Phil 3100 - What We Did Each Day


Week 1

M 1/11: First day stuff (syllabus, roll).

W 1/13: 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 distinction. Poll: is morality objective or subjective?; results: even split.

F 1/15: A Taxonomy of Metaethics. Realism v. Anti-Realism. The three kinds of Anti-Realism: Subjectivism (12), Non-Cognitivism (4), Nihilism (2). The two kinds of Realism: (Objective) Naturalism (7), Intuitionism/Non-Naturalism (4). (Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of adherents of this view among our classmates -- tentatively, of course.)


Week 2

M 1/18: Holiday -- MLK Day.

W 1/20: Had Pop Quiz #1. Stated Cognitivism; discussed propositions, moral/evaluative statements, and asserting. Stated Non-Cognitivism. Introduced Empiricism. Explained Analytic/Synthetic distinction.

F 1/22: Stated and explained Ayer's empiricism. Explained a priori knowledge. Explained why Ayer thinks that moral knowledge is a problem for empiricism, and how this supports Non-Cognitivism.


Week 3

M 1/25: In-Class Exercise: What is the difference between Subjectivism and Non-Cognitivism? The Embedding Problem for Non-Cognitivism and the related Frege-Geach Problem.

W 1/27: Pop Quiz #2. In-Class Exercise: Giving Rationales for Premises of the Frege-Geach Argument. Introduced Subjectivism. ADDITOINAL READING FOR NEXT TIME: Moore (reading #3 on readings page).

F 1/29: Individual Subjectivism (non-indexical version). Individual Subjectivism (indexical version). The Argument from Motivation Internalism for Subjectivism. The Argument from Disagreement for Subjectivism. Why the indexical version of Individual Subjectivism seems better. Moore's No-Disagreement Argument against Individual Subjectivism (indexical version).


Week 4

M 2/1: Divine Command Theory (DCT). 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?

W 2/3: Further discussion of the arbitrariness problem. Discussion of what other forms of subjectivism the arbitrariness problem applies to. Brief discussion of the contingency problem. Horn 2 of Socrates' Dilemma. Why this is not an option for the Divine Command Theorist. The Euthyphro objection in line-by-line format.

F 2/5: Had Pop Quiz #3. Reductionism. Naturalism. Reductionism in other areas. Some Possible Advantages of Reductionism. Non-Reductive Naturalism. Analytic vs. Synthetic Reductionism.


Week 5

M 2/8: Analytic Reductionism. The epistemology of Analytic Reductionism. Analytic Utilitarianism. Ayer's Open-Question Argument as against Analytic Utilitarianism.

W 2/10: Review of the dialectic so far. Intuitionism stated. Nihilism stated. What Intuitionism and Nihilism agree about, and why they disagree about.

F 2/12: Had Pop Quiz #4. Ross' view of moral knowledge. The notion of epistemic justification. Three possible ways to justify a moral belief. Hume's Law. Non-Inferential Justification. Possible examples of Non-Inferential Justification. Justification by Reason or Rational Intuition. Self-Evidence. Possible examples of self-evident moral propositions.


Week 6

M 2/15: Potential Problems for Intuitionism Raised by Mackie: Queer Supervenience, Queer Magnetism, Queer Knowing, the Argument from Relativity (or the Argument from Disagreement). The Explaining Disagreement Argument. Rationales for each premise. Replies to each premise.

W 2/17: REVIEW FOR EXAM #1. (For Friday's exam, bring a bluebook, and a blue or black ink pen.)



Week 7

M 2/22: 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.

Exam #1 Statistics:
Total Possible: 40
Mean: 32.6
Median: 34.0
High: 40
Low: 22
11 A's, 9 B's, 10 C's, 3 D's, 2 F's.

W 2/24: 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), PR (the Platinum Rule). How to evaluate a moral theory: come up with a counterexample. Why counterexample can be merely imaginary (comparison to giving a counterexample to "All crows are black"). Some tips: the intuition your example requires should be strong, widely shared, and one an advocate of the theory would have.

F 2/26: Had Pop Quiz #5. Mill. Interpreting Mill's proposed criterion of rightness. AU. Hedonic Utility. Hedons, dolors, intensity, duration. Maximization. Utilitarianism and Moral Dilemmas. The Lack-of-Time Objection to Utilitarianism.


Week 8

M 3/1: The Objection to AU from the Case of the Innocent Fat Man. Kant's Formula of Humanity and whether Utilitarianism accommodates it. Ross' Argument from Promises against AU.

W 3/3: Had Pop Quiz #6. Axiology. Three different kinds of use of 'good' and 'bad'. Discussed 'home in' vs. 'hone in', split infinitives, and 'as such'. A Distinction in Value: Intrinsic (and "in itself") and Instrumental (or "as a means"). A test for discovering intrinsic value.

