Friday, June 29, 2012

Simmons’ argument:

  1. Raising and killing animals to eat them harms animals (AND human beings).
  2. It is not necessary to raise and kill animals to eat them: we can live happy and healthy lives without eating animals.
  3. If an action causes harms that are not necessary, then that action is wrong.
  4. Eating meat is wrong: it’s wrong to raise and kill animals to eat them.

Vegetarian Diets
Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282 (July 2009)
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Questions to write about:
  1. The nurse arguably helped let Mac die. Was it morally permissible for her to
NOT hit the button so that he could die? Why or why not?
He didn’t want to suffer; his dying would end his suffering; nurses were overwhelmed by the awfulness of Mac’s situations; (3) Mac’s autonomy was not respected;
His own will to die; shouldn’t prevent God’s will via science.. ; overwhelmed keeping him alive ; so much suffering better off dead..
Shouldn’t be forced to live; repeatedly asked; “died” already; wife was relieved.. ; been through so much…
Right to die; postponing his death.. ; wife relieved at death ; brought down overall demeanor of hospital. He had asked to be let die; no one else would be harmed..

A principle:

If someone is
-        Suffering horribly and
-        Their suffering cannot be relieved, and
-        They want to die, and
-        Some friend or family member(s) agree that they’d be better off dead, and
-        There’s no realistic chance for recovery..
Then it is permissible to let them die.

  1. Suppose, at some point after his diagnosis and “decay”, someone
had given Mac a lethal injection to kill him because he asked for it.
Could that have been morally permissible? Why or why not?

Wouldn’t harm him OR anyone else; everyone would be content; end his life sooner, so ending his (and everyone else’s) misery sooner than later; smooth
Would suffer more without the injection
Consented.. painless death; relief for all involved..
Already gonna die; no more prolonging the death; wanted it; relieve nurse s and wife and all involved; right to die

If someone is
-        Suffering horribly and
-        Their suffering cannot be relieved, and
-        They want to die, and
-        Some friend or family member(s) agree that they’d be better off dead, and
-        There’s no realistic chance for recovery..
Then it is permissible to actively kill this patient BECAUSE doing so – “active euthanasia” brings about the same ends or results as “passive euthanasia” but quicker, so with less pain and suffering and more immediate satisfaction of patients’ wishes, i.e., respect for their autonomy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For Thursday, please read EMP Ch. 7 & 8 - the two chapters on utilitarianism - and write a detailed summary of them. Please submit this by

Also, please read this short article and write a detailed summary of it by Thursday: "Reasonable Humans and Animals":  John Simmons, “Reasonable Humans and Animals,” 

For Monday, please read EMP Ch. 9 and 10 -- the two chapters on Kant's ethics - and write a detailed summary of them. Please submit this by 


From now on, all work shall be submitted online via

The class ID # is  5229701
The class password is the word ethics. This should be lower case.  

If you do not have an account, you will have to create one:  


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For Wed, EMP Ch. 5 detailed summary or outline 
the list-building assignment concerning this topic: see the syllabus. 

We are discussing an article, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty," from the NY Times and widely reposted online.  

  ABORTION: Abortion argument worksheet.See also my Powerpoint on abortion.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tuesday we will move onto Chapter 5.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This reading on "Simple Moral Arguments" was discussed today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

There will be a midterm quiz Thursday, up to chapter 3, covering everything thus far in the course.

Students can use a 1 page study guide for the quiz: only the front of a page (not front and back), 8.5 by 11 paper. 
  • Questions about what some theory is (Kantianism, utilitarianism.. moral theories generally
  • Questions about concepts
    • arguments: 
      • what is an argument
      • logically valid (definitions of logically valid can you have a valid argument w true premises but a false conclusion? can you have a valid argument with false premises?),
        • If not valid... what ca be changed to make valid?
      • sound;  
      • modus ponuns, modus tollens; syllogism aka universal generalization
      • what is a question begging argument?
    • difference between morally permissible/obligatory and wrong? (why do we not use the word 'right'?) 

