Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory (honors)
Study Guide for Midterm
The Midterm Exam will take place on Friday, March 5th in class. Bring a bluebook. Also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink -- no red ink, no pencil. The Midterm will be a closed-note and closed-book exam.
You are responsible for all of the material we've studied so far this semester. This includes both the lectures and the readings.
How to Prepare:
- Re-read the readings.
- Study your notes from class. For any days you missed, be sure to get the notes from one of your class mates.
- 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.
- Come see me in office hours (or make an appointment to see me at some other time) 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 we don't really understand it. If you don't write out your answers, you won't know what you don't know.
- (a) What is it for a property to be subjective?
(b) Give an examples of a subjective property (not in ethics) and explain why it is subjective.
(c) What is it for a property to be objective?
(d) Give an example of an objective property (not in ethics) and explain why it is subjective.
- (a) Explain the difference between moral realism and moral anti-realism.
(b) What is wrong with the following definition of moral anti-realism: "moral anti-realism is the view that moral properties are subjective properties"?
(c) Name two versions of each theory and, for each, explain why it is a version of that theory.
- Answer TRUE or FALSE to each of the following and then explain your answer:
(a) All cognitivists are realists.
(b) All realists are cognitivists.
(c) All non-cognitivists are anti-realists.
(d) No subjectivists are emotivists.
(e) Some subjectivists are realists.
(f) All nihilists are non-cognitivists.
(g) Some intuitionists are naturalists.
(h) Some anti-realists are intuitionists.
(i) All reductionists are subjectivists.
(j) Some reductionists are realists.
(k) No nihilists are reductionists.
(l) All reductionists are cognitivists.
(m) All naturalists are reductionists.
- (a) State and explain cognitivism.
(b) State and explain non-cognitivism as well as its two main versions.
(c) Explain the distinction between emotivism and subjectivism.
- (a) Explain the difference between an analytic truth and a synthetic truth. Give examples of each.
(b) Explain the difference between a priori and empirical knowledge.
(c) What is Ayer's empiricism, and why are ethical statements a potential problem for it.
(d) How does Ayer answer this problem?
- (a) What is the embedding problem for non-cognitivism?
(b) Explain in detail the Frege-Geach problem for non-cognitivism.
- (a) State and explain the indexical version of individual subjectivism.
(b) State Moore's No-Disagreement Argument against the indexical version of individual subjectivism. Give the rationale for each premise. Finally, evaluate the argument. (NOTE: when I ask you to evaluate an argument, I am asking you for your own view on the argument.)
- Explain what is wrong with the following thought: because cultural relativism is true, it is wrong to criticize the practices of other cultures.
- Is the Divine Command Theory (as we formulated it in class) logically compatible with atheism? If not, explain why they are incompatible. If they are compatible, explain what follows from the combination of DCT and atheism.
- (a) With what question does Socrates confront an advocate of the Divine Command Theory?
(b) Consider the claim ("Horn 1") that wrong acts are wrong because God prohibits them. Defenders of Plato's Euthyphro Argument hold that this claim entails that God's commands are arbitrary. What does this mean? Why is it this supposed to follow from Horn 1? Why is this problematic?
(c) What is the problem with an advocate of the DCT taking Horn 2 of the Euthyphro dilemma?
- Describe how the arbitrariness objection can apply to other forms of subjectivism.
- (a) What do intuitionists and nihilists agree about and what do they disagree about?
(b) What is a non-inferentially justified belief? Why does it seem that my belief that I had breakfast this morning is non-inferentially justified.
(c) Give some examples of some non-moral beliefs that, it seems, can be justified only through reason, or rational intuition.
(d) Give some examples of some moral beliefs that, an intuitionist might say, can be justified only through reason, or rational intuition.
(e) If such propositions are analytic, why is this a problem for intuitionists?
- (a) State the Explaining Disagreement Argument against intuitionism.
(b) Give a detailed rationale for the first premise.
(c) Give the rational for the second premise.
(d) How well does nihilism explain the phenomenon of moral disagreement. In other words, if nihilism is true, would widespread moral disagreement be all that surprising? Why or why not? Explain. (Note: I am not asking, "If nihilism were true and everyone believed it ... ." Rather, I am asking, "If nihilism were true and everyone believed as they actually do ... ."
- (a) Explain how an intuitionist would try to rebut the first premise of the the Explaining Disagreement Argument. In doing so, explain what we mean by a *genuine* or *fundamental* moral disagreement, and distinguish this from moral disagreements that are not genuine or fundamental. Give examples of each. Explain why, if much of the moral disagreement that exists is not genuinely moral or fundamental, then the phenomenon of disagreement poses no problem for intuitionism.
(b) Explain in detail how an intuitionist would try to rebut the second premise of the argument from disagreement. Evaluate this reply.
- (a) State a sample theory in the normative ethics of behavior.
(b) Refute this theory.
- (a) State a defective formulation of act utilitarianism.
(b) Explain why it is defective.
- (a) State AU. Be sure to define 'hedonic utility', 'maximizes', 'hedon', and 'dolor'. Be sure to say what features of a pleasure/pain determine the number of hedons/dolors in it.
(b) Does act utilitarianism imply that it's 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's always right to do this).
- Explain and evaluate Ross' Argument from Promises against AU.
- (a) Explain the difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Give plausible examples of each.
(b) Explain the difference between value for some subject and value period. Give plausible examples of each.
- (a) State and explain Hedonism about welfare.
(b) State and explain the Argument from Psychological Hedonism for Hedonism about welfare. Be sure to give the rationale for each premise.
(c) Evaluate this argument.
- (a) State and explain what you take to be Nozick's Experience Machine objection to Hedonism about welfare.
(b) Evaluate this argument.