Q1. Explain logical validity and soundness.

A1. An argument is valid if it is in correct logical form. An argument is sound if all the premises of an argument are true. An deductive argument must be both valid and sound for the conclusion to be guaranteed to be true.


Q2. Give an original (not mentioned in class or class notes or book or on a website) example of a sound and unsound modus ponens argument. (Extra credit: Do the same for modus tollens)


If I’m awake then I’m not sleeping. I’m awake. So, I’m not sleeping. (sound)

If dogs are cats then cats are dogs. Dogs are cats. So, cats are dogs. (unsound)


Q3. Explain the difference between deductive, inductive and abductive arguments.


Deductive: Use certain valid forms to guarantee the truth of the conclusion (assuming all the premises are true). Or in other words, If the premises are true you know the conclusion is true (if it is in proper logical form).
Inductive: Evidence based reasoning. One’s certainty in the conclusion is stronger or weaker depending on the strength of the evidence. Science is based on inductive reasoning. “The sun will rise tomorrow” is a conclusion reached based on inductive evidence regarding the past behavior of the sun and the earth and gravity, etc.

Abductive: Also known as inference to the best explanation. Abduction is like induction in that it uses evidence however abduction doesn’t rely on past evidence. Abductive arguments consider what would best explain all the evidence i.e. all the evidence we have regarding the motion of the planets leads us to believe that the solar system is heliocentric and not geocentric (although previously the best explanation of the evidence, the sun rising, was that the sun went around the earth).


Q4. Explain Kant’s usage of the phrase “Sapere aude.” In his essay “What is enlightenment. Explain how it is related to his conception of philosophy.

A4. Sapere Aude – “Have the courage to think for yourself”

Kant thinks of philosophy as the critical and rational self-examination of one’s received beliefs. This is a process that requires that the individual have the courage to question all of ones beliefs rather than rely on external authorities to tell them how they should live their life.


Q5. Explain what makes actions right according to act utilitarianism.

A5. According to act utilitarianism an action is right if and only if it maximizes utility, which is a measure of good consequences over bad consequences.


Q6. Explain the difference between Bentham’s quantitative utilitarianism and Mill’s qualitative utilitarianism.

A6. Bentham believed one could perform a utility calculus and add up all the pleasure and minus all the suffering for he believed there was only one type of pleasure and one type of suffering. For Bentham all pleasure and suffering were qualitatively equal. Mill believed that some pleasures were of a higher quality than others and that therefore such straightforward utility calculus was impossible.


Q7. Explain rule utilitarianism.

A7. According to rule utilitarianism an action is right if and only if it is prescribed by a rule that if followed by everyone would maximize utility.]


Q8. Define Kant’s three versions of the categorical imperative (formula of universal law, formula of humanities, realm of ends formula).


FUL: Act only in such a way that you could will the maxim of your action as a universal law.

FH: Act only in such a way that you use humanity as an end and never merely as a means.

FRE: Act only as if you are a member of a merely possible realm of ends.


Q9. List Kant’s four examples and the four different types of duties they correspond to.


Suicide – perfect duty to oneself

Lying – perfect to another

Wasting ones talents – imperfect duty to oneself

Charity – imperfect duty to another


Q10. Explain the difference between perfect and imperfect duties.

A10. Perfect duties must never be violated. Imperfect duties are duties that leave open how and when exactly the agent will fulfill the duty. For example, we must give charity but it is not the case that we must always help every person at every moment, for how the agent meets this obligation is left up to the agents.


Q11. Explain the basics of social contract theory.

A11. Social Contract theory is based on the idea that the political state is a collection of self interested individuals who give up their right to everything in the state of nature to achieve a smaller but guaranteed set of rights in the social state. Individuals give up their a certain portion of their natural rights and freedoms because they can  have a better life if they all agree to give up certain rights and follow certain rules.


Q12. Who is the fool and what is ‘the fool objection’ and why is this a problem for social contract theory?

A12. The fool is someone who attempts to live in society and reap the benefits of the social contract without being willing to make good on his obligations. The fool objection is an objection to SCT theory that claims to show that sometimes it is in ones self interest to act break the rules of the social contract.


