University of Kansas, Fall 2003
Philosophy 160: Introduction to Ethics

Class notes: applied ethics

The following notes correspond roughly to what we cover, including at least a portion of what I put on the board or the screen, in class. In places they may be more or less comprehensive than what we actually cover in class, and should not be taken as a substitute for your own observations and records of what goes on in class.

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  1. Practical Ethics, preface
    1. ethical disagreement vs. factual disagreement (p. viii.2)
    2. two controversial theses (pp. vii.8–ix.9)
      1. Some human lives are not worth living.
      2. Some human lives are of less value than some animal lives.
    3. Singer’s consequentialism (x.7)
  2. PE, chapter 1: “About Ethics”
    1. what ethics is not
      1. particularly concerned with sex (p. 2.2)
      2. good in theory, but useless in practice (p. 2.5)
      3. based on religion (p. 3.6)
      4. relative or subjective (p. 4.6)
    2. what ethics is
      1. related to justification, or purported justification (p. 10.4)
      2. related to not merely self-interested justification (p. 10.7)
      3. based on “a universal point of view” (p. 11.9)
      4. utilitarianism, perhaps? (p. 12.8)
        1. “pre-ethical” thinking conforming to welfarism and consequentialism (p. 13.3)
        2. universalization coming in with the move from the pre-ethical to the ethical (p. 13.5)
      5. utilitarianism based on interests (p. 14.2)
  3. PE, chapter 2: “Equality and Its Implications”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (20 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?
      2. (10 points:) How can the principle of equal consideration of interests require treating people unequally?
    2. the basis of equality
      1. general moral requirement of accepting an ideal of racial equality (p. 16.8)
        • example of Trent Lott having to resign his Senate leadership position in 2002
      2. moral personality? (p. 18.5)
      3. not any “natural characteristic” (p. 19.7)
      4. “a basic ethical principle, not an assertion of fact” (p. 21.2)
      5. “equal consideration of interests” (p. 21.3)
      6. “the characteristic of having interests” (p. 22.8)
        1. interests—not just things one’s attention is drawn to
        2. interests—includes things one needs, desires, prefers, etc.
          • examples: food, a place to live, companionship, opportunities for growth
      7. equal consideration of interests vs. equal treatment or egalitarian treatment (pp. 23.9–25.9)
        1. may require treating people unequally (p. 23.9–24.4)
          • example: distributing need-based scholarship money (think of distributing it one dollar at a time, each dollar going to whoever needs it most)
        2. may require enlarging, not reducing, existing inequalities (pp. 24.4–25.9)
          • example: distributing scholarship money taking likely educational benefits into account (think of two equally needy students, one likely to benefit from college more than the other)
    3. equality and genetic diversity
      1. What if the races and sexes differed, genetically, in terms of IQ, etc.? (p. 28.2)
        1. Note: Singer is not saying that this is or is not the case.
        2. He’s only asking, “What if this were the case? What would it mean, morally?”
      2. Such a result, he says, wouldn’t undercut the principle of equal considerations of interests (p. 31.3, p. 37.6).
    4. from equality of opportunity to equality of consideration
      1. difference between the two (p. 40.5–7)
      2. apparent purpose of section: to show that equality of opportunity is not enough, and that we must go farther, to equal consideration of interests (but see p. 44.9: “practically unrealisable”)
    5. affirmative action
      1. candidates’ interests often irrelevant in admissions decisions (p. 47.8)
        • Zero consideration is one form of equal consideration.
        • See KU's mission statement here:
      2. how equal consideration of interests might support affirmative action (p. 49.7)
    6. equality and disability
      1. showing how equal consideration of interests applies to the disabled
      2. justifiability of spending more on the disabled (p. 53.5)
  4. PE, chapter 3: “Equality for Animals?”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (20 points:) What, according to Singer, is required in order for a being to be regarded as having interests? How does this lead him to regard speciesism as being as bad as racism?
      2. (10 points:) What is Singer’s reply to the claim that it’s fine for humans to eat animals because many animals eat animals?
