Thursday, April 21, 2011

For Monday, please read the EMP chapter on Utilitarianism -- the first chapter on utilitarianism, NOT the second one and write a detailed summary of it.

Also, please read and write a detailed summary of this very short online article:
"Reasonable Humans and Animals," by John Simmons:

Also here is an organization I have mentioned recently:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Please be to class on time today and bring both your books.
In addition to EMP Ch. 5, we might look at the RTD article by Peter Singer, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty."

We will work through this PowerPoint:

And argument worksheet:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A reminder: the quiz was moved to tomorrow, Wednesday. A study guide is on the blog!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I am slowly returning all your papers. Here are some quick comments about all of the papers:

Papers tended to go well when 
- they fit the assignment (and the requirements of philosophy papers generally) in that 
- they presented arguments in logically valid form, 
- discussed whether arguments were sound or not, 
- explained why or why not various premises are true or not (often using the concept of a counter example) and 
- raised and responded to objections. 
And, of course, they had an introduction, a thesis, were well-organized, were grammatical and spelling-error- free and had a conclusion.

Papers tended to be poor when they did less of this. So, people lost points when they:
- did not present arguments in logically valid form;
- when they did not do this, they really could not discuss whether they were sound or not;
- when they did this, they tended to not consider objections to the arguments or respond to them;
- they ignored discussion from the books and class; thus, they avoided objections we discussed: since the point of philosophy papers is to engage objections to your views, that is contrary to the point of philosophy papers. 


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

For Friday, please re-read Thompson on abortion
Nobis, Nathan and Jarr-Koroma, Abubakarr Sidique (2010) "Abortion and Moral Arguments From Analogy," The American Journal of Bioethics, 10: 12, 59 — 61, First published on: 14 December 2010

The quiz has been moved to Wednesday, not Monday.
Thanks, NN

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

As mentioned in class yesterday, please read and bring to class the article by Judith Thompson, "A Defense of Abortion" for discussion Wednesday.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Hi All,
Quiz 2 will be Monday April 11. It will cover the topics of homosexuality and abortion, and cover all assigned readings, the handouts (i.e., argument worksheets) and class discussion. An emphasis will be on the skills of stating arguments in logically valid form (and adding unstated premises to do that) and assessing them for soundness (often using counterexamples). Here are some additional questions that you should be able to answer:

EMP, Ch. 4 Does Morality Depend on Religion? (see also RTD, “Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy”)
1. What is the Divine Command Theory of ethics (see both RTD and EMP)? Is an against it, i.e., arguments to think it is false? Are these objections strong objections to it, i.e., give reason to think it’s false, or not? Explain.
2. Socrates asked, "[A] Does God command doing certain actions because they are right actions, or [B] are actions right because God commands them?" Explain this question, responses [A] and [B] and what’s entailed by them, and which response is a better response and why.
3. Can a theist reject the Divine Command Theory of ethics? If so, how? Why might a theist do this?
4. Rachels discusses a number of challenges in appealing to religious texts, authorities and traditions for understanding and resolving moral issues. What are these challenges? (62-67; also, 50-51). Is Rachels right in thinking that these are challenges, or not? Defend your view on whether appealing to Bible and religious traditions alone are adequate to answer moral questions.
Be able to present all the arguments about abortion that we discussed in class in logically valid premise-conclusion form, explain them and evaluate them as sound or unsound, with reasons. A full handout, with all the premises stated, is here:

Be able to know which arguments are Marquis’s, which are Warren’s and which are Thompson's. Here are some details that you’ll know if you are familiar with all the discussed arguments;

1. Some people think about “abortions” in general. Explain why we thought it’s better, when one develops a moral view about abortion, to make it clear whether one’s view pertains to all abortions or only some of them, and if just some of them, that one explains which abortions one is arguing to be right or wrong. The Feldman handout gave some insight into this:
2. Some people disagree about whether fetuses are “human” or “human beings”. To help resolve this dispute, be able to explain how the word “human” (as in the claim ‘Fetuses are human’) is ambiguous; be able to explain two distinct meanings, with examples. Although we discussed this in class, Warren also provided this explanation in this extra credit reading:
3. Be able to explain one method of reasoning to try to figure out the meaning of the word “person” or what the concept of “person” or “being a person” is. This method is generally useful for trying to figure out the meanings of words or concepts when their meanings are not clear.
4. Be able to explain what it is to be a person, on the theory developed in class, and the view that was developed in class. Explain why, on thistheory, if God exists, God is a person. Explain why, on this theory, if “ET” existed, ET, Worf, Jabba The Hut and other fictional persons would exist as persons.
5. Since you should be able to explain all the arguments, be able to give a logically valid argument against abortion from fetuses’ potential to be persons. Be able to explain whether any premises in that argument are false. In particular, you need to explain whether , in general, potentialthings of a kind have all the characteristics (esp rights) of actual things of that kind.
6. According to scientists and physicians, approximately when do human fetuses develop some kind of consciousness and ability to feel pain? (Present the range of scientific estimates). Do most actual abortions occur before or after this time period?
7. Explain why a bumper that said “Aren’t you glad your mother didn’t have an abortion?” doesn’t appear to suggest a sound argument againstabortion because it suggests an analogous argument against birth control.
8. Some arguments against abortion suggest that birth control and even abstinence are wrong also. (However, since most people don’t believethat birth control and abstinence are wrong, they take this false implication to reveal a fault with the argument.) Explain how this is so and which exact premises have that implication.
9. Some people get upset when it is said, and even argued (i.e., reasons are given), that (early) fetuses are not “persons” and not conscious, feeling beings. Explain to them why they should not get upset, since these facts do not entail that abortions are right. Explain why that is so, i.e., why this argument is invalid:
a. If fetuses were persons, then killing them would be wrong.
b. But fetuses are not persons.
c. Therefore, killing them is not wrong.
10. What’s Don Marquis’s argument for the immorality of abortion? What’s his overall strategy? Present an objection to each premise of the argument that is not the "objection" that not everyone has a valuable future.
11. What’s Judith Thompson's argument for the moral permissibility of abortion? What’s her overall strategy? What important points does she contribute to the discussion of the ethics of abortion?

Here’s a PowerPoint on abortion that you might find interesting: