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Take Home Exam Ethics (3 Pages minimum, Single Spaced, 12 pt font)
The total number of points to be earned is 42 (which includes 7 bonus points). Do not only use the information from the lectures, but also the book!
Concerning chapters 28-34 Core Questions in Philosophy and Lectures 22-27.
1. In some communities in the South Pacific it is customary to engage in a funeral ceremony in which all member of the deceased’s family eat small slivers of the deceased’s flesh before they are buried. In America, we generally do not accept this practice, as the values that dictate our ceremonial and moral practices are different than those held by the communities in the South Pacific. There does not seem to be any way to prefer the one custom over the other.
a. Which metaethical theory agrees with this example and the conclusion that is drawn from it? How does this theory differ from the other two theories we discussed? What are the problematic aspects of the original theory you identified?
b. Some philosophers might claim that the disagreement exhibited in the example goes deeper than just being between communities or groups of persons—there is substantial disagreement between individuals as well. What theory appeals to disagreement in order to argue for its conclusion? What are the problematic aspects is this theory?
c. If one were to argue that there is a fact of the matter about whether eating the flesh of dead is a permissible practice or not, what theory would this person be defending? What does it mean to say there is a matter of fact about the value of eating the flesh of a dead relative? Illustrate this theory with an example of what a matter of fact about value might look like.
2. Assess the following case from the perspective of the three normative theories discussed in class:
Smith was the only living relative of a dying billionaire, and was called to the billionaire’s death bed so that Smith could promise to honor his relative's last dying request. The relative tells Smith that after he dies he wants all of his money—billions of dollars—to be given to the Detroit Lions football team, so that they can build up the franchise and team, and finally win a Superbowl. Smith promises to him that he will donate all of the money, and fulfill his dying wish. However, Smith works for an aid company, and when the relative dies he thinks about giving the billions of dollars that he has in his possession to the charity, so that it can be used to benefit millions of people around the world by helping them have their basic needs met. Smith decides to give the money to the charity, and breaks the promise he made to his dying relative.
a. Provide an argument as to whether—according to each of the three normative theories—what Smith has done is right or wrong.
b. Choose one of the three theories discussed above, and explain the main issues, or problems, with that theory. This means providing reasons as to why it might not be suitable as an action guiding theory.
c. One of the normative theories mentioned is normally provided as a descriptive theory as opposed to a prescriptive one. Identify this theory, and explain its view on morality, and why that view descriptive, as opposed to prescriptive.