Florence Summer Ethics Course Study Questions

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Return to Ethics Florence Summer 2014

Class Dates

Monday May 19, 2014

  • First Day, no study questions.

Tuesday May 20, 2014


  1. What were Ariely's findings on honesty?
  2. What is the possible significance of his research for understanding the nature of ethics?
  3. Identify the ethical issues facing Italy according to "Girlfriend in a Coma".

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Haidt, Intro and Chapter 1

  1. Describe Haidt's research on disgust. What is its possible significance for understanding the nature of ethics.
  2. What is Haidt's criticism of developmental psychology's past approach to understanding the nature of ethics?
  3. Why does Haidt think that Turiel's and Schweder's research represent an improvement over the nature/nuture debate?

Thursday May 22, 2014

Haidt, "The Divided Self"

  1. How do we use metaphors to think about the psyche, soul, and human identity?
  2. What organic features of consciousness does Haidt think we need to consider when doing ethics? How might they be usefull?
  3. What picture of the mind does Haidt leave us with?

Monday May 26, 2014

Haidt, Chapter 2

  1. How does Haidt criticize philosophers on the topic of the relationship between reason and emotion?
  2. How do evolutionary psychologists help us see the elephant talking? (And what does that even mean?)
  3. What is the social intuitionist model of moral judgement? (Start comparing to other theories, like utilitarianism.)

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Haidt, Chapter 3

  1. Do we have an inner lawyer?
  2. Does it operate the way Haidt thinks?
  3. How do you get the elephant to listen?

Wednesday May 28, 2014

  1. What are some of the main ethical and political characteristics of the Englaro and Schiavo cases?
  2. What are the primary ethical differences between passive and active, voluntary and non-voluntary cases of euthanasia?
  3. How does the concept of human dignity work for both advocates and opponents of euthanasia?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Haidt, Chapter 4

  1. What evidence does Haidt provide for the claim that we are constantly concerned with our status and that we tend to conserve our views even at the expense of good reasoning?
  2. Given Haidt's view that intuition comes first, what is the function of moral reasoning?
  3. How does Haidt think this evidence ought to influence our view of politics?
  4. Deleted.

Monday June 2, 2014


Tuesday June 3, 2014

  1. Which single plot lines can you identify in La bella addormentata and in what ways are they interrelated in the overarching narrative?
  2. What visions of life and death are presented? Does the film seem to offer an unequivocal position on the issue of eutanasia?
  3. What impression do you get of the political implications of the case? More generally, how are politicians represented (as groups and individuals), and why do you think the film emphasizes this?
  4. In what ways does the film end? What impressions/thoughts/reactions does it want to leave us with?
  5. Moving beyond the particular case in the film, what values and principles would you advocate to decide euthanasia cases?

Wednesday June 4, 2014

1. What is WEIRD morality and what use does Haidt make of it?

2. Should we all try to be WEIRD about our morality?

3. What does Haidt mean by saying "the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors"? What evolutionary account does he offer for this claim?

4. What is Haidt's critique of philosophical ethics?

Thursday June 5, 2014

Haidt, Chapter 6

Post chapter 6 study questions.

Monday June 9, 2014

Haidt, Ch. 7

  1. What does it mean to say that culture creates its own "triggers" for our evolved psychology? To what extent can these diverge from the original triggers?
  2. Describe each moral foundation, including the speculative or theoretical claims advances for its reality.
  3. How do conservatives and liberals participate differently in each of the moral foundations?
  4. Does Haidt's theory of "Moral Foundations" explain key aspects of our moral and political experience?

Tuesday June 10, 2014

Haidt, Ch. 9

  1. How does an account of our "groupishness" provide a more complete picture of our moral life?
  2. What is the evidence for group selection of cooperation and other traits related to moral life?

Wednesday June 11, 2014

Haidt, Ch. 10

  1. What is Haidt's hyposthesis about the "hive switch" and how does he support it?
  2. Should we be trying to cultivate experiences of the hive switch in our lives? How?

Thursday June 12, 2014

Sandel, Utilitarianism

  1. Develop a succinct summary of the main approaches and problem utilitarian theory takes on both as an ethical theory and a theory of justice.
  2. What is the basis for Mill's defense of liberty. Is it consistent for him to make this defense as a utilitarian?
  3. Can we distinguish higher and lower pleasures. Should society invest more in higher pleasures?

Singer, One World, Ch. 1

  1. Are we at a point in history where our political and moral values will need to adjust to a different horizon than the nation state?
  2. How would competing moral theories assess our obligations to those in absolute poverty or engaged in slave or forced labor?

Monday June 16, 2014

Sandel, "Rawls"

  1. What is the theoretical basis for choosing principles from behind a "veil of ignorance"?
  2. What makes a contract fair? How does particular cases test the fairness of a contract?
  3. Explain the rationale behind the difference principle and offer an assessment of it.

Tuesday June 17, 2014

Singer, "Rich and Poor"

  1. In what ways is the decision not to alleviate absolute poverty like and unlike murder?
  2. What principle does Singer advocate for determining our obligations to the poor? What does it obligate us to?

Sachs, "Can the Rich Afford to Help the Poor?"

  1. How does Sachs characterize and analyze the task of funding the UNMDGs?
  2. Why is he so confident that the rich can afford to help the poor?
  3. How can you connect his analysis to Rawls' difference principle?

Wendnesday June 18, 2014

Thompson, "A Defense of Abortion"

  1. How does Judith Jarvis Thompson frame the abortion issue in her article?
  2. Explain the Violinist thought experiment, what it attempts to show, and critically assess it.
  3. Explain the Tiny House thought experiment, what it attempts to show, and critically assess it.

Thursday June 19, 2014

  1. What is Thompson's final thesis regarding the morality of abortion? What sort of pro-choice advocate would her position satisfy? Does she leave an "opening" in her argument for a pro-life position?

Monday June 23, 2014

Food, Inc.

Because we had difficulties with the documentary distribution and teaching of this new material there will be no exam questions about it.

Tuesday June 24, 2014


Wednesday June 25, 2014

Haidt, Ch 12, "Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?"

  1. How should we finally understand the way political and moral difference emerge in a population of humans, according to Haidt?
  2. What is moral and social capital?
  3. What are the insights and blindspots of liberal, conservative, and libertarian viewpoints?

Thursday June 26, 2014

Review Day!