PHIL 4120: Professional Ethics

University of West Georgia

Fall 2010


Date: Wednesday November 3


·         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 I1 will consist of two short answer questions [40% of total test grade].


You will be given three short answer questions and required to answer two of them. 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 the Doctrine of Double Effect and illustrate it by applying it to a specific issue in medical ethics.


·         State the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing and illustrate it by applying it to a specific issue in medical ethics.


·         Explain the differences among passive euthanasia, active euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, and physician assisted dying.


·         Describe the three different criteria of personhood discussed in class.


·         Describe the two different meanings of the word “harm” discussed in class.



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


You will be given two discussion questions and required to answer one of them. Your answer 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 (where available), 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 one (and only one) of the issues listed below (a, b, c, or d) by considering what each of three normative ethical theories (Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics) implies about it. Does one of those three theories offer a superior way of dealing with the issue? Defend your answer.


a)      requests by competent, non-terminal patients to die

b)      allowing comatose or PVS patients to die

c)      assisted reproduction (excluding SCNT)

d)      human embryonic stem cell research


·         Discuss Rachels’ argument that passive and active euthanasia are morally equivalent and Haslett’s criticism of that argument. Does Haslett’s criticism succeed? Defend your answer.


·         Are we obligated to get the consent of a person before acting so as to bring about his or her conception by way of SCNT? Defend your answer.


·         Discuss Nielsen’s argument in support of (what he calls) a just health care system. Does Nielsen’s argument succeed? 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 about 30 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.