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Ethics – Argumentative Essay

1. What is an “argument” in philosophy? A set of claims one of which, called the conclusion, is said to be supported by the other claims, called the premises. 1. Premise 2. Premise 3. Conclusion 2. What do the terms “valid” and “sound” mean? Valid Argument If the premises are true, then it follows necessarily that the conclusion is true, or it is logically impossible for the conclusion to be false. Sound Argument A valid argument that contains only true premises. Soundness = Truth + Validity. 3. Sketch the “benefits arguments” in favor of harvesting Baby’s Theresa’s organs.

Set out the premises and conclusion for “Benefits Argument” in the Baby Theresa case. The Benefits Argument 1. If we can benefit someone without harming anyone else, we ought to do so. 2. Transplanting the organs would benefit the other children without harming Baby Theresa. 3. Therefore, we ought to transplant her organs. The Argument That We should Not Use People As Means 1. If we use someone only as a means, we do something that is morally wrong. 2. Taking Theresa’s organs would be using her only as a meas to benefit other children. 3. There fore, it would be morally wrong to take Theresa’s organs.

4. Sketch the “we should not use people as means” argument against harvesting Baby Theresa’s organs. Set out the premises and conclusion for “The Wrongfulness of Killing Argument” in the Baby Theresa case. The Argument From the Wrongfulness of Killing 1. If we harvested Theresa’s organs, then we would be killing one innocent person to save another. 2. We should not kill one innocent person to save another. 3. Therefore, if we should not harvest Theresa’s organs. Rachel’s Assessment *The prohibition against killing is strong, but most people do not think it absolute.

Baby Theresa is (1) going to die soon anyway, (2) not conscious, and (3) her organs could help save several other children. Rachels states that we might even regard Baby Theresa as “born dead”. 5. Sketch the “Slippery Slope Argument” against killing Tracy Latimer. If one bad thing happens then others will follow after. 1. If we permit any sort of mercy killing, we will have stepped onto a dangerous “slippery slope” down which we will inevitably slide. 2. The mercy killing of Tracy was permissible. 3. Hence, we have stepped onto a dangerous slippery slope (which will lead to the view that all life is cheap).

Objection: Are the causal claims supported by any evidence? In general, it is easy to make dire predictions concerning the future. Consider an analogy: Would gay marriage lead to the disintegration of the family? 6. What does Rachels’s “minimum conception of morality” consist of? Morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason-while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual affected by one’s decision. Reason and impartiality consist stuff 7. What are five common features of Cultural Relativism? 1.

Different societies have different moral codes. 2. (a) The “good” is determined by society; (b) an act is “right” if it is allowed by the guiding ideals od the society in which it is performed, and “wrong” if it forbidden by those ideals. 3. There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one society’s code as better than an other’s. 4. The moral code of our society has no special status. 5. We should adopt an attitude to tolerance. 8. What is the “Cultural Differences” argument for Cultural Relativism? Does Rachels think it is sound? he thinks it is unsound, 9.

If Cultural Relativism is true, then some odd consequences for ethical theory follow. What are they? 10. Does Rachels hold that there are some moral rules that all societies have in common? 11. What are the three traditional divine attributes of monotheism? 12. What is the difference between “theism”, “atheism”, and “agnosticism”? 13. What is the “problem of evil”? 14. What is the Divine Command theory? 15. What is Socrates’s question in the Euthyphro? How does it bear on the Divine Command Theory? 16. What are some of the main elements of Natural Law Theory? 17.

Raise some objections to Natural Law Theory. 18. What is Ethical Egoism and how does it differ from Psychological Egoism? 19. Define “altruism”. Why does the Psychological Egoist hold that altruism is not possible? 20. Some object that Ayn Rand’s argument for Ethical Egoism presents us with a “false dichotomy”. Explain. 21. Why doesn’t Rachels think Ethical Egoism is a fair reflection of common sense morality? 22. What is the Principle Equal Treatment? How does it relate to Ethical Egoism? *There will be some extra-credit questions pertaining to material discussed in lecture.


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