Phil 3100 - What We Did Each Day

(or plan to do)


Week 1

M 1/10: First day stuff (introductions roll, syllabus).

W 1/12: What is philosophy? What is ethics? What is metaethics? Evaluative statements (or moral statements). Two kinds of evaluative statement: deontic and axiological. Examples of each. Three central kinds of question in metaethics. Objectivity vs. subjectivity, and some examples.

F 1/12: More on the objective/subjective distinction. A taxonomy of metaethics: Realism vs. Anti-realism. Subjectivism (individual, societal, theistic, contractarian). Non-Cognitivism. Nihilism. Reductionist Realism (or Naturalism), Non-Naturalism (or Intuitionism).

Week 2

M 1/17: No class -- MLK Day.

W 1/19: Had Pop Quiz #1. Cognitivism. Propositions. Moral judgments. Non-Cognitivism. Non-Cognitive Attitudes. The Motivational Internalist Argument for Non-Cognitivism. Motivational Judgment Internalism. The Humean Theory of Motivation.

CHANGE IN READINGS: Friday's reading (from the Huemer) is now due Monday. For Friday, re-read the Van Cleve.

F 1/21: How a term paper that aims to argue against the Motivational Internalist Argument for Non-Cognitivism might look. The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction. The A Priori/Empirical Distinction. Ayer's Empiricism. Why Moral Knowledge at least initially seems to be a problem for this Empiricism.

Week 3

M 1/24: In-Class Partner Exercise about empiricism and moral knowledge. Ayer's response to the problem that empiricism has with moral knowledge. Is empiricism even true? Alleged examples of synthetic a priori knowledge.

W 1/26: Problems for Non-Cognitivism. The Embedding Problem. The Frege-Geach Problem (and how the way Non-Cognitivists respond to the Embedding Problem leads them into the Frege-Geach Problem).

For Friday: compare Hume's subjectivist view of morality to Non-Cognitivism. What do they have in common? How are they different? How does this difference allow Hume's subjectivist view to avoid the Embedding and Frege-Geach Problems?

F 1/28: Pop Quiz #2. What Subjectivism (or Constructivism) in metaethics has in common with Non-Cognitivism. Hume passages. Simple Subjectivism. Indexicality. Moore's Argument Against Subjectivism.

Week 4

M 1/31: Divine Command Theory (DCT). Disturbing values in sacred texts. An alternative Divine-Command-Theoretical moral epistemology. DCT and atheism. DCT and God's omnipotence. The Ideal Observer Theory (IOT). Does Moore's Argument against Subjectivism apply to DCT and IOT? What determines an ideal observer's approvals and disapprovals?

W 2/2: The Euthyphro Problem against the DCT (and many other forms of subjectivism/constructivism). Horn 1 vs. Horn 2. The arbitrariness problem for Horn 1. Not to be confused with the contingency problem. Why arbitrariness is a problem. How the arbitrariness problem affects other forms of subjectivism/constructivism. Why Horn 2 may not threaten God's omnipotence.

NEW READING FOR FRIDAY (one that's not on the syllabus): Hare, "Naturalism." See "Readings" page.

F 2/4: Pop Quiz #3. Reductionism. Naturalism. Natural Property. Non-Reductive Naturalism. Reasons to be a reductionist: epistemology, supervenience.

READING FOR MONDAY: for Monday, re-read §13 of the Moore and §5.4 of the Hare. The readings that the syllabus says are due on Monday are now due on Wednesday.

Week 5

M 2/7: Two Kinds of Non-Reductionism: Naturalist and Non-Naturalist (or Intuitionist). Two Kinds of Reductionism: Analytic and Synthetic. A Simple Version of Realist Analytic Reductionism. How moral epistemology works on SVRAR. Moore's Open-Question Argument, as applied to SVRAR (very briefly). Hare's Speech-Act "Open-Question" Argument, as applied to SVRAR. Discussion of Hare's argument.

W 2/9: Pop Quiz #4. A Detailed Overview of the Debate So Far.

