1. For many ethical issues, a good place to start is to reflect on “common views” about the issues. Suppose you surveyed a range of people about the moral questions that these Chapters open with. What are some of the most common answers that would be given? What reasons would you often hear in favor of these answers? Are these reasons generally good reasons or not? Why?
2. Based on the readings about logic and arguments, explain (i) what an argument is, (ii) what makes arguments good or bad (e.g., explain the concepts of validity and soundness), and (iii) what one does to try to show that an argument is sound or unsound (e.g., explain the concept of a counterexample). If you have any other questions about what arguments are and how to identify and evaluate them, ask them here. We will be practicing identifying and evaluating arguments throughout the course.
3. Complete the moral theory building exercises above. What does your moral theory (or theories) look like? According to your theory(s), what is it about wrong actions that seem to make them wrong, and what is it about morally permissible/obligatory/good actions that make them like that? What follows from your theory (or theories) for how human beings should be treated? What follows for animals (and which animals)?
4. Which moral theory (or theories) that Rachels and Regan discuss seem best, i.e., most likely to identify the (approximate) truth about the nature of morally permissible and obligatory actions? Which seems worst, i.e., false? Why?
5. What observations do you have about the Prefaces, Introductions, and Prologs to each of the books on animal ethics? What strikes you as interesting, provocative, controversial and otherwise worthy of comment and reflection?
Of course, always feel free to raise any other questions, observations, criticisms and any other responses to the Chapter’s readings and issues.