An easy intro to ethics questions
1. What is the distinction between active and passive euthanasia? Which one is more controversial, and why?
2. Sketch Singer’s thought experiment involving Bob and his Bugatti. How does it support his claim that we should be donating (all of) our disposable income to organizations that prevent children overseas from dying?
3. Suppose someone responded to Singer’s claim this way: “But if everyone else was giving their fair share, I wouldn’t have to give so much! It’s unfair to demand so much of me.” How does Singer respond to this objection?
4. Explain Narveson’s distinction between justice and charity. Does he believe others (either society or the government) is morally allowed to force you to give?
5. Suppose you played a causal role in bringing about a situation in which people are starving. Does Narveson believe you can be forced to help in that case?
6. State the thesis of psychological egoism. Why is it relevant to morality? (Hint: most philosophers think that “ought implies can.”)
7. Suppose I argue for psychological egoism like this: “Even if people aren’t always motivated by a concrete gain, like social praise, they are at least always motivated by a desire to avoid a guilty conscience. Therefore, they are always ultimately motivated by self-interest.” How did we respond to this sort of argument?
8. According to Norcross, what is the distinction between being a moral agent and being a moral patient? Does he think being the latter requires being the former?
9. According to Frey, why are the lives of normal adult human beings more valuable than the lives of animals?
10. Suppose it is true that the United States would be safer in the aggregate if guns were banned—that is, there would be fewer homicides. What further assumption(s) would be necessary to get to the conclusion that it would be morally acceptable to ban guns?
11. McMahan argues that the “logic of gun ownership” is like the logic of a nuclear arms race. Explain what he means by this. What is he trying to prove by saying this?
12. According to McMahan, the right to self-defense, and the right to own a gun, are both derived from a different, more fundamental right. What is that right?
13. According to Huemer, the right to own a gun is both fundamental and derivative. In what respect is it fundamental, and in relation to which right (primarily) is it derivative?
14. Suppose I argue that affirmative action in the form of preferential hiring and admissions practices (PHA) is justified as a way of rectifying past injustices against African Americas. What is one objection to this line of argument that we considered?
15. Hausman argues that PHA is justified as a way of providing equal future opportunities to African Americans. Outline his argument. (Hint: use his teacher analogy)
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