Philosophy of Death (Fall 2013) - Second Exam

Philosophy of Death - Second Exam

*Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer three (3) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained. You have 1,800 words. (There is a 1,500 word minimum.)

I. Answer question 1. (Sadness)

1. Draper defends the view that it is typically appropriate to feel sad about the fact that we will die. Lucretius seems to think that this is a mistake: "'No more pitter-patter of little feet as children race to kiss you, / Touching your heart with wordless tenderness. Alas, no more / Can you provide for them, you can't keep danger from their door. / Unlucky man! One dark day snatched these joys of life from you,' / They cry, but do not add, 'and all the yearnings for them too.'" (p.99). I want you to explain how Draper could respond to Lucretius.

(Suggested plan: Explain Draper's argument for the appropriateness of sadness. Then explain Lucretius' objection. Think about the full passage where the argument appears (lns. 870-902), not just the lines quoted above. What does Lucretius seem to think is driving our sadness? How is this an objection to Draper? Does Draper have a good reply? Think back to his leaving home example.)

II. Answer one question from 2-3. (Humous and Posthumous Harms)

2. Evaluate Lucretius' Banquet Argument.

(This requires evaluation. You must explain the argument first. It's an analogical argument. What is the analogy? Provide some textual evidence for your interpretation of the argument. Then evaluate it. Is the analogy apt? Note: Do not summarize the entire book. Just focus on this particular argument.)

3. Evaluate Luper's argument against the Immunity Thesis.

(This question requires evaluation. You should explain the immunity thesis. Then you should explain Luper's argument. Don't summarize the entire article. Only explain what is relevant. Then evaluate the argument. You might focus on the central example of an indirect harm, that of the time-bomb)

II. Answer one question from 4-5. (Killing)

4. Explain the "Hang the Hermit to Prevent a Riot" objection to Justicized Act Utilitarianism (JAU) About Killing.

(Suggested plan: Explain JAU. What does it say that makes an action right? What is the role of desert in the theory? What factors determine how much of the primary goods we deserve? Then explain what JAU says about killing. What does it say makes an act of killing wrong when it is wrong? Finally, explain the scapegoat objection to JAU about killing.)

5. Explain the "Unhappy 80 Year Old Professor" objection to the Time-Relative Interest Account (TRIA) of the wrongness of killing.

(Suggested plan: Explain the TRIA. How does it different from a simple harm based account? Then, explain what the TRIA says about killing. What does it say makes an act of killing wrong when it is wrong? Finally, explain the objection to the TRIA about killing.)

Note: In order to evaluate an argument, you need to build up the argument before showing 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 or for textual evidence to support an interpretation of a story or a complex argument.

Due Date

Thursday 11/21/2012


The exam should be in total no more than 1,800 words. This is approximately 6 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font. The exam should be no less than 1,500 words. *I will deduct a letter grade for every 200 words shy of the minimum.


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.


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 "writing" section on the course Blackboard page.

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.

You should include a bibliography on the final page. Use the Chicago manual "notes and bibliography" citation style:


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.

*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. I recommend that you not use any outside sources. If you do, you must cite them even if you don't quote them. You must attribute all ideas to their proper sources.


Before writing, you must read three documents under the writing section of the course Blackboard page: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "Writing Philosophy Papers."