Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory

Study Guide for Exam #2


Exam #2 is an in-class exam. Check the syllabus for the date. Bring a bluebook. Also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink -- no red ink, no pencil. Like all our exams, Exam #2 will be a closed-note and closed-book exam.

You are responsible for all the material 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 that 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 act utilitarianism (AU). Be sure to define the two technical terms.
    (b) Does act utilitarianism imply that it is 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 is always right to do this according to AU).
  4. (a) Explain the organ harvest objection to AU. Doing so will require telling the story behind the objection, and presenting the relevant line-by-line argument. Also give the rationale for P1 of the argument.
    (b) What is wrong with the following rationale for P2 of this argument?: "P2 is true because if the doctor were to kill her patient in order to save the five others, people would no longer trust their doctors. They would be afraid to go to hospitals and so would be dying in great numbers of easily preventable diseases. This would be disastrous."
    (c) In class we discussed an argument, involving a series of cases, for the conclusion that P2 of the organ harvest objection to AU is false. Explain that argument in detail.
    (d) Finally, what ultimately is your view about the organ harvest objection to AU?
  5. (a) State and explain rule utilitarianism (RU) -- the "obedience" version.
    (b) Explain how RU is supposed to avoid the organ harvest objection.
    (c) Explain the collapse objection to RU.
  6. (a) Explain the difference between intrinsic value (for a person) and instrumental value (for a person). Give plausible examples of each.
    (b) Suppose you wanted to determine whether being alive is intrinsically good for people. How would you go about doing this? Illustrate how this works. What answer do you get?
  7. (a) State and explain Hedonism.
    (b) Do Hedonists believe that a life devoted to sensual pleasures (a life of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll") is the sort of life we all ought to live? Explain.
  8. (a) Describe Nozick's experience machine.
    (b) Does Hedonism imply that everyone would choose to enter the machine? Explain.
    (c) State our version of the experience machine objection to Hedonism, and give the rationales for each premise.
    (d) Evaluate this argument.
  9. (a) State and explain the Desire-Fulfillment Theory of welfare (be sure to define 'desire satisfaction' and 'desire frustration')
    (b) Explain how the Desire-Fulfillment Theory avoids the experience machine objection.
    (c) What is the Objective List Theory of welfare, and how does it avoid the experience machine objection?