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.