philosophy test 2 study guide Flashcards

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deductive reasoning

  • truth of premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion
  • arguments can be valid/invalid
  • the conclusion is a deductive consequence of the truth of the premises
  • limitation: cannot say things not already stated in premises



  • nondeductive inference
  • conclusions arent strict consequences of the truth of the premises
  • can go beyond what is stated in premises
  • provided explanations for what observe
  • arguments just stronger/weaker
  • can NEVER say it is true, just say its likely if premises are true


deductive validity

IF the premises WERE true, they would guarantee the truth of the conclusion

  • required to be deductively valid



testing for invalidity

  • give examples
  • say if valid/invalid
  • valid - true premises guarantee true conclusion
    • All Bs are C
    • all As are Bs
    • C: All As are Cs
  • invalid - true premises may not
    • If P, then Q
    • Q
    • C: P
  • give true conclusion


circular arguments

  • deductively VALID (true premises=true conclusion)
  • NOT good arguments
  • begging the question
  • do not give good reason to believe the argument if you do not already believe the conclusion is true


God's qualities

God is all PKG

  • powerful
  • knowing
  • good


Aquina's argument from contingency

  • one of his arguments advocating for existence of God
  • says contingent things exist
    • each contingent thing has a time when it failed to exist
    • if everything were contingent, there would be an empty time in the past, and therefore the world would forever be empty
    • things exist now, so everything cannot be contingent
    • so there exists an entity that is not contingent
    • that entity is God
  • not on exam: objections
    • contingent things can be eternal (no reason for them to not have existed)
    • birthday fallacy - even there
    • if empty time, why necessarily in the past?


diff btw necessary and contingent entities


  • could not have failed to exist
  • exist in all possible worlds
  • ex: God, numbers, shapes, arithmetic, etc.


  • could have failed to exist
  • do not exist in all possible world
  • ex: people, anyone, etc.


difference btw necessary and contingent propositions


  • true in all possible worlds
  • could not have been otherwise
  • ex: 2+2=4, water=H2O, heat is identical no molecular motion, triangle has 3 sides
  • FALSE: heat is not identical to molecular motion, etc.


  • true in one world, false in some possible world
  • ex: joe biden is the president, this notebook is blue, etc.


a priori vs. a posteriori propositions

  • a priori propositions
    • truth determined by reasoning alone
    • ex: 2+2=4, I exist
  • a posteriori propositions
    • truth determined by empirical evidence/experience
    • ex: sky is blue, heat identical to molecular motion, water is H2O


ontological argument (a priori premises)

  • argument for existence of God (a priori)
  • want to establish truth of theism without reliance on any a priori premise
    • want to establish God by reasoning
    • try to prove God's existence by examining definition of concept of God
      • think should be able to prove existence of God by definition
      • think definition of concept of God entail's God's existence
        • God all PKG -> most perfect being
        • God would have necessary existence
  • say that from definition of God, existence of God follows
    • definitions do not entail existence
      • if conclude God is omnipotent being, it means that if God exists, then He is omnipotent
      • If God is defined as necessarily existent, then means that God would have necessary existence if He does exist

her notes:

definition of God entails God's existence

necessary existence is a perfection God has based on him being all-PKG

- God exists by definition

BUT defition by itself does not entail that the concept is true

- ex: empty names: unicorn, can define the concept, but whether any exist depends on empirical confirmations (saying its definition includes existence does NOT make the unicorn exist)

- this basically says that if God exists, he must have these qualities, but this cannot fully prove God exists


what kind of argument is the ontological argument?



pascal's wager

  • pascal argues that believing in God is a sensible wager, even if there is no evidence that God exists
  • prudential reasons to believe
    • in your self interested to believe in God bc its truth would benefit you - good enough to justify belief
    • says have prudential reason to believe in God
  • evidential reasons
    • reasons to believe proposition based on evidence/observable facts
  • wager:
    • believe exists and does not: wasted time
    • dont believe and doesnt: saved time
    • believe and does: infinite reward
    • dont believe and does: eternal damnation
  • says makes sense to bet on existence of God bc better than not believing and receiving eternal damnation
  • in self interest to believe in God


objections to pascal's wager

  1. beliefs are not subject to the will
    • do not choose to believe anything
    • form beliefs spontaneously
  2. prudential reasons are not good reasons to believe something is true
  3. pascal cannot independently confirm what God will do to believers and nonbelievers


problem of evil

  • argument for atheism
  • says evil is not consistent with God's existence, an all PKG being
    • all powerful - God could prevent evil from persisting
    • all knowing - God knows how to prevent evil + aware it exists/persists
    • all good - God has inclination to prevent evil/suffering
  • in order to have rational justification in all PKG God, these must be reconciled
  • character building evils justified
  • free will evils justified
  • bigger evils not justified with all PKG God
  • says other evils left make it surprising if God does exist


