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Ethics questions about Peter Singer “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” and Utilitarianism and Mill.

1. Explain Peter Singer’s argument. What is his conclusion, and what are the reasons he offers to support it? Do you think his argument is a good one? Why or why not?

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2. If you can prevent something bad from happening at a comparatively small cost to yourself, are you obligated to do so? Why or why not?

3. Are you acting immorally by buying a luxury car while others are starving? Why or why not?

4. Are you acting immorally by paying college tuition for your own children while other children have no opportunity for any schooling? Why or why not?

5. Do we have a moral obligation to try to alleviate extreme poverty in our own country before attempting to do so in other countries? Why or why not?

These questions are about Utilitarianism and Mill

6. On page 119, Mill writes, “Now such a theory of life excites in many minds, and among them in some of the most estimable in feeling and purpose, inveterate dislike. To suppose that life has…no higher end than pleasure…they designate as utterly mean and groveling, as a doctrine worthy only of swine”. What is the “theory of life” he is referring to? What is the criticism being leveled against it?

7. How does Mill respond to the Doctrine of the Swine objection described above? What is meant by different qualities of pleasure? How can one determine which of two pleasures is of a higher quality? What does Mill mean when he says, “it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied”? Do you agree with him?

8. Mill explains his view of utilitarianism by responding to a few objections that have been levied against the view. Explain the “too high for humanity” objection on page 122. How does Mill respond?

9.What is the “expediency” objection Mill describes on pages 123-4? What is Mill’s response?

10. What is the “no time to calculate” objection on pages 124-5? What is Mill’s response?

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