Ethics and the Professions Autumn 1998

First Examination: Questions

[Be sure you are familiar with the format and ground rules for this exam.]

Questions will be referred to by their "names," listed to their left.

ET-NON How are moral considerations to be distinguished from non-moral considerations? What sorts of non-moral considerations might go into making a decision? How do each of these considerations differ from moral considerations? Critically discuss.
ET-NDM Explain the difference between descriptive morality (or ethics) and normative morality (or ethics). Give examples of questions that are questions of descriptive morality. Give examples of questions that are questions of normative morality. What is metaethics? Give examples of questions that are questions of metaethics. Where does "applied ethics" fit into this categorization?
ET-RE Explain what Callahan means by "reflective equilibrium." Explain the analogy she draws between ethics and science. Give an example of the process of reflective equilibrium in thinking about ethics.
ET-GMP Using the structure of General Moral Principle plus Factual Claims yielding a Derivative/Particular Moral Judgment (see Callahan pp.14f), construct one argument for the view that medical resources should not be used to keep alive irreversibly comatose patients and one argument against that view. Challenge one of those particular moral judgments using one of the techniques discussed by Callahan on pp.15ff or discussed in class.
ET-MON What is the difference between monistic and pluralistic ethical theories? Give examples of each. Explore a question of moral right and wrong and how it would be addressed by two different monistic deontological ethical theories and by two different pluralistic deontological ethical theories.
ET-INT What is the difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value? What things have intrinsic value? What things have instrumental value? Does anything have both?
ET-CON Explain some of the varieties of consequentialist theory. Be sure to include discussion of direct (or "act") and indirect (or "rule") consequentialism. In what cases do different consequentialist theories give different answers about what is morally right and morally wrong? Critically discuss.
ET-FUN What principle does utilitarianism accept as the fundamental principle of morals? Give an example of its application. What objections might be raised to utilitarianism? Is the distinction between act (or direct) and rule (or indirect) utilitarianism any help in dispelling these objections? Critically discuss.
ET-UTI Explain the differences between utilitarianism and other consequentialist ethical theories. Use examples to explain how different consequentialist theories might provide different answers to moral questions.
ET-RUL What is rule-utilitarianism? Describe how a rule-utilitarian would go about determining whether a psychiatrist who has strong reason to believe one of her patients is about to commit a murder should inform the police. How would this differ from how an act-utilitarian would reach a decision on the matter?
ET-HYP What is the difference between a categorical imperative and a hypothetical imperative? What kinds of hypothetical imperatives are there, according to Kant? Give examples.
ET-WOR Under what circumstances, according to Kant, is there moral worth in an action (i.e., when does a person get moral credit for acting as she does)? Is Kant's view on this reasonable? Why or why not?
ET-MAX What does Kant mean by a "maxim?" Give examples of maxims. Which maxims, according to Kant, is it morally permissible to act from? Explain.
ET-CI State one of Kant's formulations of his categorical imperative and explain why some action is right according to it. Then state a different one of Kant's formulations of the categorical imperative and explain why some action is wrong according to it. Does either of these formulations seem to you to express what we morally should or should not do? Explain.
ET-MEA What is it to treat someone as a means? What is it to treat someone as an end? Does Kant say we must never treat someone as a means? Does Kant say that we should always treat people as ends? Critically discuss.
ET-LIS Suppose that Lisa Appleby, a bright electrical engineering student, devises a "black box," which when attached to her telephone allows her to make long distance calls from her home in such a way that neither she nor anyone else is billed for them. She wonders whether it would be morally right for her to use her invention in this way. Consider how Kant would address her question and how he would support his position. Would a utilitarian give a different answer? Why or why not? Critically discuss.
PR-BAY What is a profession? What, according to Bayles, are the necessary features of professions? What additional features does Bayles see as common to most professions? Give an example of a profession and show how it meets or fails to meet Bayles' criteria. Give an example of some occupation which meets two of the criteria which Bayles identifies as necessary conditions of a profession but which fails to meet the other one. Is that occupation a profession? Why or why not?
PR-WAS In a footnote Richard Wasserstrom lists what he takes to be six characteristics of the professions:
  1. The professions require a substantial period of formal education--at least as much if not more than required by any other occupation.
  2. The professions require the comprehension of a substantial amount of theoretical knowledge and the utilization of a substantial amount of intellectual ability. Neither manual nor creative ability is typically demanded. ...
  3. The professions are both an economic monopoly and largely self-regulating. Not only is the practice of the professions restricted to those who are certified as possessing the requisite competencies, but the question of what competencies are required and who possesses them are questions that are left to the members of the professions to decide for themselves.
  4. The professions are clearly among the occupations that possess the greatest social prestige in the society. They also typically provide a degree of material affluence substantially greater than that enjoyed by most working persons.
  5. The professions are almost always involved with matters which from time to time are among the greatest personal concerns that human beings have: physical health, psychic well-being, liberty, and the like. As a result, persons who seek the services of a professional are often in a state of appreciable concern, if not vulnerability, when they do so.
  6. The professions almost always involve at their core a significant interpersonal relationship between the professional, on the one hand, and the person who is thought to require the professional's services: the patient or the client. ("Lawyers as Professionals: Some Moral Issues." The footnote appears on pages 68f of Callahan Ethical Issues in Professional Life.)
Critically discuss Wasserstrom's account of what a profession is in comparison and contrast with the accounts given by Bayles.
PR-OTH What distinguishes professions from other jobs that are not considered professions? What difference, if any, does this difference make to the ethical demands upon practicing members of the professions? Critically discuss.
PO-POK Albert Carr has suggested that "most bluffing in business might be regarded simply as game strategy--much like bluffing in poker, which does not reflect on the morality of the bluffer." Explain and critically discuss Carr's suggestion. What, if anything, does this have to do how ethics applies to those in the professions? Explain.
PO-GAM What does Albert Carr mean by "game ethics?" What are game ethics? Is it appropriate to follow "game ethics" in business dealings? Why or why not? Critically discuss.
PO-LIE Albert Carr apparently thinks that some lying in business contexts is perfectly morally okay. Why? Is he right? Why or why not? Critically discuss.
PO-G12 Norman Gillespie thinks there are three kinds of excuses allowed by ordinary morality which excuse people from doing things they otherwise would have had an obligation to do. Explain what the first two kinds excuses are and give examples. Is Gillespie right that these excuse? Critically discuss.
PO-G3 Carefully explain Gillespie's "third way in which a normal duty may turn out not to be a duty..." Is he right about this? Critically discuss.
PO-PO What is the relationship between ordinary normative morality (that binding on most people in most circumstances) and professional morality (that binding on professionals in their professional roles)? Discuss various views of this relationship and defend one view against the others.
PO-PAR Joseph Ellin distinguishes the "parallel view" from the "priority view." Explain these views and the differences between them. Which view, if either seems right to you? Why?
PO-ROL What does Richard Wasserstrom mean by "role-differentiated behavior?" Give examples of role-differentiated behavior. What, if anything, does this have to do with principles of ethical behavior for professionals?

Richard Lee,, last modified: 20 September 1998