Section 1:1. What is the minimum conception of morality? Give examples. Your answer should involve what it means to be a contentious agent and walk us through what they would do in a given situation.2. How should I go about choosing a theory? What are the qualities of good (ie, better) theories? Please explain those qualities as best you can and give examples of how a theory from the first unit fails for each. (you can use as many different theories or principles as you deem necessary).3. How does a theory (your choice of theory) from unit 1 fail to meet the minimum conception of morality? (obviously, you must explain the MCM first and also explain the theory itself before showing how it fails)4. How are some ways that this course (thus far) have surprised you, made you reassess your views, and/or given you something to think about? This should involve some of the basics of morality we discussed in the first subsection of unit 1.Section 2:What is an inductive/deductive argument? Name one KIND of each argument then give an example of each.What is soundness/validity? Can we have one without the other? Give an example of each (along with examples of that lack both/either).What is an informal fallacy? Pick two fallacies and explain them using/with your own examples.What are the five principles of honest dialectical engagement (aka, the rules of engagement)? Identify and explain/define (w/examples).Section 3:According to the Socratic view of morality summarized by Frankena, is a person brought up by immoral parents in a corrupt society capable of making correct moral judgments? Why or why not? Do you agree?In defending his decision about whether to escape, Socrates offers three arguments that demonstrate a typical pattern of reasoning. Which of these arguments do you find most compelling? How might you rationally convince Socrates to change his mind?People commonly choose to act to conform to popular opinion. If popular opinion led to the same conclusions arrived at through moral reasoning, would it still be important to engage in moral philosophy? Why or why not? Support your answer with an example.In the Crito, what arguments does Crito make to persuade Socrates to try to escape from prison? How does Socrates respond to these arguments? Who do you think has the stronger case and why?The nation is at war, and your number in the recently reinstated military draft has just come up. The problem is that after serious reflection, you have concluded that the war is unjust. What advice might Socrates give you? Would you agree? What might you decide to do?It is clear in the dialogue that Socrates is not guilty of the crime for which he is to be punished. Why, nonetheless, does Socrates think he must accept the punishment? Is Socrates making a mistake here? What might compel you to accept punishment for a crime you did not commit?Under what circumstances, if any, is it morally permissible to break the law? Explain how your position relates to the one King puts forward in his “Letter.”Imagine that King travels back in time to accompany Crito on his visit to Socrates’s cell. What do you imagine he might say? Would he try to convince Socrates to escape? Why or why not?How does King criticize the white church and its leadership? Do you think his criticism is fair? How might a member of the church leadership respond?King wished to respond to the charge that he was an outsider inserting himself where he did not belong. Part of this response was his claim “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” What is its significance? Does this claim cohere with his larger message in the letter? How?On some moral matters there is longstanding and widespread agreement. For example, all agree that killing innocent children is wrong. In such cases, is it still important that we supply reasons to support our moral judgments? Is it permissible, in some cases, to simply accept a unanimously agreed-upon moral judgment?Section 4:In the book of Genesis, God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Obediently, Abraham binds Isaac, lays him on an altar, and raises his knife before God calls off the sacrifice at the last possible moment. What would Regan say about Abraham’s willingness to kill his son? Is that willingness morally justifiable? What do you think?Is it possible to be moral without believing in God? Why or why not?Cahn argues that God’s existence would not matter morally. How does he defend this assertion? Do you find his argument compelling? Why or why not?What is the dilemma that Socrates raises in the Euthyphro? Do you think this dilemma poses a damning problem for the divine command theorist? Explain your answer.Is it possible to be both a social reformer and a cultural relativist? If so, explain how. Can you give any examples of social reform movements that might make sense from a cultural relativist perspective?Rachels argues that all cultures must have some values in common. Why does he think this? Do you agree? Explain your position.What is the problem with drawing conclusions about what is true from facts about what people believe? Provide an example that makes clear why this is a mistake.If cultural relativism were true, would it follow that different societies should be tolerant of their differences? Why or why not?Rachels claims that we may draw