Environmental Ethics (Spring 2011) - Final Exam

*Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer four (4) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained. You have 2,400 words.

Answer one question from 1-3. (Welfare)

1. Evaluate the "Experience Machine Objection" to mental statism.

(This question requires evaluation. You must explain mental statism, present the objection, and then consider a possible reply.)

2. Explain the "To Become a Pig is to Die Objection" to Mill's "Swine Transformation Argument" for qualitative hedonism.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You'll need to explain the difference between quantitative and qualitative hedonism. Then explain Mill's argument for qualitative hedonism. Finally, explain the objection.)

3. Explain Mill's reply to the "Low Chooser Objection" to the "Informed Preference Argument" for qualitative hedonism.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You'll need to explain the difference between quantitative and qualitative hedonism. Then explain Mill's argument for qualitative hedonism. Then explain the objection and Mill's reply.)

Answer one question from 4-5. (Welfarism)

4. Evaluate Sumner's response to the "Two Treatments Objection" to welfarism. Is Sumner's defense of welfarism convincing? If it improves the strength of the objection, revise the scenario as needed.

(This requires evaluation. See pp.203-6. Explain the difference between welfarism and pluralism. Explain the objection. How does it support pluralism? Explain how Sumner responds. Is it convincing? Why or why not?)

5. Evaluate Sylvan's "Last Man Argument" against welfarism.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain what the Last Man Argument is designed to show? How might someone who denies Sylvan's conclusion might account for our repulsion? Does the example give us reason to reject welfarism?)

Answer one question from 6-7. (Nature and Value)

6. Explain Sumner's argument against perfectionist defenses of environmental ethics.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. See pp.209-216. He raises at least three objections. It would be good to explain the problem of machine perfection.)

7. Evaluate O'Neill's claim that "the goods of an entity are given by the characteristic features of the kind of species being it is".

(This question requires evaluation. You should briefly explain the role this claim plays in O'Niell's argument for the claim that plants and ecosystems have have intrinsic value.)

Answer one question from 8-9. (The Value of Species)

8. Evaluate Rolston's argument for the value of species.

(This question requires evaluation. What is Rolston's theory of value? What's the role of valuers? What is a valuer? Why does he think that plants are valuers? What about species? Is any of this plausible? Why or why not?)

9. Evaluate Russow's argument for the claim that we have a duty to preserve some species. Which species matter and why?

(This question requires evaluation. You might take issue with the claim that the value of species is principally a kind of aesthetic value. Alternatively, you might take issue with the claim we have duty to preserve aesthetic value.)

Note: In order to evaluate a theory, you must first explain the theory. When explaining a counter-example 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. 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. The only quotations in your exam should be of formalizations.

Due Date

5/14/2011 (Saturday)


The exam should be in total no more than 2,400 words. This is approximately 8 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font.


The exam 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. You do not need to start a new page. Include the number of the question at the start of each answer. Do not copy the questions.

If you have citations, include a reference list on the final page. You can use whatever citation format you prefer.


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 answers. 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.

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 than the allocated space. You'll have to use most of the space, and use it well.


I do not need a hard copy. You must submit the final exam 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 <helpdesk@ric.edu> 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, you must read three documents under the writing section of Blackboard: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "How to Write a Philosophy Paper."