Introduction to Ethics
Spring 2006

Study Guide: Midterm
Exam to be held in Lecture on Wednesday, April 5th

The purpose of the midterm 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)  What is divine command theory?  What is the difference between the strong and weak forms of divine command theory?  What is the Euthyphro problem and how does it relate?  Evaluate either strong or weak divine command theory in light of the Euthyphro problem.

(2)  What does it mean generally for something to be relative?  What is cultural relativism in ethics?  Present, explain and evaluate an argument for cultural relativism.

(3)  What is ethical egoism?  Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument in favor of ethical egoism.  Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against ethical egoism.

(4) What is utilitarianism?  Give an example of your own about how, in a given situation, it would be determined whether an act is right or wrong according to utilitarianism, including as much detail as possible.  Present, explain and evaluate an argument for utilitarianism or some aspect of it.

Shorter questions:

(5)  Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against thinking that an act is right if and only if it does not violate the Ten Commandments. (You do not need to memorize or list the Ten Commandments.)

(6)  Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against thinking that an act is right if and only if it obeys the Golden Rule.

(7)  Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument for thinking that if God does not exist, then there can be no morality.

(8)  What is Strong Cultural Relativism? Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against Strong Cultural Relativism.

(9)  What is Subjective Relativism? Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument for Subjective Relativism.

(10)  What is the difference between psychological egoism and ethical egoism?

(11) How does Mill's version of utilitarianism differ from Bentham's?  Which do you think is better, and why?

(12) Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against utilitarianism dealing with the notions of justice or fairness.

(13) Present, explain and evaluate at least one argument against utilitarianism dealing with personal integrity, values, relationships or commitments.


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