[SAMPLE QUESTION: [this actual question will not be on the exam]
1 The first formulation of Kant's categorical imperative prohibits sex with horses, because
(a) Monks traditionally rode on mules (religious association / reverence to tradition)
(b) Horses, unlike cats, don't have nine lives
(c) Fairness is good, but ripeness is all (???)
(d) Horses are by nature much larger than rabbits (appeal to nature, intercourse prohibited due to size?)
(e) None of the above
First formulation of Kant’s C.I. is to act in such a way that EVERYONE would find the best option / it is imperative that
all people act in this way (because Reason is Universal). ACategorical Imperative = an unconditional moral
law that all rational human beings must adhere to, and is independent of personal desire or motive
1. What is special about philosophical questions, as opposed to scientific or historical questions?
a. Nothing is Sacred: nothing is beyond questionable / no reason NOT to ask
b. RationalArguments: Rational = what is most likely to succeed (at finding truth /
understanding) /Argument = series of prepositions intended to establish a conclusion
c. Aims at changing our vision of the world through questioning
d. Like science, Philosophical Questions are skeptical (their purpose is to examine).
UNLIKE science, Philosophy does not have any fixed, definitive methods for finding the truth
and for problem solving (if it did, it would be science)
2. When distinguished from sex, what does the term gender refer to? Is the distinction clear? Why
might one want (as Roughgarden does) to speak only of gender?
Gender is a social role, whereas a person’s sex is biological.'Gender' refers to the normative
psychological constructs of femininity and masculinity. It embraces sex roles ''played out'' in a
social context, and typically includes culturally variable features such as style, language, and
The word 'sex' refers to the biological aspects of maleness and femaleness: gametes (male
sperm, female egg), chromosomes (XY, XX), the anatomy and functions of internal and external
reproductive organs. Sex also refers--at least prima facie (At first glance) --to certain hormonal
differences and to secondary sex characteristics. * assumed sexual dimorphism is questioned in
The term 'sexual dimorphism' is used both of gender and sex. It should not be assumed as a
matter of definition, however, that there are just two genders or sexes (see Morgan 1979).
Though usually ascribed at birth on the basis of biological sex, gender does not appear to be
determined by sex. Were the case otherwise, our (normative) descriptions of ''masculine women''
and ''feminine men'' would be pointless. Feminist thinkers have stressed that the defining features
of gender are ideological, and are coercively enforced by individual men and institutions in
patriarchal (i.e. practically all) societies.
The distinction between sex and gender is blurred - i.e. in the term “Sexual dimorphism” we
refer to both gender and sex. When we refer to “the sexes” in “battle of the sexes” or “the
opposite sex” the biological male or female is one and the same as the gendered male or female.
Why speak ONLY of gender? Because gender is a social category, rather than a biological category. Biology is considered immutable, whereas gender has the ability to change (is fluid).
3. What is Roughgarden’s most important contention (argument / disagreement) in the passage
you read from her?
According to Roughgarden, genetic diversity is increased during sexual reproduction (and gene
recombination). Genetic diversity (variety in gene combinations) actually strengthens a species -
allowing for it to thrive in changing environments or social settings.
“Changes in the social setting within a species, as well as changes in the ecological and
physical environment, all affect which colors of the rainbow shine the brightest at any one time”
The “diversity-affirming” idea is an inversion of the concept of “normality” from anAristotelean
POV: Aristotle believed in fixed species on an ideal normal - where species are fixed in standard
types, and any deviation from the standard type is considered a “monster” or “deviant”
(TERATA = greek for ‘monster’, meaning a misshapen / deformed fetus)
Roughgarden claims that variety is actually the norm in biology, and is resistant to
categorization. Variety is what natural selection acts upon, allowing “survival of the fittest!”
In the context of gender: if sex is a spectrum of expression and not restricted to the binary of
male and female, there can also be an infinite amount of genders / variability in gender
expression. If it assumed that biology is nature, and unchangeable - it can be assumed that
gender is nurtured and therefore changeable.
4. What is the relation of reproduction to sex (necessary? sufficient? morally required)?
Aquinas has the notion that reproductive sex is morally required. The notion of “Taboo” or
“Deviant” sex derives from the idea of non-reproductive sex as being sinful or morally wrong.
This assumes that: a) the natural function of sex is procreation,
b) any other use of sex is a misuse, and a sin
This pre-supposes that: Pa) if _____ is the natural use of an organ, all else is a misuse
Pb) if ________ is a misuse of an organ, then it is a sin
Aquinas’reasoning is an appeal to “Natural Law”, saying that because X is natural it is good
Considering that nature is diverse, it is incorrect to assume that all sex in nature is
procreative. Many animals engage in ‘recreational’sex, rape, etc. Many animals do not
mate for life.
