Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 28, 2014

Daily Quiz

April 28
[EXAM NOTE: The 3d exam for sec. #13 is scheduled for Monday, May 5, 3:30 pm. If any of you from #12 would like to join us on the 5th you're welcome to do so. I'll post a study guide soon. The extra credit DQ will be: "Who is your (new?) favorite philosopher? What did you learn about him/her this semester that you found most appealing?"
Remember, unless you're exempt or partially exempt (and presenting your final report), you must submit a written final report (in either hard copy or blog post(s) by Wednesday April 30.]

1. What British philosopher created a runaway train (or "trolley") thought experiment, in part to elicit our intuitions on the ethical relevance of utilitarianism? OR, What American philosopher proposed the "Fat Man" scenario?

2. What is the Law of Double Effect? OR, What kind of harm is unacceptable, according to this "law"?

3. Which philosopher came up with the "Violinist" thought experiment? OR, For what is the violinist intended to be an analogy?

4. What book by John Rawls, published in 1971, was "quickly declared one of the most influential books of the 20th century"? OR, What did Rawls say we must do, to make our existence "bearable"? OR, What was Rawls' thought experiment called, and what was its central premise?

5. To what 19th century English political philosopher does Jonathan Wolff compare Rawls, saying there has been no one else of comparable stature?

6. What former Presidential aide interviews philosophers and intellectuals on public television? OR, Who said "mythology is everywhere" and advised following "your own track, kid, and not what your guru tells you"?

1.LH 223   2.224   3.226   4.229-230   5.PB248   6.AP 301-2, 307, 310

  1. DQ) Do you think it is acceptable to sacrifice one life to save more?
    (DQ) What do you think about the saying "life isn't fair?"
    (FQ) What book did John Rawls write through 20 years of hard thinking? A Theory of Justice
    (FQ) Did John Rawls believe that excellence should be rewarded? No
  2. FQ: What was the type of philosophy that John Rawls focused on? Political
    DQ: What are your views on the Difference Principle?
    Link: John Rawls on Justice article: http://people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/ethics/johnrawl.htm
  1. FQ: What do the "disciples" of John Rawls call themselves?
    FQ: What are the "Two" Principles of Justice?

    DQ: Do you believe that wealth should be distributed through society in a specific way?

    LINK: http://www.ohio.edu/people/piccard/entropy/rawls.html
    This is an outline The Theory of Justice by John Rawls.
  2. FQ: What field did Bill Moyers work in?
    DQ: "It's only when a man tames his own demons that he becomes the king of himself if not of the world." Does a man ever become king of his own world?
FQ: Who did Foot use in one of the parable about pushing him over a bridge to stop the train before it hit the workers because he heavy enough to stop it? Judith Jarvis Thomson (LH p223-24)

FQ: What is the name of John Rawls book that he wrote in an dry academic style and was meant for Professors? "A Theory of Justice" (LH 229)

FQ: John Rawls 'Two Principles of Justice' are ___________ and _________ with one being split into two parts making three which is _____________. 'Liberty Principle', 'Fair Opportunity Principle', 'Difference Principles' (PB p239)

DQ: Do you know if you would be about to sacrifice one life for many?
Here is a video with no sound. A woman falls on the tracks. Everyone is trying to flag the oncoming train to stop, but then one brave man jumps down and save her at the last minute. 

FQ: What idea states that predictable bad side effects of an action with a good intention can be acceptable, but deliberate harm is not? (Law of Double Effect, LH pg. 224)

DQ: What would you do in "the fork in the tracks" thought experiment? The Large Man thought experiment? The Lever thought experiment?

