Phil 3100 - What We Did Each Day


Week 1

Tu 8/24: First day stuff (introductions roll, syllabus).

Th 8/26: The three main areas of philosophy. The three main areas of ethics. The three main areas normative ethics. The three main kinds of question in metaethics. The objective/subjective (or stance-independent/stance-dependent) distinction. Examples of each category. Poll: is morality objective or subjective?; results: about 50/50. A Taxonomy of Metaethics. Realism v. Anti-Realism. Two (of the three) kinds of Anti-Realism: Subjectivism or Constructivism, and Nihilism.

Week 2

Tu 8/31: More Taxonomy of Metaethics. Review of Realism, Anti-Realism, Constructivism/Subjectivism, Nihilism. Explanation of (Objective) Naturalism, Intuitionism/Non-Naturalism (4). Stated Cognitivism; discussed moral statements, propositions, and asserting. Stated Non-Cognitivism. Introduced Empiricism. Explained Analytic/Synthetic distinction. Explained A Priori/Empirical Distinction. Stated and explained Empiricism. Discussed why it seems that Empiricism may have a hard time accounting for moral knowledge. Explain why if you're an Empiricist who is also a Non-Cognitivist, you can avoid this problem.

Th 9/2: Had Pop Quiz #1. In-Class Exercise: What is the difference between Subjectivism and Non-Cognitivism? The Embedding Problem for Non-Cognitivism and the related Frege-Geach Problem. The Rationales for each premise of the Frege-Geach Problem.

Week 3

Tu 9/7: Had Pop Quiz #2. Introduced subjectivism in metaethics. Shakespearean Subjectivism. The circularity and infinite regress problems with this view. Humean Subjectivism. The Argument from Motivation Internalism for Humean Subjectivism. In-class exercise: Moore's "No Disagreement" Argument against Humean Subjectivism.

Th 9/9: Divine Command Theory (DCT). DCT and Moral Knowledge. DCT and Moore's No-Disagreement Argument. DCT and Atheism. Plato's Euthyphro problem for DCT. Horn 1 of Socrates' Dilemma. What it means for God's commands to be "arbitrary." Why this is supposed to follow from Horn 1. Why this is bad. Discussion of what other forms of subjectivism the arbitrariness problem applies to. Brief discussion of the "God's goodness is cheap" problem. Horn 2 of Socrates' Dilemma. Why this is not an option for the Divine Command Theorist. Whether rejecting DCT should be acceptable to theists; whether it diminishes God, or threatens his omnipotence.

Week 4

Tu 9/14: Had Pop Quiz #3. Reductionism. Naturalism. Examples of Natural Properties. Our definition of 'natural property'. Reductionism in other areas. Advantages of Reductionism. Analytic vs. Synthetic Reductionism. How Analytic Reductionism accounts for moral knowledge.

Th 9/16: Presented two examples (one objective and one subjective) of Analytic Reductionism. Reviewed how moral knowledge works on Analytic Reductionism. Present Moore's Open Question Argument against Analytic Reductionism. Discussed the "begs the question" and the "proves too much" objections, and possible replies to these.

Week 5

Tu 9/21: Had Pop Quiz #4. Review of the dialectic so far. Intuitionism stated. Nihilism stated. What Intuitionism and Nihilism agree about, and why they disagree about. Ross' view of moral knowledge. The notion of epistemic justification. Examples of justified beliefs. Possible examples of unjustified beliefs. Two main ways a belief might be justified: inferentially, or on the basis of other beliefs; and non-inferentially, or not on the basis of other beliefs. Three possible examples of kinds of non-inferential beliefs: those based on perception, memory, and reason. Three possible ways to justify a moral belief. Non-inferentially justified (or "self-evident") moral beliefs. Ross passage.

Th 9/23: Potential Problems for Intuitionism Raised by Mackie: Queer Supervenience, Queer Motivation, Queer Normativity, Queer Knowing, and the Argument from Relativity (or the Argument from Disagreement). The Argument from Disagreement Stated. Rationales for each premise. Replies to premise 1: there is less disagreement that one might have thought, since (i) much apparently moral disagreement is just factual disagreement (or differences in conventions), and (ii) there's quite a lot we agree about (this shows that the percentage of beliefs over which we disagree may be smaller than we thought). How a Nihilist can explain widespread moral disagreement.

Week 6

Tu 9/28: REVIEW DAY. Prepare for Review Day by writing out answers to questions on the study guide.

Th 9/30: EXAM #1. Bring a bluebook and blue or black ink.