F 3/5: Another Distinction in Value: for the world and for a subject (i.e., welfare). Hedonism (about welfare). Hedonism about welfare stated. Potential problems for Hedonism: sadism, masochism. Comparison to Mill's view about quality of pleasure.


Week 9

M 3/8: The Argument from Psychological Hedonism. Psychological Hedonism. Potential Problems for it. How to get from Psychological Hedonism to Hedonism about welfare. Potential problems for this.

W 3/10: Had Pop Quiz #7. Nozick's Experience Machine Objection to Hedonism about Welfare. First Interpretation of Nozick's Argument ("P1. If Hedonism about Welfare is true, then you would plug into the EM."). Second Interpretation of Nozick's Argument ("P1. If Hedonism about Welfare is true, then you'd get a better life if you plugged into the EM."). Third Interpretation of Nozick's Argument ("P1. If Hedonism about Welfare is true, then life L2 is just as good as life L1."). ANNOUNCEMENT: No longer need to read Ross for Friday.

F 3/12: Four Main Kinds of Theory of Welfare: Hedonism, Desire-Fulfillment Theory, Objective List Theory, Hybrid Theory. How the Experience Machine objection might suggest the Objective List Theory. A Problem for the Objective List Theory: the problem of resonance. 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; intuitively non-beneficial desires (Kraut).


Week 10

M 3/15: Some recent real cases of animal cruelty. Norcross' case of Fred. Norcross' Argument by Analogy. Justifying P1. A reply to denying P1: the problem of marginal cases. How to deny P1: come up with a morally-relevant difference between the cases. Some potentially morally-relevant differences: Fred intends to harm his puppies in order to produce the hormone, whereas farmers don't intentionally harm their livestock (their livestock is harmed as a side-effect of the farmers' intention to produce meat cheaply).






Week 11

M 3/29: Returned Exam #2. Fun facts about Kant. Tax cheat example to illustrate non-consequentialist, what-if-everyone-did-that reasoning.

Exam #2 Statistics:
Total Possible: 40
Median: 36.8
High: 40.5
Low: 21.5
18 A's, 6 B's, 2 C's, 3 D's, 1 F

W 3/31: Kant's Categorical Imperative. Maxims. Universal Law. Willing. Inconsistent Willing (two ways to do it). Universalizability. KCI. Tax Cheat example (illustrates first way of willing inconsistently). H1N1 Tax example (illustrates second way of willing inconsistently). Also: morality and rationality, moral luck.

F 4/2: Had Pop Quiz #8. Potentially attractive features of Kant's theory: internalism/no moral luck; collective action problems (voting, recycling). Potential problems for Kant: the problem of subjectivism; the problem of innocent but non-universalizable maxims; the problem of clever agents short-circuiting the theory.


Week 12

M 4/5: McNaughton and Rawling's characterization of deontology, and some quibbles with it. The importance of the term 'fundamental' in it. Deontological constraints. Examples. The notion of a prima facie duty. All-things-considered duty. Absolute vs. moderate constraints. Absolute vs. moderate deontology.

W 4/7: Duties of special relationship. A possible Kantian justification for special duties to one's children. Options. The demandingness objection to consequentialism. Supererogatoriness.

F 4/9: Class canceled due to illness. :*(


Week 13

M 4/12: Had Pop Quiz #9. Ross' theory of prima facie duties. Review of notion of prima facie duty/prima facie rightness/prima facie wrongness. Ross' 7 basic duties. A potential problem with his duty of fidelity. Backward-looking vs. forward-looking duties. No general principle or formula for ranking duties. Ross' Theory.

W 4/14: Intend/foresee, Doctrine of Double Effect. Foot's statement of DDE. Quinn's statement of DDE. Runaway Tram v. the Magistrate and the Angry Mob. Strategic bombing vs. Terror Bombing. How the DDE explains our intuitions about these cases.

F 4/16: Hart's objection to the DDE (or intend/foresee distinction). Hysterectomy vs. Craniotomy. Foot's reply: closeness. Foot's view: negative duties are more stringent than positive duties (embodies do/allow distinction).


Week 14

M 4/19: Review of how Foot's view explains why it is ok to kill 1 and save 5 in Runaway Tram but not in Magistrate (or Organ Harvest). Thomson's objection to Foot's view: based on case we called 'Passenger'. Two more cases: Switch and Footbridge. Thomson's "lovely, nasty difficulty": why is it ok (if it is ok) to kill 1 and save 5 in Switch but not in Footbridge? Thomson's answer to this. An objection to Thomson's answer: Loop.

W 4/21: 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


W 4/28: FCQ's. Return Exam #3, grade check, final questions about papers.



Sa 5/1: 1:30-4:00 PM, KTCH 235, TAKE-OVER EXAM. 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.