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UVU / Philosophy / Phil 205 / Who is david foster wallace?

Who is david foster wallace?

Who is david foster wallace?


School: Utah Valley University
Department: Philosophy
Course: Ethics and Values
Professor: Jeffery neilson
Term: Spring 2017
Tags: philosophy, Studyguide, and final exam
Cost: 50
Name: PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide
Description: These notes cover the theories/theorists that we went over from the topics of The Social Contract, Poverty, Consumption, Violence, Future ethics, etc..
Uploaded: 04/28/2018
11 Pages 121 Views 4 Unlocks

PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide

Who is david foster wallace?

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1. Social Contract:

What is the/a social contract?

The Social Contract Theory is a way to address the question: what makes Government/being governed ethically legitimate?

● The Social Contract is foundational to the US Constitution and most modern democracies.

● How to create an ethical and ef ective system of government that enables rational, self-interested person to live together in cooperation & mutual well-being (also known as a “commonwealth”)


Thomas Hobbes

Who is tressie mcmillan cottom?

John Locke

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Immanuel Kant

1. Thomas Hobbes: 

● “Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning their Felicity and Misery” (page 216) 

○ (page 217) “Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without common power to keep them in awe, they are in what condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.”

○ “State of Nature”: Thought Experiment → What if there were no government/civil society? (Results in Anarchy)

○ “Roughly Equal in Bodies and Minds” → Therefore we are remarkably dangerous/lethal to one another

Who is brendan de kenessey?

■ Competition If you want to learn more check out What is the jovem guarda?

■ Diffidence (insecurity)

■ Glory

■ State of War

○ Absolute Liberty (Negative Freedom)

■ You have the right to do whatever you want/need to do in order to survive, up to and, perhaps including, killing another human. However, know that each other

person also has these rights.

■ The State of Nature = Absolute Liberty (do whatever you want) → War of All against All

○ We give that freedom to the government and our right to violence in exchange for a peace agreement amongst each other.

PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide

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■ Basically, we give up our “natural liberty” to our government and in return we get legal rights/responsibilities within the contract (i.e. able to make decisions, If you want to learn more check out What does ethnocentric and teleological classification mean?


○ Hobbes’ View on the Social Contract:

■ Mutually agree to trade natural liberty for security/felicity/peace. 

■ Hobbes was skeptical of Democracy and preferred absolute monarchy.

2. John Locke: 

● “Of the Beginning of Political Societies” (page 220) 

○ (page 221) “Nobody doubts but an express consent, of any man entering into any society, makes him a perfect member of that society, a subject of government. The difficulty is, what ought to be looked upon as a tacit consent, and how far it binds, i.e. how far nay one shall be looked on to have consented, and thereby submitted to any government, where he has made no expressions of it at all.”

■ Express Consent:​ Locke clearly explains that one can only join a society by expressing consent to join and it would be a precondition of inheriting property. ■ Tacit Consent:​ Simply by walking along a country’s highway one is giving tacit consent to obey the laws and boundaries that the nation has set. Manifested by We also discuss several other topics like How motives are expressed?

the refraining from contradiction or objection.

○ (page 220) “When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest… If you want to learn more check out What is the price elasticity of demand and supply?

■ Locke believes highly in Democracy → The Majority Rules 

○ Life, Liberty, health, and Property, are the things we have a right to.

■ Property: 

● Only exists with a government 

● How to separate from government: Don't forget about the age old question of What refers to an auction with an open ascending price?

○ Have to only have given tacit consent is to simply sell your

property and leave. But in our case, you can apply to lose your

citizenship but it’s still the government choosing and not you.

3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: 

● “The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right” (page 222) ○ (page 223) “If then we discard from the social compact what is not of its essence, we shall find that it reduces itself to the following terms: Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.” ○ (page 223) “ ‘The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.’ This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.” ■ Basically Rousseau says: If you want to learn more check out What are the types of fixed costs?