    2. racism and speciesism
      1. connection between being able to suffer and having interests (p. 57.5)
      2. definition of speciesism (p. 58.4)
      3. experimentation on infants and severely intellectually disabled adults (p. 60.3)
    3. speciesism in practice
      1. treating animals as machines (p. 63.5)
      2. animal experimentation without compensating benefits (pp. 66.9–67.1)
      3. animals vs. brain-damaged humans (p. 67.6)
    4. (answers to) some objections
      1. evidence of animals’ pain (p. 69.7)
      2. animals’ behavior not a source of moral guidance (p. 71.2)
      3. no distinction between interests of self-conscious and non–self-conscious animals (p. 74.8)
      4. elevating animals, not lowering intellectually disabled humans (pp. 77.9–78.1)
      5. the harshness of the ethics of reciprocity (p. 81.4)
  5. dialogue between Singer and Posner—principal issues
    1. possible test questions
      1. (10 points:) In what way to Posner’s remarks on animal rights show his use of the standard method for evaluating normative-ethical theories?
      2. (20 points:) In what way do Posner’s remarks on animal rights suggest that he is an emotivist?
    2. appropriate scope of moral concern, or what it takes to have moral standing
      1. Singer (June 11): Any being capable of feeling pain thereby has moral standing.
      2. Posner (June 12): Moral concern appropriately begins with oneself and radiates outward. It’s perfectly acceptable for people to draw the line at a national boundary, or at a species boundary.
      3. Singer (June 12): It’s totally unjustifiable to think this way, either internationally (e.g., with respect to foreign aid) or with respect to animals.
    3. appropriate resolution of conflicts between moral intuitions and philosophical arguments
      1. Posner (June 12): “If . . . we have to choose between philosophy and . . . intuition . . . then it is philosophy that will have to go.”
        • use of the standard method for evaluating normative-ethical theories
      2. Singer (June 12): This way of thinking would justify and sustain past racism, unequal rights for homosexuals, etc. What is moral philosophy for if not to critique and help us revise our moral intuitions?
      3. Posner (June 13): “My view is that ethical argument is and should be powerless against tenacious moral instincts.”
      4. Singer (June 13): What are the words ‘and should be’ doing here? Doesn’t their use here signify that argument, and not just brute psychological fact, is the ultimate authority in ethics?
    4. appropriate means of changing the way people think it’s o.k. to treat animals
      1. Posner (June 12): greater empathy with animals (sensitivity to their suffering), greater awareness of facts about how inexpensively (if such facts there be) animals’ suffering can be eliminated
        • shades of emotivism
      2. Singer (June 12): These are great, but not enough, and they don’t need to be enough: changing people’s morals can and should work, too.
      3. Posner (June 13): Actually, these (especially enlightening people as to the facts of some situation) work very well, and are the main cause of moral reform.
      4. Singer (June 13): People also claimed to be moved by the moral arguments in Animal Liberation.
      5. Posner (June 14): If you look at American history, it’s clear that big changes have come about because of political and material forces, not philosophical argument.
      6. Singer (June 14): But many of the people Posner mentions, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Betty Friedan, changed others’ minds with moral argument, not just factual clarifications.
      7. Posner (June 15): They used moral argument, but not in the style of academic moral philosophy.
  6. PE, chapter 4: “What’s Wrong with Killing?”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (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?
      2. (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?
    2. human life
      1. examining the view that human life is especially valuable (p. 84.3)
      2. ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’ vs. ‘person’ (p. 87.3)
        1. need to disambiguate the term ‘human’
        2. two largely, but not completely, overlapping sets
        3. Venn diagram
      3. mere species membership not morally significant (p. 88.3)
      4. classical utilitarianism
        1. personhood not directly morally significant (p. 91.2)
        2. advisability, according to classical utilitarianism, of (falsely!) regarding personhood as directly morally significant (p. 94.3)
      5. preference utilitarianism
        1. Singer endorses this, not classical utilitarianism.
        2. personhood directly morally significant (p. 95.1)
        3. Singer is saying that because persons normally have strong future-directed preferences, while non-persons do not, it’s normally worse to kill a person than a non-person.
        4. He is not saying that it’s o.k. to kill all non-persons. He’s just talking about the extra reason there is for not killing persons, in contrast to non-persons.
