Quiz 01 has closed and I fear that the results will be shocking to many of you… The median is 4/8. But please take things in stride–it might surprise you but you aren’t doing ‘badly’ overall. For two reasons. We know from past experience that students will need time to ramp up their level of precise thinking. We are very early in the game with many more practices ahead. Secondly, that’s why the “best 9 of 10 quiz scores” exists. The tutors and I will also be calibrating and adjusting the difficulty level as we go along. Yes, it does seem that the MRQs are harder than MCQs–because the possibility of you “lucking out” for each question is greatly reduced–from 1 in 4 to 1 in 15… The important thing is to use the debrief to figure out the gaps in your understanding!
Click through to see…
- Question 1 MCQ
Option D (“Neither Will nor Lena”). The majority of you (61%) chose Option C (“Both Will and Lena”).
For Will, read the paragraph in the reading that begins “but there’s lots of different kinds of pleasures”. Hausman is talking about how there are different kinds of pleasures and pains (i.e., that are not reducible to a common metric). He isn’t talking about how “what provokes pleasure and pain varies from person to person”. Analogy–Think of the difference between: (a) there are different kinds of ice cream (that aren’t comparable on a common metric), even though they may all be liked by everyone for all we care, vs. (b) different people like different kinds of ice cream, even though those different kinds of ice cream may be comparable on a common metric for all we care. Hausman’s point is like (a). Will’s point is like (b).
For Lena, read the paragraph in the reading that begins “Moreover, this theory of well-being…” What Hausman says there is that “well-being is simply a matter of your mental states, it has nothing to do with reality.” (The “it” has to refer to “well-being” not “mental states”.) What Lena says, on the other hand, is that the “pleasures and pains we experience are simply not connected to how the world really”. Not the same thing. Furthermore, if you go back to the previous paragraph in Hausman where he talks about “the pleasure one gets if one is a lover of classical music and listens to a Tchaikovsky Symphony” and “the kind of pleasure one gets from eating a really delicious dessert or from drinking a glass of vodka”—in other words, Hausman assumes that the pleasures and pains we experiences can be connected with how the world really is–there being a Tchaikovsky Symphony being performed, one eating dessert or drinking vodka, and so on. This is also why I said in W02 Slide #25 that, for Hausman, mental states are only tangentially connected with how things really are.
Neither of the above involve a heavy duty philosophical distinction (like “metaphysics vs. epistemology”). But doing philosophy absolutely needs you to be attentive to details of thought such as these. It can be a bit disconcerting when you first get into it but this sort of attention can be gained with more practice.
- Question 2 MCQ
Option A (“Tess only”). Almost all of you (95%) picked the correct answer–good job!
Ted basically lived a life with a positive balance of pleasure over pain. So, Tess is right that given PPT, he lived a good life. Will is wrong–PPT being true will not entail that the rest of us do as Ted. Rather, given PPT, what’s good for us depends on what brings us more pleasure than pain. Lena is also wrong since immoral pleasures are still pleasures. Most of you don’t have a problem with this.
- Question 3 MRQ
Only Option D (“Dakota”). Almost all of you selected Option D, so that’s good, but many of you also selected Option A (44%) and Option C (46%)–and you need to select all and only the correct options to get the mark. (Note: We will be accepting both “Dakota” only and “Dakota and Beatrice”; see below.)
Keep in mind that “those who are plugged into the machine experience their very own “perfect life”.” And we are asking who might be an Ethical Hedonist.
Anthony is some sort of DST Theorist (“getting what I want is good in itself”). In any case, he can’t also believe that pleasure is the only intrinsic good, which rules out his being an Ethical Hedonist.
Some wrote in to ask for more explanation of why Anthony couldn’t be an Ethical Hedonist, since the thing he desires is, after all, pleasure. Imagine a DST (or PST) theorist. For her, what’s intrinsically good is that your desire are satisfied. But what if the thing you desire is pleasure? It just follows that satisfying your desire for pleasure is intrinsically good in itself. This isn’t the same as saying that pleasure is intrinsically good itself. There’s also a reverse case. You know that different people might find pleasure in different things. So, conceivably, someone finds pleasure in having his desires satisfied. But again, for this case, PPT doesn’t turn into DST–it’s still the pleasure (that comes from having one’s desires satisfied) that’s intrinsically good. Rather than having one’s desires satisfied that’s intrinsically good.
Beatrice thinks that it’s better for her not to plug in despite the promise of the “perfect life”–which, in her case, will surely include the mental experience of a close-knit family, friends who care about her, and a job that she is passionate about. In other words, she basically thinks that Bob has the better life than Tod for the experience machine scenario in W02 Slide #26. So, not an Ethical Hedonist since she believes that some goods are not ultimately reducible to mental states. (Update: We will accept this as well, on top of Dakota. Only a few students are affected but one of them rightly point out that the final qualification “it’s better for me not to plug in” is at least potentially ambiguous between “it is better for me that I don’t plug in” vs. “it is better—for me not to plug in”. The former was what we intended. And even though only a few students picked Option B, this is a defensible reading. Manual processing will be needed to give the students affected the point so please be patient.)
Claire says that the only thing pleasure is good for is causing her to be fulfilled–in other words, there’s at least one thing other than pleasure that is an intrinsic good, and the natural way to read what’s said is that pleasure is not even an intrinsic good. Again, not an Ethical Hedonist–someone who thinks that Pleasure is the only intrinsic good, which means that pleasure can’t also be good for something else that’s not pleasure, let alone good only for that.
Dakota may or may not be an Ethical Hedonist. But at least she didn’t say anything that rules out her being one!
- Question 4 MCQ
Option D (“Neither Dave, nor Lena, nor Tess is right”). A majority of you (66%) got this.
What Gene said was “I love Joe! He eats all the food he likes, parties like crazy, and sleeps with whoever he wants. That’s how I want to live my life too!” In other words, Gene is telling us about the kind of life he wants. He didn’t actually say anything about pleasure being the only intrinsic good though Lena is also wrong since, first, we don’t know what Gene would want if he didn’t have false beliefs (maybe the same things, maybe not), and second, even if this is what he prefers, he didn’t say that satisfying his preferences is what’s intrinsically good. Tess is being rude, and also wrong–since we still don’t know what Gene counts as intrinsic good or goods.
- Question 5 MRQ
Options B (Lena) and C (Will). Most of you (90%) saw that Option C is correct, and some of you (23%) saw that Option B is correct.
Dave is incorrect to say that “Joe definitely subscribes to Ethical Hedonism”. Ethical Hedonism requires that pleasure be the only (intrinsic) good. Joe merely stated that pleasure is good, but it doesn’t preclude him from thinking that other things could be good as well, or that pleasure is not intrinsically good.
Lena is correct because Joe’s stance is at least compatible with PST. Pleasure may be good for Joe because he prefers pleasurable things. What Joe said doesn’t rule this out.
Will is correct because the statement follows from the definition of Ethical Hedonism. If pleasure is the only (intrinsic) good, then things that are pleasurable are good things.
Tess is incorrect because Ethical Hedonism–as we introduced it in class–makes no claims about right or wrong action. It only makes a claim about the goodness or badness of things.
- Question 6 MRQ
Only Option D (Gene). A majority (73%) saw that Option D is right, so that’s good. But large numbers also picked Option B (Tess, 62%) and Option C (Will, 76%).
Dave is wrong because the objection–by itself–only shows that the PST has problems, not that all the other available theories have issues. Happily, most of you did not pick this.
Tess is wrong because Hausman’s objection does not say that it is impossible to figure out what our preferences are. What it says is that the true theory of well-being–if there is one—cannot locate well-being in what we currently understand as “preferences”. This is because (in his opinion anyway) the way in which our preferences are formed in the first place is informed by a notion of “betterness” that the PST does not capture.
Lena is wrong because what she said involves a misreading of Hausman’s objection. It is not that the PST needs a separate companion theory of “betterness” in order for the theory to work. Hausman is basically saying that “preferences” cannot identify what is good simply–it’s the other notion of “betterness” that is doing the real work. Conversely, once we have a theory of that particular notion of “betterness”, that will be the theory of well-being that we were after all along. We wouldn’t need the PST anymore. And this is the crux of what Gene is saying.
- Question 7 MCQ
We will accept both Option B (“1”; 8%) and Option C (“2”; 74%).
