Phil 1200 honors - 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 applied ethics? Logic. Arguments. Validity. Soundness.

F 1/14: Marquis' Main Thesis. Prima facie wrongness. A Future Like Ours. The Future-Like-Ours (FLO) Theory of the Wrongness of Killing. Four allegedly attractive features of this theory. Marquis' Main Argument. The rationale for each premise.

Week 2

M 1/17: No school -- MLK day.

W 1/19: The "what if the parents aren't ready to have a kid" objection. The Desire Account of the Wrongness of Killing. Objections to the Desire Account: the temporarily depressed, the temporarily comatose, the asleep. Modifying the Desire Account to include Future Desires. Why this is not available to a defender of abortion. Modifying the Desire Account to include Past Desires. Why this is available to a defender of abortion. Problems for this Account: the comatose baby; do past desires matter anyway?

F 1/21: Paske on Marquis. Our definition of 'person' (in the Lockean or psychological sense). The Personhood Account of the Wrongness of Killing. Paske's "Murdering the Elderly" Argument against Marquis' FLO Theory. A rebuttal of this argument involving (a modified version of) the case of Jim and the Indians.

Week 3

M 1/24: The Personhood Account of the Wrongness of Killing stated. Paske's "Cat Person" Argument against Marquis' FLO Theory. A Table Evaluating the Personhood Theory of the Wrongness of Killing. Paske's account of the wrongness of infanticide. A table summarizing our tentative findings regarding all three theories of the wrongness of killing.

W 1/26: Another objection to Marquis: the failure to conceive. Why this objection fails. Another objection to Marquis: Was I ever an embryo? The question of personal identity over time. Numerical vs. Qualitative Identity. Two theories of personal identity: the biological theory and the psychological theory. The implications of each of these theories for P2 of Marquis' Argument. So how do we decide which theory is correct?

F 1/28: A Standard Anti-Abortion Argument. Some possible answers to the question, When did we acquire the right to life? One argument for P1 of the Standard Anti-Abortion Argument, and Thomson's reply to it. Justifying P2 of Standard Anti-Abortion Argument: why is the right to life supposed to outweigh the right to decide what happens in and to one's body?

Week 4

M 1/31: Thomson's objection to the standard anti-abortion argument. Thomson's Positive Argument. Arguments by Analogy. Objecting to Arguments by Analogy: the technique of variant cases. The Consent Objection to Thomson's Positive Argument. Two different questions to consider: (1) in voluntarily having sex, does a woman thereby consent to letting a fetus use her body for life support? [and note we can ask two versions of this, one in which she has sex with contraception, and one in which she has sex without contraception]; (2) is consent morally relevant here? Varying the case of the violinist with respect to consent.

W 2/2: More on the consent objection to Thomson's argument. Two things that that advocate of the consent objection needs to be true. The responsibility objection. The jogger case. Why that is supposed to be more like pregnancy than the violinist case.

F 2/4: More on the responsibility objection to Thomson's argument. A response to the responsibility objection based on the Doctor case.

Week 5

M 2/7: The Argument from Evolution for the permissibility of eating meat. Other arguments for the permissibility of eating meat from your surveys.

W 2/9: Norcross' Argument against buying and consuming factory-raised meat. The objection that most factory-farmed animals aren't treated as badly as Fred's puppies. The objection that Fred needs his puppies to suffer in order for the cocoamone to be produced, whereas the suffering of factory-raised animals is not needed, but is a mere side effect of the way we produce them. The Doctrine of Double Effect.

F 2/11: The causal impotence objection to P2 of Norcross' argument. Consequentialism. Kant's Categorical Imperative. Non-Consequentialist moral reasons.

NOTE: the readings that the syllabus says are due on Monday are now due on Wednesday.

Week 6

M 2/14: The question of moral status. Theories of moral status. Speciesism. Problem for Speciesism: (imaginary) rational non-humans. Kantian Rationalism. The problem of "marginal humans" for Kantian Rationalism. Speciesist Rationalism. Speciesist Rationalism and rational non-humans. Speciesist Rationalism and marginal humans. Problems for Speciesist Rationalism: (i) cat persons; (ii) the apparent implausibility of deciding merit or worth on the basis of kind membership. Benthamic Hedonism.