Week 7

Tu 10/5: Returned Exam #1 (statistics below). Returned to our Map of Moral Philosophy. Explained Normative Ethics, the Normative Ethics of Behavior, Axiology, Virtue/Vice Theory, the objects of evaluation for each, and the terms of evaluation for each. The Fundamental Project of the Normative Ethics of Behavior. Criteria of Rightness/Fully General Moral Principles/Moral Theories. The Fundamental Project of the Normative Ethics of Behavior, Statements of Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for an Act's Rightness, Fully General Moral Principles (vs. Not Fully General Principles), Theories of Rightness. Sample Theories: 10C (the Ten Commandments theory), GR (the Golden Rule). How to evaluate a moral theory: come up with a counterexample; or expose an internal consistency. Tips for counterexamples: the intuition your example requires should be strong, widely shared, and one that even an advocate of the theory would have. Some possible counterexamples to 10C and GR. J.S. Mill. Famous Mill passage. Exercise: state a theory of rightness based on the Mill passage.

Exam #1 Statistics:
Total Possible: 40
Mean: 31.9
Median: 33.0
High: 40
Low: 16
15 A's, 9 B's, 9 C's, 2 D's, 6 F's.

Th 10/7: Had Pop Quiz #5. Mill. Interpreting Mill's proposed criterion of rightness. Defective formulations of utilitarianism. Our official formulation: AU. Hedonic Utility. Hedons, dolors. Inclusive conceptions of pleasure and pain. Maximization. How AU handles the cases that made trouble for the defective formulations. The Lack-of-Time Objection to AU. Why this is a bad objection.

Week 8

Tu 10/12: Reviewed AU. Defined and explained Consequentialism. Discussed three other interesting features of AU: no absolute rules; no conflict between rules; the Principle of Equality. Discussed an epistemic objection to AU, and the reply involving drawing the distinction between an act's being wrong and an act's being blameworthy. Discussed the Organ Harvest Objection to AU. Laid out the case and the argument. Explained rationale for P1. Possible rationales for P2: (1) killing vs. letting; (2) the Hippocratic Oath; (3) the Sanctity of Life Principle; (4) implicit agreement; (5) erosion of trust in doctors. Why (5) is not a promising strategy for the defender of the Organ Harvest Objection to AU. How we can adjust the case to show that (1), (2), and (4) may not be the best explanation for P2.

Th 10/14: Had Pop Quiz #6. Axiology. Four different kinds of use of 'good' and 'bad'. Identified the two axiological uses: the impersonal value use and the welfare use. Distinguished Intrinsic Value from Instrumental Value. Discussed a test for discovering what is intrinsically good: the isolation method. Applied this to the question of whether life (i.e., being alive) is intrinsically good for a person. Stated Hedonism about Welfare. Discussed what Hedonism about Welfare is NOT. Discussed two initial objections: the objection from malicious pleasures, and the objection from base pleasures.

Week 9

Tu 10/19: The Argument from Psychological Hedonism for Hedonism about Welfare. The notion of intrinsic desire. The doctrine of Psychological Hedonism. How to get from Psychological Hedonism to Hedonism about welfare. The argument stated. Potential Problems for Psychological Hedonism (P1). Why it might be odd for a Hedonist about Welfare to endorse P2. Started the Experience Machine objection.

Th 10/21: Nozick's Experience Machine Objection to Hedonism about Welfare. Several attempts to formulate an argument against Hedonism about welfare based on this thought experiment. Three Main Kinds of Theory of Welfare: Hedonism, Desire-Fulfillment Theory, Objective List Theory. Cases that suggest the Desire-Fulfillment Theory over Hedonism: the rock climber, the monk. Definition of 'desire satisfaction' and 'desire frustration'. Statement of the Desire-Fulfillment Theory. How the Desire-Fulfillment Theory avoids the Experience Machine Objection. Problems for the Desire-Fulfillment: Parfit's Stranger on the Train.

Week 10


Th 10/28: EXAM #2 - UTILITARIANISM AND AXIOLOGY (bring a bluebook and blue or black ink)

Week 11

Tu 11/2: Returned bluebooks for Exam #2 (stats below). Introduced Kant. Introduced the intuitive idea of Kant's Categorical Imperative, by means of a tax cheat example and a voting example. Laid out Kant's Theory. Maxims. The form of maxims. The generalized form of maxims. Universal laws. Willing. Two ways to will inconsistently (contradiction in conception vs. contradiction in will). Universalizability. KCI. KCI applies to the voting example.

