Final Essay Examination, due online via Blackboard by 11:59pm Friday 6 May 2022 PH103 Ethics
Fisher College, Spring term 2022 Eric Michael Dale, PhD
Preliminaries:
1. Type or paste your answers in the Blackboard text submission box, or upload your exam as a .wpd,
.doc, .docx, or .pdf using the Blackboard upload system.
2. If you simply upload a file I have to download and open, I will delete it.
3. If you attach an Apple pages or Google docs link or file, I will delete it.
4. SafeAssign, our plagiarism software, has to be able to read your submission before I read it.
5. Is there a SafeAssign Submission report after your submission? If not, you will fail your assignment.
6. If SafeAssign can’t read it, I won’t read it, and you haven’t submitted your work.
7. If I have to download it, I won’t read it, and you haven’t submitted your work.
8. This exam is given on the honor code: you cannot work together on it. This is ethics – practice some.
9. All answers should be typed, double or single spaced, with reasonable margins, and 10, 11, or 12 font.
10. If you Google to get your answers, I can Google to get your answers, too. Don’t do this.
Please follow ALL of these instructions:
1. This exam is given on the honor code: you cannot work together on it. This is ethics – practice some.
2. All answers should be double or single spaced, with reasonable margins, and 10, 11, or 12 font.
3. If you Google to get your answers, I can Google to get your answers, too. Don’t do this.
4. Use our textbook, class notes, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (http://plato.stanford.edu/), the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (https://www.iep.utm.edu/), whatever you need. You don’t have to use outside sources, but you may. “A” quality work uses, cites, and analyzes multiple sources in the field.
5. Do NOT plagiarize. If you use outside quotes etc., cite them clearly. If you need help citing your work, Purdue University has a helpful guide: (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/)
Below, you fill find ten questions. Pick two questions and write 600-800 words on each question you’ve chosen to answer; two short essays in total. You may write more. You may not write less.
************************************************************************************ PT = Pojman & Tramel textbook
1. Are genuine egoists rare, as James Rachels claims (PT pp.86-93)? Is it a fact that most people care about others, even people they don’t know? Discuss.
2. Some philosophers have disagreed with David Hume, and said that, for example, arguing from facts to values isn’t always a mistake. What sorts of values might follow from facts? For example, what about John Stuart Mill’s argument that if something is desired, then it is desirable (PT pp.158-163)? Discuss.
3. Johnathan Bennett, using the example of Huckleberry Finn, says that often our moral sympathies are more important than our moral principles (PT pp.339-347). Does Bennett think principles play an
important role in moral life? Should one’s principles overrule one’s sympathies? Discuss.
4. Is it possible for everyone in our society to achieve eudaimonia, as Aristotle explains it (PT pp.301- 311)? If not, who cannot achieve eudaimonia, and why not? Discuss.
5. According to James Rachels, belief in God is incompatible with morality because no being is worthy or worship, since for a human to worship anything is beneath human dignity. As Rachels puts it, “worship
requires the abandonment of one’s role as an autonomous moral agent” (PT p.373). This is a bad argument about religion – is it a bad argument about ethics? Discuss.
6. In The Republic, Socrates rejects Thrasymachus’s argument that justice should be what the strong decide (PT pp.3-18). The question we face from this argument is, “Why be moral if I will not benefit?” or the even harder question, “Why be moral if I will suffer from it?”
7. What moral value, if any, does suffering have? Nietzsche says that suffering is required for a heroic human will to power, because only suffering can make us strong or crush us (PT pp.123-130). Is he right? And how far down the road to you want to go with this? What about rape, or childhood cancer, or random violence of any sort? Do we really want to say that they have a moral value to us? If not, where do we draw the line at the value of suffering? Or perhaps there is nothing moral about suffering at all?
8. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (PT pp.114-119) suggests that, unlike Hobbes or Nietzsche, Plato thinks that values like goodness, justice, and morality are objective realities. We do not decide what is good and moral, we discover what is good. We become good by knowing what the good is; and for Plato, this means looking beyond the changeable and impermanent way things seem and contemplating them in their eternal perfection. Are ethics human constructions? If so, how can we ever come to agreement on morals? If they are not, how can we know the good and then become good?
9. Is ethics primarily a matter of personal morality or social morality? If personal, how do you incorporate the social? If social, how do you incorporate the personal? Note that I am not asking “is ethics a matter of personal choice” – we know that it is not. It is social, communal, personal, all together. This question asks, how do you incorporate the social and the personal? Use at least one of the thinkers we’ve discussed this semester to support your answer.
10. Against Utilitarians like Mill, Nozick argues that there are things that count morally for us which are greater than pleasure or happiness. That is, we are not, in fact, driven primarily by our desire for happiness and our hopes to avoid unhappiness. He argues this in his classic experience machine thought experiment (PT pp.141-42). Rather than assessing the obvious question, namely, would you plug into the machine?, let’s approach this from another direction. We know that Nozick’s argument isn’t
hedonistic; is Nozick’s argument egoistic? That is, do we refuse the experience machine because it’s
wrong to plug in, or because it’s not good for me?

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