Short Answers: Answer the following questions in one paragraph (each is worth 5 points).

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1 HU2700 Spring 2008 Midterm Exam Answer Key There are two sections: a short answer section worth 25 points and an essay section worth 75 points. No materials (books, notes, outlines, fellow classmates, etc.) may be used during the exam. You may only use a writing instrument, your own mind, and your blue book. You may answer the questions in any order, just make sure you mark which question you are answering clearly (e.g., Short Answer 2 or Essay 1 ). Good Luck! Short Answers: Answer the following questions in one paragraph (each is worth 5 points). 1. What is the ring of Gyges story supposed to show? The Ring of Gyges story is supposed to show that people are by nature immoral. The story is that someone finds a ring that when one puts it on and turns it it makes them invisible. The person with this ring knows that they will not be caught for doing what is wrong and therefore does a bunch of immoral things (kills the king, marries the queen, takes the throne, etc.). That is, if people could get away with doing what is wrong they would (e.g., they are consequentialists). Meaning that people by nature are immoral. 2. What is the greatest happiness principle in Mill s utilitarianism? How is this related to Mill s empiricism? The greatest happiness principle is the fundamental principle in Utilitarianism. It is: to act in such a way as to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for all. It is related to Mill s empiricism insofar as Mill argues that whatever happiness can mean it must be grounded in sensation/experience. Mill argues that the only sensory experience associated with happiness is the increase of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. 3. How does Aristotle define virtue? Give an example of one virtue and explain how it fits Aristotle s definition of a virtue. Aristotle argues that a virtue is a rational mean between extremes. That is, every virtue is limited by two extremes. For example, with respect to virtue of courage there are two extremes: cowardliness and foolhardiness. Cowardliness and foolhardiness represent action that is not rational the coward and the one who is foolhardy does not think about what they should do. On the other hand, the person who has the virtue of courage is able to think in any given situation what the courageous thing is to do and act accordingly. Thus, a virtue is rational mean between extremes. 4. What is the difference between a consequentialist and a non-consequentialist ethics?

2 In a consequentialist ethics what makes an action right or wrong is entirely the consequences of that action. Utilitarianism is one example of a consequentialist ethics. A non-consequentialist ethics denies this, namely, that what makes an action right or wrong is not entirely dependent on the consequences of the action, e.g., it may depend on the intention of an action. Kantian ethics is an example of this. 5. In the readings for the capital punishment presentation/debate, Perlmutter explains that the notion of retribution is important for justifying capital punishment. In a paragraph, explain what retribution is according to this author and how he thinks it fits in with capital punishment. Perlmutter notes that retribution means getting one s just desert for something that one has done wrong, specifically a crime. Thus, punishment is giving a criminal what they deserve for the crime that they have committed. As much as the winner of a race deserves their reward for winning, the criminal deserves their punishment for their crime. Importantly, Perlmutter argues that retribution is not revenge. Perlmutter believes that capital punishment is the proper retribution for certain crimes and that if we do not punish the person appropriately we are not respecting their own choice as a moral being. Essay Section: Write an essay on each of the following questions (each is worth 25 points). 1. There are two main stages in James Rachels critique of cultural relativism: (1) A critique of the cultural differences argument and (2) three consequences of the thesis of cultural relativism that Rachels believes should lead any reasonable person to reject it. In your essay explain in detail the thesis of cultural relativism and then explain in detail (1) and (2) above. Cultural relativism is the thesis that all ethical principles and values are relative to a culture. Thus, what is right or wrong depends upon what culture you are talking about. Something that is right in one culture may be wrong in another and vice-versa (and not just believed to be right or wrong, but actually right and wrong). In other words, there are no absolute principles of right and wrong. (1) Rachels thinks the most common and popular argument for cultural relativism is what he calls the cultural differences argument: (i) Different cultures have different (and sometimes contradictory) beliefs about what is right and wrong Therefore, there simply is no fact of the matter about what is right or wrong - what is right or wrong is relative to a culture. Rachels demonstrates that this argument is invalid. That is, even if the premise was true (and it could very well be), the conclusion does not necessarily follow. Simply because different cultures have different beliefs about what is right or wrong does

3 not prove that there really is no fact of the matter about what is right or wrong. In other words, one or both of the cultures can simply be wrong about what is right or wrong. Analogous example: From the mere fact that if one culture believed that the world was flat and one culture believed that the world was round, one cannot conclude that there is no fact of the matter about whether the world is flat or round. (2) The three consequences of cultural relativism that Rachels thinks would make any reasonable person reject it are: (i) We could not judge one culture to be inferior to any other: Since C.R. argues that there is no absolute, cross-cultural principles of right or wrong, one cannot compare the ethics of one culture against another. Something may seem horribly wrong in another culture (the holocaust), but that is simply wrong for us, i.e., in our culture. In that culture (Nazi Germany), it is right. (ii) The notion of moral progress (even within the history of one country) no longer makes sense if C.R. is true. For example, in the culture of pre-civil war America, slavery was acceptable. One may believe that we have morally Progressed since slavery is no longer acceptable in America. However, if C.R. Is true then this is wrong. According to C.R., slavery was right in the culture Of pre-civil war America and is wrong in America now, but there is no absolute ethical principles which would allow us to judge the former worse than the latter. (iii) Finally, if C.R. was true we could simply inspect our own culture to find out what is right and wrong. This seems false, since it seems that we have to do more to find out what is really right and wrong than just look at what our culture thinks is right and wrong. That is why we debate ethical issues all the time, instead of just inspecting what is acceptable to our culture or not. 2. Explain in detail Kant s ethical theory. Make sure to include an account of the notions of the importance of the good will, duty to the moral law, categorical and hypothetical imperatives, why all truly moral laws must have the form of a categorical imperative, and the first and second formulations of the categorical imperative. It is common knowledge that Kant believes that in the example of the sailors stranded on a lifeboat that they are morally obligated not to kill and eat their fellow sailor. I want you to explain, using either the first or second formulation of the categorical, why Kant would believe this. Kant thinks that the only truly good thing is a good will. By the good will he means a will that wills to dutifully follow the moral law. It is this particular intention that determines the good will. The notion of duty is so important in Kant s ethics because it represents the way in which the ethical person treats their obligation to the moral law. That is, for Kant, living an ethical life is living in such a way that you dutifully follow the moral law. What this means is that you follow the moral law regardless of whether you want to or desire to. When someone has a duty they must act in certain ways regardless of what they want or desire. E.g., a firefighter does not want or desire to run into a burning building and possibly lose their lives, rather they do it because they have a duty