● Hobbes is asking too much of the contract

PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide

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● (page 223) - You should still get to do what you want to do AND get all

the benefits of the commonwealth.

● The natural state of nature is only inconvenient and thus a social contract

is a means to make life better (whereas Hobbes believes we absolutely

cannot live without a social contract).

○ Radial Democracy/Direct: 

■ Every member of society is also a legislator, therefore society only

moves/changes when everyone agrees.

■ *This is the only way the Social Contract is ethical (according to Rousseau). ■ Rousseau does say that there are people who are incapable of being reasonable in making societal decisions (based on age, temperament, and mental capability)

○ Yet if not everyone can come to a consensus in the current Social Contract, then Rousseau says it is most beneficial to abolish the Social Contract and create a new one with a new rules and new people.

● *Rousseau's Social Contract requires a lot of trust from the individuals involved, but he says it is worth it because you get to do what you want.

○ Your responsibility is to participate and be honest about what you want

■ This may only work (or works the best) with a small-scale society because it requires a huge amount of meaningful, cooperative discussion.

○ It is impossible for someone else to represent your will. Only you can show your own will (no republic).

○ This improves the educated decision making -- you need to be informed to be able to know exactly what your will is.

4. Immanuel Kant: 

● “On the Common Saying” (page 224) 

○ (page 225) “The aim is not, as it were, to make the people happy against its will, but only to ensure its continued existence as a commonwealth.” 

○ (page 225) “This is the test of the rightfulness of every public law. For if the law is such that a whole people could not possibly agree to it[...], it is unjust; but if it is at least possible that people could agree to it, it is our duty to consider the law as just, even if the people is at present in such a position or attitude of mind that it would probably refuse its consent if it were consulted.”

■ If it passes that “test”, then it is just and you (as a citizen of the contract) are responsible to uphold it, even if you (personally) do not “like” or “agree”

with it.

■ Just or unjust/Rational: Does it follow the categorical imperative?

■ You cannot pass laws with the end goal of making the populace happy

● The only thing that is legitimate is the continuation of the commonwealth

○ AKA prevent the commonwealth from failing.

○ Against Resistance/Rebellion:​ (page 226) 

■ Responsibility of the State to enforce complete conformity of their laws.

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● In practice our laws do undermine (or don’t allow) absolute free speech

(i.e. classified information)

2. Poverty: Myths, Misunderstandings, Truths, and Solutions Theories/Theorists: 

U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Peter Singer

Thomas Pogge

Melinda Gates and Bill Gates

Vandana Shiva

Roberto A. Ferdman

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Brendan de Kenessey

1. United Nations 

○ “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (page 266) 

■ (page 269) Article 26 - Education 

● Everyone has the right to education 

a. Elementary education shall be free and compulsory

b. Technical and professional education shall be made generally

available to all

c. Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of


● Education shall be directed to the full development of the human

personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and

fundamental freedoms.

a. Promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all

nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities

of the UN for the maintenance of peace.

● Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be

given to their children.

■ The UDHR was created as an aspirational document and has no legal force (though many laws are based of of these “basic human rights”).

■ Adopted in 1948

2. Peter Singer: 

○ “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” (page 248) 

■ (page 249) “My next point is this: if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral 

importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”

■ Things that don’t matter when considering doing something:

● Proximity/Distance

PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide

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● Actions/Knowledge of Others

■ Marginal Utility: 

● Giving so much that any more would turn you to the person in need.

a. Though Singer says he doesn’t believe it would need to come to

that (we wouldn’t be morally obligated to get that far)

b. Critique- It’s not that charity makes you a good person, instead,

not doing charity would make you a bad person.

c. Charity should become the norm for being an average person →

charity should be the expectation.

