Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory

Study Guide for Exam #2



Exam #2 will take place on Friday, March 20th 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'. Be sure to say what features of a pleasure/pain determine the number of hedons/dolors in it.
    (b) Does act utilitarianism imply that it's 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's always right to do this).
  4. Explain and evaluate Ross' Argument from Promises against AU.
  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.
  6. (a) State and explain Hedonism about welfare.
    (b) State and explain the Argument from Psychological Hedonism for Hedonism about welfare. Be sure to give the rationale for each premise.
    (c) Evaluate this argument.
  7. (a) Describe Nozick's experience machine.
    (b) Does Hedonism about welfare imply that no one could ever have a reason not to enter the experience machine? Explain.
    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) What is the Objective List Theory of welfare, and how can it avoid the experience machine objection?
    (b) State and explain the Desire Fulfillment Theory of welfare (be sure to define 'desire satisfaction' and 'desire frustration'), and explain how it avoids the experience machine objection.
    (c) Explain the main problem for the Objective List Theory that we discussed in class.
    (d) Explain how this problem can even be a problem for Hedonism.
    (e) Explain how the Desire Fulfillment Theory avoids this problem.
  9. (a) Explain Parfit's "stranger on the train" objection to the Desire Fulfillment theory.
    (b) Evaluate this objection.
  10. (a) State Norcross' main argument from analogy and give the rationale for each premise. This will require, among other things, recounting the details of the case of Fred.
    (b) Explain some objection to Norcross' argument that you think fails. Explain it as persuasively as you can, and then explain why it fails.
    (c) Evaluate Norcross' argument.