Logical positivism + testability theory of meaning

testability theory of meaning

  • conceptual analysis on concept of meaning/meaningfulness
    • sentences - can be meaningful IFF sentence S is a priori analytic or a posteiori synthetic
    • meaningful sentences are testable + falsifiable in principle
    • if S untestable (and unfalsifiable), then S is neither a priori or a posteriori and is meaningless
  • "God exists" is neither a priori or a posteriori (already determined cannot determine via a priori and bc cannot observe God)
    • untestable + unfalsifiable and is not deciable/falsifiable in principle, therefore, it is neither a priori or a posteriori
    • SO, proposition is considered MEANINGLESS

logical positivism - uses testability theory of meaning

  • claims proposition "God exists" and "God does not exist" are both meaningless
  • is misguided to argue abt whether God exists
  • everyone is mistaken
  • truth value should not be argued


Karl popper's demarcation criterion

  • criterion for distinguishing btw science/pseudoscience
  • scientific theory must be testable + falsifiable in principle
    • theory is testable if it makes predictions: MUST HAVE PREDICTIONS
    • if not, it is pseudoscience
  • cannot confirm scientific theory (would be invalid) - can disconfirm if makes false predictions
  • thus, if theory makes predictions, it is testable -> how demarcation criterion was established
  • (bc must be testable so can support/disconfirm)
  • made for creationism vs evolutionary theory argument
  • abt theories


JTB theory of knowledge

plato says JTB necessary for knowledge

S can know P IFF these necessary/sufficient conditions are met

  • justified
    • belief must be justified
  • true
    • P must be true
  • belief
    • must believe P


gettier problems

problems that show JTB is NOT sufficient for knowledge (person can have JTB without having knowledge)

  • subject has JTB but does not KNOW the subject in question

ex: clock, person believes it is 9:55 AM and has all 3 cases met, BUT the subject does not KNOW it is 9:55 AM. If they looked at the clock just before/after 9:55, they would have formed a false belief because the clock is stuck. It just so happens that they observed the clock when it happened to reflect the real time, but since the clock is stuck and they could have seen a false time, they do not have true KNOWLEDGE that it is actually 9:55 AM.

shows plato's JTB is NOT sufficient for knowledge

subject has highly reliable, but not infallible evidence for proposition believed


david hume's problem of induction and the PUN

  • inductive inferences are not rationally justified
  • skepticism abt justified belief
  • bc inductive arguments require a missing premise: PUN (future will resemble the past)
    • any argument in favor of PUN will be circular (bc principle will have to be presupposed in the premises)
  • conclusion: induction is not rationally justified
  • EXAM: ask what hume’s position is + why he thinks the PUN cannot be justified
    • Reason: Bc any argument in favor of it is circular bc PUN must be presupposed in premises


arguments for skepticism and knowledge about justified belief

  • Hume is skeptic about justified belief
    • We say that our beliefs can be rational if justified (normal opinion) EVEN if we are wrong about thmem being true
    • Hume’s critique concerns the claim to rationality (not our claim to knowledge)
      • if hume is right, we do not have rationally justified beliefs formed on the basis of induction
      • says theres no rational justification for the beliefs we have that are predictions or generalizations
    • induction is used constantly
      • form expectations abt future, to make generalizations, etc.
      • Hume says there is no rational justifications for beliefs we have that are predictions/generalizations
    • In human nature, this PUN is normal to use bc we expect future to resemble the past, but we cannot rationally defend this
    • Summary:
      • Every inductive argument requires the premise that nature is uniform
      • Hume argues that no rational justification can be given for that premise
      • We cannot provide an inductive argument for the PUN (that would involve circularity), and we cannot provide a deductive argument for PUN
      • PUN cannot be justified
      • All inductive inferences are not rationally justifiable


