Study Guide to Final Examination
You are responsible for all this semester's material, but there will be more questions on capital punishment, since you have not yet been tested on that material. The answers to the essays should demonstrate both your knowledge of the readings and lectures and your ability to write well-organized essays. Neither a fine essay that shows little knowledge of the lectures and readings nor a set of scattered remarks showing your knowledge constitutes "A" work.
In preparing for the examination, you should review the readings and especially your lecture notes. The questions are reasonably general, so you don't have to worry about memorizing minor details, but good answers (of course) will show your mastery of details that are important for the particular arguments you will be making. Here are some questions you might think about to prepare for the examination
1. Locke and rights: What is the essence of his view? What are rights? What's the difference between saying "A has a right to X" and "It is is right for A to X?" How are rights and duties related? Where do rights come from? Do they depend on society? What are, from Locke's view the morally relevant facts about, for example, abortion?
2. Kant: What are the two formulations of the categorical imperative? Why do we need it? What does it mean to treat people as ends in themselves? What was the point of the Aretha Franklin video? Why does a benevolent action caused by someone's desire to help another person have (in Kant's view) no true moral worth?
3. Utilitarianism: When is an action or policy right? How do right and wrong depend on the circumstances? Does utilitarianism make right and wrong relative? Should utilitarians constantly be calculating the consequences of each of their actions? How should one apply utilitarianism to policy questions?
4. Liberatarianism: What is the difference between libertarianism as a political philosophy and libertarianism as a set of political policies. Why do libertarians believe that freedom is so important?
5. Surrogate motherhood: Give the main "Lockean" argument why surrogate motherhood contracts should be permitted and enforced. Give two criticisms that might be made of this argument. What should a Kantian or a utilitarian say about surrogate motherhood?
6. Abortion: State the two versions of the standard anti-abortion argument made by those who stress the right to life. Explain how Thomson criticizes one version of that argument in the essay discussed in lecture. What exactly is the relevance of the violinist example? Explain why it does not apply only to the case of rape and why it is better not to see it as an analogy to abortion. Explain what the slippery slope argument is and why it is fallacious. What is the difference between the slippery slope argument and the no relevant difference argument? Why does Warren think that abortion is morally permissible? Why does Brody think that abortion is morally impermissible even when the mother will die if no abortion is performed? Discuss his lifeboat analogy and why our intuitions in that case are so different than in Thomson's violinist case. Does Brody believe that abortion is always morally impermissible? Explain how and why Marquis shifts the question from a concern with the right to life and how Marquis would respond to Warren. Does Marquis have an answer to Thomson? What would a utilitarian say about abortion? What would a utilitarian say about Marquis' essay?
7. Affirmative action: Are you prepared to defend the claim that it is morally impermissible to hire individuals on any basis except their qualifications? What's the big problem with this blanket claim? If discrimination on the basis of race is not automatically wrong, what was wrong with Jim Crow? How exactly is the rectification argument supposed to work? Does it work? What are the most serious objections to it? What is the difference between regarding affirmative action as compensation for past injustices and regarding it as compensating for inequalities in opportunity? What is the difference between defending affirmative action as a form of rectification and defending affirmative action as a form of reparations? Isn't it obviously unjust to expect recent immigrants to contribute to reparations? What are the main "forward-looking" considerations in support of affirmative action and against it? What is the relevance of Bowen and Bok's data? Could someone who accepted the "principle of non-discrimination (which I criticized at length) nevertheless defend preferential admissions policies at elite universities?
8. Capital punishment: What is a retributivist theory of punishment? What ambiguities are there in saying that individuals should receive the punishment they deserve? Would a utilitarian defend the view that in sentencing P for a crime, the judge should consider what punishment given to P would maximize total happiness? How could a utilitarian defend the claim that criminals should receive the punishments they deserve, or would a utilitarian have to reject this claim? How could a utilitarian argue in favor of capital punishment (c.f. Mill and van den Haag)? How could a utilitarian argue against capital punishment?
9. Make sure that you understand what a valid, sound, and rationally persuasive argument is!