I will be brief for most of the questions and I won’t be posting the questions since you were allowed to take them out of the exam hall. Click through to see…
Two of the questions–#4 and #6–were discarded.* They returned the lowest scores and upon closer scrutiny, I can see what the problems were. You can see my explanations below. Consequently, the final will be upon 28 marks, for 40% of your final grade. The highest score was 28/28, and the lowest 8/28. The 75th, 50th, and 25th percentile scores were 23, 20, and 18 respectively, which tells me that most of you did very decently.
(*I’ve considered awarding marks for multiple answers for the two questions, but decided against it for two reasons. First, the other method is administratively cleaner and much less subject to any potential data error; in fact, I can do it automatically through the bubble form reader software. So in an important sense, it’s the recommended “best practice” as far as exams go. Second, having ran the simulation, the two methods return very similar outcomes: once all the other numbers are taken into account, the relative rankings for most students did not budge at all, and the few that moved, moved only a very little.)
- Question 1
As I explained the terms of moral appraisal (see L02 Slide #8), the only place where “praiseworthy” shows up is for the supererogatory, i.e., morally good but not required, hence not Option B. And if it’s so morally good such that it is “beyond duty”, it’s obviously also “not morally prohibited”, hence, Option A. If the thing is not required, then Will is also not blameworthy for not doing the thing, hence not Option C. As indicated in the Addendum, Option D should be “Will is morally blameworthy for not praising Abe” (as in the Addendum)–which does not follow from the scenario. Just because Abe did something morally praiseworthy, it doesn’t follow that it’s morally wrong for another person to not praise him. Almost all students got the right answer.
- Question 2
Option D is the answer. Mencius (i.e., Mèngzǐ) could be saying all that matters is that people’s actions conform to moral norms, whether they bring about “benefit” (Option A), and he could be thinking that while bringing about benefit is what makes an action moral, it’s really not a good idea to talk about benefit–for the reasons mentioned in Option B. (Note, Option D says “Both A and B could be true” (i.e., individually); not, “it could be that both A and B are true” (i.e., together), which would not correct.) A plurality got the right answer.
- Question 3
Since the question itself already says that the “two options lead to the same level of overall happiness for everyone”, they are morally equivalent from the point of view of Utilitarianism, hence, Option D. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 4 (discarded)
This is the question as intended: recall that this is the Utilitarian Argument (L03 Slide #13), not Norcross’ Puppy Argument. Option A, if true, implies the falsity of the first premise. Option B, if true, will imply a rejection of the moral theory underlying the Premise 3. Option D is correct.
Yet only a minority got the intended right answer; the majority picked Option A, thus dropping Option B. Charitably, I can now see what they might be thinking of. The question asked what, if true, would show that the Utilitarian Argument is unsound. But Option B will at best render Premise 3 questionable, rather than false per se (since we don’t know what the truth about how the “best outcome” is to be measured, and how that measurement might still bear some relationship with misery and happiness). This means that–so this line of thinking goes–given Option B, the soundness of the Utilitarian Argument becomes questionable, but that’s the same as saying that we have shown that it is unsound.
As explained previously, I’ve discarded this question.
- Question 5
Now we have Norcross’s Puppy Argument (L03 Slide #24). Since all we know is that Uncle Bob accepts its soundness, only Option C can be inferred. Most students got the right answer.
Add: Norcross certainly accepts the idea in Option A. But if you reverse engineer the situation from someone accepting the Puppy argument, it’s less clear. All we need is for the person to accept the relevant premises of the Puppy Argument, for whatever reason; these premises don’t entail the point in Option A.
- Question 6 (discarded)
This is the question as intended: neither Option A nor Option B will definitely help the Lomasky Reply, hence Option D is the correct answer. Until those genetically modified farm animals are out there, the Reply is still talking about the currently existing non-genetically modified farm animals. And since the instruments haven’t actually began collecting the data, we don’t know what they will show–maybe Norcross’ claim that the farm animals experience more misery than happiness will be proven wrong, or maybe they will be proven right after all.