● *Choose the wisest ​(most rational) options that will result in the best 


3. Thomas Pogge: 

○ “The Moral Demands of Global Justice” (page 253) 

■ (page 253) “Do we bear responsibility for deaths due to extreme poverty abroad? … This reluctance is shared by ethicists, whose job it is to think about moral

issues and responsibilities. …”

■ (page 256) “One could claim that our responsibilities toward foreigners are

overridden by our responsibility toward compatriots. But this claim would be

ineffective, because the cost of erasing world hunger is too small to entail any

real losses for our compatriots. One percent of the developed countries’ GNP 

--less than half the “peace dividend”-- could greatly reduce world hunger within a few years…” 

■ (page 258) “Money can be effectively spent, especially on local goods and

services: on enabling poor people to buy more and better foodstuffs and shelter,


■ (page 258) If citizens in these wealthy nations see the importance of the poverty issue, then they would find a way to fund it; it wouldn't seem like the $61 billion to end extreme poverty was a substantial amount of money. 

● Citizens (of wealthy nations) themselves are responsible for the 

continued unequal distribution of resources 

a. AKA the rich get richer, the poor stay poor.

■ Pogge’s Argument: 

● If you hold any value to human life then the cost is so cheap that it

wouldn’t be a big question on whether or not to do it.

a. It’s not up to only one nation. He is depending on things like the

World Bank (organizations that already exist) to help orchestrate

this project.

● Pogge’s Goal​ is to simply get people talking about how we can fix this

issue in a practical way.

■ Be able to understand what Pogge is trying to say about the distribution of wealth in the world and how easy it would be for us to end extreme poverty.

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4. Melinda and Bill Gates: 

○ “3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor” (Canvas document, 25 pages) ■ 1. Poor Countries Doomed to Poverty 

● (page 3) “The fact is, incomes and other measures of human welfare are 

rising almost everywhere, including in Africa.

● The Poverty Curve

● (page 7) “Since 1960, the lifespan for women in sub-Saharan Africa has

gone up from 41 to 57 years, despite the HIV epidemic. Without HIV it

would be 61 years. The percentage of children in school has gone from

the low 40s to over 75 percent since 1970. … The bottom line: Poor

countries are not doomed to stay poor…”

● Understand Bill’s reasoning behind his numbers/data and what he means

by the potential growth of “currently doomed and poor nations”.

■ 2. Foreign Aid is a Big Waste 

● (page 9) “What we see over time is people living longer, getting

healthier, and escaping poverty partly because of services that aid helped

develop and deliver.”

● Countries need to make changes to allow their people to have better 

opportunities (also to learn from wealthier nations) 

● The Amount of Aid is far less than what people think

a. (page 10) Usually people say 10 to 25 percent. “Here are the

actual numbers. For Norway, the most generous nation in the 

world, it’s less than 3 percent. For the United States, it’s less 

than 1 percent.” 

● Corruption in poorer countries is usually irrelevant​ (Illinois governor

going to prison for corruption)

a. (page 13) “The Internet is making it easier for citizens to know

what their government should be delivering--like how much

money their health clinic should get-- so they can hold officials


● Aid Dependence

a. (page 14) “Studies show that these children become healthier

adults who work more productively. If you’re arguing against

that kind of aid, you’ve got to argue that saving lives doesn’t

matter to economic growth or that saving lives imply doesn’t


b. Humanitarian aid is an investment. 

c. (page 17) “I don’t think a child’s fate should be left to what

Warren Buffett calls the ‘ovarian lottery’” (Warren Buffett →

“The people who say ‘I did it all myself,’ believe me, they’d bid

PHIL 205G - Final Exam Study Guide

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more to be in the US than in Bangladesh. That’s the Ovarian


■ 3. Saving Lives Leads to Overpopulation 

● (page 19) “Controlling the population of the poor countries labeled the

Third World became an official policy in the so-called First World. In

worst cases this meant trying to force women not to get pregnant… this 

single-minded focus on limiting reproduction and started thinking about 

how to help women seize control of their own lives… but the correlation 

between child death and birth rates is strong.”

a. Melinda’s point is that there should be an investment to teach

women to learn how to take care of their bodies (prevention,

contraception, and general women and child health). Her other

point is to show how a decline in child mortality will actually aid 

in the decrease of overpopulation, not increase it (or add to the

problem, it will fix it).

