Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Study Guide for Test 3


What is ethical egoism? (If someone is an ethical egoist, what exactly does he or she believe?)
• Present at least two logically valid arguments against ethical egoism, i.e., for the conclusion that ethical egoism is false.
• Are these arguments sound or not? Explain and defend your view.

Famine / poverty aid:
• What is Singer’s argument regarding famine aid issues? Be able to present his complete argument in a logically valid form. You will need to know the details.

What role do the examples of the pond/pool, Dora and Bob play in his argument? (i.e., why does he discuss these examples?)
• Be able to present at least 5 objections to Singer’s argument in logically valid form. Since identifying the unstated assumptions behind these arguments was our focus, these objections should be made as logically valid arguments; you’ll need to explain why these arguments are sound or unsound (i.e., why at least one premise is false) and/or defend their premises. Simply asserting that Singer is wrong, or that we have no such obligations, or other responses – without giving reasons and defending them – will be inadequate.
• Explain our final conclusion, the final objection to Singer’s argument. This was that one would indeed be sacrificing something of genuinely comparable moral worth if one gave to famine aid, so one of Singer’s premises is false, and that’s one good reason why his argument is not sound.

You might find this Powerpoint interesting:
And there’s a video here:

Singer on racism, sexism, "intelligence"-ism and speciesism,

· 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.

· 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?


· 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:

Kant & Machan on animals,

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

MLK, the “Letter From Birmingham Jail”:

· What is MLK’s argument in favor of the moral permissibility of non-violently breaking (some) laws? Explain his views.

  • How does MLK distinguish just and unjust laws?

Singer, "Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary?"

  • What's the standard account for why racism is wrong?
  • What are the 3 cases he discusses? What are his arguments about them? How do these cases challenge the standard account?
Rachels, "In Defense of Quotas"
  • Why are quotas morally justified, according to Rachells? What are the best objections to his arguments? What are his replies?
  • explain the methods we have used to respond to moral issues in this class, i.e., try to determine which (if any) arguments about moral issues are sound.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Remaining assignments:

  1. Paper 3 on poverty: this assignment was given out April 15th. See the blog. Due at final or Monday, May 12 at noon.
  2. Paper 4 on animals: this assignment was given out April 25th. See the blog. Due at final or Monday, May 12 at noon
  3. Extra credit Paper 5: extra this assignment was given out April 15th. See the blog. Due at final or Monday, May 12 at noon

SENIOR GRADES DUE: Tuesday MAY 6, 12 PM noon


YOU CAN TAKE THE FINAL Monday, May 5th, 8:00 AM (Or 9) - 10:00 AM (OR it can go till 11). Everything due for seniors by the next Tuesday at 9 AM: nothing later.



Therefore, everything – all writing assignments – are due my Monday, May 12 at noon or, ideally, just turn in everything at the final. No assignments are accepted via email.

3rd exam covers:

  • EMP Chapter 5: Ethical egoism: arguments for & against
  • Absolute poverty:
    • Rachels arguments from EMP; objections and responses
    • Singer’s famine / poverty aid argument(s) from “The Singer Solution to World Poverty”; objections and responses
  • Singers’ “All Animals Are Equal” article
    • His explanation why racism and sexism are wrong.
    • His explanation why speciesism is wrong.
    • Objections and replies; the details of the article. (See handout)
  • Simmons’ article: his argument; objections and replies. (See handout)
  • Kant and Machan on animals; objections and replies. (See handout)
  • Singer, EMP, “Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary?” 3 cases, his arguments, objections and replies
  • Rachels, RTD, “In Defense of Quotas”; his arguments, objections and replies
  • MLK, Letter from Birmingham Jail, in response to “A Call for Unity”
    • MLK on the philosophical life – what he says in The Letter illustrates many of the attitudes and skills we have been trying to develop to use to address all ethical issues:

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."

· The methods of reasoning we have used in this class.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Reading For Monday:

RTD: 29. Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary? Peter Singer 279 OPS Writing Assignment
RTD: 31. In Defense of Quotas James Rachels 299
OPS Writing Assignment
EMP: pp. 152-155

Reading for Wed.:

RTD: 30. Letter from the Birmingham City Jail Martin Luther King, Jr. 291

Paper 4: Topic: Racism, Sexism and Speciesism

Paper 5: Extra Credit: Top 10 List for How To Address Moral Issues

“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 4: 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 animal advocacy 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

PAPER 5: EXTRA CREDIT: Top 10 List for How To Address Moral Issues


Make a "Top 10 List of helpful things to do and/or not do when thinking about moral issues and addressing moral problems." Explain what people can do to better think about and address moral issues: these might be things to look out for and avoid, as well as positive techniques or attitudes or skills to use. 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. 3-4 pages.


Some responses to Singer’s & 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 Singer’s and Simmons’s arguments are 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 Singer’s and Simmons’s ’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 Singer’s and Simmons’s ’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 Singer’s and Simmons’s ’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:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

spacerAn upcoming luncheon hosted by Safe Space, the gay student group at Morehouse College, is named after black gay writer James Baldwin. (Photo by AP)
'House' cleaning
Events, new leadership aim to rid Morehouse College of homophobia

APR. 18, 2008

More from this author


No More “No Homo” Initiative

April 21-26
Morehouse College reddit

Sound Off! about this article


E-Mail this story

Letter to the Editor

BEFORE MICHAEL BREWER WALKS ACROSS the stage next month to receive his bachelor’s degree in political science, he’s determined to continue improving the political and social climate for gay students at Morehouse College.