two lessons from cultural relativism. What are these two lessons? Do you agree with Rachels on these two points?Section 5:According to Nagel, what follows from the belief that others have a good reason to care not just about their own interests but about our interests as well? Explain his position. Do you agree with his claim that virtually all of us share this belief? Why or why not?What difference, if any, is there between something being wrong and something being against the law?Nagel claims that in answering the question “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” reveals why you should not treat others badly. Suppose someone answers: “I wouldn’t like it if someone did that to me. But luckily no one is doing it to me. I’m doing it to someone else, and I don’t mind that at all!” How does this response miss the point of the question?Are all our actions ultimately motivated by self-interest? Explain your view with reference to Rachels’s arguments and also spell out its ethical implications.What, according to Rachels, is psychological egoism? What are the merits of psychological egoism? Do you think a version of this position is immune to Rachels’s criticisms? Explain your answer.According to Rachels, the unselfish person is precisely the one who derives satisfaction from helping others. Why does Rachels believe that this poses problems for psychological egoism? Do you think he is correct about these problems? Why or why not?What is ethical subjectivism? Suppose a serial killer approves of his murderous actions. According to subjective relativism, are the killer’s actions therefore justified? Do you believe a serial killer’s murders are justified? If not, is your judgment based on a subjective relativist’s perspective or an objectivist perspective? (This question could also be used as part of section 6).How does emotivism (subjectivism reborn) differ from subjectivism? How does it avoid the issues of subjectivism (simple)? What does it reject about our notions about ethics lied out during the first few weeks of class (the minimum conception and good theory choice)? (This question could also be used as part of section 6).Section 6:Cahn contrasts the fates of Joan, who is unwilling to sacrifice her moral integrity to accept an attractive job offer, and Kate, who chooses the opposite path. Write an essay answering the question that concludes Cahn’s story: “Which of the two was wiser?” Make sure you explain how you understand happiness and how you might respond to some of the alternative views put forward in the reading.Suppose Cahn agreed that Fred could not sustain his good reputation and that cases like that of Kate and Joan are uncommon. Would this undermine his argument? Why or why not?Murphy claims to pity Fred. He asks, rhetorically, “But why would I pity him if I thought that he was truly happy?” How is this question supposed to further Murphy’s argument? Does it support Murphy’s position and, if so, how?Explain Stevenson’s view of the role that science can play in resolving an ethical disagreement. Do you agree with his assessment? Why or why not? Cite some concrete examples of scientific beliefs having an impact on ethical conflicts.How might you try to resolve a bitter disagreement between two of your friends over who the next president should be? In explaining your position, be sure to address Stevenson’s arguments about the nature of ethical conflict.Stevenson describes a dispute between two people choosing where to eat dinner. How does this illustrate the distinction between disagreement in attitude and disagreement in belief? What other examples demonstrate this point?Foot notes that “there are objective, factual evaluations of such things as human sight, hearing, memory, and concentration, based on the life form of our own species.” How does this claim feature in her argument? Why, if one accepts this claim, should human will should be evaluated on the basis of facts about the nature of human beings?What is Foot’s argument for the conclusion that moral action is rational action? What is the strongest objections to that argument? Is Foot’s view ultimately convincing?Foot claims that moral goodness is closely related to practical rationality. What argument does she supply for this claim?Foot anticipates an objection to her view: Some will insist that the fact of an agent’s having reason to do something is itself dependent on his or her feelings, passions, or desires. This, it is claimed, implies that moral judgments involve a conative element. How does Foot respond to this objection? Is her response compelling? Can you devise a stronger reply?Are some acts right or wrong regardless of what anyone happens to believe? If so, what explains that fact? (Subjectivism chapter)Driver defines subjectivism as a form of moral relativism which holds that individual beliefs or attitudes determine the truth-value of moral claims. Suppose Driver is right that subjectivism is untenable. Are there other, more plausible forms of moral relativism? How would they differ from subjectivism?Driver’s arguments against subjectivism presuppose that moral disagreement over truth is an essential part of morality, for which any good theory of moral truth must account. Is she right about this? Why or why not?
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