Friday, April 27, 2012

By Wednesday, please read and write a detailed response to this short article:

Reasonable Humans and Animals,” John Simmons:

Also, re-read Singer's "All Animals Are Equal."

Please also read, in EMP, section 7.4 in the chapter on Utilitarianism entitled "Third Example: Nonhuman animals." This section might have a different number and pages in your version of the book: what's important is that you find the section on animals and read it carefully. 

We will watch these two short videos over the next few class periods.

"Their future is in your hands," 
Part 1:
Part 2:
Also available here:

"My friends at the farm":

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

For Monday, please read and write a detailed summary and reaction to the three following writings:

- Nathan Nobis, encyclopedia article on Peter Singer for an Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy:
- Peter Singer, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" in RTD and These issues are discussed more in his book The Life You Can Save
- Peter Singer, "All Animals Are Equal" in RTD and   this  is from his famous book Animal Liberation

Please check out this organization:

If these links don't work, please Google the title and you can find another link. 

There are lots of videos on and about Peter Singer on Youtube:

In class, we also read Mylan Engel's "911 and Starvation" (in RTD and online) as well as the first section of EMP Ch. 5, the chapter on "Ethical Egoism."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We will have a quiz this Wednesday (4/18) covering all material since the last quiz. This should be of value:
ABORTION: Abortion argument worksheet.See also my Powerpoint on abortion. 

The test will cover the EMP chapter on morality and religion (e.g., the divine command theory of ethics) and everything we have discussed on the topic of abortion, including the articles by Warren, Marquis and Thompson and  Nobis, Nathan and Jarr-Koroma, Abubakarr Sidique (2010) "Abortion and Moral Arguments From Analogy," [LINK] The American Journal of Bioethics, 10: 12, 59 — 61, First published on: 14 December 2010
 The initial Feldman page is here:

Here are some additional prompts:

EMP, Ch. 4 Does Morality Depend on Religion?
• What is the Divine Command Theory of ethics? What are three arguments 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.
• Can a theist reject the Divine Command Theory of ethics? If so, how? Why might a theist do this?
• 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 and which are Warren’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.
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 Warren’s view, and the view that was developed in class. Explain why, on this theory, 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. 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?
6. 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 against abortion because it suggests an analogous argument against birth control.
7. Some arguments against abortion suggest that birth control and even abstinence are wrong also. (However, since most people don’t believe that 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.
8. 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.
9. What’s Marquis’s argument for the immorality of abortion? Present an objection to each premise of the argument.
10. What is Warren’s argument for the moral permissibility of abortion?
11. Bonus: what are Judith Thompson’s arguments on abortion? What are her conclusions and what are her premises? How does she argued that abortion is typically morally permissible?