      6. no right to life without concept of continued existence (p. 98.6)
        1. Here Singer seems to be endorsing the idea that in order to have a right to life, you have to have (or had to have had, some time in the past) the concept of continued existence. (This idea stems from the idea that rights are based on desires, and from the idea that you can’t desire something—continued existence, for example, unless you have the concept of it.)
        2. But Singer prefaces this discussion with the claim that the preferences of the person whose life it is can be overridden by the preferences of other people (p. 95.9).
      7. moral significance of personhood via the concept of autonomy (p. 99.3)
        1. characteristic of Kant’s moral theory
        2. not relied upon by Singer
      8. summary of section (p. 100.4–6)
    3. conscious life
      1. how related to previous sets
        1. superset of persons
        2. also largely, but not completely, overlapping with set of members of species Homo sapiens
        3. Venn diagram
      2. wrongness of cutting short a pleasant life (p. 104.9)
      3. two explanations of this wrongness: total view and prior-existence view
        1. disadvantage of total view: it implies that the likely future pleasure of possible people is a reason for creating them (p. 103.7)
        2. disadvantage of prior existence view: it implies that the likely future pain of possible people is not a reason for not creating them (p. 104.3)
        3. 2 x 2 table
      4. summary of problems with total view and prior-existence view (p. 105.1–2)
      5. comparing lives’ value
        1. possibility of some ranking of lives of beings of different species (p. 107.5)
        2. possibility of some ranking of lives of beings of the same species (p. 108.7)
  7. PE, chapter 5: “Taking Life: Animals”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (10 points:) What are two examples of the scientific evidence that Singer cites in order to show that some non-human animals are persons?
      2. (20 points:) On what basis does Singer claim that possible people should be viewed as replaceable?
    2. Can a non-human animal be a person?
      1. theoretical reasons for asking this question (pp. 110.7)
      2. properties of personhood (pp. 110.9–111.1)
      3. scientific evidence of some non-human animals’ personhood
        1. Washoe’s self-recognition
        2. Koko’s self-references
        3. Tatu’s expectation of the Christmas tree
        4. Figan and the banana
      4. revised Venn diagram
    3. killing non-human persons
      1. as bad as killing human persons (p. 117.4)
      2. worse than killing human non-persons (p. 118.1)
    4. killing other animals
      1. replaceability (introduced on p. 121)
        1. the idea that an individual should be killed, or not brought into existence at all, if doing so will bring into existence (or is part of a process that will bring into existence) another being, or other beings, who will experience more happiness than the killed being would have experienced, if it had been allowed to keep living
        2. based on viewing individuals as receptacles for pleasant experiences, with the goal being to maximize the occurrence of those pleasant experiences, wherever (i.e., in whom) they may be found
      2. how related to the total view
        1. The total view implies replaceability—see p. 121.3.
        2. And replaceability would seem to imply the total view—if you think that bringing happy beings into existence is a reason for killing a currently existing less-happy being, then you must think that happy beings should be brought into existence if doing so can be done without killing any currently existing happy being.
        3. But Singer regards some individuals as replaceable and yet not commit to the total view—p. 124.7.
        4. ultimate relationship between the total view and replaceability hard to pin down
      3. an argument for viewing possible people as replaceable (from Parfit—pp. 123.3–125.2)
        1. Let Amy be a woman (a) who is pregnant, (b) whose unborn child is unhealthy, (c) who can make him healthy at little cost to herself or others, (d) who declines to do so, and (e) who therefore gives birth to an unhealthy child.
        2. Let Beth be a woman (a) who is thinking about becoming pregnant, (b) who would have, if she became pregnant now, an unhealthy child, (c) who can wait, and become pregnant later with a different, healthy, child at little cost to herself or others, (d) who declines to do so, and (e) who therefore gives birth to an unhealthy child.
        3. What Beth does is as bad as what Amy does.
        4. What Amy does is wrong.
        5. Therefore, what Beth does is wrong.
        6. Therefore, it would have been permissible (because obligatory) for Beth not to conceive the child she now has, in order to conceive the later child. And this is to view the first child, when it was just a possible person, as replaceable. (It is not to view the first child, once it’s been born, as replaceable by a healthy one.)