descarte's method of doubt

  • to refute skepticism
  • use method of doubt to identify foundational beliefs
    1. see if possible to doubt proposition
    2. if possible, it is not a foundational belief
    3. if it is not possible, it is foundational
  • a posteriori beliefs do NOT pass method of doubt (senses not infallible)
    a priori beliefs also do NOT pass method of doubt (can doubt them)
  • existence - cannot doubt
  • way to identify dubitable vs indubitable beliefs
    • if identify indubitable foundational belief - can show other beliefs are true from it -> so then other beliefs are knowledge
  • foundationalist


foundationalism - descartes argument against skepticism

  • wrote abt it in last one (method of doubt card)
  • added more here
  • foundationalism - to show that given body of beliefs counts as knowldge, use strategy:
    • identify beliefs that provide foundation of knowledge (indubitable beliefs)
    • show rest of beliefs count as knowledge bc they have relationship to the foundational item
  • show that can have knowledge if have an indubitable belief and show that other beliefs are also true (knowledge) by reltionship to the indubtiable foundation (first one)
  • goal to refute skepticism


cogito ergo sum

  • I think, therefore I am
  • descartes method of doubt test
    • this passes
    • when try to doubt own existence, prove you exist bc something must exist to do the doubting
  • pass test = indubitable belief
  • foundational belief -n can use to be foundation for all knowledge abt external world
  • all beliefs abt ways things SEEM to us are indubitable (foundational )
    • we have infallible access to what we believe and desire
    • ex: SEEMS there is a page in front of me, cannot be wrong abt how it SEEMS (not whether or not its actually there)
    • linking premise to connect how things SEEM and how things actually ARE
      • God exists and is not a deceiver


mind body problem

  • what is relationship btw mental and physical?
    • mind disctinct from brain? identical? How do we make sense of this and consciousness?

2 possible solutions

  • dualism - the mind is distinct from the brain
    • theyre NOT the same, separate ontological categories
  • physicalism - mind = (identical to) brain
    • same properties, they are the same
    • mental states identical to physical brain states
    • all mental states reducible to physical brain states


leibniz's law

  • law about nature of identity
  • says if a is identical to b, then they have the same properties, and there are no properties that 1 has and other doesnt
  • if mind = brain, then they must have all same properties
    • this is used to argue for dualism (against physicalism) by cartesian dualism
  • if smth identical, no differences btw them


cartesian dualism

  • uses leibniz's law to try to show the mind is NOT identical to the brain
  • says if the mind has property P and brain does not, then because mind has property brain lacks, they cannot be idential


  • Argument 1: indubitable existence argument
    • Can doubt have body but cannot doubt have a mind
    • Mind has property of indubitable existence
    • Brain does NOT
    • by leibniz’s law, mind and brain are NOT identical
  • Objection: just bc propositions are diff does NOT entail that the objects to which the terms refer to are non-identical
    • Ex: clark kent/superman – have diff meanings but are same person/thing
      • same can be true for mind/brain (don’t mean same thing but doesn’t mean theyre not identical)
    • INVALID – cannot say for sure that theyre not the same
  • Argument 2: extension
    • Brain has extension property
    • Mind is not extended in space and does not have property of extension
    • By leibniz’s law, theyre are not identical
    • Objection – circular argument, distinction btw them alr assumed
  • Argument 3: divisibility argument
    • Brain divisible
    • Mind not divisible
    • By leibniz’s law, theyre are not identical
    • Objection – circular for same reason


Frank jackson's knowledge argument for qualia

  • argument against physicalism
    • wanna show mental not reducible to physical
  • published epiphenomenal qualia (knowledge argument for qualia)
    • arguments against identity theory of mind
    • show mental not reducible to physical
  • qualia - raw sensation of experience
    • what the character of what it is like to have a particular experience is
    • every conscious experience associated w/ subjective feel
    • ex: happiness of an experience
    • quality of experience, what it feels like
  • epiphenomenal - view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but mental events have no effect upon any physical events
    • 1 way causation of physical -> mental


what does jackson want to show? how does jackson try to show his point?

wants to show that physicalism (identity theory) cannot provide an account for qualia, and thus it cannot work

