Test 2 Review

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By: rruiz13 1
March 7, 2013 | Philosophy - Tiller
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1. According to Hobbes, what facts about human life can lead to a “state of nature”?

  • Equality of need
  • Scarcity of resources
  • Humans are basically equal in power
  • Humans have only limited altruism

2. Explain the Prisoner’s Dilemma. According to the Social Contract Theorist, what lessons are we to learn from the Prisoner’s Dilemma?

  • Prisoner’s Dilemma: situation that demonstrates why 2 people might not cooperate even if in their best interest
  • Lessons to learn from Prisoner’s Dilemma:
    • People’s interests are affected not only by what they do but by what other people do as well.
    • Everyone will end up worse off if they pursue (like a shortsighted egoist) their own individual interests than if they pursue mutually beneficial interests.
    • Social contracts, if they are to work, must be enforceable.
    • An individual who does not hold up the social contract is a free rider and will be met with condemnation.

3. According to Social Contract Theorist, when is civil disobedience morally acceptable?

  • Civil disobedience if morally acceptable when the disadvantaged are denied the benefits of social living, they are released from the contract that would otherwise require them to follow society's rules

4. What are some advantages and difficulties of the Social Contract Theory?

  • Advantages:
    • It suggests what moral rules we should follow and how those rules are justified.
    • It tells us why we should follow the rules: mutual benefit and fear of punishment.
    • It indicates when it is rational to break the rules: namely, we agree to obey the rules on the condition that others obey them as well
  • Difficulties:
    • It seems to simply define “goodness” in egoistic terms- getting what we want- and then asks us to be strategic about how we achieve our goals
    • How are vulnerable humans and non-human animals accounted for under social contract theory? After all, they can’t make contracts or retaliate against us.

5. What is the Principle of Utility?

  • Principle of Utility: act in such a way that one produces the greatest amount of happiness and causes the least amount of pain possible.

6. What role does the distribution of happiness play in the Utilitarian’s calculations?

  • None.
    • The utilitarian isn’t concerned with the distribution of happiness but with the total amount of happiness

7. The Utilitarian sees the racist, sexist and speciesist as making the same kind of mistake: explain.

  • Racist:
    • Violate the principle of rational benevolence (RB) by giving greater weight to the interests of their own race
  • Sexist:
  • Violate the principle of RB by giving greater weight to the interests of their own gender
  • Speciesist:
    • Violates the principle of RB by giving greater weight to members of their own species

8. What might a Utilitarian have to say about euthanasia? Legalizing marijuana? Animal rights?

  • Euthanasia:
    • Utilitarian would support it; it is morally right
  • Legalizing marijuana:
    • Utilitarian would favor the legalization of marijuana
  • Animal rights:
    • Utilitarians insist that the moral community must be expanded to include all creatures whose interests can be affected by what we do

9. What is the Principle of Rational Benevolence?

  • The idea that we should at good generally, maximizing everyone's happiness (not just those close to us)

10. What is the "Backward-Looking Reasons" objection to Utilitarianism?

  • Reason for something has been made in the past.
    • Ex: Should you keep your promise to go with a friend to the movies?

11. How might Utilitarianism disrupt our personal relationships?

  • Utilitarianism would require giving up our special ties to friends and family

12. What does it mean to say that Utilitarianism is too demanding?

  • Faithful adherence to the utilitarian standard would require you to give away your wealth until you’ve made yourself as poor as the people you’re helping

13. What is the difference between act and rule Utilitarianism?

  • Act utilitarianism: judges the morality of an action by whether the action itself produces the most utility, or at least as much utility as any other action
  • Rule utilitarianism: judges the morality of an action by whether the moral rule presupposed by the action, if generally followed, would produce the most utility, or at least as much utility as any other rule

14. What is the difference between dutiful acts and supererogatory acts?

  • Dutiful acts: something that is your responsibility in the first place
  • Supererogatory acts: above and beyond the call of duty

15. Explain the difference between Consequentialist and Deontological ethical theories of ethics.

  • Consequentialist: a type of ethical theory stating that to act morally we must base our actions on their probable results or consequences, rather than out of duty, in cases where duty and promoting good consequences come into conflict
  • Deontological: a type of moral theory stating that morality consists in doing one’s duty, rather than in considering the consequences of one’s actions, in cases where duty and promotion of consequences come into conflict

16. Did Kant base his ethical theory on our sentiments or our reason?

  • Our reason

17. What is the difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative? Provide an example of each.

  • Hypothetical imperative: an action you should do if you want to promote some goal or end you already have
    • Ex: study for the test if you have a goal to pass it
  • Categorical imperative:
    • Ex: a moral directive from reason that is binding without condition; a command that applies to all rational being, no matter what

18. State the categorical imperative (first version) that for Kant is the supreme principle of morality.

  • Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

19. How might we test to see if an action of ours conforms to Kant's categorical imperative?

  • Determine the rule you are following
  • See if the rule can be followed or if is illogical or somehow self-defeating

20. What is “negative responsibility”?

  • Negative responsibility: the responsibility for something which is not caused directly by the person but which the person fails to prevent from happening

21. State some objections to Kantian absolutism.

  • Couldn’t we formulate the rule about lying to that in some cases it is not self-defeating?
    • formulating the rules
    • The insistence on absolute rules is strange. Do we really have an obligation to always tell the truth, even if a murderer is at your door?
      • Rules can conflict

22. What is Kant’s second formulation of the Categorical Imperative?

  • Don’t use people

23. What are Kant’s views on punishment?

  • People should be punished simple because they have committed crimes, and for no other reason
  • Punishment should be proportional to the seriousness of the crime

24. How does a Utilitarian view punishment?

  • Utilitarian would argue that capital punishment is justified if the act:
    • Comforts victim’s family
    • Protects society
    • Discourages other potential criminals
    • Helps rehabilitate criminals
    • Promotes utility in some other way


Social contract theory of ethics: in particular, the Prisoner’s Dilemma

  • Social contract theory: an individual’s agreement that results in the formation of the state or of organized society
    • prime motive being the desire for protection which requires surrendering some/all personal liberties
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