      4. replaceability of beings that lack conception of selves as existing over time (p. 125.8)
      5. irreplaceability of beings that regard selves as existing over time (p. 125.8)
  8. PE, chapter 6: “Taking Life: The Embryo and the Fetus”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (10 points:) What is Singer’s objection to the claim that abortion is morally permissible because laws prohibiting it would have bad consequences?
      2. (20 points:) What is Thomson’s argument in defense of abortion? How would a utilitarian respond to this argument?
      3. (10 points:) What value does Singer say we should accord the life of a fetus?
      4. (10 points:) What is the relevance, in Singer’s view, of the fact that some sperm-egg pairs may have as large a probability of becoming a person as some embryos do?
      5. (20 points:) How does Singer respond to the claim that his permissive view about abortion implies an equally permissive view about infanticide?
    2. the problem
      1. no sharp line dividing fertilized eggs, which almost everyone says it’s o.k. to kill (consider the thousands of embryos in freezers around the world), from normal adults, which almost everyone says it’s not o.k. to kill (p. 137.5)
      2. implications not only for abortion, but also for embryo experimentation and embryo-related medical purposes (p. 137.7)
    3. the conservative position
      1. emphasizes lack of morally significant dividing line (p. 138.4)
      2. successfully rejects moral significance of birth, viability, quickening, and consciousness
    4. some liberal arguments
      1. showing badness of laws prohibiting abortion as (unsuccessful) proxy for showing moral permissibility of abortion (p. 143.8)
      2. claiming that abortion is a victimless crime, and thus begging the question (p. 145.6)
      3. analogizing abortion to not providing life support to a person for nine months (p. 148.7)
    5. the value of fetal life
      1. comparable to the value of “the life of a nonhuman animal at a similar level of rationality, self-consciousness, capacity to feel, etc.” (p. 151.4)
      2. normally worth less than a woman’s serious interests (p. 151.7)
    6. the fetus as potential life
      1. not the case that a potential X has the same value or rights as an (actual) X (p. 153.3)
      2. argument from depriving the world of a future rational and self-conscious being (p. 154.3)
        1. abortions that don’t deprive, but only delay (p. 154.8)
        2. problems similar to those of the “total” view (p. 155.2)
    7. the status of the embryo in the laboratory
      1. not even an individual, since it might split into twins (p. 156.8)
      2. potentiality
        1. similarity of embryos in labs and eggs and sperm in labs (p. 159.5)
        2. similar probabilities of becoming a child (p. 159.8)
        3. a matter of degree (p. 160.6)
    8. making use of the fetus
      1. crucial consideration: avoidance of pain experienced by fetus (p. 164.5)
      2. no possibility of pain in first 18 weeks (p. 165.4)
      3. permissibility of abortions for benefits to others (p. 167.8)
    9. abortion and infanticide
      1. similar status for newborn infants as for fetuses (p. 169.7)
      2. newborn infants not protected by considerations protecting persons (p. 171.2–7)
  9. Marquis, “Why Abortion Is Immoral”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (20 points:) What feature do fetuses have that, according to Marquis, makes is prima facie seriously morally wrong to kill them? What is one thing that some opponents of abortion, but not Marquis, claim is a feature that fetuses have that makes it wrong to kill them?
      2. (10 points:) What are Marquis’s two objections to the claim that what’s wrong with killing people is that it frustrates their desires?
    2. underlying assumption of paper
      1. “whether or not abortion is morally permissible stands or falls on whether or not a fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end” (p. 183.4)
      2. suggested structure of argument
        1. If a fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end, then abortion is immoral.
        2. A fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end.
        3. Therefore, abortion is immoral.
      3. what to look for: an argument for premise 2
    3. section I
      1. strategy for proving that a fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end: abjure generalizations such as “It is wrong to kill a human being” and “It is wrong to kill beings with [such-and-such] psychological properties”
      2. instead, figure out what’s wrong with killing “adult human beings such as ourselves” and then see whether fetuses resemble us in this respect (p. 189.3)
    4. section II
      1. p. 190.2: main claim: What makes killing an adult human being prima facie seriously wrong is the loss of that person’s future.
