Meta-ethics (Fall 2011) - Midterm

Metaethics (F11) - Midterm

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer four (4) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained.

I. Answer one question from 1-3. (Non-Cognitivism)

1. Evaluate Ayer's ECCS Argument against Cognitivism.

(This question requires evaluation.)

2. Evaluate Horgan and Timmons's reply to the Problem of Moral Progress for Assertoric Nondescriptivism.

(This question requires evaluation.)

3. Evaluate Huemer's Introspective Evidence Argument against Non-Cogntivism.

(This question requires evaluation.)

II. Answer one question from 4-5. (Error Theory)

4. Evaluate Mackie's Argument from Motivational Weirdness for Error Theory.

(This question requires evaluation.)

5. Explain Joyce's Rationalist's Dilemma against the existence of categorical reasons.

(This question does not ask for evaluation.)

III. Answer one question from 6-7. (Divine Command Theory)

6. Explain the Command Failure Argument against The Karamazov Thesis.

(This question does not ask evaluation.)

7. Evaluate the Contest for Omnipotence Argument against the Control Thesis.

(This question requires evaluation.)

IV. Answer one question from 8-10. (Subjectivism)

8. Evaluate Korsgaard's argument in section 3.4.7.

(This question requires evaluation.)

9. Evaluate the Problem of Horrible Attitudes for Ideal Observer forms of Subjectivism.

(This question requires evaluation.)

10. Evaluate the Problem of Disagreement for Individual Subjectivism.

(This question requires evaluation.)

Note: When 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. Explain why someone might believe the premises. 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. I can't think of a good reason why you would need to use many quotes.

Due Date

Monday 10/31/2011


The complete exam should be no more than 2,400 words. This is approximately 8 pages double-spaced in 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 short 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.

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.


You are required to hand in a paper copy at the start of class on the due date. In addition you must submit the midterm through Safe Assign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date. (11:59 pm is after class, not to be confused with the night before.) 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.

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, and 3. Pryor's "Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers". The last document is the most important.