Hausman’s objection against the simple DST is that there might be desires we have but only because of false beliefs, and furthermore, those desires are such that satisfying them will be bad for us. Think of his example of someone’s false belief that a particular dish–shrimp, let’s say–is extremely delicious and nourishing led them to desire to eat shrimp, which turned out to be bad for the person because they had severe, fatal allergies to shrimp. Satisfying the person’s desire to eat the shrimp would have been bad to the person (i.e., dying from food poisoning is what he wants to avoid).
If you think through the example (see also W02 Slides #29-30 and W02 Q/A Part 5), two conditions must be met for a scenario to be analogous to Hausman’s example:
(1) XiaYu had a false belief which led her to desire to X (i.e., she had a false belief such that, had she not have that false belief, she would not have desired to X), and
(2) If XiaYu’s desire were satisfied, it would turn out to be bad for XiaYu.
With the above, we can now go on to assess the three scenarios.
SHRIMP is not analogous to Hausman’s example in his objection because XiaYu knew that she was allergic to shrimps but decided to consume it anyway. She did not have the false belief that she isn’t allergic to shrimp, for instance. Condition (1) is not satisfied.
BUBBLE TEA is not analogous to Hausman’s example in his objection because XiaYu’s false belief that her neighbourhood bubble tea shop was still in operation didn’t lead XiaYu to want to drink bubble tea. Again, Condition (1) is not satisfied. Also, the scenario doesn’t imply that XiaYu’s desire for bubble tea, if satisfied, would have been bad for her. Neither condition is satisfied.
Now, some of you might think–didn’t the false belief lead her to want to go to the bubble tea shop? Here, we deliberately avoided talking about any such desire, and also left the clue that she came by the shop “on her way to meet her fans”–i.e., it’s not quite that had she not had that false belief, she would not have desired to go to (the vicinity of) the shop. (We call this a case of “overdetermination”–she would have gone there anyway whether she had the false belief or not.) At least that’s what we intended, and some students did catch this.
But it’s probably too subtle. It’s at least arguable that XiaYu’s false belief led her to form a desire (to go to the bubble tea shop for the purpose of buying bubble tea) such that had she not had that false belief, she wouldn’t have that desire. And the satisfaction of that desire–going to the bubble tea shop for the purpose of buying bubble tea–did turn out bad, as the shop being closed, she was “devastated”.
Since we haven’t taught you enough to sort out the above, I think it’s fairer to give the point to both those who selected Option B, and also those who selected Option C. And since more people selected Option C, I’ll make that the default correct answer in Luminus so there’s less manual processing to do–but don’t worry, both groups will get their point in Gradebook.
I’ll also take this opportunity to reiterate–The quizzes aren’t designed to trap you. They exist to push your learning. And we strive to be fair in our scoring. Since it’s not always possible to catch all ambiguities beforehand, we stand ready to update whenever necessary even if it means more work for ourselves!
BLACK LIVES MATTER is analogous to Hausman’s example in his objection. XiaYu’s false belief that #blacklivesmatter was the correct hashtag to use to support the BLM movement led her to want to post a black square with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag (Condition (1)). That was a desire which, if satisfied, turned out bad for her (Condition (2))–how do we know this? Well, the desire was satisfied and that turns out was bad for her!
- Question 8 MCQ
Option D (“Neither, Dave, nor Will, nor Lena are right”). A majority (69%) got this.
Tess is wrong–surely the length of the list doesn’t quite matter to whether it’s an Objective List Theory of Well-being! (Besides, there are already three items on it…)
Will is wrong since it’s not clear what explaining “how action conforming to the three rules are activities governed by our rationality” is supposed to do. What is needed is a list of objectively intrinsic goods.
Lena is wrong because even if his explanations for the rules are implausible, this doesn’t mean that he did not propose an Objective List Theory; maybe it was an implausible list. The fact that he didn’t actually propose an Objective List Theory doesn’t mean that Lena is right. (Imagine, let’s say that John didn’t eat an apple (ate a pear instead). And you claim–John wouldn’t have eaten an apple if the thing he ate was green! Well, you would be wrong. An apple could be green, and the fact that John didn’t eat an apple, green or otherwise, doesn’t change that.