PHIL 410A:MIDTERM REVIEW QUESTIONS

 

†††††††††††††† The Midterm Exam will take place in class on Tuesday, Oct. 30.PLEASE BRING A BLANK EXAM BOOKLET AND A PEN TO THE EXAM.EXAM BOOKLETS 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.In answering the following questions, whenever you are asked to discuss the views of any of the authors we have read, be careful to distinguish the views they express in the readings from any modifications or extensions suggested in lecture, or advocated by you.

 

†††††††††††††† 1.Explain and distinguish the members of the following groups of terms, as used in this course:

†††††††††††††† (a) Top-Down/Bottom-Up Moral Reasoning;

†††††††††††††† (b) positive/negative liberty (as Berlin uses the terms)

†††††††††††††† (c) moral atom/moral molecule

†††††††††††††† (d) simple ought/moral claim (on Thomson's view)

†††††††††††††† (e) infringe/violate a right

†††††††††††††† (f) belief-mediated/non-belief mediated distress

†††††††††††††† (g) first property/second property

†††††††††††††† (h) direct/indirect utilitarianism

†††††††††††††† (i) consequentialist/nonconsequentialist

 

†††††††††††††† 2.For each statement or argument below, state whether you believe it is a correct interpretation of the relevant author's views, and justify your answer by explaining the relevant parts of the author's view.

†††††††††††††† (a) As Berlin uses the term, the more choices I have available to me the more positive liberty I have.

†††††††††††††† (b) Thomson believes that financial loss is not a harm.Therefore, she believes that in the State of Nature no one is ever entitled to compensation for financial loss.

†††††††††††††† (c) Thomson believes that in a State of Nature punishing a person for a rights violation can never be justified, except to deter other rights violations.

†††††††††††††† (d) Thomson believes that in a State of Nature it is morally permissible to coerce other people.

†††††††††††††† (e) Thomson believes that we have a natural right not to be caused fear.

†††††††††††††† (f) Mill is a utilitarian.Therefore, he believes that the government has a duty to infringe individual liberty whenever it believes that doing so is necessary to maximize total utility.

†††††††††††††† (g) Mill believes that the only justification for government coercion is to prevent harm to others.Therefore, he is a libertarian.(A libertarian is someone who believes that the only justification for government coercion is to protect its citizens from being harmed in certain ways and to exact compensation and punishment from those who harm others in those ways.)

†††††††††††††† (h) Mill believes that all opinions should be tolerated because all opinions are equally likely to be true.

†††††††††††††† (i) Mill's argument for freedom of thought and expression depends crucially on the claim that human beliefs are fallible.Therefore, Mill's argument implies that it is a mistake to think that one has any infallible beliefs.Therefore, Mill's argument implies that the government may prohibit anyone from claiming to have infallible beliefs.

†††††††††††††† (j) Mill morally approves of polygamy.

†††††††††††††† (k) Mill believes that it should be legal for everyone to take any drug they wish whenever they want to.

†††††††††††††† (l) Sen believes that guaranteeing some civil and political rights prevents starvation.

†††††††††††††† (m) Rawls believes that in the Original Position a rational person would accept the principle of maximizing overall utility.

 

†††††††††††††† 3.As Berlin uses the terms positive and negative, why is positive liberty associated with rationalist philosophers and negative liberty associated with empiricist philosophers?

 

†††††††††††††† 4.What is the Problem of Hobbesian Libertarianism?What does the Problem of Hobbesian Libertarianism show about any acceptable normative theory of negative liberty?Explain.

 

†††††††††††††† 5.What is a "simple moral ought"?We have described Thomson's moral claims as moral molecules.†† According to Thomson, what are the constituents of moral claims?Explain each of them.What constituent does she leave out that a majority of our class would include?Explain it.

 

†††††††††††††† 6.(a) According to Thomson are all claims absolute?Explain.(b) According to Thomson are all claims always enforceable? (i.e., Is it always permitted to use the minimum amount of force necessary to prevent a claim violation?)Explain.

 

†††††††††††††† 7.(a) According to Thomson, what are our natural (claim) rights?Explain each of them.††† (b) Consider the following example:In the state of nature, you and a group of friends are on a camping trip.One night while you are asleep on unowned property I erect sheer concrete walls to completely enclose your group.†† You are unable to escape.I drop food packages from helicopters, so you are well-fed.I also have provided porta-potties for your use, which I empty each week.Have I violated any of the natural rights that Thomson thinks you have?Explain. (Thanks to Cyrus Ansari for the example.)