  • shows that physicalism leaves qualia out
  • no amount physical info can tell what the qualia/subjective experience is like

using Fred/mary


according to jackson, physicalism cannot ___

provide an account for qualia


fred example from jackson

  • fred can see extra color Red1/Red2 instead of just red
  • we have no idea what fred's qualia is like
  • have no way of accessing / becoming aquanted with it
  • have physical information/explanation for this
  • even with physical info, cannot know about fred's QUALIA/subjective experience
  • thus physicalism is incomplete, bc if physicalism was true, we would know everything about consciousness/qualia by knowing physical facts (mental states reducible to physical states)


fred example for mary

  • mary in B/W room her whole life, saw world thru B/W monitor
  • has never experienced colors
  • she knows (has all info) about all there is to know about vision/what happens when ppl see colors
    • this knowledge is not enough to abt color (shes lacking experience)
  • go outside + see rosebush for 1st time
  • does she learn anything new?
    • YES - learns what it is LIKE to see color (there was more to know than just physical)
    • gained knowledge by aquintance



  • qualia - raw sensation of experience
    • what the character of what it is like to have a particular experience is
    • every conscious experience associated w/ subjective feel
    • ex: happiness of an experience
    • quality of experience, what it feels like


a posteriori necessities

  • kripke showed that a posteriori necessary truths exist (used to believe they were only a priori)
  • shows all true identity claims are NECESSARILY true
  • identities discovered via empirical evidence
  • identity relations
  • no world can have 1 thing and not other


identity relation

  • necessary relation
  • identites hold necessary
  • if m = b, m is necessarily identical to be (in all possible worlds)
  • there are no contingent identities
  • if identity theory is true, then it is a posteriori true that mind = brain
    • then there would be no world where have brain/not mind)


a posteriori necessary truths examples

  • water = H2O
  • heat = molecular motion
  • cicero = tully
  • morning start = evening star


what are these a posteriori necessary truths used for?

identity theory

  • is physicalism/materialism
  • relationship btw brain/mind says identity is smth science discovers by observation / experiment
  • if mind = brain is true, then it is a posteriori true
  • materialism - every object is material (physcial, reduce everything into physical objects)
    • says if 2 objects are diff in any way, must exhibit physical differences
  • dualists - disagree, think 2 physical objects might exhibit difference (one can have mind, other may not, etc.)

principle of parsimony - reject dualism bc parsimony is simpler (1 ontological category instead of 2)


de re necessity

kripke argues a posteriori necessary truths are de re

  • concerning objects
  • narrow scope
  • "necessarily" in middle somewhere
  • due to necessary properties of object
  • metaphysical level


de dicto necessity

used to be assumed that all necessities were de dicto at level of language until kripke challenged

  • wide scope
  • "necessarily" at beginning (covers whole thing)
  • concerns the word
  • describe necessity at level of language
  • level of language / semantic truths


ex: de re vs. de dicto necessities

de re

  • this unicorn necessarily does not exist
    • no possible world it exists in

de dicto

  • necessarily, this unicorn does not exist
    • proposition false in all possible worlds


what de re /dicto has to do w/ identity theory

wanna show mind = brain

as de re necessity at metaphysical level (not jsut language), bc would be a necessary truth IF they are identical


tom nagal "what its like to be a bat"


  • argues against physicalism
  • ask to imagine what it is like to be a bat from a bat's perspective
  • cannot, because restricted to our own minds, and cannot imagine or know the subjective experience of a bat and what it is like to be the bat
  • cannot know this subjective experience even if we know all possible facts about the physical aspects of the bat's brain
  • thus, knowing all physical info does NOT include all info about the bat (cannot know its consciousness)
  • THUS, physicalism cannot provide a complete account of the nature of consciousness
  • facts abt brains cannot exhaust facts abt consciousness
  • shows physicalism is not true -> cannot reduce physical facts to mental states


