Contemporary Moral Problems Final Exam Study Guide
Contemporary Moral Problems Final Exam Study Guide PHIL 3720
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This 5 page Study Guide was uploaded by Jada Notetaker on Tuesday April 26, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to PHIL 3720 at Georgia State University taught by Ms. Elizabeth Dwyer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 85 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Moral Problems in PHIL-Philosophy at Georgia State University.
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Date Created: 04/26/16
PHIL 3720 Final Exam Study Guide [Date and Time: April 28, 10:45am – 1:15pm] For the final exam, you will be asked to compose an argumentative essay about one of the debates we covered in class (I will choose one topic from the three debate topics listed below). You will be required to explain each side of the debate, including the premises and conclusions of each of the arguments. You will also be required to give an argument for which side of the debate you think offers a more convincing argument. Here you should provide at least one objection to the argument that you find least convincing, and explain how the argument cannot overcome the objection. You will be asked to write an essay on one of the following debates: Abortion (Lee/George and Little), Animal Ethics (Regan and Frey) or Reparations (Boxill and Perez). I offer the most important concepts from each of the debates below. Animal Ethics Explain Regan’s analogical argument, including the concepts “subjectofalife” and “basic rights.” How do these concepts relate to and support Regan’s conclusion? The Children of Willowbrook Argument: For fifteen years, Willowbrook State Hospital was allowed to test out different versions of viral hepatitis on thousands of the hospital’s heavily retarded child patients (none younger than three years old). One of the aims was to see if gamma globulin injections could build up immunity to the virus. The presiding doctor, NYU Prof. Saul Krugman, set out to find the answer by splitting the kids into two groups. One was fed the virus (found in the excrement of other infected children), and then given the injections; the other was fed the virus only with no injections. Dr. Krugman got signed permission from the parents to carry on his experiments, saying the tests would let their kids “be given the benefit of this new preventive” (100). Eventually, he arrived at the conclusion that two separate viruses, Hepatitis A and B, make up the hepatitis disease. Undoubtedly, these finding helped advance our understanding of the disease. But…was all that really necessary? Some other guy named Baruch Blumberg came up with pretty similar results just by testing in his lab, completely free of child suffering. Regan: Let’s say the only way to get this information was to test on unaware humans. That doesn’t negate the fact that his actions were wrong. “To violate the moral rights of the few is never justified by adding the benefits for the many” (100). Basic rights – between the many differences between humans (ability, age, gender, etc.), we can’t justify discriminating against each other regarding our basic rights (such as to bodily integrity and life). So, our rights can’t come from those same categories (again, using ability, age, and gender as an example). Subjectofalife – essentially, we’re all beings aware of a life. We experience things and they matter to us. All humans have this awareness (since we have a Central Nervous System), and this is where our rights come from. As such, we’re owed some sort of respect for our lives. So are all nonhuman animals, too. Conclusion: All mammals have Central Nervous Systems. Therefore, it would be as wrong to subject them to harm as it would be if we did it to a human. Explain Frey’s middle position, including the concepts “quality of life,” and the distinction between “moral patient” and “moral agent.” How do these concepts relate to and support Frey’s middle position? Quality of life – insofar as a life functions well, it possesses more quality; under this view, Frey does not see all lives as equal Moral patient – one of two communities; something that is morally considerable and a subjectofthelife Moral agent – the second community; “reason responsive” (considers and acts on situations from reason) and can have duties to one another Frey’s kinda neutral on this, hence the middle position. There’s the Abolitionist View (Regan; it’s always wrong to test on animals) and “Anything Goes” (which Regan calls “speciesist”). Frey maintains agency is where it’s at. It’s what adds richness to life, mainly humans’ since we definitely have agency. As far as animals go, just because we haven’t witnessed them exercising their agency, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any. Abortion Explain the view that each author has on the moral status of embryos/fetuses, as well as each author's argument for why they think their view is the correct view. You should be able to explain what it means for something to have a “moral status.” Lee and George – Fetuses’ moral status comes from the types of beings we are, potentiality, and nutrition/environment, not our capacities. Capacities vary, which would justify treating people differently. You either are or aren’t a human. o …and exist through time (stay the “same” from the womb to the grave). Reductio (the process of following an argument to