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Philosophy

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1. Suppose you had the option of doubling the total amount of happiness in the world by either doubling the happiness of existing people or doubling the number of people in the world. Is there any reason to prefer one over the other? Are they utilitarian reasons?
2. Suppose you are a soldier peering down the sight of a bazooka at an enemy tank with six innocent civilians strapped to the outside. Should you fire your bazooka knowing that you will probably kill all the civilians but may not stop the tank? Why or why not?
3. Should we try to reform criminals by erasing their memories? Should we try to reform criminals by changing their character? Is one method preferable to the other? Why or why not?
4. Are split-brain patients really two people in one skull? Are there any physical experiments we could conduct to determine whether two people are present? Describe any such experiments.
5. Is there a reliable test for determining whether any purported work of sacred scripture is truly the word of God? What is it? Does any work of sacred scripture pass that test? Would members of other religions agree?
6. Southern ministers before the Civil War used the Bible to defend the institution of slavery. With existence of Old Testament laws defending slavery and Paul’s statements telling slaves to obey their masters, how could you combat the Southern ministers’ argument?
7. The ultimate virtual reality machine would present a world so real that we couldn’t tell that it was fake. Can you know that you’re not plugged into an ultimate virtual reality machine right now? If not, what difference does it make?
8. According to existentialists, when is a choice authentic?

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