University of Kansas, Spring 2003
Philosophy 161: Introduction to Ethics, Honors

Questions—Final Exam

The final exam will be given on Wednesday, May 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., in the room where we have class, and will consist of 100 points’ worth of the following questions. This will be an open-book, open-note exam. If you don’t want to take the exam in class, you may turn in typed answers to any of these questions in advance, and when I grade the answers that are written in class, I’ll grade the corresponding answers that you turn in. Answers that you provide to questions that do not end up being on the exam will not increase your grade, nor will the lack of such answers decrease your grade. Note that, whether you answer each of the following questions or not, you must number each of your answers, because when I grade your answers, I’ll be looking for them one by one, as answers to specific questions, rather than reading all of what you turn in from beginning to end. Your answers must be typed and double-spaced, and they must be turned in to me at my office (3070 Wescoe Hall) by 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 14, or turned in at the site of the final exam within the first half hour of the exam period (by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 14). You can slide your work under the door to my office if I’m not there when you come by to turn it in.

Whether you take the exam in class or not, if you want me to mail your exam to you after I grade it, give me an envelope with your address on it. If you don’t turn in an envelope to me, you can pick up your graded exam from me any time until the end of May.

  1. (10 points:) What is cultural relativism? What is one statement or belief that people might associate with cultural relativism, but that is not actually equivalent to that view?
  2. (20 points:) What is the main point of Stevenson’s paper “The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms”? What would Stevenson say to someone who says, “You promised to mow my lawn; now you are just being irrational if you fail to see that it would be wrong for you not to mow my lawn”?
  3. (10 points:) What is the relevance, to psychological egoism, of the notion of a theory’s being verifiable?
  4. (20 points:) What is the method by which normative-ethical theories are usually judged or evaluated? Give an example of how this method might be used to defend some particular theory, and how it might be used to criticize some particular theory.
  5. (10 points:) What is the difference between consequentialism and welfarism? How could one be a consequentialist without being a welfarist, and how could one be a welfarist without being a consequentialist?
  6. (10 points:) On what basis might one claim that, despite Kant’s own avowals regarding the implications of his theory, the categorical imperative does not prohibit lying in all cases?
  7. (10 points:) What is the fundamental difference between virtue ethics and traditional normative-ethical theories?
  8. (10 points:) Why does Singer think that the principle of equal consideration of interests can be defended without basing it on some fact of equality? And why does Singer want not to base the principle on some fact of equality?
  9. (20 points:) What is Singer’s conception of personhood? According to Singer, what answers do classical utilitarianism and preference utilitarianism give to the question of whether personhood is a morally significant threshold?
  10. (10 points:) What is the difference between the “total” view and the “prior existence” view? What is Singer’s main concern about each of these?
  11. (10 points:) What, according to Singer, is the connection between (1) according moral significance to the distinction between killing someone and letting her die and (2) choosing a rule-based theory of morality over a consequentialist one?
  12. (10 points:) What is the “triage” approach to the problem of world poverty? In what ways does Singer agree and disagree with this approach?
  13. (10 points:) What is the basic idea of “deep ecology” as an approach to environmental ethics?
  14. (10 points:) Why, according to Singer, is civil disobedience justified in more circumstances than other non-violent illegal activity is?
  15. (20 points:) What is the connection between subjectivism and a normative-ethical theory? Can one be a subjectivist and consistently espouse a normative-ethical theory, or must a proponent of a normative-ethical theory deny subjectivism? 
  16. (20 points:) What positions does Singer take on three major meta-ethical issues—cultural relativism, subjectivism, and basing morality on religion?
  17. (20 points:) Singer’s approach to ethics is, of course, a form of utilitarianism. Pick one of the other normative-ethical theories we studied and summarize what Singer says in opposition to it.