      2. considerations in support of this claim
        1. It implies that aliens who have futures like ours would also be beings whom it would be wrong to kill.
        2. It implies that it might be wrong to kill certain nonhuman animals.
        3. It implies that active euthanasia can be all right in certain cases.
        4. It implies that it is prima facie seriously wrong to kill children and infants.
      3. a caveat
        1. Note that Marquis is not claiming that the fact that his claim has these implications is proof that it’s true. He is aware that not only true statements, but false ones too, can have attractive implications (as we might take the foregoing to be).
        2. But the fact that his claim does have these appealing implications is some evidence in its favor.
      4. implications of this claim for the abortion issue
        1. A fetus has a future like ours.
        2. Therefore, is is prima facie seriously morally wrong to kill a fetus.
      5. analogy with a position on another issue
        1. the position on the other issue
          1. The wanton infliction of pain on an adult human being is prima facie wrong.
          2. What makes it wrong is that it causes suffering.
          3. The wanton infliction of pain on an animal also causes suffering.
          4. Therefore, the wanton infliction of pain on an animal is also prima facie wrong.
        2. Marquis’s position on abortion
          1. The killing of an adult human being is prima facie seriously wrong.
          2. What makes it prima facie seriously wrong is that it prevents a future of value from occurring.
          3. Abortion also prevents a future of value from occurring.
          4. Therefore, abortion is also prima facie seriously wrong.
    5. section III: debunking two rival accounts of why killing is normally bad
      1. the desire account
        1. the account and its implications for abortion
          1. What’s wrong with killing is that it normally frustrates the desires of the person killed.
          2. Fetuses (of a certain level of development, at least—maybe all of them) have no desires.
          3. Therefore, it’s not wrong to kill them.
        2. Marquis’s two objections
          1. This account conflicts with common-sense morality, because it implies that it’s o.k. to kill people who no longer desire to live, such as people who are tired of life or who are suicidal.
          2. This account gets things backwards: it implies that life is good because we desire it, when in fact “The goodness of life is not secondary to our desire for it” (p. 196.2).
      2. the discontinuation account
        1. the account and its implications for abortion
          1. What’s wrong with killing is that it discontinues one’s activities, experiences, and projects.
          2. Fetuses (of a certain level of development, at least—maybe all of them) don’t have activities, experiences, and projects.
          3. Therefore, it’s not wrong to kill them.
        2. Marquis’s reply
          1. The discontinuation account would seem to imply that active euthanasia, even at the request of a patient who is in great pain, is immoral.
          2. If the discontinuation account is modified to allow for this, then it must be because of the quality of the person’s future (its very poor quality).
          3. But then the idea of discontinuation isn’t doing any work. The discontinuation account has been reduced to the future-like-ours account.
    6. section IV: debunking other accounts
    7. section V: showing that the future-like-ours view does not imply the immorality of contraception
    8. section VI: conclusion
  10. Cudd, “Sensationalized Philosophy: A Reply to Marquis’s “Why Abortion Is Immoral” ”
    1. possible test question
      1. (10 points:) The title of Marquis’s paper implies that his paper shows that abortion is immoral. Cudd says that all he’s entitled to claim is that abortion is killing a being like us. Why does she think the latter claim does not imply the former one?
    2. goal
      1. Recall that Marquis’s paper is all about the moral status of the fetus. He does not talk about any arguments against abortion based on other considerations, such as protecting the rights of women, making sure we follow God’s commands, or making sure our planet stays populated with humans.
      2. Recall also that, as Cudd notes, Marquis claims that in the philosophical literature on abortion, the moral status of the fetus is typically the determining factor in the moral permissibility of abortion.
      3. Cudd aims to show that the moral permissibility of abortion depends on other things than the moral status of the fetus, and that the philosophical literature on abortion reflects this fact.
    3. important claims
      1. You have to consider the “compelling bundle of rights on the side of the woman carrying the fetus” (p. 262.8).
      2. Consider the case of self-defense. Murderers have futures of value, so is killing a murderer (in self-defense) as bad as killing a fetus? Marquis would appear to have to treat the two cases equally (p. 263.2).
