Introduction to Philosophy, Honors (section 1)Spring 1998

Third 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.

M-1ST2J. L. Mackie in Ethics distinguishes his "skeptical" view from "two first order views." Explain his distinction between first order and second order moral views. Explain the two first order views. Explain his second order view. He claims "[t]hese first and second order views are not merely distinct but completely independent" (p.16) Explain what he means and how he attempts to show this.
M-STANMackie writes "[t]he subjectivist about values, then, is not denying there can be objective evaluations relative to standards..." (p.26) Explain what Mackie is talking about here. What are these "objective evaluations relative to standards." Give examples. Why does the possibility of such evaluation not conflict with "subjectivism." Critically discuss.
M-HIWhat are hypothetical imperatives? Give examples. Explain the different kinds of hypothetical imperatives there are. How would categorical imperatives differ from hypothetical imperatives? What relevance does this distinction (between hypothetical and categorical imperatives) have for morality? Critically discuss.
M-ERRExplain in what sense Mackie thinks his theory of morality is an "error theory." What kind of analysis of moral terms does this theory involve? Critically discuss Mackie's error theory.
M-RELAExplain Mackie's "argument from relativity" (pp.36ff). Mackie considers a "well-known counter to this argument from relativity ..." (p.37) Explain this "counter." Critically discuss.
M-QUEEMackie distinguishes metaphysical and epistemological parts of his "argument from queerness." Explain these different parts of his argument. Where, in this argument, does the "queerness" come in? Critically discuss.
M-CIGMackie suggests that "the best move for the moral objectivist is not to evade this issue, but to look for companions in guilt." (p.39). Explain "this issue" Mackie speaks of. What are these "companions in guilt?" Why does Mackie think this would be a good move? How does Mackie respond to this move? Critically discuss.
M-3RDIn his conclusion to his first chapter of Ethics Mackie lists five arguments he has given in favor of moral scepticism. Explain carefully the third of these arguments. Critically discuss.
M-HUMEWhat is "Hume's Law?" Mackie considers several challenges to Hume's law. Explain the challenge concerning game rules or the one concerning hypothetical imperatives. How, according to Mackie, does this challenge evade Hume's law? Is he right? Critically discuss.
M-SERLJohn Searle presents an argument in which he purports to derive an "ought" from an "is." Explain this argument in detail. Does it do what Searle claims it does? Critically discuss.
M-TASKAfter establishing (to his satisfaction) "that no substantive moral conclusions or serious constraints on moral views can be derived from either the meanings of moral terms or the logic of moral discourse" (p.105), Mackie considers what tasks remain for moral philosophy. Describe two tasks he considers but rejects (the first because it "belongs rather to anthropology or sociology," the second because it seems insufficient). What task does Mackie think does remain for moral philosophers? How does this differ from the task moral philosophers would have if moral objectivism were true?
M-B&NMackie distinguishes a "broad" and a "narrow" sense of morality. Explain this distinction and these two senses. Is there some possible sense of morality between this broad and this narrow sense? Critically discuss.
M-PDExplain Mackie's "variant" of the Prisoners' Dilemma. What does this have to do with morality? Critically explore.
M-AUExplain act utilitarianism. Give an example of a moral decision and how an act utilitarian would suggest one should go about making it. Does act utilitarianism seem to give the right answers about what morally we should do? Critically discuss.
M-UTILJ. L. Mackie raises several "difficulties for and indeterminacies in utilitarianism." (p.126) Explain several of these. Which of these seems most serious? Which would utilitarianism easily handle? Explain.
M-RUExplain rule utilitarianism. How does it differ from act utilitarianism? Give an example of a moral choice and how rule utilitarianism would determine what the right thing to do is in the situation.
M-EEJ. L. Mackie gives an argument which purports to show that rule utilitarianism is "extensionally equivalent" to act utilitarianism. Carefully explain this argument and what it purports to show. What re-interpretation of rule utilitarianism does Mackie offer that allows it to "resist" this argument? Explain how it does so.
M-DEONExplain the difference between deontology and consequentialism. Explain the difference between monistic and pluralistic deontological theories. Give examples of each. Which of these theories, if any, seems most plausible? Explain.
M-TYPEMackie distinguishes factors of four types "end, means, side effects, further consequences" (page 159). Explain what each of these is. Should one (or more) of these be given significance in morality beyond what the others have? Why or why not? Critically discuss.
M-DDEExplain the doctrine of double effect. Give an example of its application. Mackie writes that "if we use the principle of double effect we can retain absolute moral rules" (p.162). Explain. Does the principle of double effect seem correct? Critically discuss.
M-RIGHMackie distinguishes a "liberty" from a "claim right." Explain this distinction, giving plausible examples of each.
M-LOCKExplain Locke's "basic principle" of a right to property. Explain how, on Locke's theory, a person can come to have a property right to something. What is the Lockean proviso? How does this limit our power to obtain property? Explain with examples. Critically discuss.

Richard Lee,, last modified: 29 July 1998