Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory

Topics for First Paper


See syllabus for length requirements and due dates of papers. Read paper guidelines before reading this. As these guidelines say, you don't need to do a pre-assigned topic. In fact, it's great if you have your own idea. But if you don't have your own idea, you may write a topic addressing one of the following. If you do one of these pre-assigned topic, make sure to indicate the letter of this topic at the very top of your paper, right under your name.

  1. Huemer's definition of subjectivity includes the notion of constitutive dependence. In your own words, what does this mean? Distinguish it from causal dependence. Give examples of each. If the definition didn't include the word 'constitutively', how would it be defective. Throughout your paper, use your own words and your own examples.
  2. Explain why Ayer rejects what he calls "naturalistic" theories, and explain why he rejects what he calls "absolutism" in ethics (doing so will require explaining what these theories are). Do you disagree with either of Ayer's views here? Explain.
  3. Explain Moore's No-Disagreement Argument against subjectivism. Then explain Ayer's response to this argument, understood as an argument against Ayer's own theory. Who is right, Moore or Ayer?
  4. State a version of cultural relativism and then explain the arbitrariness problem as applied to this theory (in class we discussed the arbitrariness problem in the context of the Divine Command Theory). Do you think this is a real problem for the theory? Explain.
  5. First, explain the Divine Command Theory (DCT). One objection to this view says that it implies that if God were to command us, for no particular reason, to torture and murder our children, then such actions would be morally right. Defenders of the DCT sometimes reply by saying that God would never command such things? Does this reply effectively answer the original objection? If so, explain why it does. If not, explain why it does not.
  6. Explain the Ideal Observer Theory and one of Huemer's objections to it. Then evaluate that objection.
  7. Explain the difference between Reductionism and Naturalism (be sure to explain what a "natural" property is). Does Naturalism entail Reductionism? If so, explain why. If not, then characterize Non-Reductive Naturalism.