its Logical Extreme™ to discover its absurdity). For example, it’s not right for a mother to abandon her 6weekold infant since there’s no difference in capacities between that and a fetus. Reductio – reduce to logical conclusion Fetuses have the same value at the ages of 1, 25, 100, etc. Therefore, abortion is impermissible. Little: Moral status: Fetuses are respectworthy as the process of reproduction creates life. However, they don’t maintain the same value throughout life; their value deepens as it develops. But that environment Lee and George are talking about…that’s a woman, an autonomous agent. This is Morally Significant. Little doesn’t see “ending gestational support” (her definition) as a violation of the fetus’ rights. Basically, moral status is ranking moral agents assign to entities, saying that they are up for moral consideration for their own sake and decisions affecting them must be weighed. Explain what each author takes to be most significant in the discussions of responsibility and harm and how what they emphasize in these discussions supports their position on the permissibility of abortion. Lee and George: Parents have special responsibilities to protect their child(ren). For example, the responsibility to avoid harm (moving away from an environment that harms the child [Lee and George 45], and not intentionally harm them – like smoking around them when they already have breathing problems ). Supposedly, the harms of pregnancy/the fetus being killed outweigh the harms to the woman. This reinforces their idea that the fetus’ right to life eclipses the woman’s bodily autonomy when pregnant, and any measure to make the environment conducive to the child’s growth must be taken when the kid is born. Keeping in mind that they consider the child’s value is the same throughout their life, abortion is impermissible. Little: L&G underestimate the medical/physical harms of pregnancy; Little’s known women who have had many difficulties during pregnancy. Social harms are also neglected by L&G (familial abandonment, being trapped in an abusive relationship a woman would otherwise leave, increased difficulty in finding/maintaining jobs, etc.). Identity (as in interests, etc.) – Pregnancy transforms a woman into a mother. Therefore, her identity changes. Identity and relationship intimacy both fall under a woman’s right to author her own life. Since the fetus cannot survive without the support of the mother (it has no independent trajectory), her choices carry weight because they affect it, but not vice versa. In this view, the fetus has no right to life, especially if it is putting the woman’s body through complications. Reparations Explain why Boxill thinks that black Americans are owed reparations/compensation for historic injustices. You should also explain the goal(s) and limit(s) of compensation. Why does Boxill think that the rights of current people are not violated when providing reparations for historic injustices? Boxill is very much a Nozickian. The way he sees it, anything gained by unjust means should be returned. Compensation – to restore the world (as much as possible) to how it would have been had the injustice not occurred. But how close can it really get? Take stereotypes, for example. They’re so ingrained in culture that uprooting them from everyone’s minds may not even be possible. Boxill doesn’t care about the rights of current people. As long as they have benefitted/are benefitting from anything not gotten through just steps, it was never theirs to begin with. Explain Perez’s nonidentity argument, and why Perez thinks that this argument shows that Black Americans do not have claims to compensation for historic injustices. You should also explain the timing solution, and why Perez thinks that this solution fails to justify reparations for historic injustices. Nonidentity Argument (NIA): 1. Existence is better than NonExistence. (Depending on whom you ask, this is debatable.) 2. A given historical injustice is causally connected to the existence of victims’ descendants. (This is a stretch, but we’ll accept it.) Therefore, 3. The Historic Injustice did not harm the descendants. (Because this led to their existence.) 4. Harm is a necessary condition for compensation. Therefore, 5. Claims to compensation for descendants are unjustified. (So no complaining.) Perez is a Genetic Essentialist (to him, the slightest change in genetics makes you a different person). That, coupled with the NIA, justifies his belief that Black people don’t have to be compensated. At this point, compensating them would be unjust since it would set back the interests of others. Timing Solution: This deals with the issue of a continuing injustice. Let’s say a slave has a daughter. Once the slaves are freed, they receive no compensation. The family’s welfare is diminished (especially the daughter’s). The daughter has a child of her own and the cycle continues. The only reason the descendants are in this state of diminished welfare is because of their lack of compensation. Perez isn’t convinced by this. He thinks only the ones who benefit off the injustices are responsible for providing restitution. Compensation is reserved only for those guilty of things they are directly responsible for. So, current people would be exempt from providing compensation for the above issue. Restitution may still be up for debate, depending on what he thinks about privilege.
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