As with Question 4 above, only a minority got the intended right answer; the majority picked Option A. Charitably, I now can see what they might be thinking of. The Lomasky Reply could be taken as attempting to justify the eating of factory-farmed meat under suitable conditions. After all, not even Lomasky is saying that factory farming is ok even if the animals are literally being tortured. While it is true that on Option A, the farms with the genetically modified farm animals haven’t actually started operating, but at least the real possibility is now on the table. Once such a real possibility exists, Lomasky’s hand is already strengthened tremendously. The same thoughts do not apply to Option B though, since what the outcome of the projected measurements are going to be are still uncertain. It might turn out that the existing factory farmed animals turn out to be happier than thought (thus supporting Lomasky’s point), or they might turn out to be more miserable than thought (thus going against Lomasky’s point).
As explained previously, I’ve discarded this question.
- Question 7
Option D is the right answer. On Singer’s doctrine, giving to charity in another country to help the needy is not a matter of superogation, hence not Option A. We might plausibly think that if the Government’s donation had covered all of the expenses, then Lloyd would not be obliged to donate more, at least not towards this particular relief effort. But in any case, the Singapore Government’s donation is only half of the required sum, hence not Option B. Almost all students got the right answer.
- Question 8
This one is meant to be a bit harder, and in a sense, the next question is meant to be a hint (Singer’s doctrine that “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.”) Option A is the easy one–the fact that other people are not willing to help doesn’t mean that Lloyd is thereby not obliged to (this was the subject of L04 around Slide #23). Option B is the tricky one. Yes, Singer does think that distance shouldn’t be a factor when talking about the Bengal situation in his paper–but that’s not because distance can never be a factor. Rather, it’s because communication and transportation on Earth has advanced to such a degree that it’s not really an issue (Slide #18; Singer, 231). But the scenario in the question is not like that–the difference in distance is such that for every Martian Bern helps, she is not helping 100 people on Earth. By prioritizing the people on Earth, for instance, helping to save 100 of them, Bern is thus preventing something bad from happening without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance–since the sacrifice is 1 Martian. Hence, Option A.
- Question 9
This one should be clear: Option B. The majority of students got the right answer.
Add: What Option A states is an empirical claim about what people in general will do. Singer’s principle is about what people ought to do. If anything, he definitely sounds as if people in general don’t behave as they ought as dictated by his principle. That’s why Option A is wrong. Back to Option B: Yes, Singer’s principle does apply not just to rich people’s spare cash. But all the more the behavior in Option B are already violating their duty (according to Singer), even just considering what they do with their spare cash. You might wonder if those who bought the gadgets are doing that for themselves or giving them to charity or as means to prevent something bad from happening. Fair enough (though Singer will probably not agree: gadgets fulfill higher order needs which are certainly less critical than the basic necessities of food, shelter, medicine needed for disaster relief). (On second thoughts, that’s not a very plausible reading of the Option, which says: “People in rich countries who spend their spare cash on the latest electronic gadgets rather than donate to disaster relief are not fulfilling their moral duty.) In any case, given that the other options are no good, this one is the best.
- Question 10.
Option B is the answer–if the government does not have the permission to coerce subjects that don’t obey, then Political Authority doesn’t exist. See L05 Slide #11; see also Slides #12-13. The majority of students got the right answer.
- Question 11
Option D is the answer; see L05 Slide #23. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 12
Stan is basically putting forward a hypothetical consent Social Contract as a justification for Political Authority (L05 Slides #34-35), buttressing it with what I called the “For Otherwise” argument (Slides #37-39). The argument is about what is reasonable for us to do, not what people would do (hence not Options A and B). And the whole point of saying that it’s a hypothetical consent is exactly to not say that actual consent is involved, so saying that no actual consent is involved wouldn’t hurt the argument (hence not Option C). Hence, Option D. A majority of students got the right answer.
Add: Yes, the hypothetical consent idea by itself is weak. But Stan’s argument is not purely about hypothetical consent. As pointed out on Slide #39, the “For Otherwise” argument does have some force though the sort of Political Authority it can conceivably justify is restricted.
