The Third Test


1. This test will be held in class on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. No late or make-tests will be scheduled. There will be no exceptions. The exam will begin at 10:30 PM. If everyone present in the class finishes before 11:45 AM then the exam will be ended when the last person finishes. Do not be late!

2. You will need only one examination blue book and a pencil or blue or black pen. You will be penalized if you do the test using anything other than these materials. Plan ahead. You may also, if you wish, bring one and only one sheet of paper with any information you wish on it for reference during the test. This sheet may NOT contain information that comes from a source other than your textbook, class notes, or study questions.

3. On the day of the test, please write your name on the outside cover of your blue book. Do not write your name anywhere else on your test. Please also “double-space” your answers, and write only on the front of the pages. (Don’t worry—you will have plenty of space.)

4. Your test answers should be your own work. Any detectable collaboration, including identical answers, will be considered cheating. Cheating will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, the first instance of cheating will merit a grade of “0” on the test and the notification of the student’s adviser. Repeated offenses will be met with more serious sanctions.

5. This is not a research assignment. You are NOT to use outside sources. Usage of verbatim quotations from the textbook and paraphrasing of the textbook are to be used sparingly and kept under three lines per occurrence. If you must use quotations, know that all verbatim quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks. All such quotations, and any paraphrasing of material from the text, must be followed by an appropriate citation. The following simplified format may be used: ([author’s name], [page number from which the text is taken]). The following is an example of the minimally acceptable citation format:

For a verbatim quotation: “Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, far the greatest is the possession of friendship.” (Cahn & Markie, p. 183)

For paraphrasing: Epictetus says that friendship is the most important thing for a blessed life. (Cahn & Markie p. 183)

Failure to cite quoted or paraphrased works properly is plagiarism—the misrepresentation of other’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, the first instance of plagiarism will merit a grade of “0” on the test and the notification of the student’s advisor. Repeated offenses will be met with more serious sanctions. Lecture material does not need to be followed by a citation.

6. Be sure that you address all parts of the question. Be efficient, clear, and thorough in your writing. Keep in mind that this is a test of your understanding of the material, not a solicitation of a manifesto of your own personal philosophy. Stay focused on simply and directly answering the questions.

7. Your answers should be substantive and your points should be supported with evidence (from the text), lecture material and independent argument. All technical philosophical terms (e.g. ‘psychological continuity’, ‘anguish’, etc.) should be defined. Charts, graphs, and drawings should not be used. Your answer must be correct and clear. It need not be rhetorically pleasing. That said, basic issues such as grammar, spelling, and structure will all count towards your grade. Clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand.

8. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at any time. I do not give provisional grades to test answers but I will answer questions about the test insofar as I can without conferring an unfair advantage on anyone.


On the day of the exam the instructor will select three of the following questions using a random procedure. Of the three questions selected by the instructor, students will choose any two and write answers to them. All parts of the question must be accurately and concisely answered using complete, well-formed sentences of English. While your answers will be graded primarily on the quality of what is written, be aware that the questions call for a degree of detail that will not be achievable in merely one or two paragraphs. Each of the two questions will be worth fifty (50) points for a grand total of one hundred (100) points.

Below are the questions. These questions will not be altered in any way prior to the exam. They will occur exactly as they are written here. READ EACH QUESTION VERY CAREFULLY and break it into its composite parts before attempting to answer.

1. Imagine an adult person, Smith, who lives her life entirely and uncritically by what she thinks her parents and friends expect of her. If the right people like it, she likes it. If they do it, she does it too. She never questions the morality of her social circle. She never thinks about what she herself values or thinks is best, she just follows the crowd. What would Jean Paul Sartre say about this kind of life? Is Smith an ethical person on his view? Support your answer with good reasons. By this I mean that you are not simply line up a bunch of direct quotations or paraphrase Sartre's essay, but to answer the question as you would if you were trying to teach Sartre to an intelligent but uninformed student.

2. Consider the following quote from the article by Gauthier (my emphasis):

Consider a simple example of a moral practice that would command rational agreement. Suppose each of us were to assist her fellows only when either she could expect to benefit herself from giving assistance, or she took a direct interest in their well being. Then, in many situations persons would not give assistance to others…Everyone would then expect to do better were each to give assistance to her fellows, regardless of her own benefit or interest, whenever the cost of assisting was low and the benefit of receiving assistance was considerable. Each would thereby accept a constraint on the direct pursuit of her own concerns…given a like acceptance by others [because] reflection leads us to recognize that those who belong to groups whose members adhere to such a practice of mutual assistance enjoy benefits in interaction that are denied to others. We may then represent such a practice as rationally acceptable to everyone.

Consider that "mutual assistance" is a moral duty. How does Gauthier's suggestion in the quote above answer the contention that no foundation can be given for ethics?

3. Imagine a young man from Kenya, a middle aged woman from Amsterdam, and a student from Detroit all traveling in the same train car in India. All three see a man get on the car with a knife and move towards another passenger with the intent to murder her. (For simplicity's sake, let us just say that it is clear to all three of them that this is exactly what he intends and that the man has no reason for wanting to murder his victim. He is simply insane.) The three travelers are between the victim and the murderer, and would be able at least to slow the murderer down. Let us imagine that miraculously, time briefly stops for everyone but our three travelers have a chance to speak to one another about the situation. Once they are decided, time will start again and they will have to act. How, according to Martha Nussbaum's Aristotelian view of morality, would the three of them be able to choose a moral course of action despite their different ethnic, national, and gender backgrounds?

4. The Radiolab episode we heard in class explained two reactions to the two famous trolley cases, and how those two reactions correlated to activity in two different "moral systems" in the brain: A newer "calculating" system, and an older "inner chimp".
To get full credit for your answer you must do BOTH of the following:
(a) Describe the two trolley cases discussed in the podcast, and say which "moral system" in the brain "wins" in each case.
(b) Explain how data like this suggests a foundation for morality that is capable of answering Nietzsche's criticism that morality has no foundation at all.

Yes. There are only four questions. I think these are plenty, don't you? ;-)

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