Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Final announcements for intro to ethics:

1. The 5th paper is required and due at the time of the final. I forgot to mention that this paper must have two peer reviews. That sheet is here:

You must turn in your paper yourself in person and through the turnitin system. You can turn it in:

Monday, December 3 from 9 AM -10 AM (the final time starts at 8, but Dr. Nobis won’t get here until 9)

Or Wednesday, December 5, 1 PM -3 PM

The 5th paper assignment is here:

2. There is an optional, extra credit 6th paper worth up to 10 points (depending on the quality of your suggestions). It is due at the time of the final. You must turn it yourself in person and through the turnitin system

Make a "Top 10 List of helpful things to do and/or not do when thinking about moral issues." For each of your suggestion of what to do (or not do), illustrate it with an example (or examples): explain why your suggestion is a good one. The goal of this assignment is for you to critically reflect on what we have done and develop a list of helpful ideas that you can use in the future (and help others use) when thinking about moral issues. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU THINK FOR YOURSELF AND COME UP WITH YOUR OWN IDEAS. DO NOT MERELY TAKE IDEAS FROM OTHERS’ (E.G., HANDOUTS IN CLASS) AND TAKE THEIR WORDS. DO NOT DO YOUR OWN THINKING! 4 pages.

3. There is an optional 3rd Exam, which you can take at either final exam time above.

Unfortunately due to the shortened semester, we weren’t able to get as far as I would like. (You, of course, have the books so you can work ahead on your own to do more philosophy!). Since we have not done as much as I would have liked since the last exam, the 3rd exam will be optional. If you don’t take it, your grade will be calculated without it. If you do take it, your grade will be calculated with it.

Study guide: you need to know the all arguments from all these sources; here’s some sample questions:

· Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal”

· According to Singer, racists and sexists violate “the fundamental principle of equality.” Explain what this principle is and how they violate this principle. Explain what interests are. Fully explain how Singer argues this principle applies to animals.

· Why, according to Singer, would we not want to tie our opposition to racism and sexism to “factual equality?” This addresses a response to racism and sexism that Singer thinks we wouldn’t want to accept. What is this response?

· Singer discusses a number of other hypotheses to explain why racism and sexism are wrong. What are these other hypotheses? Why are they not good explanations for why racism is wrong, according to Singer?

· Why, according to Singer’s reasoning, is it wrong that animals are raised and killed to be eaten, worn and experimented on? (His reasoning is not that they have “rights”). Is his reasoning sound? Why or why not?

· What is “speciesism” according to Singer? Why is it wrong, according to Singer? Is he right?

· Singer gives a principle for when an experiment on an animal would be morally acceptable. What is his suggestion? Is he right? Why or why not?

· Simmons, “Reasonable Humans and Animals” – HANDOUT – 3 PAGES

· Be able to present and explain – in valid, premise-conclusion form -- John Simmons’ argument from the article “Reasonable Humans and Animals.”

· Be able to present ten objections to Simmons’ argument in logically valid form, where all the premises are clearly stated, and evaluate these objections with reasons. At least 50 objections are here: Worksheet on objections to Singer and Simmons:

· RACHELS EMP, P. 94-99; “Nonhuman Animals”

KANT “Why we have no obligations to animals” – 1PAGE (HANDOUT)

· Kant claims that animals are “there merely as a means to an end” for humans, and there are no “direct” duties to animals because animals are not _________. Explain his argument here (what’s the unstated premise?). Explain the objection we discussed to his argument and explain whether it refutes Kant’s views or not.

· MACHAN: “Do Animals Have Rights?” RTD – 177- 178; 184 (skim the rest, if you want)

· Machan argues that animals have no moral “rights.” What are his reasons? Explain the objection we discussed to his argument and explain whether it refutes his argument or not.

· Machan surprisingly states that his discussion about whether animals have rights does not answer practical questions about how animals should be treated. Explain this view.

· “A Call for Unity” – handout; blog

· RTD, MLK, “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

· EMP, “The problem of civil disobedience,” 152-155

These were assigned, but not discussed, so they are candidates for extra credit questions

· RTD, Singer “Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary”? · RTD, Rachels, “In Defense of Quotas”

A Call For Unity

"A Call For Unity" is a letter written on April 12, 1963 by eight white clergymen local to Birmingham, Alabama and published in a local newspaper. The writers urged an end to the Negro demonstrations "directed and led in part by outsiders" that were taking place in the area at the time, recommending that Negros engage in local negotiations and use the courts if rights are being denied.

