PHIL 440A:  Study Questions on Kant, Nozick, Gauthier, Bennett, and Scanlon

 

Questions on Kant. 

 

1.  What does Kant mean by the "good will"? 

 

2.  What does Kant mean when he says:  "When moral value is in question, we are concerned, not with the actions which we see, but with their inner principles, which we cannot see." 

 

3.  What sort of universality does Kant attribute to the moral law?

 

4. What is the difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative?

 

5.  Why does Kant think that morality must be composed of categorical imperatives?

 

6.  Why does Kant think that morality cannot be based on the goal of happiness?

 

7.  What are the three versions of the categorical imperative? 

 

8.  You should realize that there is much disagreement over whether the four examples Kant provides on pp. 270-271 are explained by his categorical imperative.  What do you think?

 

 

Questions on Nozick.  Begin the Nozick reading with Section II.  (You may ignore Section I.) 

 

1.  What does Nozick mean by a utilitarianism of rights?  How would it differ from a morality of rights as side constraints?  What sort of example does he use to illustrate the difference?

 

2.  How does Nozick's view of morality as side constraints fit with Kant's idea of morality as categorical rather than hypothetical imperatives?

 

3.  What is the Kantian principle that Nozick appeals to in order to explain why he endorses a view of morality as side constraints?  Explain.

 

4.  Nozick uses the Kantian principle to argue for a libertarian theory of rights, according to which we have only duties not to harm, no duties to help.  Would Kant himself agree with Nozick's interpretation of his principle?

 

 

Questions on Gauthier

 

1.  What is Gauthier's Thesis?

 

2. Explain how the decision matrix on page 102 (a 2-Person Prisoners' Dilemma) illustrates the thesis.

 

3.  What is Gauthier's distinction between the prudent/prudent but trustworthy ("moral")/truly moral (trustworthy and fair) man?

 

 

 

Study Questions on Bennett

 

1.  What does Huck's conscience tell him to do?  Why doesn't he do it?

 

2.  What does Bennett think this shows us about the relation between conscience (reason) and sympathy (feeling)?

 

3.  If we need sympathy to improve our moral judgment, what does this imply about Kant's account of morality?

 

 

Questions on Scanlon

 

1.  What does Scanlon mean by a philosophical explanation of the subject matter of morality? 

 

2.  What is the difference between philosophical utilitarianism and normative utilitarianism?  [Hint:  the first is a second-order moral theory and the second is a first-order moral theory.]

 

4.  What is the central idea of Scanlon's philosophical contractualism (i.e., his contractualist account of the nature of moral wrongness)?  Explain the terms he uses in the principle. 

 

5.  According to Scanlon, what kind of motivation is moral motivation?  (Note:  He later changed his mind, as I’ll explain in lecture.)

 

6.  How does Scanlon's philosophical contractualism differ from philosophical utilitarianism?

 

7.  What is the interpersonal standpoint (or point of view)?  How does the Golden Rule help to understand it?

 

8.  How does Scanlon respond to Mackie's arguments against objective 'to-be-doneness' and 'not-to-be-doneness'?

 

9.  What are Scanlon’s objections to Harsanyi’s argument for average utilitarianism?  [Hint:  What does Scanlon mean by saying that his contractualism is “nonaggregative”?]

 

10.  What are Scanlon’s objections to Rawls’s Original Position argument?