Test 2: Study Questions


1          What is the difference between normative and descriptive discourse? What are some kinds of normative discourse—what feature has traditionally been regarded as characteristic of moral judgements?

2          What is Utilitarianism? State and briefly explain the Principle of Utility, and the three features that distinguish Utilitarianism as an ethical theory.

3          State and explain 3 putative counterexamples to Consequentialism.

4          Explain the difference between hedonistic utilitarianism and preference utilitarianism and objections to each version.

5          What does Harsanyi mean by the “Principle of Preference Autonomy” and why should this lead to worries about preference utilitarianism in light of perverse tastes, expensive tastes and the phenomenon of “adaptive preference” noted by Nussbaum?

6          Explain what is meant by distributive justice and why it is held that Utilitarianism as traditionally understood does not provide a satisfactory account of it.

7          What is the Original Positon and what role does it play in Rawl’s theory of justice? What objections may be made to the use of this thought experiment to articulate principles for distributive justice?

8          Why does Nozick object to the idea of “distributive justice”? What alternative does he propose? Consider his 3 principles of “holdings” and the way in which they figure in his theory. What objections may be put to his theory?

9          Harsanyi, Rawls, Nozick and Nussbaum are all “liberals” to the extent that each regards human freedom as intrinsically valuable and of paramount importance. In what ways do their understanding of human freedom differ? In the course of answer explain the difference between “negative freedom” and “positive freedom.”

10       Why do Communitarians and advocates of “multi-culturalism” object to Liberalism? How can liberals respond to these objections?