The term "outsider" was a thinly veiled reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., and King replied with his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," arguing that forceful civil action was indeed necessary.

The authors of "A Call For Unity" had written "An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense" in January of the same year.

The Letter

We the undersigned clergymen are among those who, in January, issued "an appeal for law and order and common sense," in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts, but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed.

Since that time there had been some evidence of increased forbearance and a willingness to face facts. Responsible citizens have undertaken to work on various problems which cause racial friction and unrest. In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems.

However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.

We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation of racial issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area, white and Negro, meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation. All of us need to face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment.

Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions," we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.

We commend the community as a whole, and the local news media and law enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence.

We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham. When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.

[edit] Signatories

External links

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This topics came up in the first class yesterday.

Diet and Global Warming

To fight global warming, it is easy to insist the government implement new laws and policies. It is also relatively easy (albeit expensive) to change to a more fuel-efficient car. None of these affect one's personal life in any significant way, however.

If one takes the threat of global warming seriously, the most powerful personal step you can take may well be choosing a vegetarian diet. As pointed out in the Baltimore Sun (July 19, 2007; reproduced here):

We're getting "greener": Recycling, energy-saving light bulbs and fuel-efficient hybrid cars are now a part of our culture and economy. But most people are neglecting one of the most important steps toward stopping global warming: adopting a vegetarian diet.

It is not just animal advocates making the connection between what we choose to eat and the future of the Earth. In November of 2006, the United Nations issued a press release that stated:

Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars?


According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

This conclusion is backed up by research (pdf) at the University of Chicago. As reported by ABC News:

Eshel and Martin collected that data from a wide range of sources, and they examined the amount of fossil-fuel energy -- and thus the level of production of greenhouse gases -- required for five different diets. The vegetarian diet turned out to be the most energy efficient, followed by poultry, and what they call the "mean American diet," which consists of a little bit of everything.

There was a surprising tie for last place. In terms of energy required for harvesting and processing, fish and red meat ended up in a "virtual tie," but that's just in terms of energy consumed. When you toss in all those other factors, such as bovine flatulence and gas released by manure, red meat comes in dead last. Fish remains in fourth place, some distance behind poultry and the mean American diet, chiefly because the type of fish preferred by Americans requires a lot of energy to catch.

Can changing your diet really have much of an impact?

"It is comparable to the difference between driving an SUV and driving a reasonable sedan," said Eshel, who drives a Honda Civic, and only when he has to....

When they looked at only carbon dioxide emissions associated directly with energy consumption, they came up with the vegetarian diet far less damaging to the planet than the others.

These connections, and the implications, are discussed more in Kathy Freston’s articles, "Vegetarian is the New Prius" and "A Few More 'Inconvenient Truths," at The Huffington Post.

There are lots of things each of us can do to make the world a better place. However, eating vegetarian is likely the most powerful and immediate way to have a profoundly positive impact to improve the world. So review the many reasons to adopt a vegetarian diet, including other environmental and resource implications of the standard American diet. And then please peruse our Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating and order a free copy for yourself.

We hope you choose vegetarian at your next meal!


Vegan Outreach
P.O. Box 30856
Tucson, AZ 85751-0865

Monday, November 19, 2007

1. Today I gave out a worksheet on responses to Singer and Simmons' arguments. It's here:

We will work through that worksheet Monday, in light of a re-read of the Simmons paper:

2. I gave out a last paper assignment. It's here:

3. To the 1PM class, I gave this booklet to help with the final paper:

From here:

Perhaps the 5th paper will be the final assignment!

Paper 5

“There is perhaps no set of social issues on which otherwise sane people on either side of the question allow themselves to be so overwhelmingly irrational as in matters pertaining to the treatment of animals, and our moral obligations to them.” – Philosopher Bernard Rollin

PAPER 5: Topics: Racism, Sexism and Speciesism:

Is it Permissible to Harm Animals for Pleasure?


No late papers and no (late) papers accepted via email unless you have prior approval

Your paper should have a short introduction, a thesis (“I will argue that _____), and be well-organized, clear and readable to someone who is not familiar with these issues. Your paper’s claims should be carefully and thoughtfully defended: objections must be responded to with well-thought out reasons.

This paper focuses on you providing well-thought out, carefully-defended answers to these questions:

  • Is the fur industry engaged in morally permissible behavior, or are they doing things that are morally wrong?
  • Are the animal agribusiness industries engaged in morally permissible behavior, or are they doing things that are morally wrong?
  • What, if any, are there any relations between these two questions? Does your view about the morality of the fur industry have logical implications for your view about the morality of the, e.g., meat industry, and vice versa?
  • Should you personally support the fur industry? Should you personally support the meat (and related) industries?

