1) Divine Command Theory says that an act is morally right if and only if God decrees it is morally right, and wrong if God decrees it is morally wrong. After spelling out this theory of where morality comes from, discuss the objection that it seems to make morality arbitrary (why does it seem to do this, how does the alleged arbitrariness come about?). Then either defend Divine Command Theory from this objection in some way, or, alternatively, entertain a possible defense of DCT from this objection, and then show that this defense does not succeed.
2) In the original popular science fiction movie “The Matrix”, most humans live utterly deluded lives, where the virtual “reality” they experience is quite different from their actual condition. The heroes of the movie fight to free humans from their illusory existence. However, if they succeed, all of these people will experience much more difficult lives. While plugged into the Matrix, people are relatively happy, experiencing minimal physical or psychological suffering, though they are systematically deceived. But once removed from the Matrix, given the desperate nature of the actual world, they will live lives filled with much more pain, hunger, fear, and a constant struggle to survive . . . So, first carefully but briefly explain John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism (what it claims, how Mill supports it, what the key notions are, etc.). After spelling out Mill’s doctrine, consider an objection that is based upon these points about “The Matrix”. That is, explain how the above considerations seem to pose a problem for Mill’s doctrine, since what Mill’s theory seems to say that freeing people from the Matrix is fundamentally wrong. Do not simply explain the movie – explain only the challenge it poses to utilitarianism by suggesting the morally right thing to do is not maximize happiness. Then, discuss a possible defense of Mill’s theory based on Mill’s own strategy of introducing a quality dimension to pleasure. Either show how this defense either successfully answers this Matrix-style criticism, or instead show it fails and/or leads to deeper problems.
3) Peter Singer argues that our current conception of moral obligation requires a drastic revision. After carefully explaining Singer’s position and his argument for that position, critically evaluate his viewpoint. If you disagree with Singer, explain what is wrong with his argument and/or position (you may also defend one of the objections he himself raises and rejects). If you agree with Singer, then respond to the following objection to his viewpoint: My own life is every bit as important as the life of another. By making the sort of sacrifice Singer suggests, I would be, in effect, sacrificing my own life (because many of my own goals, projects and interests would need to be abandoned). Singer is therefore wrong to claim that I, as an individual, have a moral responsibility or duty to make such a sacrifice, because no one is morally required to sacrifice their own life for the life of another. If you are going to defend Singer, show what is wrong with this objection. ———————————————————————
This time your paper is going to be a little longer — around 3 or so pages — and you will be explaining other views and providing your own critical commentary and arguments. Of course, I do not expect you to solve these issues once and for all, or present a complete theory in 4 pages. Instead, we want to see that you understand the central debate and have something to add to the discussion; that you can provide some original support or criticism for a given position. Often, a good way to make your point is to illustrate it with specific examples or analogies. Re-read the course material on e-reserve on writing philosophy papers.



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