      3. The authors that Marquis cites say that a woman’s rights can override a fetus’s rights (p. 263.4).
      4. All Marquis shows is “Why Abortion is Killing a Being-Like-Us,” not why it is immoral (p. 264.7).
  11. PE, chapter 7: “Taking Life: Humans”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (10 points:) How, according to Singer, are widely accepted public policies based on the assumption that the lives of disabled people are of lesser value than the lives of non-disabled people?
      2. (20 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?
    2. types of euthanasia
      1. voluntary
      2. involuntary
      3. non-voluntary
    3. justifying infanticide and non-voluntary euthanasia
      1. no right to life held by infants (p. 182.3–6)
      2. analogy with selective abortion (p. 186.7)
      3. lesser value of lives of disabled people (p. 188.7)
      4. advantages of regarding newborn infants as replaceable (p. 190.3)
    4. justifying voluntary euthanasia
      1. strength of reasons in defense of voluntary euthanasia (p. 195.8)
      2. procedural safeguards (p. 196.7)
    5. not justifying involuntary euthanasia
    6. active and passive euthanasia
      1. moral difference between killing and letting die? (p. 205.7)
      2. parallel with rules vs. consequences (p. 207.3–4)
      3. treating humans no worse than animals (p. 213.2)
    7. the slippery slope: from euthanasia to genocide?
      1. “concern for the suffering of those killed” (p. 215.7)
      2. little danger of slippery slope (p. 217.4)
  12. Johnson, “Unspeakable Conversations”
    1. equal value of lives of disabled people (p. 5)
    2. the “tragic flaw” in Singer’s thinking (p. 12)
    3. the prevalence of this belief (p. 14)
  13. PE, chapter 8: “Rich and Poor”
    1. possible test questions
      1. (20 points:) What two arguments does Singer give in defense of the claim that affluent people have an obligation to help people who are in life-threatening poverty?
      2. (10 points:) What is the “triage” approach to the problem of world poverty? In what ways does Singer agree and disagree with this approach?
    2. letting die vs. killing
      1. the argument
        1. Previously (in considering euthanasia), we found reason to believe that killing someone is not inherently different, morally speaking, from letting her die.
        2. Several considerations that are often said to establish that killing someone is worse than letting her die do not, in fact, establish this. (example: difference in certainty)
        3. Therefore, we have no reason to retreat from the belief that killing someone is not inherently different, morally speaking, from letting her die.
        1. This is an argument against certain objections that may be made to the claim that letting someone die is as bad as killing her. It does not prove that letting someone die is as bad as killing her; it only shows (or purports to show) that several considerations that are sometimes said to establish that killing someone is worse than letting her die do not, in fact, establish this.
        2. This argument does not canvas all the considerations that may be said to establish that killing someone is worse than letting her die; it leaves open the possibility (at least in principle) that there might be other considerations, not discussed here, that do establish this.
    3. preventing some absolute poverty
      1. the argument: pp. 230–231
        1. The first premise does not equate letting die and killing; it just says that we ought to prevent bad things from happening. So it offers an entirely different starting point than the previous considerations in favor of relieving poverty.
        2. Some people offer a triage-based argument against devoting resources to relieving poverty. It is significant that Singer does not disagree with the philosophical principles of this argument; he just disagrees with its factual assumptions.
  14. Kekes, “On the Supposed Obligation to Relieve Famine”
    1. possible test question
      1. (10 points:) What does Kekes mean by the “Responsibility-Principle”? What is his main example of its application?
    2. the Prevention-Principle and objections to it
      1. “The Prevention-Principle is: ‘if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it.’ (PE, 229)” (p. 506.7).
      2. objections (pp. 506.8–507.8)