To answer these questions, you must carefully present and explain the arguments by Peter Singer (the fundamental principle of equality, from “All Animals Are Equal,”) and John Simmons (from “Reasonable Humans and Animals” [online; handout]). Explain their arguments for the conclusion that – in our circumstances: i.e., modern America – it is wrong to raise and kill animals to wear them and to eat them. You must explain and defend your view on whether either of their main arguments are sound or not. Since thinking about moral problems involves applying moral principles to factual circumstances, you must briefly give some factual information about these industries and practices.

You must discuss at least five of what you think are the strongest and/or most common objections to arguments like Singer’s & Simmons. (Kant and Machan provide some of these arguments; others are from class and a handout). Fully explain how Singer and/or Simmons would respond to these objections. Explain whether these objections show that their arguments are unsound.

Note: if you discuss anything about nutrition science, you must provide the source of your information (i.e., the study’s citation) from PubMed from the National Library of Medicine: or our books. Random, anecdotal reports from various webpages are not a reliable source for scientific information: you need a reputable source

Some industry groups:
-- Fur Commission USA ( ).
-- National Animal Interest Alliance:
-- Animal Agriculture Alliance:
Some pro-animal groups:
-- Compassion Over Killing:
-- Vegan Outreach

Suggested restaurant field trip, to ask for advice on how to answer these questions:
Soul Veg Restaurant: 879-A Ralph Abernathy Blvd. SW – Atlanta, (404) 752-5194
Soul Veg Restaurant: 652 North Highland - Atlanta, GA 30306 (404) 874-0145

Some responses to Singer’s & John Simmons’ arguments for the conclusion that

not eating animals (in our circumstances) is morally obligatory.

Directions: On a separate piece of paper, state these objections as valid arguments. Add the missing premise(s) needed to make them valid. Are all the premises true? Are there good reasons to be given in defense of all the premises? Are any of the arguments question begging? Explain whether the arguments are sound (i.e., valid with true premises) or not and so whether these objections show that Singer’s argument is not sound. If an argument below is sound, then that implies that a premise in Singer’s and/or Simmons’ argument above is false. If so, which premise is false? Explain.

1. Singer and Simmons are “forcing” someone to not eat meat (perhaps much like Singer was “forcing” people to help starving children). Therefore, their arguments are unsound and so raising animals to kill and eat them is morally permissible.

2. Meat is a necessary part of the diet. Therefore . . .

3. Protein is a necessary part of the diet. Therefore, their arguments are unsound.

4. Cholesterol is a necessary part of the diet. Therefore . . .

5. If Engel’s argument is sound (and so, his moral premises true), then it’s wrong to kill ants and roaches. Therefore . . .

6. Animals are weaker than humans. Therefore . .

7. Meat-eating is a tradition in our society. Therefore . . .

8. There are no other jobs for slaughterhouse workers, and jobs in slaughterhouses are excellent jobs. Therefore . . .

9. Meat tastes good to some people; they like eating it. Therefore . . .

10. Some animals eat other animals. Therefore . . .

11. Humans are animals. Therefore . . .

12. Bad things happen all the time. Therefore . . .

13. We are too busy to not eat animals; not eating animals will prevent us from doing the many good things we are working on. Therefore . . .

14. If Engel’s argument is sound, then all restaurants (esp. fast-food) should close. Therefore . . .

15. Animals have no moral rights. Therefore . .

16. Eskimos and people in the desert have to eat meat and fat; that’s all they have to eat. Therefore . . .

17. Humans do not have natural predators: no other species depends on eating humans to survive. (So we are at the “top” of the “food chain”). Therefore . . .

18. Humans are able to eat animals: it’s something we can do. Therefore . . .

19. People can do whatever they want. Therefore . . .

20. Humans are more important than animals. Therefore . . .

21. Animals are not rational beings: they are not capable of abstract thinking. Therefore .

22. If animals were not raised to be killed and eaten, then the world would be overrun with cows, chickens, and pigs. Therefore . . .

23. If animals were not raised to be killed and eaten, then cows, chickens, and pigs would go extinct. Therefore . . .

24. If it’s wrong to eat animals, then it’s wrong to eat plants. But it’s not wrong to eat plants. Therefore . .

25. It’s not wrong to keep cats and dogs, if they are well-cared for. Therefore . . .

26. Some, but perhaps only a few, humans in the US need meat or milk to survive: that’s all they can digest, nothing else. Therefore . . .

