Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory
Study Guide for Exam #3
Exam #3 is an in-class, closed-note, closed-book 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.
You are responsible for all the material since Exam #2. This includes both the lectures and the readings.
How to Prepare:
- Re-read the readings.
- Review what we did each day.
- Study your notes from class. For any days you missed, be sure to get the notes from one of your class mates. It is very hard to do well on my exams if you have missed material that was presented in class.
- 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.
- Set up a study group with some classmates.
- 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 that we don't really understand it. If you don't write out your answers, you won't know what you don't know.
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.
- (a) State and explain Kant's categorical imperative (the principle we called KCI). To do this, you will need to explain (and give examples where appropriate) the notions of maxims, 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 that can will inconsistently. Explain in detail exactly why Kant's theory implies this.
- 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 apparently able to explain the duty to vote.
- (a) Explain the problem of innocent but non-universalizable maxims for Kant's theory.
(b) Evaluate this objection.
- (a) State McNaughton and Rawling's characterization of deontology.
(b) Explain what a constraint is. Explain the two main kinds of constraints, absolute and moderate. Give examples of possible constraints.
- (a) Explain the notion of a prima facie duty. Contrast it with the notion of an actual duty, or a duty proper.
(b) List and explain in your own words three of Ross' seven prima facie duties.
(c) Ross thinks that the duty to keep promises is a basic duty -- not to be explained in terms of how promise-keeping promotes utility. First (i) explain Ross' argument from promises against AU, and then (ii) explain how it illustrates this.
(d) Evaluate this argument against AU.
(e) State and explain Ross' theory of rightness. Illustrate it with an example.
- (a) What is the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE)?
(b) Do proponents of the DDE hold that it is always wrong to intend to harm someone? Explain.
(c) Do proponents of the DDE hold that it is never wrong act in a way that harms someone when the harm is merely an unintended side-effect of what you do? Explain.
- (a) Explain the cases Magistrate and Driver (these are the names we gave them in class).
(b) What are the common-sense intuitions about each case?
(c) How does the DDE explain why these intuitions are true?
(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 that 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.
- (a) Explain Foot's ultimate theory concerning why it's ok to kill 1 & save 5 in Driver but not in Magistrate. (This will require explaining (i) negative duties and positive duties, (ii) Foot's theory concerning them, and (iii) why this theory is supposed to imply that it's ok to kill 1 & save 5 in Driver but not in Magistrate.
(b) Explain Thomson's objection to Foot's view.
(c) Evaluate it.
- (a) What is the problem we called "the Trolley Problem"?
(b) Explain and refute a possible solution to it that you think fails.
(c) What is your view about the Trolley Problem? Is there a morally relevant difference between the two cases? If so, what is it? If not, why do you think not? Can empirical psychology or neuroscience help?