PHIL 4120: Professional Ethics

University of West Georgia

Fall 2010


Date: Friday September 17


·         This test will be worth 20% of your total course grade. This is a timed test; you will have 50 minutes to complete the test.   

·         The test will begin promptly at the official start time of class. It is important that you be in your seat and prepared to begin at the official start time. If you arrive late for the test, you will not be given extra time to finish.

·         See my online test archive for examples of past tests in other courses:


You are required to provide your own blue book for the test. Blue books are mini notebooks designed especially for writing tests. They are available from the UWG Bookstore and at the cart in the atrium of the TLC. They come in two sizes: small and large. Small should be large enough, unless you have really large handwriting, in which case you may want to use a large bluebook.





Section I will consist of definitions [10% of total test grade]. I will give you a list of five terms and phrases to define. Typically, only a sentence or two is necessary for a satisfactory answer. The terms and phrases will come from the following list:


·         philosophy

·         inquiry

·         ethics

·         normative ethics

·         normative

·         descriptive

·         meta-ethics

·         applied ethics

·         obligatory

·         supererogatory

·         morally neutral

·         utilitarianism

·         consequentialism

·         ethical egoism

·         deontology

·         categorical imperatives

·         virtue ethics

·         empirical

·         black-letter law

·         act utilitarianism

·         rule utilitarianism

·         epistemic

·         paternalism

·         autonomy

·         plea bargain

·         perjury

·         begging the question



Your definitions should as be as detailed, clear and precise as possible. For example, the following is not an adequate definition of the term "a priori": "independent of experience." This would get you partial credit, but not full credit. A much better definition is this: "An a priori statement is one that can be known to be true or false independent of sense experience, for example, ‘All bachelors are unmarried’ and ‘Triangles have three sides.’"



Section II will consist of short answer questions [30% of total test grade].


You will be given three short answer questions and allowed to choose two to answer. Your answers to these questions should be as detailed, clear and precise as possible. Typically, a paragraph of about five to seven sentences is sufficient for a satisfactory answer. The questions will be drawn from the following list:


·         Explain natural law theory and what, according to Milde, it implies about legal ethics.


·         Explain legal positivism and what, according to Milde, it implies about legal ethics.


·         Explain critical legal studies and what, according to Milde, it implies about legal ethics.


·         Explain and give examples to illustrate the two senses of “professional” distinguished by Wasserstrom.


·         Explain the distinction between inquiry and advocacy, and then explain why that distinction is relevant to the practice of law.





Section III will consist of one discussion question [60% of total test grade].


You will be given two discussion questions and allowed to choose one to answer. Your answers should be as detailed, clear and precise as time allows. In other words, tell me everything you know about the question asked. If you omit something that is relevant to the question, I will assume that you do not know the material you are omitting.


I expect your essay to integrate material from class discussions, the online lecture notes, and your reading. It may be appropriate to include relevant facts and statistics, but the bulk of your essay should concern the ethical aspects of the issues raised. Your answer should also include your own view of the issue at hand and a reasoned defense of that view.


The purpose of this question is to test (1) your understanding and memory of the material covered in class and (2) your ability to engage in original thought about that material. The majority of the grade you get on your essay question will be based on requirement (1); but for full credit, I will require that you state and defend your own position(s) on the issue at hand, thus fulfilling requirement (2).


·         Discuss EITHER Milde’s view that neither deontology nor “consequentialism” is sufficient for legal ethics OR Aristotle’s approach to virtue ethics and the way that Milde applies this way of thinking within the context of legal ethics. Is Milde right? Defend your answer.


·         Discuss Richard Wasserstrom’s views on role-defined behavior/reasoning and moral behavior/reasoning. Is Wasserstrom right to be worried about the alleged tension between these two types of reasoning? Defend your answer.


·         Discuss Monroe Freedman’s argument that lawyers are sometimes obligated to be other than honest to the court. Your discussion should include a detailed explanation of at least two of Freedman’s “three hardest questions.” Is Freedman right? Defend your answer.



By requiring that you answer one of these essay questions, I am assessing your ability to engage in informed moral reasoning about the issue at hand. In studying for this portion of the test, I recommend that you practice composing essays that explain the arguments and other moral considerations relevant to each issue and that incorporate relevant facts (from the lecture notes and/or the textbook) where appropriate.


I expect that you will spend between 30 and 35 minutes on this essay during the 50 minutes you will have to take the test. I realize that, for some essay questions on this study guide, we may have covered more material than you can address in that length of time. So in preparing for the test, you should select which arguments, moral issues, and relevant facts you plan to discuss while writing your answers.




It is very unwise to study simply by reading through the lecture notes and textbook again and again and then to attempt to compose your answers “on the fly” while taking the test. In preparing to take the test, you should actually practice taking the test by writing your definitions, short answers, and essays as much as possible. The efficacy of this study method, which requires that you put away your books and notes and engage in active recall of the course material, has been demonstrated by recent psychological research; see David Glenn, “Close the Book. Recall. Write It Down,” Chronicle of Higher Education 55 (34): May 1, 2009 (available online through GALILEO, accessible via the UWG Library website).



Please don’t hesitate to talk to me if you have any questions about the test.