Philosophy 1200 - Philosophy and Society (honors)
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.
What You're Responsible For. The questions will be short-answer-type questions. The study questions below will give you an idea of the sort of questions you can expect. You are responsible for the following topics:
- world poverty
- parent licensing
and for the related readings that have been assigned.
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.
- 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 we don't really understand it. If you don't write out your answers, you won't know what you don't know.
- Give some disturbing facts about world poverty, and cite the source.
- (a) State our interpretation of Singer's main argument in line-by-line form (as we stated it in class).
(b) Explain how one might attempt to justify the main moral principle that appears in Singer's argument (this is P2 of the argument and the Strong Version of Singer's principle) via "inference to the best explanation."
(c) Give the rationale for the third premise of our interpretation of Singer's main argument.
(d) Get across the radicalness of the conclusions of these arguments. Why would Singer think it shows that "the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society ... needs to be altered."
- State the Singerian Argument by Analogy in line-by-line format. This will require describing fully the details of the relevant cases.
- (a) One reply to the argument by analogy is that failing to give more money to famine relief is not morally on a par with failing to save the child in Shallow Pond, because there is a morally relevant difference between them -- namely, proximity: in Shallow Pond you are physically close to the child, but with famine relief you are not physically close, and this explains why you are obligated to assist in Shallow Pond, but not with famine relief.
Rebut this reply by constructing a pair of cases designed to show that distance is in fact not a morally relevant factor. (Hint: to do this, invent two cases such that (i) the only difference between them is the physical distance between the agent and the person needing assistance, and (ii) intuitively, this doesn't affect the agent's obligation to assist.)
(b) Another reply to the argument by analogy is that failing to give more money to famine relief is not morally on a par with failing to save the child in Shallow Pond, because there is a morally relevant difference between them -- namely, whether others are around to help as well: in Shallow Pond you are the only one who can assist the child, but with famine relief you are not the only one who can help, and this explains why you are obligated to assist in Shallow Pond, but not with famine relief.
Rebut this reply by describing a variant of Shallow Pond designed to show that this factor seems not to be a morally relevant factor.
- (a) Explain Arthur's putative counterexample to the Strong Version of Singer's Principle involving kidney donation. Be sure to make it totally clear why this case seems to show that Singer's principle is false.
(b) State the Moderate Version of Singer's principle, and explain how it differs from the Strong Version.
(c) In your view, does Arthur's kidney donation example undermine this principle as well? Explain.
(d) The Moderate Version of Singer's Principle presumably yields a less radical conclusion (for his main argument) than does the Strong Version. In your view, how does this conclusion differ? Is this conclusion radical enough for it still to imply that "the whole way we look at moral issues – our moral conceptual scheme – needs to be altered, and with it, the way of life that has come to be taken for granted in our society"? Explain.
- (a) Explain the difference (as discussed by Arthur) between positive rights and negative rights.
(b) Does Arthur maintain that an act can be wrong only if it violates someone's rights? Explain.
- (a) What, according to Slote, is the morally relevant difference between failing to give more money to famine relief and failing to save the child in Shallow Pond.
(b) It might be true that our capacity for empathy, when it is normally developed, leads us to have greater empathy concerning the suffering of those of the same race as us, and less empathy concerning the suffering of those of other races. Explain as clear as you can how, if true, this fact would appear to be a problem for Slote's moral theory.
- (a) What is LaFollette's Thesis? What do we mean if we say that it is "true in theory"? What do we mean if we say that it is "true in practice as well."
(b) Explain LaFollette's general account of licensing. Then explain how we might justify this account. What general type of reasoning is being used here? How does it work in this case?
(c) State LaFollette's Main Argument for his thesis.
- Explain a practical objection to LaFollette's main argument and then explain what LaFollette would (or should) say in response. Who do you think is right here -- the objector or LaFollette? Explain.
- Explain a theoretical objection to LaFollette's main argument and then explain what LaFollette would (or should) say in response. Who do you think is right here -- the objector or LaFollette? Explain.
- State the Argument by Analogy inspired by LaFollette.
- Some people believe that there is a right to create and raise children (i.e., a right to be a biological parent). Explain how an advocate of this view would object to LaFollette's main argument. Explain how an advocate of this view would object to the Argument by Analogy Inspired by LaFollette.
- A potentially morally relevant difference between biological and adoptive parenting is that when people who would be bad parents adopt a child, they harm him or her, whereas when people who would be bad parents create a child biologically, they don't actually harm it (assuming that the child would at least have a life that is worth living).
(a) Explain why this is supposed to be true.
(b) Explain how this fact (if it is a fact) affects LaFollette's Main Argument (as opposed to the argument by analogy).
(c) Evaluate this objection to LaFollette.
- Explain the difference between therapeutic and reproductive human cloning.
- Describe a situation in which someone's reason for wanting to engage in reproductive human cloning seems respectable. Describe another situation in which someone's reason for wanting to engage in reproductive human cloning seems questionable.
- The President's Council on Bioethics raises concerns about human reproductive cloning pertaining to "manufacture." Here is one way to interpret one of their arguments:
P1. It is wrong to do things that partly determine what features your child will have.
P2. If it is wrong to do things that partly determine what features your child will have, then reproductive human cloning is wrong.
C. Therefore, reproductive human cloning is wrong.
(a) Explain the rationale behind P2 (i.e., the reason for thinking it is true).
(b) Explain the rationale the President's Council would give for P1.
(c) Present one of Elliott's attempted counterexamples to a claim like P1 above.
- Kagan discusses an argument against human reproductive cloning based on the idea that there is no good reason to want to engage in cloning.
(a) State this argument in line-by-line format.
(b) Kagan gives an objection to each premise. Explain each of them.
(c) Evaluate these two objections.
- The President's Council on Bioethics objects to human reproductive cloning on the basis of the risks it poses to the clone.
(a) What are some of the risks they mention?
(b) Present their argument in a line-by-line format.
(c) Explain Kagan's objection to this argument.
(d) Evaluate Kagan's objection.
- (a) Draw the populations A and B as Parfit does, and explain what this graph means.
(b) Explain the difference between value for a person and value "period" (or value from the point of view of the universe), and how this relates to the graph.
(c) What is the average principle, and what does it imply about A and B?.
(d) What is the total principle, and what does it imply about A and B?
(e) What is the Z population?
(e) What is the Repugnant Conclusion, and why does the total principle imply it?
- (a) Present in full detail the "mere addition argument" for the Repugnant Conclusion. (This will require laying out the argument for the claim that B is better than A, giving the rationales for each premise of this argument, explaining the two inferences involved, explaining the reasoning from its conclusion to the Repugnant Conclusion.)
(b) Parfit himself presents this instead as a paradox: a set of claims each of which seems true when considered on its own, but which are mutually inconsistent. Which of these intuitive claims should ultimately be rejected in your view? Why?