Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Nozick On Love

Reading: The whole Nozick article

1. What do you think it means to say “I love you”. What is the difference between liking someone and loving them? What does Nozick say on pg 231 is common to all love?

2. What does he say about infatuation? Do you think its right?

3. What is the importance of the ‘we’ to Nozick? Do you/have you ever think/thought of yourself as part of a ‘we’? Who with? What two features on pg 232 does Nozick describe as features of the we? Do they apply to ALL loving romantic relationships?

4. Nozick makes several claims around the bottom of pg 232 and the top of pg 233 re: how we act when in a romantic relationship. How convincing do you find these points?

5. What two ways does he suggest (bottom of pg 233) we can relate to the we? What are the implications (if any) to the view that most men have one way whilst most women have another?

6. Nozick says “each person in a romantic we wants to possess the other completely”. What does this mean? Do you agree?

7. What does it mean to be loved for yourself? If you aren’t loved for any features/characteristics of yourself, what are you loved for?

8. Consider, ‘love does not alter when it alteration finds' - often quoted good old shakespeare. Is this right? Nozick says love is “not unalterable”, when does he think it can alter?

Why, and when, do we fall out of love?

9. Is Nozick too idealistic? Look at pages 236-7 when consdiering your answer

10. Nozick says that “the desire to form a we … includes a desire for that person to form one with you yourself and with no other”. Does this mean only monogamous relationships are loving? What do you think?

11. On pg 238 Nozick says “non romantic friends do not share an identity”. Why does he say this? What characterises friendship? Is he right?

12. Society, and Nozick, prizes romantic love. Why? Should we?

Friday, 8 April 2011

May 5th - Singer and Greater Moral Evil

Reading: The whole Singer article

1. Whats Singer's main thesis?
2. What principle (often called the greater moral evil principle) does he set out (on pg 231) in order to aruge for his thesis? How does he think it supports his conclusion?
3. What other assumptions does he make? Can they be defended?
4. What is the objection considered on pg 236? How does Singer respond?
5. What is Sidgwick and Urmson's objection? How does Singer respond?
6. According to Singer on pg 239 we should not assume that giving to private charities will discourage goverment aid. Why does he make this claim? What conclusions does it allow him to draw? Is it a valid claim to be making?
7. What is the strong version and moderate version of the Greater Moral Evil Principle (look at pg 241)? Which version does Singer need to make his arugment valid?
8. Does Singer think philosophy has a role to play in public affairs? Do you?
9. To what extent are we morally required to help others?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

31st March - Just War and Terrorism

Reading; Boyle Just War Doctrine and the Military Response to Terrorism

First, take some time to think about war and terrorism. What is war? Which (if any) wars do you think were/are just? What links them? What is terrorism? Is it possible to have a ‘war on terrorism’? Is terrorism ever the right thing?

1. What is Boyle’s main thesis (idea). Try and set it out as simply as you can as follows;

Premise A

Premise B

Premise C

Which all together lead to


Think about how the premises lead to the conclusion.

2. What kind of actions does Boyle take JWT (Just War Theory) to be evaluating? Is this too wide/narrow?

3. What is terrorism? What is its intent, and who does it harm, according to Boyle? Can you think of actions we call terrorism which don’t fit this bill?

4. What are Aquinas’ 3 conditions for just war? What are the reasons for each?

5. Why doesn’t the UN count as proper authority? What do you make of this claim?

6. Does Aquinas see just war as punitive? Why? What do you make of this? What does modern Catholic thought say? Why?

7. Why, according to Aquinas, does just war and proper authority alone not make a just war? Can you think of any cases like this?

8. Why/how does a just war aim at peace?

9. Do we have authority to make war on terrorists? What if such a war would involve border crossings?

10. Would a war against terrorism have to be to punitive, or could it be defensive?

11. What would be a just war aim against terrorism? What wouldn’t?

12. Does a just war have to be a last resort? What do you think?


Bristol's online tutorial for referencing;

In particular look at either;


It doesnt matter in philosophy which you choose.