RTD Ch. 1. A short introduction to moral philosophy
RTD Ch 2 Some basic points about argments
EMP CH 1 - Rachels had some general ideas about moral thinking; 3 cases: baby theresa; tracy lattimer and the twins Jodie and Mary:
EMP Ch. 2 - cultural relativism, the moral theory: what is it? arguments against it? what are the arguments to think CR is true? female genital mutilation, Harvard law review article w the arguments in favor of it.
EMP 3: subjectivism / emotivism..  nice overlap with RTD Ch2 "Some basic points about arguments". homosexuality..

Nobody will be harmed and someone will benefit if we kill Teresa and take her organs.
Any action that benefits someone and harms nobody is MP.
Therefore, killing her is MP.

Using stem cells is wrong.

      •  cultural relativism
        • prohibits the judging of other cultures
    • ambiguous word choice? clarity? "Right"?

Monday, June 18, 2012

For Tuesday, please read EMP Ch. 4 and write a detailed and complete summary or outline of the chapter. See directions below and on the syllabus for how to do this. This is due Tuesday. Also, please develop a list of 10 reasons given to think that abortion is wrong and at least 5 reasons given to think abortion is morally permissible. This is due Tuesday as well.

Friday, June 15, 2012

For Monday, we will discuss the arguments concerning homosexuality. Make sure your list of 10 reasons given in favor of the conclusion that homosexuality is wrong are formulated in logically valid form. There are a lot of assignments on the schedule; please make sure you are up to date on them. We are now a day behind.

P1. Ashley is a Spelman student. T
P2. All Spelman students are rich = If someone is a Spelman student, then she is rich. F
C. Therefore, Ashley is rich.

P1. Brittany is a Spelman student. T
p.2 All Spelman students play soccer = Any Spelman student plays soccer = If someone goes to Spelman, then that someone plays soccer.  F - counterexamples
C Therefore, Brittany is a soccer player.




Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guidance on EMP chapter summaries:

Some summaries turned in are not complete - they do not address all the sections of the chapter - and/or they are not detailed.

To address this problem, I suggest that these summaries can also be outlines of the chapter; since the chapter is divided into sections, make an outline of the chapter and be sure to discuss all the sections of the chapter.

To make sure you have adequate detail, think about this: suppose you could use these summaries or outlines during a test that could cover anything in the chapter: wouldn't you then wish your summaries/outlines were as detailed as they could be?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

For Thursday and Friday, back on schedule:

June 14
Topics: homosexuality
Additional writing: Arguments lists: state at least 10 reasons people sometimes give to think that homosexuality is wrong.
9.       June 15
Topics: homosexualit

Wednesday, in class notes:
Read paper on trans fat bans; in class:
In class writing assignment: summarize the main point(s) of the article as concisely as possible. If someone asked, “What was the main point of that article? What did Nobis argue in that article?” what’s the shortest way to answer that?

Cultural relativism: a moral theory
  1. what is it?
  2. Why think it’s true?
  3. Why think it’s false? If CR is true, then ___X__. But X is wrong, so Cr is false.
  4. Whadaya think about it, in light of the arguments for and against?

Believing to be X versus it really being X

Reacting with good reasons or NOT. If someone is harmed, then that’s a good reason to think doing whatever is wrong.
Differences – is anyone harmed or not?

Female genital mutilation -  – Reading, “What’s Culture Got to Do with it?” "What's Culture Got to Do with it? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision"  and Rachels
  1. what is it?
  2. Why think it’s permissible?
  3. Why think it’s wrong?
  4. Whadaya think about it, in light of the arguments for and against?

1.      Understand (the theory, the argument, whatever.): what is it?
2.      Arguments in favor of X?
a.      Evaluate the arguments
3.      Arguments against X?
a.      Evaluate the arguments
4.      Given our understanding of X and the arguments for and against X, what should we think about X?