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PHIL 1100H Study Guide - Comprehensive Midterm Guide: Dogma, Habituation, Divine Command Theory


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 1100H
Professor
Norlock Kathryn
Study Guide
Midterm

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Trent
PHIL 1100H
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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PHIL 1100
Lecture Notes
Week 2
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
Questions About the Readings:
Do you feel that you understand the point of the two articles?
o last paragraph
When Rachels praises cultural relativism for providing an antidote to ‘dogmatism’, do
you know when he means by dogmatism?
o Dogmatism: Saying something that is just to be taken as true without evidence or
other opinions
Did he repeated references to ‘Eskimos’ and ‘we’ create metacognitive obstacles as you
read?
When he mentioned Ayn Rand as an author of ethical egoism, did you follow her
argument for ‘the value of an individual life’?
Compare with Next Week’s Aristotle Reading:
Note that Rand’s egoistic individual is different from Aristotle’s individual
Both sorts of selves are arguably self-interested
But their conceptions of the self are very different
Ethical Egoism Entails Psychological Egoism
Note that the reverse is not true; PE does not necessarily mean EE
EE: one’s only moral duty is to promote one’s own interests
o Interests: What really is to one’s own best advantage over the long run [Rachels,
p. 10 in course pack]
PE: interested in what motivates human beings to act, not what they do
EE: makes a claim as to what is right and wrong, what is morally right is what is in one’s
own best interests, what is morally wrong is putting others’ interests before your own,
you are morally wrong when you do not do the best things for yourself even if it what is
in your interests [ex./ eat the salad not the cake because it is better for yourself in the long
run]
PE [descriptive theory] is assumed by EE [prescriptive theory]
Obstacles for PE
PE: a view that the individual self is motivated by the individual’s own self-interest
Challenges:
o What are these?
o Are they transparent to each of us?
o What view of the mind or self does PE depend on?
See Rachels p.11 column 1 point 1a: we know our own needs better than ours
o Rachels does not buy this [see column 2] is feeding a hungry child really rocket
science? But he sets it aside
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Unexplored challenge: Our own interests are also not clear to us
Cultural Relativism
Related to the argument that ethical egoism assumes we know our self-interest
We may feel strongly, but ‘Our moral views can reflect the prejudice of our society’ [24]
‘We’ found ‘Them’, ‘Eskimo’, different
Only way to ret-con this is to take Rachels to be referring to the recipients of the stories
that colonial explorers brought back to their people
‘We’ refers to European [and descended] colonial recipients
Rachels’ Rejection of Cultural Relativism
a. Holding it means one cannot criticize other cultures even if another commits, just for one
example, a violent anti-Semitic genocide
b. We also cannot criticize our own culture
c. Moral progress is not possible
d. Some values seem nearly universal
Note the last page, when Rachels says that as a theory, cultural relativism ‘has serious
shortcomings’ and ‘we can accept [its good] points without going on to accept the whole
theory’.
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