Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Month: September 2020 (page 2 of 3)

Quiz 04 Hints

Note: Some small edits made, all marked in red. To make things clearer, etc. Also, now that I’ve completed my answers for the W05 Q/A, do take a look. Some of the items there are… relevant.

  • Question 6

Clarification added to Options A and D in the quiz itself.

Quiz 03 Debrief

Your average scores are increasing–good job! If you are still struggling with the quizzes, please do reach out to your tutors to see how you can improve. Click through to see… (Question 8 now updated.)


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W05 Q/A (Done!)

Was somewhat tied up over the weekend so was unable to get to this. I’ve answered up till just before the “common objections” part.

The first ones below, mainly on the demandingness of objection.

Why do you feel that the responses to ‘personal interest’ and ‘integrity of character’ are different?

Only because, conceivably, they don’t have to go together–as long as it is at least conceivable that, sometimes, upholding integrity of character requires paying a personal the cost, and conversely, pursuing what’s in one’s interest implies setting aside integrity of character. But of course it’s also possible that they go together, perhaps even perfectly. Since I’ve not settled the issue, it’s better to keep them distinct for now.

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The Concorde Project, and other Stuff

Something mentioned in the Singer reading, and likely unfamiliar to the young ones…

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What Are The Most Important Moral Problems of Our Time?

Math with Infinity

Consider again the standard Trolley Problem where by switching the rails, you can save five people from certain death by allowing the trolley to crash into one. Supposedly, most people think that switching the rails in the scenario is at least permissible, if not obligatory. Utilitarians have a straightforward way to explain the judgment–the five lives are worth more than the one, five times as much, in fact (assuming that each of the lives involved is worth about the same).

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Quiz 03 Hints

  • Question 4

Added a clarifying note to Options A and B–basically, you only need to figure out if Josh was at least objecting to the mentioned premise, not whether he is successful, or non-question begging, in his attack, etc.) Someone asked for help re: Option C. Ok, here’s how you can break it down:

  • A Utilitarian (who previously believes that the Utilitarian Argument against the consumption of factory-farmed meat is sound),
  • but who now agrees with Josh,
  • will have to stop believing that the Utilitarian Argument against the consumption of factory-farmed meat is sound,
  • if she wants to have consistent beliefs.

Another student asks if it makes a difference that Josh’s argument is about whether one should support the existence of factory-farms, while the Utilitarian Argument against the consumption of factory-farmed meat. Yes, these aren’t exactly the same things. But that doesn’t mean the things that Josh said aren’t relevant. You can still think whether what he said constitutes an attack on one of the premises of the Utilitarian Argument against consuming factory-farmed meat, or whether it attacks a premise of the Puppy Argument, or whether a Utilitarian who agrees with Josh would have to abandon the Utilitarian Argument against the consumption of factory-farmed meat, or whether a Utilitarian who agrees with Josh would have to say that shutting down factory-farms is morally wrong, etc.

  • Question 5

Read Norcross carefully–and don’t conflate issues to do with whether a being can be a moral agent with issues to do with whether it can be a moral patient, even though some creatures can be both. (Someone can be both tall and studious; but the basis for the two qualities are quite different.) And if you want to up the stakes a bit to “which of the above statement(s) is/are definitely true?” just to help yourselves focus, that’s fine too. Update: Made a small edit to Statement I–please make sure to check it out. Also, just in case people think too much–you can read Norcross’ talk about “suffering” basically in terms of “experiencing pain” (this pretty much follows from the Hedonism…)

  • Question 8

Read Norcross carefully. Some of the relevant passages are on p. 233.

Quiz 02 Debrief

The overall results improved from the last quiz, from 3.71 to 4.15–good job! There’s still a lot of headroom to grow, of course. But I think many of you are beginning to acclimatize. Click through to see…


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W04 Q/A

The questions pertaining to Norcross and Lomasky will be in the next post. First, some questions concerning arguments:

must premises be before conclusion for the whole thing to be an argument

When we express arguments in words, there are ways to do so putting the conclusion statement in front, in the middle, and at the end–all this is possible as long as you know how to use the usual words we use to mark premises and conclusions, e.g., “because…”, “since” (marking what follows as a premise), “therefore”, “thus” (marking what follows as a conclusion). Nonetheless, by convention, when we formulate an argument explicitly in premise conclusion form, e.g.,

  • Premise 1: …
  • Premise 2: …
  • ——————–
  • Conclusion: …

Then you should put the premises on top, and the conclusion below. Some extra fussy people will also insist upon a line in between the premises and conclusion. Other extra fussy people may also demand that you mark out exactly how the statements relate to each other–which can be useful in more complex, multi-move arguments (the above is basically just one simple argument–“single move” from premises to the conclusion). We might see some of that later in the semester.

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Doctrine of Double Effect

Technically, this isn’t part of the syllabus and all you need to know about it is some very basic stuff–just like Virtue Ethics. The typical question in which DDE shows up will test you on whether you can at least see that someone is trying to invoke it–whether successful or not, whether the doctrine itself is even true–stuff that’s already in Norcross . But if you want a more fine grain break down, here is is. (Do keep in mind that most of the below is optional as far as the syllabus is concerned.)

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