PHIL 3100 -- Ethical Theory
Prof. Chris Heathwood
T.A. Jules Guidry
University of Colorado Boulder
Study Guide for Final Exam
The final exam will come in two parts and will take place over two class periods. Part 1 will consist of very-short-answer questions (multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank questions, and the like). Part 2 will consist of short-answer questions (questions that can usually be answered in a sentence to a paragraph). Those will be similar to the sorts of questions below. Both parts are in-class, closed-note, and closed-reading exams. For Part 2, you will need to bring a bluebook.
Part 1 will take place in class during the last week of classes. Part 2 will take place during our allotted Final Exam period. See syllabus for specifics.
For both parts of the final exam, you are responsible for all the topics and all of the readings that we have done since the midterm. See syllabus for specifics.
You are responsible for everything we did in lecture, including what we talked about and what was on the slides and the chalkboard. The slides are available on the course schedule on the syllabus.
To prepare for the exam, re-read any readings that you found challenging, study your reading notes, study your class notes, study the slides from lecture (which you'll find on the syllabus), and, most importantly, write out your answers to the questions below, as if it were the exam. Do this before the review sessions, so that you will know what questions you need to ask.
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.
Another excellent way to prepare for the final exam is to supplement your individual work on the material with group study. Try to arrange a study group with one or more of your classmates. If I can be of assistance in helping you form a study group -- e.g., I could send out an email to the class about it -- please let me know.
Introduction to the Normative Ethics of Behavior
- What is the fundamental project of the normative ethics of behavior?
- What is the difference between a mere moral principle and a full-blown moral theory?
- Carefully state a sample theory in the normative ethics of behavior that is based on a popular ethical precept. It could be based on the golden rule, the platinum rule, the Ten Commandments, something else ... .
- Present a clear and convincing counterexample to this theory.
- State act utilitarianism (AU). Be sure to define all the technical terms.
- State a defective formulation of act utilitarianism and explain why it is defective.
- Explain the promise-to-the-dead-man objection to AU. Doing so will require telling the story behind the objection, and presenting the relevant line-by-line argument. Also give the rationales for both premises.
- Explain the punish-the-innocent objection to AU. Doing so will require telling the story behind the objection, and presenting the relevant line-by-line argument. Also give the rationales for both premises.
- Explain in detail how a Rule Utilitarian would say that her theory can avoid each of these objections. Be sure to identify the competing rules that would be relevant to explaining this.
- Explain the difference between a negative right and a positive right. Give a possible example of each.
- (a) State the "Utilitarianism of Rights" theory.
(b) Apply this theory to Bridge and explain how it gets the desired result. In doing so, assume that the theory includes negative rights only.
(c) What does this Utilitarianism of Rights imply is the right thing to do in the punish-the-innocent case, and why?
- (a) State and explain Nozick's Rights Theory. Who traditionally has rights, on this sort of theory? What rights does Nozick's theory recognize?
(b) What does Nozick's Rights Theory imply is the right thing to do in the punish-the-innocent case, and why?
(c) What does Nozick's Rights Theory imply is the right thing to do in the promise-to-the-dead-man case, and why?
(d) What does Nozick's Rights Theory imply is the right thing to do in the Anna case, and why?
(e) Describe in detail an example that seems to show that Nozick's Rights Theory is insufficiently demanding.
Axiology / Welfare
- Explain the difference between intrinsic value (for a person) and instrumental value (for a person). Give intuitive examples of each (i.e., an example of something that intuitively is either intrinsically good for a person or intrinsically bad for a person, and an example of something that intuitively is merely either instrumentally good or bad for a person).
- 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?
- (a) State Hedonism about welfare (all three parts).
Must Hedonists believe that a life devoted to sensual pleasures (e.g., a life of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll") is the sort of life that it would be best for everyone to live? Explain.
- (a) State the Argument from Malicious Pleasures against Hedonism.
(b) Give the rationale for each premise of the argument.
(c) What is your opinion of the argument?
- (a) Describe Nozick's experience machine.
(b) Does Hedonism about welfare imply that everyone would choose to enter the machine? Explain.
(c) State our version of the experience machine objection to Hedonism about welfare, and give the rationales for each premise.
- (a) State a standard version of Desire Satisfactionism.
(b) Explain how this theory avoids problems with the experience machine. (In other words, explain why, if you replaced 'Hedonism' in your experience machine argument above with 'Desire Satisfactionism', the argument would be less plausible. Note that this question is about the standard desire theory, not one that incorporates an "awareness" condition.)
(c) Present some version of the "stranger on the train" objection (or "exiled uncle" objection) to the standard desire theory.
(d) In your view, what should a desire satisfactionist say or do in response to this objection?
- (a) What in general is the Objective List Theory of well-being and what is Rice's particular version of it? Be sure to say what is meant by describing this theory of well-being as an "objective" theory.
(b) Explain how an Objective List Theory avoids problems with the experience machine.
(c) Explain why your humble instructor rejects objective theories of well-being in favor of a subjective one.