Brewer and Morehouse Safe Space, a gay student group at the historically black private school, are organizing a week of activities April 21-26 aimed at increasing awareness of homophobia and heterosexism at Morehouse. Dubbed the “No More ‘No Homo’ Initiative,” the weeklong campaign also seeks to eradicate one of the most commonly used epithets gay students encounter at the all-male college.

“It really came from a place of wanting to leave not only my institution, but my community in a better place than I found it in for those coming after me,” Brewer says. “I think the situation [for gay students at Morehouse] is definitely improving.

“It’s not quite as bad as it’s always been, but anywhere that hatred persists and tolerance is the goal, and not the standard, then there’s more work to be done,” Brewer adds.

The initiative kicks off April 21 with the showing of “No Hetero,” a documentary produced by three film students at neighboring Spelman College. The film uses the experiences of gay and lesbian students at Morehouse and Spelman to look at the broader issue of sexual orientation discrimination among African-Americans.

On April 22, members of Morehouse Safe Space are scheduled to appear before the student senate and submit a resolution calling for more awareness of the plight of gay students at Morehouse. A panel discussion on homophobia at historically black colleges and universities is scheduled for April 23, while “National Day of Silence” activities are planned for April 24 and April 25.

The week culminates April 26 with the James Baldwin Brunch, a coalition-building luncheon designed to link students with supportive administrators, faculty and activists.

BREWER FIRST arrived at Morehouse as the school was still reeling from national media coverage of an anti-gay attack in one of the school’s dormitories. Morehouse’s administration was widely criticized for their handling of the attack, but Brewer said things have gotten remarkably better since Robert M. Franklin became Morehouse president earlier this year.

“I think Morehouse is really kind of taking on a new role and showing a new side of itself,” Brewer says. “They’re saying that they’re ready to address these issues and ready to integrate them into the Morehouse College education and experience.”

In his Feb. 15 inaugural address, Franklin called on Morehouse students to be “men who respect and celebrate diversity, and are secure enough not to be intimidated by the presence of different sexual orientations, but rather, stand in solidarity with those who are in the minority.”

Despite lingering intolerance, Brewer says his experience as a black gay man at Morehouse has been fulfilling.

“I have to say, I love my institution,” he says. “I’ve had a slew of positive experiences there, I’ve had a slew of challenging experiences there. It’s a place where everyone comes to become the man that they were meant to be.”

ONE OF THE LARGEST CHALLENGES REMAINING at Morehouse is combating that casual homophobia that manifests in terms like “no homos” allowed in parties, student organizations and friendship circles.

“The term ‘no homo’ is such a very common term,” Brewer says. “It kind of traverses all aspects of life at my institution. It’s almost a mantra or life philosophy, if you will.

“It usually suffixes a statement to reassert someone’s masculinity, or clarify a sentiment that they feel needs to be stated, in terms of ‘Don’t come on to me,’” Brewer adds. “So really this whole week is addressing why is it that we use that term, and what does it mean to a homosexual student when other students use it.”

Despite Morehouse’s long and well-earned reputation as a school with many gay students, the gay population and groups like Safe Space continue to strive for greater visibility.

“Homosexuality, or bisexuality, or any queer identity is still so taboo in the African-American community,” Brewer says. “A lot of time, I think the problem comes when the community doesn’t rise up and address those things [like “no homo”] as problems. Unless someone tells them that something is offensive and wrong, how are they ever going to know that they need to change and correct their behavior?”
I didn't send out an email about this, I think.
The reading and OPS Writing for Wed. is this 3 page article here, John Simmons, "Reasonable Humans & Animals" :
There is also a section in EMP in the utilitarianism chapter on animals. Please read and OPS that too.

In case you didn't know about this, you can both buy and sell used books on Amazon. For example, Gene Baur's book is available used for $11, instead of teh $25 new:

I was glad to see so many of ya'll last night at his talk. More info on Farm Sanctuary is here:

If anyone goes to see Ward Churchill tonight -- see previous message -- please take extra good notes for me, in case I can't make it.

I had mistakenly believed that classes ended this Wednesday! I am glad to learn that we have more time!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Here's a double extra credit option for tonight:

Farm Sanctuary Co-Founder and President, Gene Baur is coming to Atlanta for a reading from his new book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.
Gene will be at the Borders bookstore at 3637 Peachtree Rd NE, Suite C, Atlanta, GA. This event starts at 7:30 PM. This event is free to the public, and his book with be available for sale. To learn more about Gene Baur's new book, please visit his website A flier for this event is here .
If you go, please be there on time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Paper 3:

Are you morally obligated to 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.

Due at the time of the final exam. 12 pm class:_________________; 1 pm class _______________________

This is a group paper: you can write this paper in a group of up to 3 people, if you’d like. For a variety of reasons, I think this approach will help you better address the issue. Each person’s name should be on the paper; each person should contribute equally to the thinking behind the paper, the writing and the proofreading.

Some information:

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.

First, see these web pages:

Then review our readings and meet to discuss and start work on the paper:

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 or members of your paper group!) 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 an introduction that culminates in a thesis, e.g., “I (or we) 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!

You need 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.
Carefully explain at least three of what you think are the best objections to Singer’s argument. Present these objections as valid arguments. 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?! Your paper should have a conclusion. See the Vaughn book for a review on writing philosophy.