5. Vandana Shiva 

○ “The Impoverishment of the Environment: Women and Children Last” (page 535) 

■ “Western Development”

● Measured by GNP/GDP = Money

● People we think as impoverished may actually be completely fine

■ Two Notions of Poverty:

● Poverty as Deprivation (Lack of Basic Needs) (True Poverty) 

● “Poverty” as subsistence (satisfaction of needs via self-provisioning) 

a. Cultural perception of subsistence = Poverty leads

b. Women bear costs of development, locked out of benefits

c. Because they simply don’t show up on a monetary economy’s

map of successful individuals.

■ The Free Economy: 

● The non-monetary cone of the economy and society, unpaid work for

one’s own family needs. Community activities, mutual help and

cooperation within the neighborhood and so on.

■ The Protected Sector: 

● Production, protected and guided by official means for domestic markets;

food, constructions, services, administration, health, schools, and

cultures, and so on.

■ The Fettered Economy: 

● Large scale production for export and to compete with imports. The 

terms dictated by the world market, depending, vulnternatibilyt 

compulsive competitions.

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6. Roberto A. Ferdman 

○ “The Big Problem with One of the Most Popular Assumptions about the Poor” (canvas document) 

■ Mischel “Marshmallow Test”

■ Melissa Sterge-Apple

● Monitored the Tone of Vagus-Nerve

■ The poor are not necessarily impulsive, or more impulsive, than anyone else. ■ What looks like impulsivity might not be 

■ The Problem of Perceiving the actions of those who live different lives than our own.

7. Tressie McMillan Cottom 

○ “The Logic of Poor Stupid People” (canvas document) 

■ “One person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill.” 

● Status Symbols & Gatekeeping 

a. Think back on the girl in the job interview who wore the

“wrong” undershirt and likely didn’t get the job because of it.

● Someone has a shorter running distance; we like to claim it’s an even

track and they start at the same place, yet they are different. So how do

you display who actually deserves the “win”?

a. People are born into better lives than others. Who are we to say

that not everyone gets to have equal opportunites.

● We like to blame poor people for being poor because they spend money

on things that they can’t afford (the fancy suit, the “right” undershirt,

expensive phones, etc… they are STATUS SYMBOLS)

8. Brendan de Kenessey: 

○ “People are Dying Because we Misunderstand how those with Addiction Think” (canvas document) 

■ Addiction is not a moral failing and treating it as one is irrational/ineffective. ■ “Our philosophy of addiction shapes our treatment of it -- whether we realize it or not”

■ Do our Actions represent our beliefs?

● Akrasia (de Kenessey = yes, Socrates = no)

a. Akrasia → a lack of command. Doing things in spite of yourself

■ Either a bad judgment (fix) or bad preferences (punish)

■ The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection!

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3. Consuming:


Aldo Leopold

Jonathan Safran Foer

Bertrand Russell

1. Aldo Leopold 

○ “The Land Ethic” (page 496) 

■ The Land Ethic 

■ Odysseus (in the Odyssey) kills all guys who are interested in his wife (Penelope) then hangs the slave girls because they were his property and they were now


● Slave Girls = no moral consideration is needed (at least to Odysseus)

a. An Extension/Evolution of Ethics (Odysseus) 

● Ethics as “Community Instincts”

■ The bubble of inclusive ethics is kind of like the “evolution of ethics”; we’ve learned to extend our ethics to other humans then to other animals then to extend our ethics to the entirety of the biosphere in which we live. 

■ The fact that the land exists and the fact that we are able to rationally consider the environment is exactly the reason why we should consider it (a very Kantian


■ (page 499) “Ethical consideration based on economics is hopelessly lopsided.” ■ Leopold wants us to start asking questions like: how do we best interact with the environment around us?