 

†††††††††††††† 8.We have used the metaphor of border crossings to represent claim infringements.According to Thomson, what are the factors that can make it permissible to cross another person's borders?Explain each of them briefly.

 

†††††††††††††† 9.Why does Thomson's view imply that I do not violate your rights by playing Russian Roulette on you if the chamber turns out to be empty?Does it matter whether you know that I am playing Russian Roulette on you or not?Explain.

 

†††††††††††††† 10. (a) What is Mill's Harm Principle?(b) On a literal reading, the Harm Principle sounds like a statement of libertarianism.Explain why Mill's interpretation of the Harm Principle is not libertarian.[In class we listed the kinds of exceptions that Mill allows to the Harm Principle. List and explain as many of them as you can.]

 

†††††††††††††† 11. (a) Name and summarize briefly Millís four arguments for freedom of thought and discussion.(b) Identify the three main arguments.(c) We also identified a fifth argument that is more implicit.What is it?

(d) By their nature, what sorts of expression do Mill's four arguments apply to and what sorts of expression do they not apply to?Explain.(e) Give at least three different kinds of expression that Mill's four arguments don't apply to and explain why they are not covered by his arguments.(f) Suppose that Mill's three main arguments for freedom of thought and expression are successful.What is the gap that remains in providing a utilitarian justification for freedom of thought and expression?(g) How does Mill close the gap?

 

†††††††††††††† 12.(a) What is the social process of the free give-and-take of opinion.(b) Explain Mill's epistemology.In your answer, you must explain the role of the social process of the free give-and-take of opinion in knowledge and rational belief.(c) Why does Mill think it is rational for him to believe his epistemology?

 

†††††††††††††† 13.(a) Does Mill believe that the right to freedom of thought and discussion is absolute?(i.e., Does he allow for any exceptions?)Explain.

 

†††††††††††††† 14.(a) What does Mill mean by "individuality"?(b) Name and briefly summarize Mill's two main arguments for individuality.(c) Which of his arguments reaches the conclusion most directly?(d) Explain the other argument, the one that is indirect, and in your explanation explain why it is indirect in two senses.††

 

†††††††††††††† 15.Mill opposes laws that restrict recreational activities on Sunday but does not oppose laws that restrict working on Sunday.Is he inconsistent?Explain.

 

†††††††††††††† 16.(a) Does Thomson believe that any natural rights are inalienable, in the sense in which we use the term in this course?Explain.(b) Does Mill advocate any inalienable rights, in the sense in which we use the term in this course?Explain.

 

 

†††††††††††††† 17.(a) What is legal paternalism?(Make sure you explain paternalism.)(b) Briefly summarize Mill's argument for a right against legal paternalism.In your explanation, be sure to explain the claim of first-person authority.(c) What is a collective action problem?(d) Why are coercive solutions to collective action problems not paternalistic?(d) How can the idea of a collective action problem be used to provide a non-paternalistic argument for a government to refuse to permit slavery contracts?

 

†††††††††††††† 18.Does Mill believe that his rights against legal paternalism are absolute (i.e., does he allow for any exceptions?)Explain.

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†††††††††††††† 19.Give at least four examples of what Mill would regard as legitimate government action that show that he is not a libertarian.

 

†††††††††††††† 20.Hayek says that the case for individual freedom is based on ignorance.But this is puzzling.How could ignorance be the basis for anything?If Hayek admits his own ignorance, why doesn't he just admit that he does not know whether individual freedom is good or not, whether it contributes to progress or not, etc.?Explain how Hayek could base his case for individual freedom on ignorance and do so in a way that addresses and resolves this puzzle.

 

†††††††††††††† 21.What is the main idea of Millís epistemology?Why does Hayek believe that capitalism is the kind of economic system that best fits with Millís epistemology?

 

†††††††††††††† 22.One way of stating the argument for economic progress over political freedom is to claim that "you can't eat a right to freedom of expression or other political rights".Based on Amartya Sen's research, explain how one could argue that, speaking metaphorically, "you can eat a right to freedom of expression and other political rights"?†††††††

 

†††††††††††††† 23.(a) According to Rawls, what are the two moral powers?(Name and explain them.)(b) What is the Original Position?(c) How does the Original Position model the two moral powers?

 

†††††††††††††† 24. (a) What is a Beehive Society?(b) Explain why Rawlsís specification of the Original Position prevents the parties from agreeing to establish a Beehive Society.(c) Consider the following objection to Rawls's theory:Your theory is question-begging.You define the Original Position so that it could not be rational for the parties to choose a Beehive Society.But if people would be happier in a Beehive Society, the parties in the Original Position should be free to choose it.How might Rawls best respond to this objection?