Monday, April 28, 2014

Arguments to state in valid form and evaluate as sound or not

Simmons’ argument below is unsound OR “it’s not wrong to eat meat” because:

  1. We are “at the top of the food chain.”
  2. We are omnivores: we have canines:
  3. Animals eat other animals.
  4. It’s natural to eat meat.
  5. We like “the finer things in life”: we like to do stuff that’s convenient and comfortable.
  6. Meat tastes good / better than vegetarian foods.
  7. It’s not illegal to eat meat.
  8. Animals are alive. Plants are alive and are harmed when killed.
  9. The world would be overpopulated with animals if they were not raised and killed to be eaten.
  10. If we did not raise animals to kill and eat them, they would go extinct!
  11. People ate meat in the Bible: the Bible does not condemn eating meat.
  12. Some people can’t eat vegetarian foods, or it is very very difficult.
  13. Animals aren’t humans!
  14. No humans are harmed in the process of raising and killing animals to eat them.
  15. Most people don’t know enough to healthily eat vegetarian.
  16. Extra vitamins are required for a vegetarian diet [B-12?], and many people cannot afford them.

This argument is unsound OR it is not wrong to eat meat because:
  1. Plants are alive too!
  2. Eating meat helps control the animal population: if animals weren’t raised to be eaten, then they would overpopulate.
  3. Eating meat is necessary for our diets. F
  4. We have a God given right to eat meat.
  5. God or the Bible says it’s OK to eat meat.
  6. If animals eat meat, then it’s OK for us to meat: If animals do X, then it’s OK for us to do X.
  7. Vegetarian food is more expensive.
  8. People would have to eat processed food. ?? (vegetables; grains; beans; fruits).
  9. People would have to eat more food if they didn’t eat meat. ?
  10. People’s taste preferences are more important than animals’s lives and well being.
  11. Meat tastes good.
  12. There is the circle of life. / The food chain.
  13. We are omnivores: our teeth and digestive systems are like cats and dogs and tigers.

  1. If an action causes serious harms that are unnecessary, then that action is wrong.
  2. Raising animals to kill them and eat them causes harms (to animals and perhaps to human beings).
  3. These harms are unnecessary (life, healthy, nutrition, tasty eating, being an  athlete
  4. C1. It it’s wrong to raise and kill animals so that they might be eaten.
  5. If someone is acting wrongly, then it’s wrong to support them (especially if you can do not support them “safely”, pretty easily and especially if you might benefit). ­
  6. C2. It’s wrong to eat meat and other animal products.

Final exam information

Final exam times:

This quiz will cover everything since the last quiz, such as:
- the chapters on utilitarianism
- "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" and related issues
- Michael Huemer's article on drug use
- Peter Singer's "All Animals Are Equal" argument (explained in class)
- John Simmons' argument for vegetarianism

Friday at noon we can have an optional review session.

For 12 PM class, final is Wednesday, May 7, from 1-3 PM.
For 1 PM class, final is Monday, May 5, from 8-10 AM. *

Seniors: since grades are due Thursday, May 8, you can take the final at the regular time. Clearly mark, however that you are a senior.

Graduating seniors, and only graduating seniors, can take the final quiz on Friday at 10 AM, if they wish. Or they can take it at one of the regular times above. 

* See discussion in class concerning the 1 PM's class final time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Assignment Extensions

By Friday May 2, at noon (note extension): "homework forgiveness day". You will have the opportunity to submit up to 3 late homework assignments via Turnitin by that day by noon.

The philosophical service project, and your report on it, are due by Friday, May 2, by noon, via Turnitin at noon. (Note extension).

Monday, April 21, 2014

For Wednesday and Friday:
Please read "Reasonable Humans and Animals: An Argument for Vegetarianism"

From Wednesday's class:
Peter Singer: 
Book: Animal Liberation
Article: "All animals are equal", in the Right Thing to Do and widely reprinted online.

Video we watched:
Their Future in Your Hands  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reading for Monday, also in the RTD book:

America’s Unjust Drug War
by Michael Huemer

Reading: Michael Huemer “America’s Unjust Drug War


Watch Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, on Drug War Racism:

Reminder: also due Monday, the final sections of the Harvard writing book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Final sections of writing book

Please read the EMP chapters on utilitarianism. Also read "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" from the NY Times.

Resources; click here for videos: 

"Effective Altruism"

Organizations mentioned in the video above:

For next Monday, 4/21, please complete your outline or summary of the Harvard writing book. Due via Turnitin.

By Friday May 2, at noon (note extension): "homework forgiveness day". You will have the opportunity to submit up to 3 late homework assignments via Turnitin by that day.

Group Service Project

For this assignment, you will, in a group, perform some "community service." The service you will provide is demonstrating to the community how to thinking critically about moral issues using the logical methods we've practiced in this class. So, you will model thinking in systematic ways about moral issues, engage some arguments from your audience and help them evaluate these arguments.

This project, and your report on it, are due by Friday, May 2, by noon, via Turnitin. (Note extension).

Here's what to do:
1. Find a group of 2-4 students.
2. Pick a topic from the syllabus, or develop your own, with approval from Dr. Nobis:

the treatment of disabled newborns, female genital mutilation, homosexuality, abortion, absolute poverty, racism, sexism, and speciesism, drug use and the criminalization of drug use, vegetarianism and the treatment of animals, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and capital punishment, 

3. Develop at least 5 arguments in logically valid form on this topic. 

4. Find an audience of at least 4 people, not from this class.

5. Present your arguments to this audience. Given them an introduction to what you will do in your presentation. Explain to them what you will do and how you will do it. State and explain your five arguments and evaluate them as sound or not. 

6. Get at least 3 (ideally, at least 5) new arguments, or premises, on the topic from the audience.

7. With the audience, formulate these arguments in logically valid form and determine whether they are sound or not.

8. Formulate any conclusions from your discussion and wrap it up.

9. Write up a report on what happened, using this form: 

Philosophical "Community Service" Project:
DUE by Friday, May 2, at noon. Submitted by
Report Form
1.      Class Time:
2.      Group members:    (note: each member must submit this report via Turnitin).
3.      Your topic:  
4.      Summarize the introduction to what you will do in your presentation. What will you explain to audience about what you will do and how you will do it. You need to explain the methods that you will use to identify and evaluate moral arguments.
5.      Present at least 5 arguments on that topic, stated in logically valid form.
6.      Evaluate those 5 arguments as sound or not. Explain why they are sound or not. (Note: merely stating whether an argument is sound or not does not explain why it is sound or not: so explanation is needed).
7.      Your audience members’s names:
8.      Your audience’s reactions to the arguments that you presented and your evaluation of them:
9.      The 3-5 arguments from the audience:
10.  These arguments stated in logically valid form:
11.  Your, and the audience’s, evaluations of these arguments as sound or not:
12.  Your conclusions and summary of this activity that you presented to the audience.
13.  Your group’s reflections on this experience: what went well? What was interesting? What was surprising? What was challenging? How was this experience, overall? 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Quiz 2

Quiz 2, next Friday April 11, covering everything since the last quiz: EMP Ch. 3 and 4, for the most part.

Here is the powerpoint on abortion we've looked at: 

And although we haven't used this handout on abortion, it could be useful.

And recall this handout from long ago:
Common Arguments on Homosexuality “Mad Libs” Worksheet, available here: