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 the last exam. 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

  1. (a) What is the fundamental project of the normative ethics of behavior?
    (b) State a theory in the normative ethics of behavior based on the golden rule (the "do unto others" principle).
    (c) Present a counterexample to this theory.

  2. (a) State act utilitarianism (AU). Be sure to define the two technical terms.
    (b) State a defective formulation of act utilitarianism and explain why it is defective.
    (c) Does AU 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).

  3. (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 giving 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 a line of argument, involving a series of cases, for the conclusion that P2 of the organ harvest objection to AU is false. Explain that line of argument in detail.
    (d) Finally, what ultimately is your view about the organ harvest objection to AU and the above reply to it?

  4. (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?

  5. (a) State Hedonism about welfare (all three parts).
    (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 that it would be best to live? Explain.

  6. (a) State the Argument from Psychological Hedonism (for Hedonism about welfare).
    (b) Present an objection to this argument (whether or not it is one that you accept).
    (c) Evaluate that objection.

  7. (a) Present the version of the Argument from Malicious Pleasures (from among the ones we discussed in class) that you think is most interesting. Be sure to explain the story or thought experiment that the argument uses.
    (b) Explain the rationale for each premise.
    (c) Evaluate it.

  8. (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.
    (d) Evaluate this argument.
    Explain how the Desire-Fulfillment Theory avoids the experience machine objection.
    (f) Explain how an Objective Theory avoids the experience machine objection.