Philosophy 341, Fall 2006

Final Study Guide

You are responsible for all this semester's material, but there will be more questions on material since the midterms. There may be some true-false or short-answer questions, but there will also definitely be one or more essay questions.  The answers to the essay questions 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 both the readings and your lecture notes. The essay 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. 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?

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. 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?

5.  Mill's On Liberty: What does Mill's principle of liberty say?  Does it give necessary conditions or sufficient conditions for interference with individual liberty?  What is the relevant notion of "interference"?  What does Mill mean by "harm"?  How does Mill argue for his principle of liberty? How (if at all) does Mill's principle of liberty apply to each of the issues discussed this semester?

6.  Same-sex marriage:  How helpful is Mill's principle of liberty in resolving this issue?  What are the strongest arguments on each side of the issue? What is the relevance of the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality to the question of whether same-sex marriage ought to be legal?  Why is the question whether same-sex marriage should be legal of moral importance?

7.  Cloning:  What position would Mill take on this issue?  What position would a utilitarian take?  What problems are there with applying Mill's principle of liberty or utilitarianism to the question of whether cloning should be permitted?  What relevance does the repugnance most people feel toward cloning have to the determination of whether cloning ought to be legal?  What is the strongest argument in support of making cloning legal?  What are the main arguments against making cloning legal?  What is the moral significance of the fact that cloning is unnatural?

8. 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? Why does a benevolent action caused by someone's desire to help another person have (in Kant's view) no true moral worth? How is Kant relevant to the abortion controversy?

9. 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?

10. Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS). What are the main arguments in defense of permitting people to refuse treatment? How can one defend a policy that permits one to refuse treatment but does not allow PAS? One answer, in terms of active versus passive euthanasia is criticized by Rachels. What are his main criticisms? Sullivan defends current policy instead by invoking the doctrine of double effect and the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary treatments. What is his defense? How does Rachels respond? Why does Emanuel reject PAS? What, in his view, are its main benefits and its main risks?

11. Make sure that you understand what a valid, sound, and rationally persuasive argument is and that you understand what necessary and sufficient conditions are!