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Unformatted text preview: Philosophies of Life
fall 2011 Instructions: (1) create either a .doc, .docx, 0r .pdfﬁle to use for your answers, (2) upload the ﬁle to D2L
no later than Sunday, 9/25 at 5:00p.m. A True/False. 1. David Hume thinks that reason alone is incapable of discovering What is
moral. 2. Ruth Benedict claims that “moral” really means “normal in my society”. 3. Divine Command Theory says that God makes his commands based on a
standard that lies outside of him. 4. Hospers claims that Sociological Relativism is a terrible idea. 5. David Hume thinks that the passions obstruct one’s ability to reason. 6. A second-order desire is a desire to have no more desires. 7. Sociological Relativism is a descriptive theory. 8. David Hume’s theory is a descriptive theory. 9. Ethical Relativism is a descriptive theory. 10. “Hume’s Fork” refers to a special eating utensil used only by philosophers. B Short Answer. For each theory/philosopher, give the corresponding moral judgement. ‘ “X is good” means...
1. Ethical Relativism 2. Divine Command Theory
3. David Hume C Essay. Answer 4 of the following essay questions. I expect each answer to be no less than 275 words
(and no more than 350). 1. According to Sam Harris, religion is a terrible basis for morality because (a) religion tells people to do immoral acts (alleged examples of these are certain passages in the Bible where
slavery, killing, and the mistreatment of women seem to be advocated). He also thinks that (b)
religious folks “cherry pick” parts out of the Bible that they like, while ignoring the nastier bits.
Do you think that either (a) or (b) are fair charges? Does religion actually advocate immorality
(m: if you think Harris” examples, and the passages looked at in class were unfairly plucked out of scripture, you should tell me why)? .y.
6' W 2. does Hospers deﬁne Ethical Relativism? How is it different from Sociological Relativism? Furthermore, describe and analyze each objection he gives to Ethical Relativism, Do you think that any (or all) of the objections are successful in showing Ethical Relativism to be an untenable theory? 3. Please state and briefly explain the Euthyphro Dilemma. What are the problems that it poses
for Divine Command Theory (hint: they were discussed in the reading, “Religion & Morality”)? Can Divine Command Theorists overcome any or all of these problems? 4. David Hume said that, “Reason is and ought only to be, a slave to the passions.” What is the
context of this quote, and what does it mean? Does the video we watched on psychopathy help back up Hume’s basic point about the importance of certain feelings and desires in morality? If so, how? 5. Do you personally believe that there are some things that are always wrong (“Absolute
Taboos”)? That is, are there certain actions that should never be performed (or social policies that
should never be implemented)? If so, give me a few examples of some and tell me what it is that
makes them always wrong. However, if you think that there is nothing that is always right or
wrong, you need to tell me why you think so. I am looking for an exceedingly well thought-out answer here, folks. Eric Mahoney
A. True/F alse l.T
20 4.F ®
0.1: B. Short Answer
1. Ethical Relativism states that X is good, if X is socially acceptable in society. No matter what X may be. If two
groups disagree on a topic, they can both be correct under this theory, because there is no overall standard of right or
l 0 wrong. This is a weak theory that is opinion based. 2. Under the Divine Command Theory, X is considered good if God has commanded it. X is considered bad,
therefore, if God has forbidden it. T ‘ ' ” - .' - - ' ' r ' ' ' -'
3. David Hume’s outlook on morality is based on desire and sentiments. Under his beliefs, if a man says “X is
good.” They could interchangeably put in “I like X.” or “I care about X.” Reason plays a small role by informing
one’s feelings of something, and deciphering cause and effect.
C. Essay 1. Sam Harris is a bright thinker with a lot of evidence to back up his arguments. He makes bold statements
about religion that have both earned him a lot of recognition, and created a large amount of controversy. It’s very
true that there is a long list of immoral acts sanctioned by God in the bible. If one claims to live their life by the
bible, in its entirety, then they are advocating several immoral ideals. The bible was written a very long time ago, \ and morality has come a long way in advancement since then. Slavery, murder, incest, and many other immoral acts
that are acceptable in the bible were accepted at the time the bible was written. This goes to show that the bible is
outdated, and a poor model for morality. Sam Harris accuses religious people of “cherry picking” parts out of the
bible that they like. I agree with Sam Harris that people do this, but I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing to do. I
think that if they got rid of the bible and thought for themselves, then they would be better off, but at least they are
not completely mindlessly following all of the ignorant instructions such as murder or incest. To pick out the good
things is to consciously acknowledge that there are bad things in the bible. It would be far worse if these religious
folks did not cherry pick. Both charges by Harris are fair. It would be quite hard to make a counter argument. I
agree, in all, with what Sam Harris has to say. He speaks with logic, and does a great job of discrediting the bible. 2. Hospers defines Ethical Relativism as an evaluative theory that primarily revolves around the customs of
‘ ‘7 a group of people. It is mainly different than Sociological Relativism because Sociological Relativism is a
descriptive idea, while Ethical Relativism is evaluative. This means that Sociological Relativism does not form any
opinions or ideas. It merely states the facts of the matter. Ethical Relativism is the evaluative side to that. Aﬁer the
facts have been concluded, Ethical Relativism makes the opinions and beliefs based on what is known. Hospers has four main arguments against Ethical Relativism. The ﬁrst is a question of why the ethical relativist holds the idea
that there is no overall standard of right.[The theory of Ethical Relativism is based off of the theory of Sociological
1‘“ k‘l 9 "' Relativism, so it doesn’t make any sense that Ethical Relativism can argue with Sociological RelativistThe second
eXQ‘M‘fq- problem is the deﬁnition of a group. If what is right is what is acceptable within a group, then what happens with a
person who belongs to two different groups? A popular answer to this question would be “When in Rome, do as the
7 Romans d ”E believe this is a pretty lame response, though] The third problem is that it is hard to deﬁne how many
Wk‘j ' people Within a group must think X is right or wrong for it to be so. Most would say 51%, but that would leave
nearly half of a group with disagreeing morals. The last problem is that under this theory, Moral improvement
makes no sense. If opposing views can both be right, then there is no such thing as improvement, only change.
Nobody within this theory has the authority to decipher improvement. I agree with all of Hospers ideas, and I think
all of the objections used are a successful in discrediting Ethical Relativism.
3. The Euthyphro Dilemma comes from a dialogue written by the Greek philosopher Plato. The dilemma
asks the question whether what is right is so because God commands it, or if God command it because it is right. K '7 This is a very tough question that attempts to analyze whether God creates right and wrong, or simply acknowledges
it. This dilemma poses problems for the Divine Command theory because if what is right is only so because of the :n. e--;.-:-'.--‘-:--.-'--I will of God, then God could just as easily tell you that cars are ugly, they should all be chopped off, and nobody
would question why. It takes away meaning for things that are already truly believed. Charity is a great thing that
helps a lot of people, but if God were to claim that charity is foolish, and money should be saved in case it is needed
later in life, something great would be forever banned. When you look at this dilemma, it seems as if God’s
commands are arbitrary. This theory of divine command seems to be giving people the wrong reasons for mostly
moral actions. The right reasons would be to think for yourself. Finally, the whole idea of morality is a mystery.
None of it is deﬁnite. There is no superior intelligence that we can ask a question of morality to, and get a quotable
concrete answer back from. is A g 5. I believe that there are a few absolute taboos, but not very many. Murder is something that many believe ‘1) to be an absolute taboo, but if it is done in self-defense, is it really wrong? If a man is trying to kill you, I do not lV\ 5 CW - believe it is wron to kill him. In times of war, I don’t believe it’s wrong to ﬁght for your country. Rape, however, is
Glance.“ Q, a different story. There is absolutely nothing that justiﬁes raping, or molesting another individual. It is a selﬁsh act
that brin s nothing but pain to the victim, and only a brief sense of satisfaction to the culprit. This act brings nothing
n l Ye mix, g HA0“ N «9 positive to the table what so ever. The majority of all acts considered immoral, however, are subject to argument.
. Stealing is something that is widely regarded as wrong, but might there be just a few instances that make it not
4‘ Ci "Va. completely bad. If a man is starving, with nothing at all to even trade, doesn’t he have to steal food to stay alive? If
Qom erder? there is no charity to help him, the man has no choice. Maybe it’s still wrong, and doing something immoral is just
something that must be done, but I believe that doing something out of necessity for survival cannot be considered
an absolute taboo. l5 ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/10/2012 for the course PHIL 1213 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at Oklahoma State.
- Fall '11