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i2-Dj1e2wM


  1. Jordan Peffley
    Professor Oliver
    PHIL 1030
    John Rawls
    John Bordley Rawls was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1921. He was the second of five sons to William Lee Rawls and Anna Abell Stump. Rawls just attended school in Baltimore for a few years before transferring to an Episcopalian preparatory school in Connecticut called Kent. Upon graduation in 1939, Rawls went on to Princeton University, where he first became attracted to philosophy. He received his BA in philosophy from Princeton in 1943. Shortly after graduating from college, he entered the army and served as an infantryman in the Pacific theater during World War II, touring New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan, and witnessing the consequences of the bombing of Hiroshima. After that occurrence, Rawls turned down the proposition to become an officer and left the army as a private in 1946.
    After his discharge from the military, Rawls returned to Princeton, where he received his doctorate in philosophy in 1949. In that year, he married Margaret Fox, to whom he remained married until his death. He got his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1950, and then he taught there until 1952, until he got a job offer from Oxford. He was an instructor at Oxford, Cornell, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before being hired by Harvard in 1962, where he worked until he retired in 1991. Rawls experienced the first of several strokes in 1995, which severely hindered his capability to keep on working. Even so, he was still able to finish a work entitled The Law of Peoples, which includes the most complete statement of his views on international justice. He died from heart failure in 2002.
    Rawls’s most talked about work is his theory of a just liberal society, called justice as fairness. Rawls focused on developing a theory of social justice that would result in a well-ordered society. According to Rawls, justice is the greatest possible moral standard, and it is what a society’s main establishments should be ordered around. He was concerned with distributive justice, or the distribution of what he called the “social surplus,” which is all the things we get only through working together in a society. Rawls believed that if what he called the “basic structure” of a society is just, than society will be just. “Basic structure” is something such as the Constitution, something which sets guidelines for society.

  2. Rawls thought that in order to ascertain what types of social institutions are just, we need to figure out what type of social structure would be chosen by rational people who are free from prejudice and partiality. His method of determining what those rational people without prejudice would choose was through a thought experiment. In this experiment, he has us visualize people in an “Original Position,” behind a “veil of ignorance.” These are terms he used. Behind this veil, people are stripped of their awareness of potentially biasing identifying features such as age, race, talents, abilities, or gender. When they have no knowledge of what their position will be in that society, they should then choose what society will be like. In other words:
    Imagine that you had the task of determining how to divide a cake fairly among a group of individuals. What rule or method should govern the cutting? A simple one would be to let the person who does the cutting receive the last piece. This would lead that person to cut all pieces as equally as possible in order to receive the best remaining share. (Kay)
    Rawls states that in a comparable way, the rational person would only choose to create a society that would at least match to these two rules:
    1) Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with similar liberty for others.
    (Liberty Principle)
    2) Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:
    a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged
    b) attached to positions and offices equally open to all.
    (Difference Principle)
    The Liberty Principle is Kantian in that it calls for respect for persons as a lowest standard for all just institutions. While all persons may be morally equivalent, in real life there are considerable personal differences between individuals that, under circumstances of freewill, will lead to social and economic disparities.
    The Difference Principle allows such inequalities and insinuates that it will be to the benefit of all (similar to the utility principle). The Liberty Principle always has precedence over the Difference Principle, and it does not allow us to trade off rights and liberties for greater equalities.
    On another note, Rawlsian people are free in that they take accountability for planning their own lives. Citizens are equal, Rawls says, in the way that they have their own responsibility of participating in social collaboration over a whole life. Citizens may have better or slighter skills, talents, and powers than each other, but differences besides this, such as gender or race, have no effect on citizens’ primary status of equality.
    Rawlsian citizens are not only free and equal, they are also reasonable and rational. The idea that citizens are reasonable is comparable to political liberalism. Reasonable citizens have the capability to live by fair terms of cooperation, even at the cost of their own interests, provided that others are also willing to do so. Rawls calls this reasonableness the capacity for a sense of justice. Citizens are also considered rational: they have the capacity to chase and modify their own idea of what is precious in human life. Rawls calls this the capacity for a conception of the good. Together, these fundamental capacities are the two moral powers.

  3. There are a few problems that people have with Rawls’ idea. For one, people argue that an “unbiased rational person” doesn’t make sense, because our talents, abilities, religions, ethnicities, and moral codes make us who we are. They argue that:
    1) Rawls’ rational beings wouldn’t be human, and
    2) his whole idea is impossible because we do have knowledge and opinions.
    Another issue is that people say Rawls’ understanding of justice is based on seeing society as a set of solitary individuals. They may be working together, but only out of necessity. People argue that Rawls recognizes justice as arising out of contending assertions between individuals who are unconcerned with each other’s wellbeing, and must be forced to be just by just institutions.
    John Rawls was, and remains to this day, one of the most influential figures in the world of political philosophy. His ideas concerning justice as fairness helped shape philosophers to come.

    Works Cited
    • "John Rawls Biography." Biographybase. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
    • "John Rawls." Philosophy Index. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.
    • Wenar, Leif. "John Rawls." Stanford University. Stanford University, 25 Mar. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
    • Kay, Charles. "Justice as Fairness." Wofford. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .
    • "Rawls, John." Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam Research, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. .