Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory
Study Guide for Exam #3
Exam #3 will take place on Monday, April 26th in class. Bring a bluebook. Also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink -- no red ink, no pencil. Exam #3 will be a closed-note and closed-book exam.
You are responsible for all the material we've covered since Exam #2. This includes both the lectures and the readings.
How to Prepare:
- Re-read the readings.
- Study your notes from class. For any days you missed, be sure to get the notes from one of your class mates.
- 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.
- (a) State and explain Kant's categorical imperative. To do this, you will need to explain (and give examples where appropriate) the notions of maxims, universal law, will, inconsistent willing, the two ways to will inconsistently, and universalizability.
(b) Come up with an example involving an act that is intuitively morally right and about which Kant's theory implies that the act is indeed morally right. Explain in detail exactly why Kant's theory implies this.
(c) Come up with an example involving an act that is intuitively morally wrong and about which Kant's theory implies that the act is indeed morally wrong. Explain in detail exactly why Kant's theory implies this.
(d) Come up with another example involving an act that is intuitively morally wrong and about which Kant's theory implies that the act is indeed morally wrong. But this time, make the example such that the act is wrong because of the other way one cannot consistently will. Explain in detail exactly why Kant's theory implies this.
(e) Explain why, on Kant's theory, acting immorally involves a kind of irrationality.
- Many people think we have a duty to vote. Act utilitarianism seems to have a hard time explaining why we ought to vote.
(a) Explain why.
(b) Then explain how Kant's categorical imperative is able to explain the duty to vote.
- Explain what we called the problem of subjectivism for Kant's theory. Evaluate this objection.
- Explain the problem of innocent but non-universalizable maxims for Kant's theory. Evaluate this objection.
- (a) State McNaughton and Rawling's characterization of deontology.
(b) Explain what you take to be one problem with their characterization.
- (a) Explain the notion of a prima facie duty. Contrast it with the notion of an all-things-considered duty.
(b) Explain what a constraint is. Explain the two main kinds of constraints, absolute and moderate. (Doing so will require making use of the prima facie/all-things-considered duty distinction.) Give examples of possible constraints.
- (a) Explain what duties of special relationship are.
(b) Some deontologists attempt to ground the duties they believe in in more general principles, such as Kant's categorical imperative. As we discussed in class, explain why it seems like Kant's theory would not justify a special obligation to save the life of one's own child over the lives of a greater number of children that one doesn't know.
- (a) What is the demandingness objection to consequentialism?
(b) What are options?
(c) Do options forbid certain actions, as constraints do? Explain.
- (a) List and explain in your own words each of Ross' seven prima facie duties.
(b) Which of these duties are backward looking? Explain.
(c) Which are forward looking? Explain.
(d) Which of the duties are the most utilitarian in spirit? Explain.
(e) How does Ross think we know, of each of these basic prima duties, that it is a basic prima facie duty?
- (a) State and explain Ross' theory.
(b) How does Ross think we know when one prima facie duty in some particular case is more or less stringent than another prima facie duty in the same case?
- Is any of the three theories that we studied in the normative ethics of behavior true? Explain.
- (a) What is the Doctrine of Double Effect (either as Foot or as Quinn states it). If your statement of this doctrine uses any technical terms, be sure to explain what they mean.
(b) Do proponents of the DDE hold that it is never wrong act in a way that harms someone when the harm is an unintended side-effect of what you do? Explain.
(c) Do proponents of the DDE hold that it is always wrong to harm someone if the harm is intended? Explain.
- (a) Explain the cases Runaway Tram and Magistrate and the Angry Mob.
(b) What are the common-sense intuitions about each case?
(c) How does the DDE explain these intuitions?
(d) Explain the cases Strategic Bombing vs. Terror Bombing.
(e) Explain how the DDE implies that Terror Bombing is morally worse.
(f) Does the DDE itself imply either the Strategic Bombing is definitely right or that Terror Bombing is definitely wrong? Explain.
- (a) Explain in detail Hart's objection to the DDE. Illustrate it with whatever cases you like.
(b) Explain Foot's reply to this objection.
(c) Evaluate this reply.
- Explain Foot's ultimate view concerning why it's ok to kill 1 & save 5 in Runaway Tram but not in Magistrate and the Angry Mob. This will require explaining (a) negative duties and positive duties, (b) Foot's theory concerning them, and (c) why this theory implies that it's ok to kill 1 & save 5 in Runaway Tram but not in Magistrate and the Angry Mob.
- (a) Explain Thomson's objection to Foot's view.
(b) Evaluate it.
- (a) What is "the trolley problem," or what Thomson called "a lovely, nasty difficulty."
(b) Explain what you take to be Thomson's solution to this problem.
(c) Explain the objection to Thomson's solution based upon a case called 'Loop'.
(d) Evaluate this objection.
(e) What is your view about the trolley problem? Is there a morally relevant different between the two cases? If so, what it is? If not, why do you think not?
- (a) Explain in your own words the argument we discussed in class from Greene's scientific data (about the brains of people who consider this problem) to (pro-consequentialist) conclusions in ethics.
(b) Evaluate this objection.