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Auburn University Fall 2009
Final Exam Study Questions:
Note that you should also be guided in your preparation by the study questions posted on Blackboard, the handouts, the quizzes and the midterm exams, as well as by the texts and your class notes.
1) In the last election your friend was eligible to vote, but preferred instead to go up to New Hampshire to see the foliage. This year he realized that as a good citizen he must vote. So, although the day was cold and gray and he enjoyed staying in his warm bed, he dragged himself out of bed and went to the polls. However, he remained grumpy all the way to the polls and back home, complaining about the bad weather and about the need to vote for the next president. Is your friend a virtuous person, a continent person or an incontinent person, according to Aristotle? In your answer describe the main characteristics of each type of person and the differences among them.
The friend is a continent person according to Aristotle since he knows what he needs to do and does it, but doesn’t want to We also discuss several other topics like Dominion Thesis comes from what book?
N If you want to learn more check out What are Forecasting Segments?
2) What role should happiness play in ethics? Your answer should consider the question from the point of view of three of the central thinkers discussed in this course: Mill, Kant and Aristotle. Compare and contrast the three philosophers’ answers to this question.
Aristotle believed happiness was the chief good and that o be happy you must also be virtuous. Kant believed happiness had nothing to do with ethics and rejects it as a supreme good, saying that goodwill is more valuable. Mill believes happiness to be the basis of all ethics, with each action determined as right or wrong by whether it maximized happiness
We also discuss several other topics like What are financial statements?
3) Let’s imagine that you borrowed money from a colleague and promised to pay it back by next week. However, your colleague is very forgetful, and she forgot that you promised to give it back by next week. A friend of yours just invited you to join her for a vacation in Florida this week. The trip is very attractive, but you won’t have enough money to make it if you return the money to your colleague as you promised. You know that your colleague would not really be harmed if you break your promise, because she forgot about it. You know also that you would be happier if you were to take the trip.
What should you do? Compare and contrast the answers that Aristotle, Kant and Mill would give to this question. Evaluate each answer shortly.
Aristotle would say that you are an incontinent person and should give the money back,
Kant would say you should give the money back and it will make you a moral person and abide by his maxim law, and Mill would say that if it maximized happiness you should keep it. If you want to learn more check out Common ancestry is part of the concept of what?
4) Compare and contrast Mill’s and Aristotle’s definitions of happiness. Which one do you find more convincing? Explain. We also discuss several other topics like what is the Symbolic speech, fighting words, and student rights?
Both Aristotle and Mill believe happiness is the end we seek in all our actions. Aristotle thinks happiness comes from being virtuous and Mill thinks happiness is pleasure with the absence of pain. I agree with Mill
5) Compare and contrast Aristotle’s, Hobbes’s, Kant’s and Mill’s views of the standard of morality. (A standard of morality would be a fundamental principle that could be used to determine what you ought to do in a particular circumstance.) What is the standard of morality according to each one of them? Explain why each of them holds the standard that you specified in the first part of your answer? Which, if any, of these three views do you find most compelling? Explain.
Hobbes – what you ought/ought not to do is outlined in the social contract, which should only be broken in cases of tyranny because morals aren’t intrinsic
Mill – you ought to do the action to maximize happiness since an action is deemed good by its consequences
Kant – act in according to a maxim that can be applied as a universal law because if the maxim is immoral and everyone did it, society would break down We also discuss several other topics like What did John Locke contribute to democracy?
Aristotle – we ought to perform activities of the soul according to reason and make virtuous decisions from the knowledge they are virtuous, the desire to do them, and from a firm and unchanging character.
6) Aristotle and Kant defend different accounts of the source of the moral worth or moral praiseworthiness of a particular action. What according to each of these philosophers makes an action morally praiseworthy? (Hint: you may want to consider Kant’s comparison of the dutiful person and the naturally sympathetic person, and Aristotle’s comparison of the virtuous person and a good sculptor.) Compare and contrast these accounts, using wellchosen examples where appropriate.
Kant – actions are morally praiseworthy is the agent acts from duty and with goodwill such as the greif stricken philanthropist who helps the needy despite not wanting to rather than the naturally sympathetic person who helps the needs because they find it pleasurable
Aristotle – a virtuous person who performs activities of the soul with reason is not judged by the product of their virtues unlike the sculptor.
7) Compare and contrast Hobbes’ view that moral duties are based on a social contract with Aristotle’s view of morality as based on the human function. What are the views of human nature that underly these two accounts?
Both believe humans should perform virtuous actions, but Hobbes believes actions are moral or immoral based on the social contract and therefore nothing is intrinsically wrong, whereas Aristotle believes morality comes from doing virtuous actions
8) Compare and contrast Kant’s and Mill’s accounts of the distinction between perfect (narrow) duties, or duties of justice, and imperfect (wide) duties, or duties of beneficence.
