Eugh...this class is soo hard! I'm so glad that you'll be posting notes for this class
Study Guide on Tragedy and Equality Units
∙ The essence of the tragedy conundrum:
o Why do people enjoy tragic works?
∙ Things to think about:
o Most people enjoy a work of tragedy
o Most people do not enjoy a tragedy to happen in real life o The question of the morality of liking works of tragedy
o People like tragedies because of the emotional response they
give us, not despite of this response
∙ Hume thought people enjoy works of tragedy because of the
pleasantness of the aesthetic features.
∙ According to Dubos’, people enjoy works of tragedy because humans don’t like boredom and tragedies make you feel something which is
better than feeling nothing at all.
o Hume disagrees because he points out that people don’t actually
∙ Fontenelle thought that knowing that a tragic work is fictional numbs
o Hume objected because he said people still enjoy it even when it
∙ Hume’s alternative view on why we like tragic works is because of the
way it is presented:
o Story development
o Quality of the acting
o This plays into his main idea of conversion, in which the predominant emotion (the pleasantness of the aesthetic
features) overcomes the subordinate emotion (sadness/= from
tragic flaw or event)
∙ According to Bernard Williams, the problem of equality is that the interpretation of equality is either too strong or too weak.
o For example, to say that all human beings should be treated exactly the same is too strong of an argument because not every
human being is exactly. Don't forget about the age old question of what is the development of industrial systems in america in 1850's?
o On the other hand, to say they should be treated the same in circumstances that are similar is too weak because some people would then allow inequality with the reason that the
circumstances are not the same.
The quality of being a human being is a morally salient or
Skin color is not a morally salient category
∙ So if we were to accept the fact that all human beings are equal simply for the fact that we are all human, then how can we set a standard of equality that is neither too strong nor too weak if some people are
faster, smarter, shorter, or sleep longer, etc.?
∙ The statement “All humans are equal” is a descriptive one but the
statement “All humans beings should be equal” is a prescriptive one. ∙ In order to meet the requirements for reflective capacity, three
conditions must be met:
o Men must be aware to a certain level of their “titles”
o Are able to look past the roles they have
o The capacity to ponder on this can be heightened or reduced by
their social class
∙ Williams draws a line between need and merit
o Think of scholarships based on academics or athleticism vs scholarships based on how economically disadvantaged a student is (the lower the EFC or expected family contribution number from FAFSA a students has the more money he or she Don't forget about the age old question of What is comparative advantage?
will get from financial aid)
∙ To say that all humans are equal is not the same as saying that all We also discuss several other topics like What is Hyperventilation?
humans are the same, morally equal, or “humanly” equal. ∙ Williams believes that to say that all humans are equal means that we
should not compare people’s titles or accomplishments but rather We also discuss several other topics like What name of bond is given to the bond between two water molecules?
realize that we all have a purpose.
∙ There is a difference between distributing a good based on a need and distributing a good based on merit.
o This distribution should be based on need
Everybody who is sick or injured needs medical care. The law grants medical care to people who are injured (such as in a car accident) whether they are rich or poor, or legal or
illegal (equality before the law).
∙ However, the rich legal citizens will be able to pay off the bill but what about the poor or illegal
∙ What if it is not a matter of a serious injury but still a need for a doctor’s consult and medicine but lack of
money prevents a person from getting treated?
o Williams considers this irrational because
health care should be based on need, not a
person’s wealth, to be able to access medical
∙ Nozick’s position on equality is that in order for justice to be distributed equally, it has to happen with constant evaluation so as to not
intervene in the lives of people.
∙ How people form analogies from arguments:
o A is like B
o B has a certain attribute
o Therefore A is like that too
∙ Two ways to argue against something:
o Discuss how A and B are different in some way
o Object to B having a certain questionable attribute of equality ∙ Analogous arguments:
o Everybody can have access to healthcare. Healthcare costs money. Although a poor person isn’t banned from having
healthcare, he can’t have it because he can’t afford it.
o Williams “warrior class” argument: People from the warrior class, who are all rich and strong, are initially the only ones allowed access to education. Reforms are made and now everybody is
given the opportunity to be in the warrior class and get an education. Only rich people can afford proper diets to be strong and nourished. Poor people still can’t get an education.
This example really shows how it is not enough to simply give everyone opportunities in order for it to be just. According to Williams, not all things should be given based on merit. Healthcare, he thinks for example, should be accessible to everyone without them worrying about the cost.