27. If Engel’s argument is sound, then if animals weren’t fed and raised to be killed and eaten, then plants would have to be raised to be eaten by humans. This would take much more land, more land than we have. Therefore . . .

28. Farmers and ranchers are hard-working people. Therefore . .

29. Farmers and ranchers are not doing anything illegal. Therefore . .

30. Animals do not make moral choices: they don’t make decisions about what they do is right or wrong. Therefore . . .

31. Most people will not accept Engel’s argument as sound, or if they do they will not act on it. Therefore . . .

32. The theory of Darwinian evolution is true. Therefore . . .

33. People make choices to eat meat, and people make choices to not eat meat. They make these decisions. Therefore . . .

34. If vegetarian diets were healthy (or healthier), then the government and doctors would encourage people to be vegetarians (and meat wouldn’t be in the Food Pyramid). Therefore . . .

35. For the main moral premises of his argument, Simmons appeals to common moral beliefs that people already accept, not controversial philosophical theories. Therefore . . .

36. Singer appeals to utilitarianism in making his argument. Therefore . . .

37. Everything on Earth, i.e., everything God made, is good. Therefore . . .

38. God and the Bible says eat meat is morally permissible.[1] Therefore . . .

39. Some good athletes are vegetarian; some good athletes are not. Therefore . . .

40. Humans and animals are not equally important. Therefore . . .

41. If you were starving to death, it would be OK to eat meat. Therefore . .

42. Kant’s arguments, i.e., that ___________, are sound. Therefore . .

43. Machan’s arguments are sound, i.e., that ___________, are sound. Therefore . .

44. Eating animals is natural. Therefore . .

45. It’s inconvenient to not eat meat. Therefore . .

46. People have a moral right to raise and kill animals to eat them. Therefore . .

47. Animals are not harmed when they are raised to raise and kill animals to eat them. Therefore . .

48. Animals are not biologically human. Therefore . .

49. Animals are not people. Therefore . .

50. Animals are raised to be eaten; if they weren’t raised to be eaten, then these animals wouldn’t exist. Therefore . .

[1] For excellent, lively discussion of these claims, listen to Dr. Matt Haltemann’s "Living Toward the Peaceable Kingdom" (mp3), "Animal Rights & Christian Responsibility" , (mp3) and notes
Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation” and “Animal Rights and Christian Responsibility” all available at Wheaton College’s Center for Applied Christian Ethics:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Remaining classes


Today/ Friday

· Singer: “All Animals Are Equal”


· Re-read Singer’s, “All Animals Are Equal”

· Simmons, “Reasonable Humans and Animals” – HANDOUT – 3 PAGES

· KANT 1 “Why we have no obligations to animals” – 1PAGE (HANDOUT)

· RACHELS EMP, P. 94-99; “Nonhuman Animals”

· MACHAN: “Do Animals Have Rights?” RTD – 177- 178; 184 (skim the rest, if you want)


· Paper 4 due in class and on Turnit in .

· RTD, Singer “Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary”?

· RTD, Rachels, “In Defense of Quotas”


· RTD, MLK, “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

· EMP, “The problem of civil disobedience,” 152-155

Reading reminder for Friday: Peter Singer's "All Animals Are Equal" in RTD.

The initial question is this: why is racism wrong, according to Singer?

The article is also here:

And here's his webpage

Friday, November 09, 2007

Peer, parent, relative review sheet for your philosophical paper:
(This sheet is also available for download here:

Two reviews must be completed and turned in with your paper. You should revise and improve your paper in light of your reviewers’ comments!

Student’s name: __________________________________________________________________________Paper iTitle:_______________________________________________________________________________Reviewer’s name:_________________________________________________________________________

Dear Reviewer: Please answer these questions on a separate piece of paper. Your responses will help the author write a clearer, more organized, more understandable and better reasoned and argued paper!

1. Thesis: What is the paper’s thesis? Can it be stated in a simpler and more straightforward way? If so, re-write the thesis.

2. Based on reading the whole paper, can you identify the reasons he or she gives in support of her thesis or conclusion? You should be able to fill in this blank: “In this paper, the author argues that (state the thesis) BECAUSE (state the reasons and arguments).”

3. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea AND should work to support the thesis. For each paragraph, identify and write down that main idea AND explain how it helps support the thesis. If any paragraphs don’t do this and/or lack focus, help the author identify this and suggest what can be done to make the paragraphs more focused and organized, as well as support his or her thesis.

