Introduction to Ethics
Spring 2006

Study Guide: Final Exam
Exam to be held in BOYDEN GYM (West side; on right if facing front) on Friday, May 19th from 10:30am-12:30pm

The purpose of the final exam is to allow you to demonstrate two things:
A good exam is one that does both of these things well, i.e., that both shows that you have learned and understand the material, and also that you have thought about it outside of class.  You can demonstrate these things in many ways: you can explain a theory or argument using your own words, you can explain it using your own examples, you can draw upon aspects of the assigned reading not discussed in class, you can present an argument of your own for or against a theory, or you can present your own reaction to, or refutation of, an argument considered in class.



How to Present, Explain and Evaluate an Argument

To present an argument is simply to write it down.  An argument is presented well when it is clear what the logical form of the argument is.

To explain an argument is to clear up any unclear terms or concepts employed in the argument, and to make it clear why someone might want to advance or accept the argument.  You can do this by considering the premises, and for each, make it clear what it means, and why someone might believe it.  If appropriate, an example or two can be given to illustrate the point made by the premise.

To evaluate an argument is to attempt to determine whether or not the argument is sound.  This has two steps:  first, you must determine whether or not the argument is valid.  Next, you must determine whether or not the premises are true.  To evaluate an argument well is to be clear which premises are the most questionable and why, and to anticipate and respond to what someone with a different evaluation of the argument might say in response to your evaluation.


You should be prepared to respond to the following questions:

Longer questions:


(1)  Explain the theory of Desire Satisfactionism in axiology. Next, present, explain and evaluate an argument in favor of the theory.  Finally, present, explain and evaluate an argument against the theory.

(2) What is Moore's non-naturalism in axiology? Present, explain and evaluate an argument in favor of non-naturalism. Finally, present, explain and evaluate an argument against non-naturalism.

(3)  What is Kant's categorical imperative?  Explain in detail how Kant would determine whether a given action is right or wrong.  Next, present, explain and evaluate an argument against Kant's categorical imperative.

(4)  What, according to W. D. Ross, are the seven kinds of prima facie duty?  What does it mean for a duty to be a "prima facie" duty, and what does Ross think makes an act morally right or wrong?  Evaluate Ross's theory.

(5)  Explain in detail Aristotle's theory about the nature of virtues. Discuss, explain and evaluate at least one criticism of Aristotle's moral theory or some interpretation of it.

(6)  Explain how it is that the notion of what it is to be a person (or a human) is relevant to evaluating certain arguments against the morality of abortion. (Give an example of such an argument.) What are some of the different views that have been proposed? Which view of the nature of persons seems most reasonable? What do you conclude from this about the morality of abortion?

Shorter questions:

(7) Present, explain and evaluate Nozick's "Experience Machine" objection to hedonism.

(8) Present, explain and evaluate an argument against Kant's view about the relationship between acting from duty and moral worth.

(9) Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument in favor of thinking that most people in wealthy nations are morally obligated to help the unfortunate (poor or hungry) in other nations.

(10) Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against thinking that most people in wealthy nations are morally obligated to help the unfortunate (poor or hungry) of other nations.

(11) Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument in favor of thinking that many abortions are not morally wrong.



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