Add: Option A says that most people will still be nice to their immediate family members even if governments don’t exist to coerce them. This is actually compatible with the idea that without government, society will degenerate into a war of all against all. Well, maybe not “all against all”, but families against families, which is both more plausible anthropologically and very likely a worse scenario than when it’s only individuals against each other because cooperating groups are able to exact more violence than uncoordinated individuals.
Add: More on Option C. Yes, explicit consent is better than implicit consent. And actual consent is better than hypothetical consent. But saying that there wasn’t any actual consent when Stan is putting forward a hypothetical consent argument isn’t something that, if true, will weaken Stan’s argument–it’s just another way of saying that his argument is about hypothetical rather than actual consent; which it surely is, by definition and Stan’s choice. Conceivably, it might be developed into a full-fledged objection with enough details (e.g., the ones suggested by Huemer); but on its own, it’s as if we are just telling Stan that he is making the argument he is already making…
- Question 13
Option A is out because even if the Basic Argument only holds for those “sometimes”, it would be bad enough. Options C and D are irrelevant for the Basic Argument. Only Option B works–it attacks the second premise in my formulation of the argument (see L06 Slide #34). Most students got the right answer.
Add: I should be clearer. If, as Option A says, we “only sometimes do what we do because of the way we are then”, then, for those cases, the Basic Argument applies (and the regress can work on them). The Basic Argument doesn’t apply to the other cases not in the sense that they are thus shielded from the attack of the argument, but only in the sense that they are not even under consideration as candidates of actions that we are responsible for given Premise 2 of the Basic Argument (see Slide #34). In contrast, Option B entails a denial of the crucial Premise 2.
Add: More on Option C. So the universe is casually indeterministic and some of our actions are among things that aren’t determined by the past. This means that things action are ‘free’ in a minimal sense–they could have been otherwise. But is this enough to justify the idea that “we have some control over our actions”? Not sure yet–recall the problem that maybe it just means that those actions are random? Secondly, even if it is true that “we have some control over our actions”, the regress can still start once you accept the structural Premise 2 and start asking for the conditions in us that makes it possible for us to exert that control, and requiring that we be responsible for them as well if we are to be responsible for the final resulting action. And the regress starts again…
- Question 14
Only Option A will allow Dave to hold both Determinism and the idea that people really are morally responsible for their actions–it amounts to a form of Semi-Compatibilism. Options B and C both imply a rejection of the idea that people really are morally responsible for their actions (see e.g., L06 Slide #6). A majority of students got the right answer.
- Question 15
Option A conflicts with Dave’s proposal that the decisions behind our actions are not causally determined by the past. Option B will make it harder for Dave to defend his idea that people are morally responsible for their actions. Hence, Option C. Most students got the right answer.
Add: More about Option B. While we obviously don’t know the full picture regarding Dave, we do know that he’s trying this line: “We are morally responsible for our actions because the decisions behind them are not causally determined by the past.” So he’s basically counting on the Indeterminism to do work for him. Since that’s the case, he needs a positive story as to why such actions are not just random. And until then, the point raised in the option counts as a weakness. (In other words, Dave is trying for Libertarianism, and the main challenge that such a position has to face if it is to be viable is the one stated in Option B.)
Add: Yes, while it’s the same Dave from Question 14, the fact that he is now saying that the decisions behind our actions are not causally determined by the past implies that he has given up on his earlier commitment that the universe is causally deterministic, i.e., absolutely everything that happens is causally determined to happen by what has already gone before. (Looks like he has always been more confident that people really are morally responsible for their actions than that the universe is causally deterministic.) With this background in mind, we can see how Question 15 Option A forces his hand, as it were. He is trying out a new, Libertarian argument that entails Indeterminism; but if modern physics has conclusively proven that the universe is causally deterministic, then the new path is blocked after all.
- Question 16
No mystery to this one, I hope. Option A is the right answer. See also Quiz 6 Question 4 explanations. A majority of students got the right answer. [Note: In the semester in question, I talked about the principle required for the Kalam argument as a type or variant of PSR. This semester (i.e., AY2017-18, Semester 1), I introduced it–more accurately–as the “Causal Principle”. Nothing critical is going to turn on this difference in terminology.]