They both believe we have both kinds of duties to humanity but Kant thinks imperfect duties have to do directly with only ends while perfect duties designate a specific action and Mill believes the wide duties also take into account particulars.
9) Mill appears to regard an individual’s good or happiness as consisting in pleasurable experiences and the absence of painful ones. Do you agree with this view? How do you think Kant and Aristotle would have each responded to Mill’s account?
No, Aristotle and Kant would both disagree, Kant would say a person’s goodness was in their goodwill and Aristotle would say a person’s happiness was in their virtue.
10) What role does the feeling of pleasure play in the ethical views of Aristotle and Mill?
Aristotle would say feeling pleasure from a virtuous action is a sign of a virtuous person whereas Mill thinks all ethical actions should maximize happiness or pleasure
11) Can natural inclinations be the motive of moral worthy actions? Compare and contrast Aristotle’s, Hobbes’s, Kant’s and Mill’s answers to this question.
Aristotle natural inclination to do virtuous actions a requirement to being a virtuous person
Hobbes – people are naturally inclined to a state of war, so no.
Kant – people who perform actions from natural inclinations must also do them from duty to be considered virtuous
Mill – people have a natural inclination to promote happiness and as long as the action didn’t lower happiness, it was moral.
12) If someone lies to me, or breaks a promise to me, I think that I have been treated unjustly. What does this feeling of injustice amount to? Compare and contrast Hobbes’s, Kant’s and Mill’s answers to this question.
Hobbes you feel that the social contract with the person has been violated and you can therefore terminate it
Kant – they have acted upon a maxim that cannot be universally applied and sacrificed your autonomy to use you as merely a means
Mill – they acted in a way that lowered your happiness sand that was wrong.
13) Consider the following situation. A magistrate is faced with a very real threat coming from an angry mob demanding a culprit for a crime. Unless a criminal is immediately produced, promptly tried and executed, the mob will certainly take their revenge on a small and vulnerable group in the community. In that event there is sure to be a massacre with many innocent victims. The magistrate knows that the identity of the real criminal is unknown and that the police have no clue how to go about finding him. He knows that there is a man, a shiftless character who is universally disliked in the community, whom he knows to be innocent of the crime but could be easily framed so that the mob is very likely to be convinced of his guilt. By framing this individual the magistrate is reasonably confident that he could avoid the killing of large numbers of innocent people. What should the magistrate do? How do you think Mill would answer this question? How do you think he would defend his answer?
According to Mill, act utilitarianism would promote killing the innocent man because it will save other lives and bring happiness to those demanding a criminal, but rule utilitarianism would say that because generally following a rule of killing innocent people would not promote happiness, he shouldn’t do it.
14) Suppose someone goes in for his yearly physical. As it happens there are five patients in the hospital, each of whom needs an organ transplant (kidney, heart, liver, etc.) to survive. Suppose that with the organ each of these people can look forward to roughly as many years of life as the healthy person would have. And suppose that otherwise all six people are roughly comparable in terms of the impact they would have on others’ happiness. Suppose that the doctor is in a position to kill the healthy person and distribute his organs to the five patients in a way that no one will suspect. Assume therefore that this action would create the greatest happiness overall. The actutilitarian would require the doctor to kill the healthy person and harvest his organs. What would the ruleutilitarian say?
That since it is generally wrong to kill a patient to harvest their organs and if generally followed would not maximize happiness, the doctor shouldn’t do it.
15) Why according to Aristotle, Kant and Hobbes should we care about doing the morally right thing and avoiding doing the morally wrong thing?
Hobbes – violates the contract
Kant because having a goodwill is valued above all things, because if everyone did the wrong thing society would break down.
Aristotle because without being virtuous you will never be truly happy.
1) What according to Mill is the universal principle that determines whether an action is right or wrong?
Whether or not it maximizes happiness
2) What does Mill regard as the end of an individual’s actions?
Pleasure with the absence of pain
3) Explain Mill’s account of an individual’s happiness. How does Mill’s account of happiness differ from Aristotle’s?
Aristotle believes to be happy you must be virtuous, Mill believes to be happy you have to experience pleasure without pain.
4) Explain why Mill thinks that a discontented Socrates is happier than a contented fool. Socrates’ pleasures are higher than that of the fool
5) Explain the distinction between a quantitative measure of pleasure and a qualitative measure of pleasure.
Qualitive pleasures are higher because they are intrinsically more valuable and need faculties of the mind
Quantative pleasures are lower because although there are more of them, they cannot replace higher pleasures.
6) List some of the pleasures that Mill thinks rank qualitatively high and some that rank qualtitatively low.
High – reading, conversations, love, music
Low – warmth, eating, sleeping
7) How according to Mill do we find out whether one kind of pleasure is qualitatively superior to another?
If competent judges conclude that no amount of the lower pleasure could compensate for the lack of higher.
