PHIL 240A:  EXAM #2 REVIEW QUESTIONS

 

The second exam will take place in class on Monday, July 14.  PLEASE BRING ONE OR MORE BLANK BLUE BOOKS AND A PEN OR LEGIBLE PENCIL TO THE EXAM.  EXAM BOOKS WITH NOTES WRITTEN ON THEM OR WITH PAGES MISSING WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.  Please answer all questions completely, but concisely.  ANSWER IN COMPLETE SENTENCES.  The exam will consist of selections from the following questions.  You will have 50 minutes to complete the exam.  To complete the exam in 50 minutes, it will be important to have thought out your answers in advance.  In preparing for the exam, you are encouraged to discuss these questions with other members of the class, and to discuss what the relevant considerations would be in answering them.  However, each student is expected to develop his/her own answers to the questions.  You should not discuss the wording of an answer or attempt to come up with an agreed upon answer.  If you draft answers to the questions, you should not show your draft answers to others, nor should you read or copy someone else's draft answers.  In answering the following questions, whenever you are asked to discuss the views of any of the authors we have read, your answer should show that you are familiar with the reading, especially with the reasons they give for their positions.

 

            1.  Explain and distinguish the following pairs or groups of terms.  (You are not required to define them.  You can use examples to illustrate them.  However, your explanations or examples should be adequate for explaining the distinctions to a reasonably intelligent person with no philosophical background.)

(a) Act/Rule/Social-Practice Utilitarianism

(b) Total-Utility/Average-Utility Utilitarianism

(c) Hedonistic/Pluralistic/Preference Utilitarianism

(d) End-states/side constraints

(e) Prima Facie/Actual Duty

(f) Heteronomous/Autonomous Will [Kant's distinction]

(g) Hypothetical/Categorical Imperative

(h) Act/Rule/General-Principle/Basic-Principle Deontological Theory

(i) Individualistically Rational (in the Economic Sense)/Rational in Kant's Sense/Reasonable in Rawls's Sense

(j) External, objective agent-neutral ethics/Internal, subjective agent-relative ethics

 

            2. (a) What does it mean to claim that Rule Utilitarianism (RU) is equivalent to Act Utilitarianism (AU) (or, alternatively, that Rule Utilitarianism "collapses" into Act Utilitarianism) for human beings?  [Note that in this part of the question you have merely been asked to explain what the claim means.  You have not been asked to state whether or not the claim is true.  To get full credit, you must show that you understand what act utilitarianism is and what rule utilitarianism is.]  (b) What is the Paradox of Act Utilitarianism?  (c) Suppose that the Paradox of Act Utilitarianism is true.  How could the advocate of RU use that to explain why RU does not "collapse" into AU.

 

            3.  Explain why each of the following statements is mistaken: 

(a) "Pluralistic utilitarian philosophers, unlike hedonists, argue that there is no single goal or state constituting the good and that many values besides happiness possess intrinsic worth—for example, friendship, knowledge, love courage, health, beauty, and perhaps moral qualities such as fairness."(Beauchamp, p. 114)

(b) "Average utilitarianism can be formulated with a built-in egalitarian requirement that utility be distributed equally to individuals in the group . . . ." (Beauchamp, p. 132)

 

            4. Utilitarians attempt to give purely descriptive necessary and sufficient conditions for moral rightness and moral wrongness.  This question requires you to take the position of someone who will attempt to provide a counterexample to the Act Utilitarian's proposed purely descriptive sufficient condition for moral wrongness.

(a) What is the Act Utilitarian's proposed purely descriptive sufficient condition for moral wrongness?

(b) State (a) in the form of an implication.

(c) Logically, what would be required for there to be a counterexample to (b)?

(d) Provide an example of each of the following potential problems and then explain why the opponent of Act Utilitarianism believes it is a counterexample to (b): 

(i) The Problem of Supererogatory Acts

(ii) The Problem of Too Much Impartiality

(iii) The Problem of Too Much Sacrifice of Individual Autonomy

(iv) The Problem of Punishing the Innocent

(v) The Distribution Problem

            5. (a) What is the Social Practice Utilitarian's proposed purely descriptive sufficient condition for moral wrongness?

(b) State (a) in the form of an implication.

(c) What would be required for there to be a counterexample to (b)?

(d) Provide an example of the Distribution Problem and then explain why the opponent of Social Practice Utilitarianism believes it is a counterexample to (b).

           

6. (a) Why did Mill believe that utilitarianism was an improvement over the Golden Rule:  Love all others as yourself? (b) Why did Kant believe that his categorical imperative was an improvement over the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?  [Notice that I am not saying that it was in improvement over the Golden Rule, only that Kant believed it to be an improvement.]

 

            7. Answer the following questions for each philosopher on the list below:  (i) Explain why he would hold that lying is at least usually morally wrong; (ii) Would he hold that lying is always morally wrong? (iii) Explain your answer to part (ii): 

(a) Smart (Act Utilitarian)

(b) Brandt (Rule Utilitarian)

(c) Ross (Rule Deontologist)

(d) Kant (Basic-Principle Deontologist)

 

            8. (a) What does Kant mean by a 'categorical imperative'?  (b) Why does Kant believe that the imperatives of morality must be categorical, in the sense in which he uses the term?

 

            9. (a) What is the first version of Kant's categorical imperative?  (b) Can it be written in a form in which it would provide purely descriptive necessary and sufficient conditions for moral rightness or moral wrongness?  Explain.  (c) What is the second version of Kant's categorical imperative?  (d) Can it be written in a form in which it would provide purely descriptive necessary and sufficient conditions for moral rightness or moral wrongness?  Explain.  (e) What is the third version of Kant's categorical imperative?  (f) Can it be written in a form in which it would provide purely descriptive necessary and sufficient conditions for moral rightness or moral wrongness?  Explain. 

 

            10.  (a) What does Kant mean by "irrational" as applied to actions?  (b) What does Rawls mean by "unreasonable" as applied to actions?  Use the pollution example discussed in lecture to answer the following questions:

(c) In the sense employed by Kant, is it irrational for me to make the maxim of my act:  "I pollute and everyone else does not pollute"?  Explain your answer.

(d) In the sense employed by Kant, is it irrational for me to make the maxim of my action:  "I pollute regardless of what everyone else does"?  Explain your answer.

(e) In the sense employed by Rawls, is it unreasonable for me to pollute, if I know that, regardless of what I do, everyone else or almost everyone else will not pollute.  Explain your answer.

 

11. (a) As the term in used in this course, what is a collective action problem?  (b) What is Talbott's Universalizability Principle?  (c) State your answer to (b) in a form in which it would attempt to provide a purely descriptive sufficient condition for moral wrongness.  Explain why the proposed sufficient condition is purely descriptive.  (c) Explain why Talbott's Universalizability Principle requires that one choose so as to maximize overall utility in a collective action problem in which everyone else is cooperating.  (d) Explain why, even though (c) is true, Talbott's Universalizability Principle is not a form of Utilitarianism. 

 

12. (a) How does Rawls propose to determine the fair terms of social cooperation?  [In your answer, you must explain the Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance.]  (b) Why does Rawls think that the results of this process would be fair? 

 

13. (a) Is Rawls a Consequentialist?  Explain.  (b) Is Rawls an Anti-Consequentialist?  Explain.  (c) Using the terms employed in this course, how should Rawls's theory be classified?  Explain. 

 

14 (a) What is the example of the dutiful friend and the caring friend?  (b) How does that example raise a problem for deontological ethical theories?