Exam #2 Statistics:
Total Possible: 40
Mean: 33.0
Median: 34.8
High: 40
Low: 9.5
19 A's, 7 B's, 10 C's, 4 D's, 2 F's.

Th 11/4: Had Pop Quiz #7. A recipe for determining whether an act is wrong according to KCI. Voting example (illustration of a wrong act on KCI involving a "contradiction of conception"). H1N1 Tax Example (illustration of a wrong act on KCI involving a "contradiction of will"). Three Possible Problems for KCI: (1) Clever agents could short-circuit KCI by choosing very specific maxims; (2) Innocent by Non-Universalizable Maxims; (3) Counterintuitive Subjectivism.

Week 12

Tu 11/9: Act Consequentialism. McNaughton and Rawling's definition of Deontology. The importance of the term 'fundamental' in this definition. Three common features of deontology: (1) Constraints, (2) Duties of Special Relationship, (3) Options. Examples of possible constraints. Distinction between absolute and moderate constraints (and absolute and moderate deontology). How Kant's Theory (KCI) fails to support Duties of Special Relationship. Options and the demandingness objection to Consequentialism. Some possible problems for deontology generally: (a) the idea that if we all follow it (rather than Consequentialism), we'll be worse off on the whole; (b) the Paradox of Deontology (illustrated via the case of Jim and the Indians); (c) the idea that in general it is rational for an impartial observer to hope that the best outcome occurs, so how can it be wrong for that observer to bring about the best outcome?

Th 11/11: Had Pop Quiz #8. Ross' theory of prima facie duties. The notion of a prima facie duty/prima facie rightness/prima facie wrongness. Ross' 7 basic duties. Ross' argument from promises (against utilitarianism for for the idea that promise-keeping is a basic duty). How a utilitarian might respond to this argument. How a utilitarian will try to accommodate considerations of justice. How a consequentialist might do it. The greater stringency of the duty of Non-Maleficence (as compared to Beneficence). The do/allow distinction. Ross' actual theory of rightness. Why this theory isn't complete (the way utilitarianism is). Sidgwick's ideas about the duty of Fidelity. How complicated this duty gets, and Sidgwick's two main points about it: doubtful self-evidence, utilitarian basis?

Week 13

Tu 11/16: Two Distinctions Common in Deontology. Intending as a means vs. intending as an end. The Doctrine of Double Effect (Foot's Formulation, Quinn's Formulation). Pairs of cases to illustrate the DDE: Magistrate vs. Driver (or Organ Harvest vs. Driver); Terror Bombing vs. Strategic Bombing. What DDE implies about these cases. Hart's Objection to the DDE (illustrated using Craniotomy vs. Hysterectomy). Why this is a problem for DDE. The case of the big guy stuck in the cave. Foot's reply to Hart's objection: "closeness."

Th 11/18: Had Pop Quiz #9. Thomson's Trolley Problem: Organ Harvest vs. Driver. Foot's Solution to Thomson's Trolley Problem: negative vs. positive duties. Killing vs. letting die. Thomson's Objection to Foot's Solution to Thomson's Trolley Problem: Passenger vs. Driver. Our Trolley Problem: Bridge vs. Switch. Possible solutions to Our Trolley Problem: (1) Treating merely as a means (cf. Kant; cf. Doctrine of Double Effect; cf. end of Thomson paper); Reply: Loop case; (2) Being already in danger; Reply: Trapdoor case; (3) Being already involved; (4) Duties of Special Relationship; (5) redirecting an existing threat vs. introducing a new threat.

          -- FALL BREAK --

Week 14

Tu 11/30: Listened to first segment of Radiolab's program "Morality" on the trolley problem. Presented and discussed an argument from scientific data (about the brains of people who consider this problem) to (pro-consequentialist) conclusions in ethics.


Week 15

Tu 12/7: EXAM #3 - DEONTOLOGY (bring a bluebook and blue or black ink)

Th 12/9: TERM PAPER DUE, FCQ's, Return Exam #3, review course grades, decide about Take Over Day.

Finals Week

Tu 12/14: Take Over Day. 7:30 p.m., ECON 117. You are permitted to take over one of your previous exams to improve your score on it. The Take-Over Exam won’t necessarily have the same questions as the original exam, but it will cover the same material (and the same study guide will apply). If you don’t improve your score on the Take-Over Exam, this won’t hurt you – we will keep your original score. The Take-Over Exam is optional.