- Question 17
Option A is the right answer. See L07 Slide #14. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 18
Option D is the right answer. Options A and B are out because the Leibniz/Clarke Cosmological Argument, if sound, only proves that a Self-Existent and Eternal being that explains the existence of the universe exists. That’s still short of proving that the Classical Theistic God exists. Option C is wrong because, well, if the argument is sound, there is at least one thing that was not caused to exist by the activity of another–the Self Existent being. Most of students got the right answer.
- Question 19
Options A and B are out because neither are necessary (even though individually sufficient) conditions for resolving the LPOE. Option C is the right answer (see L08 Slide #29 and the blog post “Omnipotence and Explosion”. A majority of students got the right answer.
Add: Option D can’t be right—it’s about the existence of evil, not about having some experience of evil. As long as I acknowledge that evil exists in the work, the LPOE can already start to work. And I don’t need to suffer evil in order for me to acknowledge that premise. As for Option C, yes, counting on an omnipotent being to do the logically impossible thing is not a good idea for any theological (or atheological system), and in that sense, it’s not a solution that anyone should adopt if he wants to preserve the rest of his system of ideas. But this doesn’t mean that introducing the idea won’t resolve the problem of evil. It will; it’s just that it will cause other problems elsewhere.
- Question 20
Option A is wrong: There is no inconsistency between Jane being an NUS student and the fact that she has never been to University Town–it’s not part of what it means for Jane to be an NUS student that she has been to University Town, even though, as a matter of fact, most (maybe even all) NUS students have been to University Town.
Option B contains an inconsistency. Since Jane and Jack are full siblings, they share the same biological parents–call them Abe and Bernice. But this means that Jack’s parents are Abe and Bernice. Now Jack and Mary are full siblings, they share the same biological parents. Since Jack’s parents are Abe and Bernice, it follows that Mary’s parents are also Abe and Bernice. This means that Jane and Mary should also be full siblings born of the same parents–Abe and Bernice–which conflicts with the claim that they are not full sisters. (Note: After the exam, I was speaking to a few of you and I said that this option was wrong–but I was thinking of a different version of the question that I didn’t use. Phew…)
Option C also contains an inconsistency. All of Jane’s childhood friends live (present tense) in Clementi Street 14 and everyone who now lives in Clementi Street 14 knows where Balmoral Bakery is located. So we can deduce that All of Jane’s childhood friends know where Balmoral Bakery is located. But the next sentence says that one of Jane’s childhood friends does not know where Balmoral Bakery is located. So the correct answer is Option D.
Add: The key concerns what else you need to introduce in order to derive the contradiction. If you need to introduce a substantive proposition, then you can’t say that the original statements are inconsistent by themselves. But in both Option B and Option C, we can derive a contradiction using just the starting statements, plus standard logical rules. Therefore, they are inconsistent sets of statements.
Most students got the right answer.
- Question 21
Option D is “Attempted Solution 2” (L08 Slide #19). Option A is “Attempted Solution 3” (Slide #20). Options B and C are both versions of “Attempted Solution 4” (Slide #21). The latter (Option C) is the “aesthetic analogy” thing. The former, the correct answer (Option B), is the “overcoming of evil is itself a good thing” (see also Slides #22-23). Most students got the right answer.
- Question 22
Option A is out as whether or not stick insects of that particular species are found in the wild is somewhat irrelevant to whether it will be found in a zoo. (And this is the Singapore Zoo we are talking about–I don’t think there have ever been any polar bears in the wild in Singapore; not that you need to know this in particular to do the question.) Option B is also out as it has more to do with the truth of Lloyd’s belief than with its justification. Hence, Option D. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 23
A majority of students got the right answer: Option D.
Add: Option B is wrong because the argument only concludes that Lloyd ought to downgrade his belief. But whether he will probably do so or not is a psychological contingency that the argument is incapable of speaking to. (In fact, Cohen concede as much that the behavior of most people appears to conflict with his conclusion; see bottom of his p. 12.)