  • imagine what it is like to be a bat from a bat’s perspective
  • says physicalism cannot account for subjectivity on mental states/consciousness
  • organism has conscious mental states IFF there is something that it is LIKE to be that organism (subjective character of experience)
  • says what gives rise to mental states is not all there is to know about mental states
  • nagal’s argument
    • imagine what its like to be a bat
    • can only imagine what it is like for ME to be a bat
    • cannot imagine what it is like for a bat to be a bat
    • resctricted to the sources of our own minds
    • conclusion – there are FACTS we cannot express/access about what it is like for a bat to be a bat
    • we can recognize own existence of these facts without being able to comprehend/state them
  • recognize that facts abt being a bat are not expressible in human language
  • subjective realism – reality exceeds language
    • facts abt bats consciousness cannot be articulated I in language, but facts abt their brains CAN
  • conclusion
    • physical characterizations do not exhaust analysis of mental states given that the subjective cannot be reduced to the objective without leaving out an explanation of precisely what we attempted to explain
    • if physicalism is to be defended, features must be given a physical account
      • seems impossible to defend if examine subjective character
    • cannot get complete account of nature of consciousness using physicalism
    • any type of certain conscious organism embodies a particular point of view is subjective in nature bc what it is like for them to be what they are is only accessed by a particular POV
      • facts abt experience – what it is like for experiencing organism, only can be done from 1 POV
      • = mystery how true character of experiences could be revealed in the physical operation of that organism
      • Objective facts – by multiple POVs, facts abt physical brains
      • Subjective facts – what its like to experience as an organism
      • Draws analogy btw bat/human
        • Facts abt human consciousness cannot be known through facts abt human brains
        • So thus, facts abt brains cannot exhaust facts abt consciousness


subjective realism

says reality exceeds language

  • tom nagal is subjective realist
  • facts abt bat consciousness cannot be articulated in language, but facts abd their brains CAN
  • facts humans will never know and never be able to articulate and comprehend

nagal's realism abt subjective domain implies belief in existence of facts beyond the reach pf human concepts

possible for us to believe there are facts which humans will never comprehent bc humans do not have the requisite concepts


hard problem of consciousness


intractable - not solvable

easy problems

  • can be solved via science/investigation
  • cognitive functions/mechanisms

hard problem

  • problem of experience
  • must be answered to give solution to the problem
  • explain why/how physical object like brain give consciousness/subjective experience


mcGinn on mind/body problem

had 2 perspectives

  • old view
    • we could not solve the mind body problem be we were not mentally capable
    • inadequate mind
  • new view
    • concepts: physical, mental, etc. are NOT well defined
    • makes hard to know exactly what the problem is asking / how to find solution, bc no clear definitions
    • no unifying properties that all physical objects possess - cannot know exactly what physical means (not well defined)
    • says it is not a problem - it is pseudoscience


free will: determinism vs. indeterminism

what are all 3?

free will - capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among alternatives

  • ask: do we have the ability to choose actions?
  • connected to moral responsibility: if we have free will, then we can be morally accountable for our actions, if we do not have free will, then we cannot be

determinism - for every causal chain, there is 1 outcome

  • end of causal chain predetermined
  • cause/effect
  • accepted until quantum theory

indeterminism - universe indeterministic means causal facts at 1 time leave open what will happen next (chance)

  • quantum theory says behavior of particles not deterministic, so present doesnt determine future, chance is part of way world works


what does the shift from determinism to indeterminsm do? difference btw having either?

  • whether world is 1 way or the other makes no difference
  • if think 1 rules out human behavior, so does the other
  • causality can exist equally in both
  • problem of free will still exists
    • because CAUSALITY exists equally in both



  • wants to determine: is there objective diff btw right and wrong?
  • what is truth status of ethical claims?
  • what is their meaning?


normative ethics

  • dictinction btw right/wrong already presupposed
  • goal: categorize actions as right/wrong morally
  • wanna specify theory that accounts for the distinction + find way of categorizing acts are morally right/wrong
  • realism



  • says NO difference objectively btw right/wrong
  • says ALL ethical claims are FALSE (NO ethical truths)


ethical relativists

  • says NO, there is not an objective diff btw right/wrong
  • moral right/wrong is determined by the majority opinion/society
  • ethical truths are relative (not absolute)
  • truth value of proposition can change depending on majority


ethical realism

  • says YES, there IS an objective diff btw right/wrong
  • ethical statements either T/F
  • objective ethical facts
  • T/F independent of what anyone says/thinks


is/ought disctinction + fallacy

  • is statements
    • descriptive of what IS the case
    • T/F independent of what anyone thinks
  • Ought statements
    • Normative (ethical claims)
    • What should be the case (how things should be ideally)
  • Is/ought fallacy
    • Says if something IS the case, it ought to be the case
    • Cannot derive ought from is
    • Is statements do not logically entail an ought statement


NORMATIVE theories: virtue ethics

virtue ethics - focus on inherent character of person rather than specific actions