Example: “In the second paragraph the author explains ____ . This paragraph helps support the thesis and/or “make the argument of the paper”) because it ______________

4. Does the author accurately and adequately present and explain the views and arguments that he or she discusses? How could the presentation be improved?

5. Does the author raise and respond to an objection(s) to his or her view? How could the author’s response be improved?

6. What questions do you have for the author? What would you be confused about? About what would you ask, “I’m not sure what you mean here, can you please explain this more clearly?” Do you find any problems with organization? Are the arguments not convincing? Are the replies to objections weak?

7. Are there spelling and grammatical errors that the author needs to correct?

7. Final considerations: Help the author identify and omit all needless sentences and words. Eliminate passive voice. Cut out all everything that is not immediately relevant (and necessary) to support your thesis. Make sure that all your sentences are clearly understandable to the reader.

Paper 4:

Are you morally obligated donate 25 cents a day to help people living in absolute poverty?

4-5 pages, typed, double spaced, 12 pt. font, Name, email, class time

How many people in the world live in extreme poverty?
According to NetAid, over a billion people, or roughly one in six, live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$1 a day.
The World Bank goes on to define moderate poverty as basic subsistence living, on $1 to $2 a day. All told, nearly half the world's population lives in poverty -- that's 2.8 billion people living on less than two dollars a day. Some other facts to keep in mind:
• Each year over 8 million people die because they are simply too poor to stay alive.
• More than 800 million people go hungry every day.
• The gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people.
• Thirty-thousand children die every day due to hunger and treatable illnesses.
• 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, as a result of malnutrition

Due Monday, November 26 in class and through the Turnitin system.

NEW: You must turn in two peer / parent / etc. paper reviews with your paper: YOU SHOULD REVISE AND IMPROVE YOUR PAPER IN LIGHT OF THEIR REVIEWS.

In this paper, you should present and critically discuss Peter Singer’s arguments regarding world poverty (Engel and Rachels prove some useful information and arguments also). You should make the discussion personal – i.e., think about what you personally should do. Start small and consider whether Peter Singer gives a sound argument for the conclusion that you (perhaps with some of your friends or family) are morally obligated donate a quarter a day (= $10 a month) to help people living in absolute poverty. So your thesis should either be this:

  • “I will argue that I am morally obligated to donate $.25 a day to help the world’s poor,” or
  • “I will argue that I am not morally obligated to donate $.25 to help the world’s poor.”

Your thesis must be carefully and rigorously defended.

Your papers should have these sections:

Title: ________.

1. Introduction
An introduction, culminating in a thesis, e.g., “I will argue that ______.” Your introduction should introduce the issue or topic to the reader. Assume your reader does not know anything about the topic or the article. You need to explain things so they will understand: see things from their point of view and write accordingly!

2. Singer’s Argument
A section where you carefully and fully explain Singer’s argument, i.e., his conclusion [what exactly is his conclusion? What conclusion have we been considering, for purposes of discussion?] and the reasoning he gives for his conclusion. Singer uses the examples of the Pond, Dora and Bob Explain what role these kinds of examples play in his argument.

3. Objections
Carefully explain at least three of what you think are the best objections to Singer’s argument. Present these objections as valid arguments.

4. Evaluation of these objections and Singer’s argument
Explain whether any of the objections are sound arguments against his argument. Explain whether Singer’s argument is sound, and why, and whether it is not sound. That is, is Singer right, or are the objectors? Should you do something (if yes, what?) to help people living in absolute poverty? Why or why not?

DEFEND YOUR VIEW WITH REASONS. Defend your view from objections: e.g., does your response imply that it would not be wrong for you to let a child drown in a pond, even if you could easily save the child?!

5. Conclusion
Explain things in your own words: do not take exact words from the book or any handouts. NO PLAGIARISM. Think for yourself!

If start supporting some worthy cause (e.g., the $10 Club, see below), then not only will you have helped better the lives of people living in absolute poverty, you will get a free poster that says, “I took Philosophical Ethics and all I did was save a child’s life!

I know of no better place to start – in terms of efficiently making a direct, concrete difference in people’s lives – than The $10 Club (

Other excellent suggestions for organizations that you could support are found in this book at:

Also, see Might you be morally obligated to visit each day to click so that more food is purchased to feed people in absolute poverty?

Dr. Franklin’s Convocation speech also has some relevant discussion of these issues, “Facing the Rising Sun: A New Day Begun”

Here were some of the notes and worksheets we used:

A powerpoint :

Video clip: