Bioethics (Fall 2010) - Final Exam

Bioethics - Final Exam (F10)

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer five (5) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained.

I. Answer one question from 1-3. (Consequentialism and Deontology)

1. Explain the Problem of Injustice for Utilitarianism.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You must explain Utilitarianism before you discuss the problem.)

2. Explain the Problem of the Mailman and the Lawn for the Principle of Universalizability.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You should begin by explaining the principle. Then raise the problem. Show exactly how it is a problem.)

3. Explain the Argument Against Animals objection to the Principle of Humanity.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You should begin by explaining the principle. Then raise the problem. Show exactly how it is a problem.)

II. Answer question 4. (Organ Selling)

4. Radcliffe-Richards defends regulated organ markets. Evaluate her reply to the Exploitation Objection.

(This question requires evaluation. Make sure that you explain the objection and her reply as clearly as you can before you evaluate it.)

III. Answer one question from 5-6. (Religion and Morality)

5. Evaluate Wielenberg's Contest for Omnipotence objection to the Control Thesis.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain the Control Thesis. Then explain the objection as clearly as you can. Finally, evaluate the objection. Does it assume what it is trying to prove? Why or why not?)

6. Explain the Command Failure Argument against the Karamozov Thesis.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. Explain the Karamozov Thesis. Suggest why one might think it true. Then explain Wielenberg's argument. You need to explain what properties a command must have in order to successfully create an obligation. Given this, explain how a reasonable atheist might pose a problem for the Karamozov Thesis.)

IV. Answer one question from 7-8. (Abortion)

7. Evaluate Thomson's People Seed Argument.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Thomson's position. Then explain the People Seed Argument. What is it designed to show? What kinds of pregnancies is this scenario analogous to? Is the analogy good? Why or why not?)

8. Evaluate Marquis's reply to the Problem of Contraception.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Marquis's argument against the permissibility of abortion. Say why he thinks that abortion is wrong. Then explain the Problem of Contraception. Make it clear how it is a problem for his position. Explain his reply. Is it satisfactory? )

V. Answer one question from 9-11. (Neuroethics)

9. Explain Horwitz and Wakefield's argument against the DSM-IV's criterion for depression.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You need to explain the proposed distinction between normal sadness and clinical depression. Explain the Harmful Dysfunction Account of mental disorders. Why is normal sadness not a disorder according to this theory?)

10. Evaluate the Harmful Dysfunction Account of mental disorders.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain the relevant notion of a dysfunction. Why is it important to keep in mind the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation [EEA]? Raise an objection to the account. You might ask if the theory does any important work. Why would the adaptive value in the EEA matter to us in the 21st century?)

11. Evaluate Levy's argument for the claim that psychopaths are not morally responsible.

(This question requires evaluation. Make sure that you explain the argument as clearly as you can before you evaluate it. What's a psychopath? What distinction are psychopaths unable to grasp? Explain why Levy thinks this shows that they are not entirely culpable for their actions. Then evaluate the argument.)

Note: In order to evaluate a theory, you must first explain the theory. When explaining a counterexample to a definition, you need to specify whether the example shows that a proposed condition is not necessary, not sufficient, or neither.

If you are evaluating an argument, you need to build up the argument and then show where it might go wrong. To build up an argument, you must do more than merely offer a formalization. You must explain the argument. Typically, showing where an argument goes wrong will require arguing that one of the premises is false.

When providing your own evaluations, be sure to consider obvious, compelling replies to your objections. If you think an argument is good, then you will need to defend it against the strongest objections that you can think of.

Note: Keep quotations to an absolute minimum. Never use a quotation to speak for you.

Due Date

Thursday 12/16/2010


The complete midterm should be no more than 2,100 words. This is approximately 7 pages double-spaced in Arial 12 point font.


The midterm must be typed. It should be double spaced. It should have one inch margins. You should use a 12 point font. I prefer Arial, since it is easy to read. Please follow the general paper and exam instructions under the "course documents / writing" section on Blackboard.

Write a separate essay for each answer. Do not try to answer all the questions in a single essay. Formal introductions and conclusions are unnecessary, though you must use paragraphs.

Please skip a line or two between your answers. Include the question number at the start of each answer. Do not copy the questions.


You don't have much space, so you will need to be clear and to the point. Clarity should be your chief goal in writing the midterm. Pick your words carefully. Write to be understood. Assume that you are writing the paper to be read by someone completely unfamiliar with the issues.

Keep formalization to a minimum. Clarity and precision are not the same. Excessive formalization impedes clarity. Only formalize key definitions and arguments when it will help the reader understand what you are trying to say.

I want you to explain the theories and objections as clearly as you can within the space allotted. I do not want papers that are longer than the word limit. The space limitation is designed to force you to practice verbal economy. That said, it is impossible to write a set of adequate answers in much less space. You'll have to use most of the space, and use it well.


I do not need a hard copy. Nor do I need an email copy. Simply submit the final through Safe Assign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date.* Safe Assign is a plagiarism detection tool. It will compare your paper against others available online, in journals, submitted in this class, RIC, and from all other universities that use the software.

*If you are unable to submit the paper to Safe Assign due to technical difficulties, you must send an email to the helpdesk <> explaining the problem. Make sure to CC me. If this happens, send me a copy of your paper as an attachment. Note: I will not accept your paper if you don't report the problem to the helpdesk.

Note: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the class, not just on this assignment.


Your paper should be clearly written, well-structured, and free of grammatical and spelling errors. It is practically impossible to get higher than a C if you start writing the night before the paper is due. The grading scale is as follows:

A = excellent

B = good

C = meets minimal expectations

D = bad

F = awful


Before writing this paper you must read several documents under the writing section of Blackboard. Read the following: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, 3. Kagan's "How to Write a Philosophy Paper", 3. Pryor's "Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers", and 4. Pryor's "Glossary of Philosophical Terms."