Q13. Explain Rawls’ difference principle and how he arrives at it.

Difference principle: Inequalities in society are permissible only if they benefit everyone

Rawls think these are the difference that would be chosen in the original position, which is a veil of ignorance in which we know nothing about ourselves that might bias our choice of principles


Q14. Explain why one would choose the difference principle over a utilitarian principle in the original position.

A14. In the original position no one would chose a utilitarian principle because utilitarianism requires that some individuals make themselves worse off for the sake of the group but no one would agree to possibly giving up their rights. In the original position no one would risk utilitarianism, but rather they would choose the difference principle which guarantees that no matter where they fall in distribution of wealth or any other good their situation is improved.


Q15. Explain Nozick’s basic conception of justice. (justice in acquisition, justice in transfers, and rectification)

A15. Nozick thinks that as long as you acquire something justly you are free to transfer it to someone else who has acquired what they are transferring to you justly, and that as long as all the exchanges proceed according to this manner of just acquisition and transfers the resulting distribution is just, even if some are left starving and homeless and others are left fabulously wealthy. However he does think that injustices in acquisitions and transfers need to be rectified.


Q16. What was Elizabeth Warren’s (the politician not the abortion philosopher) objection to this line of thinking?

A16. Warren argued that anyone who earns their money as part of a society owes a portion of their money to society because society is what makes it possible for anyone to be successful beyond whatever limited success is available in the state of nature.


Q17. Explain Thomson’s main thesis in her essay “A defense of Abortion,” and explain how the violinist example is related to abortion.

A17. Thomson argues that having a right to life is not the same thing as having the right to whatever one needs to survive, even if it is the continued use of another’s body. The violinist examples shows that even though an entity has the right to life, like the violinist does, the violinist does not have the right to someone’s body who has not given him permission to use, even if he needs it to survive.


Q18. Explain why Marguis thinks abortion is wrong?

A18. Marquis think abortion is wrong because it deprives the fetus of a future of value.


Q19. Explain Warren’s approach to the abortion issue. What problem does this cause for her.

A19. Warren argues that the fetus does not have the right to life because the fetus does not have the characteristics of a person. This causes a problem for her because she has trouble explaining why newborn babies have a right to life.


Q20. Explain Singer’s basic argument in his paper “Unsanctifying human life”

A20. Singer argues that our current moral practices are specieist, that is they involve unfair discrimination based merely on an individual’s species membership rather than their cognitive capacity or even their capacity to feel pain and pleasure. Ultimately Singer thinks some animal lives have more value than some human lives.


Q21. Explain Reagan’s basic distinction between patients and agents and how it is related to his subject-to-a-life criteria.

A21. Moral agents are those individuals that can have moral obligations whereas moral patients, although incapable of have moral obligations can nevertheless be the objects of a moral agents obligations.

Agents = fully rational adult humans

Patients = babies, children, animals, senile, demented, insane, mentally disabled

Any being that is the subject of a life is consider by Reagan to be a moral patient


Q22. Explain Norcross’ basic argument in his paper “Puppies, Pigs, and Marginal Cases.”

A22. Norcross argues that if it would be wrong to torture puppies just to be able to enjoy eating chocolate then it is wrong to eat factory farmed meat because one likes the taste of it.


Q23. Explain Singer’s basic argument in his paper “The Singer solution to world poverty”

A23. Singer argues that if it is wrong to not save someone’s life just so that one can enjoy some particular luxury, like bob not wanting to sacrifice his car to save the child’s life, then it must also be wrong to not donate all of ones surplus income to help save the lives of those that are dying from poverty.


Q24. List the Ethical theory most closely associated with the following philosophers:

Jeremy Bentham – Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill – Utilitarianism

Immanuel Kant – Kantian Ethics

Thomas Hobbes – Social Contract theory

Jean Jacques Rousseau – Social Contract theory

John Rawls – Contemporary Political Philosophy, egalitarianism (social contract theory)

Robert Nozick – Contemporary Political Philosophy, libertarianism (social contract theory)

Peter Singer – Utilitarianism

Allen Wood – Kantian Ethics


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