5. What is the moral philosophy called Utilitarianism? How does it differ from Deontology, from
Natural Law Theory, and from Virtue Theory?
Utilitarianism = The belief in total consequences - that morally good action benefits / helps the
most amount of people. This derives from the Consequentialist theory, in which the
consequence of an action determines it’s degree of “rightness” or “wrongness”.
Deontology, on the other hand, is concerned with obligatory duties (deon is greek for
obligation / duty), or rules, that one MUST do regardless of consequence. It is NORMATIVE
or RULES BASED. Deontology is concerned with the character of a behaviour, and not the
outcome of that behaviour.
Natural Law Theory (aka Teleological theory) is a system of law that is believed to be determined by nature and is, therefore, universal / constant. Natural law is considered inherent
(essential to) human nature. The idea that nature tends towards definite acts - that there is a
purpose or design to nature.
6. In philosophy, what does it mean to “beg the question”? Give an example.
"assuming the conclusion (of an argument)", a type of circular reasoning. This is an informal fallacy where the
indirect way that conceals this fact - "Opium induces sleep because it has a soporific quality"often in an
7. What are the main views expressed in the Symposium about the nature of erotic love?
Pausanius: (legal expert) - PURITAIN MODEL: two forms of love, represented by twoAphrodites
= pure, noble love (homosexual love / pederasty) and coarser, baser love of the body
(heterosexual love). Pederasty was seen as “heavenly love” or the highest form of love.
Whereas heterosexual love is focused on pleasure / advantage - using someone as a means to an
Erixymachus: (medical expert) - the body is persuaded to accept good love, and reject bad love
(some love is healthy and some is unhealthy - recall pythagorean pairs good / bad, yin / yang).
Love itself is the reconciliation of opposites, and it encompasses all things - not just between
humans: some ancient theories saw the universe as emerging from the harmony of opposite
Aristophanes: (comic playwright) - Creation myth / origin of gender, sexuality and love. Humans
were once “whole” beings (M/M, M/F, F/F) but were split into seperate sexes by the Gods - Zeus
created marriage, love and sex so that humans could feel whole again.Aetiology of longing / desire
that accompanies love - but does not address why we REMAIN in love after union. Explains
different sexual orientation (longing for other half) but not bisexuality or sexual fluidity.
Agathon: (tragic poet) - the host of the party must be modest in speech, he simply praises Eros (god
of love / desire) in a hyperbolic address. Sets up for Socrates’speech:
Socrates: (philosopher) criticizes Agathon’s praise of Love, praise is not concerned with truth or
falsehood. He exposes that love is NOT good / beautiful:
- “Love is of something, and that which love desires is not that which love is or has”
- ^ Love is the desire to fill a lack / void - relates toAristophanes’myth of wanting other half
- “in wanting or desiring the beautiful, love also wants and desires the good”
- therefore love is not good, and love is not a God
Diotima (wise woman) - Socrates tells of Diotima’s lesson: that love is actually inbetween good and
As the child of Resource and Poverty, Love is always in a state of need (like his Mother), but like
his father, he can scheme to get what he wants.
Love is also a great lover of wisdom. None of the gods love wisdom because they are already wise.
Nor do the ignorant love wisdom since they do not realize that they need wisdom. Love falls
between ignorance and wisdom because his father, Resource, is both wise and resourceful,
while his mother, Poverty, is neither.
Consider Philosophy, (philo = lover, sophia = wisdom), lovers of wisdom are neither wise nor
foolish, but they are somewhere inbetween - they desire / seek the truth but do not yet (or ever)
have it (Socrates’acknowledges not knowing is the first step to wisdom). Love is like philosophy.
* Plato was the student of Socrates. Socrates never wrote a word, so his “writings” are translated
through Plato’s POV - Symposium is Plato writingABOUT Socrates. (Socrates was known for
his irony / feigned ignorance. Claimed that knowing you dont’know is the first step to
Beauty, perfection, and so on, are the qualities of the things we love, but the lover himself is not at
all like this. - If you love someone because they are beautiful, doesn’t that mean you love
beauty itself and not that person?
8. Define the Puritan, Lawrentian (or Inverted Puritan) and Pansexual models of the place of sex
in the human person.
Puritan Model - (Mind / body duality) Historically, Sex is of the “animal” body (basic instinct).
Reason is of the “higher” soul or mind. Reason is opposed to bodily impulses - so Lust (Sexual
Desire) is seen as bad (without reason), whereas Marriage (instituted love) is a redemption /
purification of Lust.
Lawrentian / Inverted Puritan Model - Claims that only our animal nature is “uncorrupted” -
that the body (impulse) is the favoured trait, rather than mind / reason. Like Puritanism, it judges