explain how the Desire-Fulfillment Theory avoids the experience machine objection.
    (c) What is the Objective List Theory of welfare, and how does it avoid the experience machine objection?
  9. (a) Explain Parfit's "stranger on the train" objection to the Desire Fulfillment theory.
    (b) Evaluate this objection.