Final examination

Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

You may complete this final examination as a take-home exam or in class. Write essays of 3-4 pages (take-home) in response to two of the following questions. Your essay should address the question, argue a thesis, discuss ideas about ethics, consider opposing points of view, and use evidence from the lectures and readings to support its argument. If you are on campus, submit a hard copy of your exam. If not, you can upload it to SafeAssign, available on BlackBoard.

1. Pain and suffering. Peter Singer is a consequentialist or utilitarian philosopher. Singer has written that, “Pain and suffering are in themselves bad and should be prevented or minimized, irrespective of the race, sex, or species of the being that suffers.” To what extent is Singer’s utilitarian philosophy—he calls is “a moral calculus;” I call it “doing the math”—a helpful guide to thinking about and reducing the amount of suffering in the world? Consider at least two of the following: torture, abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, healthcare, capital punishment, animal rights, vegetarianism.

4. War. We all know the expression, “All is fair in love and war.” In fact, though, philosophers and politicians have worked for centuries to determine when it is ethical for a nation to wage war, and what tactics are ethical or unethical when fighting a war. In recent years, Americans have debated whether the use of torture. Is it permissible to torture prisoners of war or enemy combatants in order to extract information from them? (I have posted writings by Sam Harris and Susan Sontag on WebCampus. Feel free to consult these or other sources to support your essay.)

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