PHIL 338A:  MIDTERM REVIEW QUESTIONS

 

The Midterm Exam will take place in section on Thursday July 11.  PLEASE BRING A BLANK EXAM BOOK AND A PEN 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.  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.  The exam will consist of selections from 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 or distinguish the following terms.  You may use examples to do so:

(a) Normative/Evaluative vs. Purely Descriptive Terms or Statements;

(b) Moral Norm or Principle/Particular Moral Judgment;

(c) Moral Metaphysics/Moral Epistemology;

(d) Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Reasoning About Moral Questions;

(e) Proof Paradigm/Moral Discovery Paradigm for the Justification of Moral Beliefs;

(f) Negative Right vs. Positive Right (as we use the terms in this course);

(g) Liberty Right vs. Claim Right;

(h) Moral Right vs. Legal Right;

(i) Basic/Internal/Combined Capabilities (Nussbaum);

(j) State of Nature vs. Civil Society;

(k) Historical vs. Hypothetical Consent Theory of the Justification of Government Institutions;

(l) Natural Rights/Consequentialist/Social Contract Theory of Rights;

(m) DELETED

(n) Normative Cultural Absolutism/Descriptive Cultural Relativism/Metaethical Relativism/Normative Cultural

               Relativism (about Morality);

(o) External/Internal Practices or Norms;

(p) Epistemic Modesty/Immodesty with respect to morality;

(q) Metaphysical Modesty/Immodesty with respect to morality;

(r) Subjective/Objective Universality of Human Rights Norms.

 

2.  (a) What is a moral principle or norm?  (b) Can you think of any substantive moral principle (i.e., one that could be applied to a particular case to support a particular moral judgment) that most students in PHIL 338 would agree are exceptionless?  (c) If so, give an example and explain why it has no exceptions.  If not, explain why not.

 

3.  (a) Explain why the Spanish Requirimiento illustrates top-down reasoning.  (b) Use an example from the life of Bartolomé de las Casas to illustrate bottom-up reasoning (even though it is unlikely that Las Casas himself realized that his reasoning was bottom-up).

 

4.  (a) How does Joel Feinberg’s imaginary example of Nowheresville help to explain the distinction between a simple duty (simple ought) and a moral claim (entitlement)?  (b) Use that distinction to explain the difference between the two moral senses of “right”.  (c) What is the state of nature?  (d) Explain why Locke's theory implies that there are true moral judgments involving "right" in both moral senses in the state of nature.

 

5.  In this course, what do we mean when we say that moral rights involve moral enforceability?  In your answer, make sure you explain the difference between moral enforceability and legal enforceability.

 

6.  One important element in the idea of a moral right is the idea of moral enforceability.  For each of the following authors, give their definition of what a right is and identify and explain the element of the definition that involves moral enforceability:

(a) Feinberg

(b) Shue

(c) Nussbaum

(d) Locke's natural rights

(e) Mill

 

7.  Give a clear-cut example of each of the following kinds of right from the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  (a) civil right; (b) political right; (c) economic right; (d) social right.  (e) Which of these categories does Cranston believe should not have been included in the Universal Declaration?  Explain why. 

 

8.  For each of the following kinds of rights, explain the difference between how Cranston thinks we should understand it and how Nussbaum thinks we should understand it:

(a) right to life

(b) right to bodily health

(c) right to vote

 

9.  (a) Cranston makes fun of the idea that a right to holidays with pay would be included on the U.N. Declaration of Universal Human Rights.  Why does he think it should not be included?  (b) What on Nussbaum's list corresponds to the right to holidays with pay?  (c) Why does Nussbaum believe that such a right should be a basic human right?  (d) Do you agree or disagree with Nussbaum?  Explain.

 

10.  (a) What is Henry Shue’s definition of a basic right?  (b) In the Shue reading, two rights are identified as basic.  Explain each of them.  (c) Which of the two is often understood negatively?  (d) Which of the two is often understood positively?  (e) Why does he believe that the former is more positive than it is usually thought to be?  (f) Why does he think that the latter is more negative than it is usually thought to be?

 

11.  How does the work of Amartya Sen on famines tend to cast doubt on the importance of the distinction between “negative” civil and political rights, on the one hand, and a “positive” right to subsistence, on the other?

 

12.  Use one or more examples to explain why Nussbaum favors guarantees of capabilities over:  (a) a specific level of wealth (or income); (b) a specific level of satisfaction (utility); (c) actual functioning. 

 

13.  (a) Why does the development of Nussbaum’s list of central human capabilities illustrate bottom-up reasoning about human rights? (b) Identify one item on Nussbaum's list that is not found on any other list of human rights we have considered.  Why does Nussbaum believe it should be on the list?  (c) Do you agree?  Explain.

