For this exam you will need to be able to distinguish the premises from the conclusion of the different arguments we discussed and also the various objections that were focused on in class.
1. What is it for an argument to be valid? What is it for an argument to be sound? (//)
An argument is deductively valid if, on the assumption that the premises are true, the conclusion must be true
A deductively valid argument requires that there is no possible situation in which the premises are true and the conclusion false.
An argument is sound if: It is deductively valid. The premises are true.
A sound argument is an argument that will always have a true conclusion-
Some arguments are deductively valid and may be sound, but are not good arguments
For example: Begging the question
An argument begs the question if it assumes in the premises what it is trying to prove in the conclusion
2. What is hedonism? (//)
Hedonism: the only thing good in itself is pleasure or happiness. The only thing bad in itself is pain or unhappiness
Lots of other things are good, but they are not good in themselves.
What is Mill’s competent judge argument? What are some ways of criticizing this argument?
If almost everyone who has experienced both intellectual pleasures and physical pleasures prefer intellectual pleasures, then those pleasures are really superior
People who have experience both kinds (“competent judges”) agree intellectual pleasures are superior
Therefore intellectual pleasures are superior to physical pleasures
3. What is experience machine thought experiment? How is it a way of challenging the truth of hedonism? (//)
Hedonism requires that what has value is an aspect of consciousness or experience (Pleasure, higher or lower, is an experience)
Nozick Rejects this and tries to persuade us via the Experience Machine thought experiment.
Would you choose to plug yourself into this machine and replace your life with an experience machine existence
If you would not—what does this tell us about what you value?
Nozick: Few people would plug in and this shows we value more than just having certain experiences
We can think of the experience machine in a solipsistic manner—its just me in a machine being given experiences
We can also think of it as an extended machine which we all are plugged into—in which we relate to other via the experiences produced in the machine
Is the second case much different from real life?
4. What is hedonistic utilitarianism? (//)
Hedonism is a theory of what has intrinsic value
Utilitarianism is a theory of what makes an action right or wrong
Generic Utilitarianism: the right action is the one that produces the greatest net good
Hedonistic utilitarianism: Generic utilitarianism plus hedonism (pleasure is the only good)
5. How does a utilitarian understand the value of a virtuous character? How is this different from Aristotle’s approach? (//)
For utilitarianism, virtuous character traits are a means to an end (general happiness)
For Aristotle, the virtues are constitutive of the good person. Being a virtuous person is the aim of ethics, of living the good life
What are some ways that utilitarianism can be challenged (think of the examples we discussed in class). How might a utilitarian reply to these objections?
6. What is the mean? How are the different virtues we discussed in class examples of a mean between extremes? (//)
Different people have different abilities and characteristics. What is courageous for a strong person may be rash for a weaker one
We can only allow so much precision in ethics.
Practical wisdom: the ability to determine what the mean is in particular circumstances
To do this we need to have virtuous habits…otherwise our judgments will be skewed (e.g. by pleasure)
Courage is the mean related to confidence and fear. The excesses are Mean between being rash, fearless and being cowardly
Temperance is the mean