- Question 24
Option A won’t work since Cohen’s argument–which covers the situation of Lloyd and Larry–is exactly about justified belief. Option C also won’t work–even if other people don’t know, Lloyd and Larry now know about each other’s existence. Option D is also not going to help since even if we are living in a simulation, then in one sense, either both should conclude that they are not justified in their beliefs, or not draw any deep implications for the justification of their beliefs from the fact that they are living in a simulation. The only one that works is Option B (see L09 Slides #30-31). Almost all students got the right answer.
- Question 25
So what can Lloyd accept while maintaining Reductive Physicalism as a theory of the mind? He can surely accept that some things do not have mental properties at all (Option A). He can also accept that when are not physically identical, it is still possible for them to be thinking the same thoughts (Option B)–since this doesn’t break supervenience (see L10 Slide #13). You might worry that it breaks dependence. Actually, it doesn’t. Nothing rules out the possibility that more than one set of physical conditions can cause the same mental condition–it’s just that the reverse is impossible. And he can accept that if two brains are physically identical, they are thinking the same thoughts, which is exactly what supervenience demands (Option C; see Slide #13). So Option D it is then. A majority of students got the right answer.
- Question 26
So what must Larry reject, given that he is convinced of the soundness of Thomas Nagel’s argument? Only the idea that once we fully understand how bat perception works, we will know what it is like for a bat to be a bat–hence, Option D. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 27
What do Lloyd and Larry have to dispute? Only the idea that some facts about our mental life are essentially subjective and can only be accessed from the first-person point of view of the conscious subject, i.e., Option B. If Lloyd accepts this, then he is conceding Nagel’s argument. Most of students got the right answer.
- Question 28
Option A is consistent with the conclusion, since our living in a simulation is (at present) only one of three possibilities. As for Option B, now, Nick Bostrom did say this: “If we do go on to create our own ancestor‐simulations, this would be strong evidence against (1) and (2), and we would therefore have to conclude that we live in a simulation.” (Bostrom, 12) But this doesn’t mean that Option B is inconsistent with the conclusion of the Simulation Argument. One way “We will never know whether we are simulated lives living in a simulation” can become true is when our civilization destroys itself before achieving a posthuman stage, or, on the even of doing so, we successfully enforce laws against the running of ancestor simulations. Or alternatively, we are already in a simulation and our simulators make it so that either of these scenarios come to pass in our simulated worlds. So we never got the chance to actually turn on our own ancestor-simulation and so be in a position to conclude that we live in a simulation. Option C is also consistent with the conclusion–even if we are already living in a simulation, maybe the particular simulation we live in is the boring one that doesn’t attract the attention of the simulators. In any case, our already living in a simulation is only one of three possibilities. So, Option D. Most students got the right answer.
- Question 29
Option B is the more obvious one. For Option A, Peter is “indifferent” between going out with Karen, Cheryl, or Lucille–he is not more attached to one over another. While this is not the epistemic sense of the word, the implication (in this particular case) is that (all else being equal) “it is just as likely that he is on a date with Karen as he is on a date with Cheryl this evening, assuming that he on a date of one of the three”. (Since the probability that he is on a date with any one of the three is the same the probability that he is on a date with another one of the same trio.) Option C contains a distraction. So Peter is either a Utilitarian or a Consequentialist. But while all Utilitarians are also Consequentialists, some Consequentialists are not Utilitarians. This means that if Peter is a Utilitarian, he is also a Consequentialists. But if he is a Consequentialist, he may not be an Utilitarian. But if we take an audit of the exclusive possibilities, we are basically looking only at two–(a) Peter is a Utilitarian Consequentialist, vs. (b) Peter is a Non-Utilitarian Consequentialist. So there is 1 in 2 chance for Peter to be a Utilitarian. Hence, Option D. (For good measure, we can also deduce that he is certainly a Consequentialist.) A majority of students got the right answer.
- Question 30
Option D; see Bostrom, 11. A majority of students got the right answer.