8) Do you agree with Mill that happiness is to be equated with the most desirable balance of pleasurable experiences and the absence of painful ones? Do you think that Nozick’s example of the experience machine can be used to present a successful challenge to this view?
I think baseline happiness is, but like Nozick pointed out we want more than just experiences
9) Mill addresses at least seven objections to his greatest happiness principle. What are those seven objections?
1. Doctrine worthy of swine
2. Humans will renounce pleasure for sake of something else
3. Are higher pleasures more valuable than lower
4. Men will choose lower over higher
5. Happiness is unobtainable
6. Some people renounce their happiness for the sake of someone else 7. Utilitarianism is too demanding
10) How does Mill answer the objection that happiness is unattainable? What according to Mill are the greatest impediments to happiness? Does he think that these impediments can be overcome?
Happiness isn’t continual bliss; physical and psychological impediments can be overcame
11) How does Mill answer the objection that some people renounce happiness, which suggests that happiness may not be the ultimate value after all?
They are pursuing another’s happiness
12) Suppose that Jones has read Mill and has become a utilitarian. So he goes to the hospital to visit his friend. And when Jones is about to leave his friend says, “thanks for coming.” Jones replies, “don’t thank me. I could see that utilitarianism required it of
me.” Mill would have said that Jones has seriously misunderstood him. Explain Jones’ misunderstanding.
Utilitarianism only requires that happiness is not diminished, he could have not visited if it diminished his happiness.
13) How does Mill answer the following objection to utilitarianism: “there is not time, previous to action, for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness”? Does Mill think that we should our practical deliberations about what we ought to do should always be guided by the utilitarian principle of performing those actions that maximize the general happiness? If not, what principles should guide our actions?
There’s been plenty of time the whole of human history; moral rules of thumb
14) Consider the following situation (adapted from Kai Nielson, “A Defense of Utilitarianism”). A magistrate is faced with a very real threat coming from an angry mob demanding a culprit for a crime. Unless a criminal is immediately produced, promptly tried and executed, the mob will certainly take their revenge on a small and vulnerable group in the community. In that event there is sure to be a massacre with many innocent victims. The magistrate knows that the identity of the real criminal is unknown and that the police have no clue how to go about finding him. He knows that there is a man, a shiftless character who is universally disliked in the community, whom he knows to be innocent of the crime but could be easily framed so that the mob is very likely to be convinced of his guilt. By framing this individual the magistrate is reasonably confident that he could avoid the killing of large numbers of innocent people. What should the magistrate do? How do you think Mill would answer this question? How do you think he would defend his answer? How do you think Kant would answer this question?
Answerd in study guide
15) Does Mill think that it is morally permissible to lie for the sake of some expediency, such as getting over some momentary embarrassment, or attaining some object immediately useful to ourselves or others? Explain how he defends his answer. But suppose that you make a promise to a friend who then dies before you can carry out your promise. And suppose that no one but you knows about the promise. Do you still have an obligation to keep the promise? How would the utilitarian answer that question?
Yes (by act utilitarianism) since those things ultimately maximize happiness. Utilitarianism in general would have you keep promises unless through act utilitarianism you decide it would maximize happiness to break it. Since the person you made the promise to has died, you are no longer obligated to keep your promise.
16) Suppose that I promised my neighbor that I would feed her cat while she was away on a business trip. Imagine a further development of the situation that would lead the
utilitarian to say that I should keep the promise. And imagine a further development of the situation that would lead the utilitarian to say that I should not keep the promise.
Keep promise – the cat is your neighbors’ pride and joy and you are the only one who can feed it while the neighbor is away
Break promise – you are allergic to cats, the neighbor hates the cat, and it already has enough food in its bowl to last the time your neighbor is away.
17) Explain the objection to Utilitarianism that the utilitarian is committed to the view that harms and benefits are morally equivalent.
Act utilitarianism can approve any sort of action and can even make it obligatory to do them.
18) Explain the objection to Utilitarianism that the utilitarian is not able to account for the view that justice requires the correct distribution of goods or benefits across society.
Because act utilitarianism promotes overall utility, it can require us to sacrifice the well being of any individual or minority so the majority will benefit.
20) Explain the difference between actutilitarianism and ruleutilitarianism. Act utilitarianism – will the action promote happiness? If yes, do it. Rule utilitarianism – what is the general rule? Does that rule, if generally followed, promote happiness? If no, don’t do it.
22) Rule utilitarianism is supposed to have the advantage over act utilitarianism of being able to hold that certain rules (such as those rules that we think of as protecting a person’s rights) are inviolable (at least usually so). How is the rule utilitarian able to hold this consistently with his view that public utility is the ultimate moral principle?
Rules to protect the individual are applied to all so it betters utility.
24) Explain the objection that the ruleutilitarian is a rulemongerer.
Because they promote an undesirable activity or situation since they look at the rules being followed and not how acting against the rules will enhance happiness.