 

14.  (a) What is the “State of Nature”?  (b) What rights does Locke believe that people have in the State of Nature?  Explain them briefly and be sure to explain why they qualify as rights, in the sense in which we use the term in this course.  (c) Why does Locke believe that the State of Nature will always evolve into a civil society?  (d) How does Locke believe the transformation can take place without violating anyone’s rights?  (e) Is the right of majorities to make laws that apply to the minority a natural right or a derived right for Locke?  Explain.

 

15.  DELETED.

 

16.  (a) What claim rights are advocated by Mill?  Explain briefly.  (b)What liberty rights are advocated by Mill?  Explain briefly. 

 

17.  Why does Rawls favor a hypothetical consent justification rather than a historical (or actual) consent justification for the basic institutions and practices of a society?

 

18.  (a) What is the Original Position?  What is the role of the Original Position in Rawls’s theory of justice?

 

19.  (a) Explain the following kinds of theories of rights:  (1) natural rights theory; (2) consequentialist theory; (3) social contract theory.  (b) For each of the three kinds of theory listed in part (a), give an example of a philosopher who advocates a theory of that kind and explain why his/her theory is a theory of the relevant kind.  (c) Of the three kinds of theory listed in part (a), which kind do you favor, if any?  Explain.  If you do not favor any, select the one that seems most plausible to you and explain why you don't accept it.

 

20.  (i) When is interference with individual liberty paternalistic?  (ii) For each of the following philosophers, state whether they would support a right against paternalistic interference in the liberty of normal, adult human beings.  If you cannot determine from the readings in this course whether or not they would support such a right, answer “Indeterminate”.  Explain your answer in a way that shows that you are familiar with the reading:

(a) John Locke   

(b) John Stuart Mill

(c) John Rawls

(d) What is your position?  Explain.

 

21. (a) What is normative cultural absolutism?  (b) What is moral imperialism, as the term is used in this course?  (c) Why is normative cultural absolutism a form of moral imperialism?

 

22. (a) What is the argument that in this course is referred to as "the cultural imperialism argument"? (b) Explain why there is an incoherence in the cultural imperialism argument.  (Hint:  Explain why one of its premises is incompatible with its conclusion.)

 

23. (a) What is the difference between a relative and a non-relative norm of tolerance?  (b) Explain the following:  If one accepts a non-relative norm of tolerance, it is still possible to be a Normative Cultural Relativist about Internal Norms.  In your explanation, show that you understand what Normative Cultural Relativism About Internal Norms is.  (c) Is Normative Cultural Relativism about Internal Norms metaphysically modest or immodest?  Explain.  (d) Explain why Normative Cultural Relativism about Internal Norms is incompatible with a non-relative (i.e., strictly universal) individual right of religious freedom.

 

24. (a) What is a self-serving reason?  (b) Explain why there is no logical test for a reason's being self-serving.  (c) What kind of behavioral test does Professor Talbott propose as a potential indicator of a reason's being self-serving?

 

25. (a) What is moral imperialism, as the term is used in this course?  (b) For most of his life, Bartolomé de las Casas was a moral imperialist.  Explain why.  (c) What change in his beliefs represented the end of his moral imperialism?  Explain.  (d) Explain why the change in Las Casas’ beliefs at the end of his life is an example of bottom-up moral reasoning.

 

26.  Use the moral norm "Moral imperialism is always wrong" to explain how it is possible to be metaphysically immodest without being a moral imperialist.

 

27.  (a) What would an "overlapping consensus" on human rights norms be? (b) Give an example of a traditional Akan practice that could fit into an international "overlapping consensus" on human rights norms and explain why. (c) Give an example of a traditional practice in any tradition you choose that seems to be an impediment to the development of an international "overlapping consensus" on human rights norms and explain why.

 

28.  (a) Explain why the idea of "overlapping consensus" (and subjective universality) of human rights often is associated with the Top-Down model of moral reasoning; (b) Explain why, given the fact of significant moral disagreement between different religious and cultural traditions on human rights, the idea of objective universality of human rights fits better with the Bottom-Up model of moral reasoning.  (c) Do you think there are any internal rights norms that should be universal even though they are not universally accepted by all cultures?  Explain and justify your answer.

 

29.  Explain with an actual or hypothetical example each of the following possibilities (your explanation should show that you understand the terms):

(a) someone whose moral views are metaphysically immodest and epistemically immodest;

(b) someone whose moral views are metaphysically immodest and epistemically modest;

(c) someone whose moral views are metaphysically modest and epistemically immodest;

(d) someone whose moral views are metaphysically modest and epistemically modest.

(e) Which category do your moral views fall into?  Explain.  [If your views don't fall into any of the above categories, explain why not.]

 

Extra Credit (5 Points):  [DO NOT DISCUSS ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION BEFORE THE EXAM.  THIS ONE YOU ARE TO THINK ABOUT BY YOURSELF.]  Give an exception to the following norm that would be agreed to by more than half of the class:  All normal adults human beings should have ownership control over their own physical body; interference (understood as removing anything from their body) requires informed consent (understood to include implied consent in cases where urgent medical care is needed and there is no way to obtain consent) or a risk of harm to others.