Should the tutorial prove tiresome, some info;



*Open the link to 'quick reference guide'*

Monday, 21 March 2011

24th March - Rousseau

Reading – Book One and Book Two of the Rousseau


Book One

1. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”. What does R mean here? How are we in chains?

2. What is the general will?

3. What are R’s views on property? How do they compare to Locke’s?

Book Two

4. Under what circumstances can the general will appear to go bad? What do you think of this argument?

5. How does the sovereign entail equality?

6. Why do we need laws of justice?

7. Who makes the laws? (The answer is in the middle of pg 303 – but what does R mean by this?)

Can laws be unjust?

8. What qualities should the legislator have? Is this realistic?

9. What methods can the legislator use? (See pg 304) Why?

10. What should be the goals of every system of legislation? What do you make of this claim?

Monday, 14 March 2011

17th March - Aristotle


Please read Book Two of the Aristotle, and read the Louden. You dont need to read the Nussbaum.


1. In chaphter one he says moral good is the child of what? Why?
2. In chaphter two (esp pg 148) he first offers the doctrine of the mean. What is the arugment here? What do you think of it?
3. In chaphter 4 he defends himself against a circularity charge. What is the arugment put against Aristotle here? How does he think he can avoid it? Can you see the realtion between this arugment and some found in the Louden?
4. In chaphter 7 he talks more about the doctrine of the mean. What are his examples? Can you think of any counterexamples?

1. According to Louden (pg 227), how would a utilitarian define virtue? How about a denontological theorist?
2. What notion does Anscombe say we can do without in ethics? What do yoiu think of this claim? Does it make sense?
3. "The concept of the moral ought... seems now to be explicated in terms of what the good person would do". Read the arugment surronding this passage (pg 228). Should ought be defined in terms of virtues or virtues in terms of ought?
4. At the top of page 229, what does L claim is the central question for viertue ethics? Why is this supposed to be a problem for virtue ethics?
5. What is the 'tragic humans' objection? Do we punish otherwise good people who make mistakes? Why? Should we?
6. What is the charachter change objection? Can you think of any counterarugments? (Can a person change so much in their morals that they become a completely serprate person to who they were before? Would this line help the virtue ethicist?)
7. Wht claim it is sometimes "acts rather than agents which ought to be the primary focus of moral evaluation"? Is this right?
8. Look at the arugment in the middle of the first coloum on og 232. What is the externalist claim? Do our actions define us?
9. What is the 'direct internalist route' on pg 232? Why (according to L) wont it work? If niether the externalist or internalist route works, what does this mean for virtue ethics?
10. Why does L claim that virtue ethics is concerned with "style over substance'? What does he mean? Is it what you do or how you do it that matters?
11. At the bottom of page 11 he claims "things have gotten more complex". What rests on this claim? Do you agree?

Monday, 7 March 2011

10th March - Locke

2nd Treatise, Book II, Chaphters 1 - 5


1. In section 6 Locke give us the law which governs the state of nature. What is that law?
What is the arugment for it?

2. In that state of nature, who has the right to punish people who break this law? What do you think of this claim?

3. According to the arugments found on page 11, can we punish an alien for breaking the laws of a country he/she visits? Why?

4. What is the state of war? According to pg 16, how do we avoid it?
What do you have the right to do to a man who "makes war upon [you]"? Why?

5. According to page 15, section 19, what can I do to a theif? Why? Are you convinced by this arugment?

6. God gives "the world to men in common" yet we have individual property which "does not depend on the express consent of all commoners". What is Locke's arugment for this? What do you think of the arugment?

7. According to arugments around the bottome of page 20, when does our claim to property end? Do you think is right? Can you think of any counterexamples?

8. Locke claims re: land that there is "more than the yet unprovided could use'? Is this true? Is it true of all natural resources, eg/fossil fuels? How does this affect Locke's arugment?

9. Locke claims that "it is labour indeed that puts the difference of vaule on everything'. Why does he think this? Can you think of anything which we place great vaule on which takes relatively little labour to produce?

10. If labour puts the difference of vaule on things, then why, according to the arugments on pg 28 and 29, do we place high vaule on diamonds/gold/money? What do you think of these arugments?