4 to run into burning buildings to save people who may be trapped inside. Similarly, because Kant argues that morality and ethics must be based on reason alone (he is a rationalist as opposed to an empiricist) and not on wants and desires (and pleasure and pain), acting ethically does not consist of doing what you want or desire. Rather, the appropriate model is duty. One has a duty to act according to the moral law. In Kantian terminology one acts ethically only when one follows a maxim which has the form of a categorical imperative ( Do y, period ), not one that has the form of a hypothetical imperative ( If I want x, I will do y.) In conclusion, one s duty to the moral law trumps any wants and desires that one may have. Moreover, the categorical imperative specifies the form that any ethical/moral imperative must have. Kant believes that there are two formulations of the categorical imperative. Kant believed that both amount to the same thing differently formulated. The 1st formulation of the categorical imperative specifies that one act only on those maxims (i.e., principles of action A.C.E.) that one can will to become a universal law or universalized. If a maxim cannot be universalized then it cannot be a moral maxim since it does not satisfy the requirements of the C.I. However, since Kant bases his ethics in reason alone the only way in which a maxim can fail to be universalized is if, in universalizing it, it becomes contradictory. E.g., if the maxim under consideration is: I will promise to pay back money that I borrow even though I know that, if it is beneficial to me, I will not really pay it back. This cannot be universalized because then it would amount to: Anyone at anytime in any situation can promise to pay back money that they borrow knowing full well they may not. This universalized version implies an inherent contradiction namely, that promising no longer makes any sense it is an entirely empty concept. Thus, the universalized maxim contains a contradiction. The second formulation of the C.I. is: Never use any person merely as a means to an end, but rather as always an end in themselves. Thus, in promising to pay someone back even though I know full well I may not I am using them merely as a means to an end, namely, a way to get money that I need. With regard to the sailors on the boat: According to the 1st formulation of the C.I., the maxim would have to be something like I will kill a person and eat them in order to save lives. When I universalize this it means, anyone at anytime in any situation can kill a person if it will save lives. The contradiction comes in the fact that the maxim seems to both cherish life and also see it as expendable simultaneously, thus producing an inherent contradiction. In the case of the 2nd formulation it is easier to see: The other sailors are using the indefensible, weak sailor as a mere means (e.g., food) towards an end (e.g., saving themselves.) 3. Explain in detail Plato s critique of democracy including the metaphor he uses in the process. What s is Plato s own view of the ideal state. What for Plato is the most important quality that the rulers in his ideal state must have and why? In detail,

5 explain how Dewey would respond to Plato s critique of democracy in the process make sure to explain what Dewey means by democracy as a form of life and how this relates to democracy as a form of government. The analogy is the analogy of the ship. The analogy of the ship is that on a ship there are sailors, a pilot, and the owner. The owner is dull and slow. The sailors, who don't know how to navigate, but know how to woo the owner are trying to get control of the ship and eventually they do which leads to disaster. The pilot, who does know how to navigate but does not know how to woo the owner, is never able to get control of the ship. If the pilot did, everything would be okay. The analogy of the ship represents Democracy for Socrates. The owner is the people. The sailors are politicians and the pilot is the philosopher. In a democracy it is the politicians with their ability to manipulate the people who are able to get the people to put them in power, leading to disaster since they know nothing of justice. The philosopher, who does know about justice, is never able to get power because they aren't trained in manipulating the people, even though they would produce a just society. Finally, the people are too dull and slow to know the difference, yet they have the power to choose the rulers of the society. The analogy is supposed to prove that Democracy is not a good form of government. For Plato, the ideal state is one in which the rulers (e.g., the legislators) have knowledge of what makes a just state. Moreover, they are the most virtuous and the most wise. It is these philosopher kings who must rule the state and pass its laws. Below them are the guardians (who maintain order and fight wars). And below the guardians are the craftsmen who produce the material needs of the state. Only the philosopher kings should get to choose what the society and its laws are because they have the knowledge to choose correctly. For Dewey, democracy as a way of life is the ability of each individual to choose his or her values and take responsibility for that choice. Democracy as a form of government is the ability of each citizen to participate in the political process (to vote) and thus choose the values of their community/state/government (by passing laws) and take responsibility for those choices. Dewey believes that Democracy as a form of government best exemplifies democracy as a form of life at the level of the community/state/government. With respect to Plato s critique, Dewey would argue that Plato leaves something absolute essential to human nature out of consideration namely, human beings are moral beings and thus must have the liberty to choose their lives (and their government) and also are obliged to take responsibility for their choices. This is what it is to be a mature, adult human being. In Plato s ideal government the vast majority of people are not able to make decisions (and thus cannot take responsibility for those decisions). Thus, the vast majority of people are treated like children, i.e., not as fully mature, moral beings. In essence, Plato leaves out the fact that democracy ensures a measure of our liberty in relation to the community/state in which we live.

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