F 2/11: Intuitionism/Non-Naturalism. Nihilism. The notion of epistemic justification. The notion of non-inferential justification. Examples of non-inferential justification. The Regress Argument (for the view that if any moral beliefs are justified, some must be non-inferentially justified). Possible examples of non-inferentially justified moral beliefs.

Week 6

M 2/14: Mackie's objections to Intuitionism/Realism: queer supervenience, queer motivation, queer normativity, queer epistemology, and the argument from relativity (or the argument from disagreement). The argument from disagreement/relativity. Rationales for each premise. Realist responses to each premise (to P1: not all such disagreement is genuinely moral; to P2: distorting influences might lead us to expect a lot of moral disagreement, even if moral realism is true).

W 2/16: REVIEW DAY. Prepare for Review Day by writing out answers to questions on the study guide.

F 2/18: EXAM #1. Bring a bluebook and blue or black ink. (Don't write your name on the bluebook yet, since we'll be trading them.)

Week 7

M 2/21: Returned, reviewed Exam #1. Discussed Paper #1

Exam #1 Statistics:
Total Possible: 40
Mean: 32.5
Median: 34.0
High: 39.5
Low: 10.5
13 A's, 12 B's, 5 C's, 1 D's, 4 F's.

W 2/23: A Map of Moral Philosophy. Normative Ethics: the Normative Ethics of Behavior, Axiology, Virtue/Vice Theory. The objects of evaluation for each, the terms of evaluation for each. 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). How to evaluate a moral theory: come up with a counterexample; or expose an internal consistency. Tips for counterexamples: the intuition your example requires should be strong, widely shared, as uncontroversial as possible, and one that even an advocate of the theory would have.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: (1) State the Golden Rule as a criterion of rightness; try to come up with a counterexample to it; (2) state the theory suggested in Mill's opening sentence as a criterion of rightness.

REMINDER: Paper #1 due on Monday, in class.

F 2/25: POP QUIZ #5. Criteria of rightness based on the Golden Rule. Problems for this. The Platinum Rule. Problems for this. The distinction between a true theory and a practically useful theory. Mill's theory. Attempts to formulate Mill's idea.

READING: you don't need to read the Sinnott-Armstrong for Monday (we are a little behind schedule).

Week 8

M 2/28: Act Utilitarianism (AU). Hedonic Utility. Hedons, dolors. Maximization. The "Lack of Time" Objection to AU. A little on the demandingness and partiality objections.

READING: for Wednesday, read the Sinnott-Armstrong.

W 3/2: GUEST LECTURE BY DUNCAN PURVES. The organ harvest objection to AU. Rule Utilitarianism (RU). The rule-utilitarian response to the organ harvest. The collapse objection to RU. General Acceptance RU as a response to the collapse objection

READING: for Friday, read Heathwood, "Welfare."

F 3/4: The Organ Harvest objection to AU. Why P1 is true. A utilitarian response to P2 involving a series of 5 cases.

READING: for Monday, read the Bentham.

Week 9

M 3/7: POP QUIZ #6. Utilitarianism = Consequentialism + Hedonism. Four uses of 'good' and 'bad' (and related notions). Our focus: welfare. Intrinsic vs. Instrumental. A way to test for intrinsic value. Used this method to test whether being alive is intrinsically good.

READING: no new reading for Wednesday. The Nozick will be due on Friday.

W 3/9: Hedonism (about Welfare). The nature of pleasure. Mill's views about quality of pleasure. Hedonism and Hedonism Resorts. A steady life vs. a rollercoaster life, with the same total pleasure and pain.

READING: Nozick reading due Friday.

F 3/11: The Experience Machine Objection to Hedonism. Would you enter the machine? Why or why not? Is there a way to get from the psychological thesis that someone would not choose to plug into the machine to the conclusion that Hedonism is false? A different way to state the argument: (P1) If Hedonism is true, then everyone would get a better life by plugging in; (P2) But not everyone would get a better life by plugging in; (C) Therefore, Hedonism is not true.

READINGS: Read the Parfit for Monday; the Ross reading recommended, but optional.

