Introduction to Ethics
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.
- That you have learned and fully understand the material covered in lecture and in the readings.
- That you have thought about the theories discussed in class
and the readings and have considered their strengths and weaknesses.
How to Present, Explain and Evaluate an Argument
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.
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.
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:
(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.
(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
(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