■ Get rid of the double standard of saying we are “above” animals then expecting animals to “think” and “understand” like humans do. 

■ (page 500) “Our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land.” and “we aren't engaged with

nature, therefore we can’t really care about nature.”

■ (page 497) Developing ethics because we don’t really have an instinctual reaction on how to interact with each other and understand each other.

2. Jonathan Safran Foer: 

○ “Eating Animals” (page 452) 

■ Against Factory Farm Production Meat 

● Not necessarily against eating meat in general.

● If you only focus on the argument of vegan vs. meat eaters then you will

completely bypass Foer’s ethical discussion.

■ Finding a new way to make the animal peaceful in tis end of life experience is respectful of the animal; you aren't refusing to eat the animal, but you know that you’ve attempted to make the animals’ life as peaceful as possible.

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3. Bertrand Russell 

○ “In Praise of Idleness” (canvas document) 

● Work = Labor needed to produce/maintain the goods and services that

we need to live

● Job = selling your labor to someone else in exchange for money

● Leisure = All other time/activities

■ Russell’s main point is that if everyone were to work their share of what they consume (about four hours a day) they would have more time for happy activities (and have the energy to enjoy their leisure time) rather than spending their time

in misery.

■ He says that if we all put in our fair share of Work then we would not only be a happier society but we may also have more time to make inventions/discoveries. 4. Automation and Genetic Evolution:



CGP Grey

1. Kurzgesagt: 

○ “Genetic Engineering will Change Everything Forever” (Web Link Video) ■ Progress in Biotech:

● Starts as treatment to be “normal” (or to live with the same physical

experience as the majority of people)

● Evolve to make a “new normal”

■ Makes us questions what it means to be human:

● Is it human to die? (immortality) to age? To evolve?

● What do we mean by “human”?

● What kind of creature are we?

● What kind of creature do we want to be?

■ CRISPR: A biotech tool that allows us to cut, copy, and paste in DNA code to alter, dispose, and add genes into all types of cells (both in adult cells to fix a

problem in the adult and in embryos to fix a problem for the growing child and

then they will pass it on in their own genes -- effectively changing the evolution of that bloodline).

2. CGP Grey: 

○ “Humans Need Not Apply” (Web Link Video) 

■ Due to automation, people who are completely intelligent and capable will be unemployable in the future. So how are we going to adapt to this new technology taking over our jobs?

➔ The possibility of the *Universal Base Income

➔ What do we mean by work?

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➔ What is meant by a good human life and will working or having a job be

crucial to that life?

5. Violence and Morality:


Tage Rai

1. Tage Rai: 

○ “How Could They?” (canvas document) 

■ Disinhibition Theory: 

● We’re all capable of being violent monsters, but most of the time we

keep it in check. Yet anyone can be worn down to become violent.

a. In an experiment, people were willing to inflict pain as revenge,

yet not on someone who hasn’t done anything to them first

■ Rational Theory: 

● Morally justified to perform violent acts either based on authority or how

they “learned” or “observed” how that was the right way to act.

● Regulating Social Relationships (purpose of violence)

■ Most violence is a product of moral claims -- particularly tied to regulating social relationships. Therefore, the only way to end such violence (generally or in

specific cases) is via moral disclosure.

■ Moral Differences ⇐ ⇒ Mental Illness (Common misconceptions)

● Some people are labeled as having a mental illness when they actually

just have a different moral theory and vise versa.

■ Argue against the need for violence because of the need for regulation of social relationships

■ Approach violence as a moral issue. Addressing it as something else is a mistake. ● Non-violent sway can tend to convince more people (civil disobedience)

6. Thinking and Attention:


David Foster Wallace

1. David Foster Wallace: 

○ “This is Water” (canvas document) 

■ Wallace’s point is that we naturally believe that we are the center of the universe (it’s how we are born). However, in order to be happy we need to think about 

other people as well. It’s not to say it’s not about you, it is about you and it’s how you won’t be miserable!

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