January 2009

MA Comprehensive Exam in Ethics
January 2009
You have three hours to complete the following three questions. This is a “closed book” exam:
please do not consult any online source or open any documents (other than the one in which you
are writing your answers) during your exam. Please save your exam as a Microsoft Word
document and, at the end of the exam time, email it to yaworski@binghamton.edu or copy it onto
a memory stick provided by the proctor. Names will be removed from the exams by Melanie
Yaworski for “blind” grading.
1) Both Mill and Hume have addressed the role of the “sentiments” (Hume) or “the social
feeling of mankind” (Mill) in their moral theories. How do these two considerations
ground Hume’s and Mill’s conceptions of moral motivation? For Mill, what is the
relationship between the concerns about utility and “the feeling of justice”?
2) Relying on what Kant says in the Groundwork, give the most philosophically
sympathetic answer you can to the following question:
Kant apparently believed that if you were hiding an innocent person in your basement,
and a known murderer asked you whether this person was in your basement, you would
be morally required not to lie.
Why would someone who is so clearly smart think such a thing?
3) Please offer a Nietzschean diagnosis of how the errors of philosophy and religion
(Christianity in particular) originated and have interacted. Please also offer a specific
description of the process of transvaluation, how Nietzsche hopes to effect it, and what
problems it will solve.