Week 10

M 3/14: Exam Answer Exercise. The Desire-Fulfillment Theory of Welfare. Definition of 'desire fulfillment'. How the Desire-Fulfillment Theory avoids the Experience Machine objection.


F 3/18: EXAM #2. Bring a bluebook and blue or black ink. (Don't write your name on the bluebook yet, since we'll be trading them.)


Week 11

M 3/28: Returned and went over Exam #2.

READINGS: Just have read Monday's readings for Wednesday. Wednesday's readings are now due Friday.

W 3/30: Brief overview of course so far and course to come. Immanuel Kant. "What if everyone did that?" reasoning in common sense morality. Kant's principle. Maxims. Universalizability. The two ways to will inconsistently. KCI. Voting example to illustrate KCI.

F 4/1: POP QUIZ #7. A recipe for determining an act's moral status on KCI. Two examples: (1) Income Tax; (2) H1N1 Tax. Three objections: (1) Innocent but Non-Universalizable Maxims; (2) Clever agents can "game the system" by choosing very specific maxims; (3) implausible subjectivity.

READING: Just to clarify, for Monday's reading (the McNaughton and Rawling), sections 4 and 5.2 are optional. The rest is required.

Week 12

M 4/4: Consequentialism. McNaughton and Rawling's definition of deontology. Quibbles with this definition. Common features of deontology (constraints, duties of special relationship, options). Constraints defined. Absolute vs. Moderate Deontology. Examples of constraints. The paradox of deontology.

W 4/6: QUIZ #8. A second objection to deontology: Is deontology irrational? Ross' Theory. The concept of a prima facie duty. An example. Ross' first prima-facie duty: fidelity. Ross' argument from promises against utilitarianism (and, indirectly, for the idea that promise-keeping is a basic duty, and is not to be explained in terms of utility).

READING: for Friday, just read the Sidgwick (don't need to read the Hooker).

F 4/8: Ross' Theory of Prima Facie Duties. Ross' Seven Basic Prima Facie Duties. How these basic prima facie duties are known. How we know what we should all-things-considered do in particular cases. Ross' actual theory. Sidgwick's ideas about the duty of fidelity. How complicated this duty gets, and Sidgwick's two main points about it: doubtful self-evidence, utilitarian basis.

Week 13

M 4/11: Two distinctions common in deontology: intend/foresee; do/allow. The Doctrine of Double Effect (Foot's formulation, our formulation). Intending as a means vs. intending as an end vs. not intending but still foreseeing. Pairs of cases to illustrate the DDE: Magistrate vs. Driver (or Organ Harvest vs. Driver); Terror Bombing vs. Strategic Bombing. Our intuitions about these cases; DDE's ability to explain them. Inference to the best explanation.

W 4/13: Hart's Objection to the DDE (illustrated using Craniotomy vs. Hysterectomy). Why this is a problem for DDE. Foot's reply to Hart's objection: "closeness." Positive vs. Negative Duties. Foot's Theory. Foot's Theory applied to Magistrate vs. Driver. Objection to this: does the driver kill the 5 if he runs over them, or just let them die?

F 4/15: Started off Friday right. QUIZ #9. Thomson's objection to Foot's theory (as a solution to Magistrate vs. Driver): Passenger. Switch. Footbridge. The Trolley Problem. Possible solutions: (1) one assumes a risk by being on a railroad track [reply to this involving a variant of Switch]; (2) Kant's mere means principle.

Week 14:

M 4/18: Some possible solutions to the Trolley Problem (1) 1 in Switch assumes risk; (2) 1 in Footbridge would be treated as a mere means [but consider Loop]; (3) 1 in Footbridge would be physically touched [but consider Trapdoor]; (4) Thomson's answer.

W 4/20: Listened to first segment of Radiolab's program "Morality," on the trolley problem. Discussed how empirical evidence might yield results in moral philosophy.

F 4/22: NO CLASS

Week 15:


W 4/27: EXAM #3. Bring a bluebook and blue or black ink. Don't write your name on the bluebook yet, since we'll be trading them.

F 2/29: SECOND PAPER DUE (see paper guidelines and prompts). FCQ's. Return and review Exam #3. Review course grades.

Finals Week