W 2/16: Some depressing facts about world poverty. Singer's Main Argument. The Strong Version of Singer's Principles. Two possible justifications for it: (i) inference to the best explanation of Shallow Pond; (ii) a Principle of Equality. How to justify P3 of Singer's Main Argument. The radical nature of the argument.

Wed. 2/23: instead of class, extra office hours (1:00-2:20pm)
Fri. 2/25: REVIEW FOR EXAM #1
Mon. 2/28: EXAM #1

F 2/18: Singer's Main Argument. A Singerian Argument by Analogy. Objections to them. Technical problem with P2, the Strong Version of Singer's Principle (that it violates "ought" implies "can"). Arthur's counterexample to P2 (involving kidney donation). The Moderate Version of Singer's Principle, whether it avoids Arthur's counterexample, and whether it is strong enough to yield Singer's desired results.

Week 7

M 2/21: The Singerian Argument by Analogy. Objections to this argument: (1) Distance, (2) Number of others who can save, (3) Rights (Arthur), (4) Normal empathy (Slote), (5) Direct knowledge, (6) Level of certainty, (7) Verifiability of outcome, (8) Personal rewards, (9) Value of the life to the victim, (10) Causal Indirectness. The distinction between factors that are meant to be morally relevant differences between the two cases, and factors that are meant merely to explain why people act differently in the two cases.

W 2/23: Extended office hours: 1:00-2:15 p.m.


Week 8

M 2/28: EXAM #1

W 3/2: Return, review Exam #1 (I hope). Discuss Paper #1.

F 3/4: Parent licensing. LaFollette's principle about when the government should require a license. LaFollette's argument.

Week 9

M 3/7: Parent licensing (PL). LaFollette's Main Argument. An Argument by Analogy. Practical objections: (1) PL would have the bad side-effect of infringing on the freedom to have sex; (2) PL would be unfair because it would draw a huge distinction between people who barely pass and barely don't pass the licensing exam; (3) PL would be unfair because there would inevitably be people who would in fact be excellent parents even though they fail the exam; (4) there is so much disagreement over what the best way to parent is (unlike with other things we license); (5) what makes a person a good parent can't be determined by an exam. Things to consider when evaluating practical objections to PL: (i) do these problems also exist for other things we already license -- especially being an adoptive parent?; (ii) would a minimal PL policy (one designed to rule out only the very worst parents) avoid these objections? Theoretical objections: (1) does LaFollette's Main Argument imply that being a child to an unlicensed parent is worse than not existing?

W 3/9: More objections to LaFollette. The Non-Identity Problem and Parent Licensing.

FOR FRIDAY: read the Bonsor and Conger and the Council on Bioethics readings.

F 3/11: Some results from our survey on the ethics human cloning. What is human cloning? Reproductive Human Cloning vs. Therapeutic Human Cloning. Some misguided reasons to oppose reproductive cloning. Why might someone engage in reproductive cloning?

Week 10

M 3/14: Discussed two anti-cloning arguments discussed by Kagan: (1) the argument based on the fear that people will make clones for questionable purposes (e.g., to create slaves, or a super army, or a supply of organs); (2) the argument based on the idea that there is no good reason to want to engage in cloning.

W 3/16: The "Harm to the Clone" Argument. Kagan's response. Non-Identity Problem. What if the parents has the option to have a non-clone?

F 3/18: Returned Papers. Ate cake. Played Taboo.

Week 11

M 3/28: No class due to illness.

W 3/30: Began population ethics. The evils of overpopulation. Two possible outcomes, A and B. Which, intuitively, is better? The Average Principles. The Total Principles. The Repugnant Conclusion.

F 4/1: The Mere-Addition Argument for the Repugnant Conclusion.

Week 12


W 4/6: EXAM #2.

F 4/8: Return Exam #2. Solve the mere addition paradox.

Week 13:

M 4/11: Presentations by Lance and Thomas

W 4/13: Presentations by Jordan and Cassie

F 4/15: Presentations by Mikey and Jake

Week 14:

M 4/18: Presentations by Lucy and Adam

W 4/20: Presentations by Claire and Sean

F 4/22: NO CLASS

Week 15:

M 4/25: Presentations by Rachel and Jobi

W 4/27: Presentations by Paige and Mike


Finals Week:

W 5/4: TAKE-OVER EXAM, 1:30 p.m., our room.