  • specify what kind of person should be
  • should act in accordance with virtue/morality
  • follow moral virtues-> brings u closer to eudaimonia
  • moral virtues are middle of 2 extremes (golden mean)



what you reach when act in accordance with virtues

  • human flourishing
  • well-lived life
  • happiness
  • well-being


NORMATIVE theories: kantian moral theory

moral requirements based on standard of rationality (categorical imperative)

act in morality = act w/ reasoning

immorality - irrational bc violates categorical imperative (logical contradiction)

  • immorality CANNOT be universalized
  • ex: lying

moral acts must pass categorical imperative

categorical imperative test

  • principle of law of autonomous will
  • reason, use decisive grounds for viewing each person as worthy of equal respect
  • uses universalizability criterion
    • act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.


NORMATIVE theories: natural rights theory

  • says man’s natural rights are: life, liberty, property
    • everyone entitled to life once created
    • entitled to do what they want as long as it doesn’t conflict with others’ natural rights
    • everyone entitled to all they create/gain as long as doesn’t conflict with others’ natural rights
  • government made to PROTECT these natural rights
  • determine if action is morally permissible/impermissible: does this violate anyone else's natural rights?


NORMATIVE theories: utilitarianism

  • type of consequentialism
  • right/wrongness of action determined by consequences the action produces
  • greatest happiness principle
    • morally right act produces greatest amount of happiness for greatest number of people
    • morality is all about maximizing happiness and pleasure and minimizing pain and suffering
    • more desirable action is the one that produces the most happiness overall


people as ends in themselves

  • consequence of universalizability test is that we should treat people as ends in themselves, and not as mere means
  • should not treat ppl as means to ends which they could not rationally consent
    • would just be using them
    • not treating them as ends
    • ex: ban of slavery


thompson violinist thought experiment (objectives)

  • think abortion morally permissible in the case of rape, failed contraception, danger of mother's life
  • thought experiment: kidnap victim, attached to violinist
  • rape: victim, fetus

diffs/objections - undermine/weaken the argument

  • stranger/stranger relationship vs. biological relationship
  • abortion not just unplugging, it involves dismemberment/poisoning :(
  • no moral obligation to violinist, while moral obligation to fetus despite not being chosen


  • both violate autonomy
  • both violate rights
  • both involve being asked to extend secondary rights to someone else
  • no consent in either


primary/negative and secondary/positive rights

secondary positive rights

  • right to help
  • must be granted/extended to someone

negative rights

  • rights that ensure the individual's natural freedom to act while not requiring anyone to act on behalf of another


patrick lee's argument

  • argues fetuses are intrinsically valuable when come into existence bc they are human organisms
    • humans intrinsically valuable no matter what state theyre in
    • fetuses are subjects of rights
  • position that abortion is morally impermissible bc fetuses are intrinsically valuable when they come into existence (at conception/once conception is done)
  • continuing identity across time, into existence at conception, maintains this identity across time entity is valuable bc it is a human physical organism (intrinsically valuable)


marie anne warren on personhood

  • argues that fetuses are people
  • do NOT have rights ppl have at any stage of gestation
  • not ppl until theyre born
  • consequence - then infants are not ppl + lack right to life
    • one could use her view to justify infanticide = problem with her position
  • says abortion morally permissible at any stage for any reason
  • says they are not people



  • Nesbit project
    • Argues that examples employed by rachels / tooley to show that killing is no worse than letting die are faulty
    • Says killing is worse than letting die
    • Difference thesis: there is moral difference btw killing and letting die: morally worse to kill than let die
      • This is commonly accepted
  • Rachels project
    • the agent who
      kills is morally no worse than the
      one who lets his victim die. Argues that AMA distinction btw active and passive is ethically unfounded
    • Says AMA forbids active and permits passive
    • AMA forbids active euthanasia, permits passive
      • This can be very cruel/these are irrelevant grounds
    • Almost no moral difference btw killing / letting die
      • AMA policy denies that the cessation of treatment is the intentional termination of life
        • But what else would it be?
      • Difference in the cases is the motivation, not the acts
      • Cannot say passive that doctor does nothing
        • He does do smth – let patient die
        • Inaction is an action (morally)
          • Ex: insult someone by NOT shaking their hand
        • Not doing anything is precisely what does the action


peter singer - animal equality

  • utilitarian - morality determined by consequences (greatest happiness principle)
  • uses term speciesism - says we treat animals in this way
  • do nonhuman animals have rights? what does this mean for use of them/their treatment?
    • use them for food, labor, testing, etc.
    • are these practices morally permissible?