        1. The bad thing might be deserved.
        2. The bad thing might be less bad than the likely alternative.
        3. The bad thing might be the fault of the people about to suffer it.
        4. The people about to suffer the bad thing might refuse help.
        5. An attempt to prevent the bad thing might be unsuccessful.
    3. the derivation of the Prevention-Principle and objections to this derivation
      1. the derivation of the principle (pp. 509.3–4)
        1. the universal point of view
        2. impartiality
        3. equal consideration of interests
        4. the Prevention-Principle
      2. objections to all steps of the derivation (pp. 509.5–510.3)
    4. revised versions of Singer’s position
      1. revision of the Prevention-Principle: “people ought to do something to alleviate the suffering of those who live in absolute poverty” (p. 511.8)
      2. response: the Responsibility-Principle: “people should be held responsible for the easily foreseeable consequences of their voluntary actions” (p. 512.2)
      3. examples
        1. waging an unjust war—Rwanda
        2. murdering or exiling those with know-how—Iraq
        3. practicing a religion that teaches resignation—India
        4. overpopulation
      4. further revision of the Prevention-Principle: “affluent people have some obligation to alleviate suffering if the sufferers are not responsible for their suffering, and if it is likely that the aid will reduce their suffering in the long run” (p. 514.6)
      5. difficulty of meeting these two conditions (pp. 514.7–515.5)
  15. Steinbock, “Drunk Driving”
    1. possible test question
      1. (20 points:) What, according to Steinbock, are the features of drunk driving that make it, in some cases, murder?
    2. rejection of strict liability
      1. Some people who support harsher penalties for drunk driving believe in what’s known as strict liability. This is the doctrine that says that people should be punished for the harms they cause, regardless of their state of mind (intent, awareness, etc.) at the time of causing the harm.
      2. This is not how Steinbock wants to justify harsher penalties for drunk driving (p. 280.3).
    3. things that count as murder
      1. “an extremely dangerous act with no social utility, such as shooting into an occupied house or moving train” (p. 281.5)
      2. ”homicide by excessive risk-taking” (p. 281.8)
      3. Some such homicide is murder, some only manslaughter, the former being characterized by “extreme indifference to the value of human life” (p. 282.8).
      4. So murder does not require a desire to kill; extreme indifference to someone’s being alive can be enough.
    4. the difference made by being drunk (p. 286.1)
      1. probability of crash when sober: approximately 1 in 3,000
      2. probability of crash when drunk: approximately 1 in 1,000
    5. combination of factors (p. 286.5)
      1. increase in potential harm
      2. justification (or lack thereof) for the activity
      3. absolute size of risk
    6. incapacity due to being drunk
      1. “recklessness lies in his failure to do any of these things”—give away keys, or get a ride, or call a cab (p. 289.7)
      2. (So is this what the drunk driver is being punished for? Or should we just admit some element of strict liability?)
  16. LaFollette, “Licensing Parents”
    1. possible test question
      1. (10 points:) How does LaFollette respond to the claim that people have a right to have children that would be infringed by a licensing program?
    2. argument by analogy
      1. regarding parenting as similar to medicine, law, pharmacy, psychiatry, or psychology
      2. similarities
        1. potentially harmful activity
        2. requires competence, not had by everyone, for its safe performance
        3. reliable procedure for determining whether someone has the requisite competence
    3. preliminary objections anticipated and answered
      1. inconvenience/devastation of not being granted a license (accepted in standard cases; why not in regard to parenting?)
      2. imperfection of tests (again: accepted in standard cases, so why not in regard to parenting?)
    4. possible routes of more substantial objections (pp. 185.7–186.1)
      1. deny the need for licensing any potentially harmful activity
      2. deny that the criteria are the right ones
      3. deny that parenting satisfies the criteria
      4. show that even though parenting satisfies the criteria, there are special reasons why it is not theoretically desirable *
      5. show that there is no “reliable and just” procedure for implementing this program *
      6. * = objections to be dealt with in the rest of the paper
    5. theoretical objections anticipated and answered
      1. the right to have children
        1. not the right to be provided with children
        2. not the right to have children and then not have to take care of them
        3. the right to raise children when making a good-faith effort to do it well
      2. implausible when people have certain views about what doing it well involves
      3. more plausible: the right to raise children when certain minimal standards are met
      4. just like the right to drive, the right to practice medicine, etc.
      5. And this right is compatible with the idea of licensing!
    6. practical objections anticipated and answered
      1. no criteria for “good parents”: no problem; there are criteria for bad parents
      2. hard to predict who will be a bad parent: can be worked out
      3. possibility of mistakes’ being made: acceptable here as in other licensing contexts
      4. possibility of tests’ being intentionally misused to deny licenses: again, not more problematic than in other cases
      5. enforcement? possibly put the children up for adoption
    7. analogy with adoption