singer devoted to this question of moral standing of nonhuman animals

  • singer says does NOT agree w/ kant (that nonhuman animals lack capacity for reasoning and cannot participate in morality)
  • thinks that capacity for reason is NOT what grounds moral obligations
    • if it was true, ppl with mental problems would not have moral standing, but they do
  • says there are no qualities in animals that rule them out, if used this, many humans would be ruled out
  • concludes only basis of equality is sentience - capacity for sensation or feeling (only criterion that avoids speciesism)
    • sentience is capacity shared w/ animals
    • we have reasoning, they dont
    • some do have sentience, some dont
    • ex: pescatarians ppl eat fish/shellfish bc they do not have CNS like other animals, dont feel that pain
  • he reject animal research (suffering unavoidable)
  • if would not do to a human, cannot do smth to an animal (would be speciesist)
  • he is AGAINST speciesism



systemic discrimination against the members of some species by members of another species

violate animals rights for our interest/favor our own species over interest of other species


cohen in defense of specisism

  • disagrees w/ singer
  • thinks speciesism is justified
  • thinks difference btw us and animals is that we have capacity for reason, makes us able to participate in morality
  • says diff btw speciesm, sexism, racism, but IS rational basis for preferring humans over nonhuman animals w/ respect to interest


capital punishment


  • law - if capital punishment is cruel/unusual, then it is unconstitutional
  • 37 states authorize it
  • issue summarized:
    • is death penalty ever a morally permissible form of punishment?
    • if yes, why?

possible answers:


  • argues that punishment is justified because the wrongdoer deserves it
  • punishment should fit the crime committed (bad if bad crime)
  • straightfoward in general, but more complicated when comes to DP
  • proponents (retentionists) of DP - eye for an eye
  • opponents (abolitionists) - argue for principle of proportionality (punishment proportional to the crime)
  • kant support retributivism (principle of equality)


  • say punishment is justified when its consequences are of higher value than alternatives
  • retentionists say possible deterrent effect of DP and that would prevent another murder
  • abolitionists remind possibility of executing innocent by mistake
  • nathanson - argues abolition would have the important symbolic significance of signaling that our society is committed to the absolute dignity of human life in every person


nathanson (abolitionist)

against DP

  • Nathanson – says idea of capital punishment = contradictory/inconsistent
    • If think life valuable , response should not be to take another life away
    • Argue against capital punishment
  • nathanson - argues abolition would have the important symbolic significance of signaling that our society is committed to the absolute dignity of human life in every person
  • says equality not adequate for determining punishment
    • if crime inhumane, then would have to act inhumane towards the convict
    • cannot know how to adequately punish certain crimes (ex: plagiarism)
  • problem also of how to adequately judge equivalence
  • acting with retributivism is barbaric way to act back for horrible crimes
  • if there are faults with normal crimes, how would this justify being used for DP?
  • nathanson highlights human dignity as central element in social structure, and DP undermines this respect, saying some ppl have no value
  • says abolishing DP would provide example of proper behavior, wont act with same inhumanity that the murderer did


primoratz (retributivism)

  • thinks ppl committing heinous crimes give up their rights (including to life)
  • only appropriate punishment of murder = execution
  • a life for a life
  • says no citizen gives up his right to life to the government
  • one gives consent to be executed IF commits mrud
    • had choice to commit the act
  • says it is not contradictory
    • murder is wrongfully taking life
    • capital punishment is not wrongful
  • says even if there are mistakes in applying the DP, this doesnt show that it is an immoral form of punishment


pornography: mackinnon vs. strossen

main ethical question: is producing, publishing, or using it morally permissible? should any of these activities be legally prohibited?

  • mackinnon's argument
    • anti pornography
    • harm to women
    • says it should be censored bc it DOES harm women and violates their civil rights
    • by degrading and subordinating women through sexually explicit portrayal and simultaneously endorsing a demeaning view
    • THUS, pornography defines women as inferior, and the audience is conditioned to view and treat women accordingly
    • response - does not cause this harm, banning violates free speech, antiporn censorship causes harm to women
  • strosson
    • opposite
    • says censoring would be violation of rights to free speech
    • says it does not cause the harm that mackinnen alleges
    • says in countries w/ censorship, have much higher women violence