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Monday, December 15, 2003

Final: Ethical Theory

I woke up this morning at seven.

You know what? That seems surreal, and it will never happen again, so let me type it again, just because it's that unique: I intentionally (as in: not to throw up, die, etc...) woke up this morning at seven o'clock. To go take an exam I had spent a cumulative total of eighteen minutes studying for. Very much thanks go to Mike who allowed me to do this by pointing me in the right direction on the three pages I had to read of Rawls. As a historical note, those three consecutive pages of Rawls constitute the largest amount I read this whole semester for this class.

I drove into campus (despite it being something like six degrees.) and parked very illegally to cut the walk down. Plus, I had no intention of actually passing my exam, so if it turned out that I didn't know anything, I figured it would be easier to write "Essay one: Fuck it." and go home and go back to bed if my car was nearby. I got into the room, and realized something. Something which normally I only expect in a math exam. I realized that, sure, I didn't know anything, but... well... look at the competition, eh? Nobody knew anything. I just had to hope that the exam isn't graded on the "repeat shit she said in class" standard, which with her seems perfectly reasonable, since she grades based on some ethereal criteria. I think it involves chicken bones or something.

In any case, eight o'clock rolls around and we're told what the essays we have to do are. We have a choice between doing one essay or two. The two prompts are pretty straightforward (ie: dumb). The first is a question about Rawls and his three phases in the development of justice, and why Rawls isn't a utilitarian (he is.) The second question is: "Hume makes some arguemnts which are anti-rationalist. Choose one, and dispute it. Refer specifically to the role he delegates to reason." In other words: The test was offering me a dangerous choice. I could go with the first essay, and walk to a very easy A talking about the development from emotional to ideological justice and how Hume and Mill (and, incidentally, Frued and Piaget) fit into all of it. Or I could go with my insane, irrational hatred of all things Hume.

I don't think I have to tell you which one I went with.

This was a paper asking me to talk shit about Hume and his propensity to trivialize certainty. I didn't actually remember specifically which arguments she was referring to. I remembered one talked about a tree, so I went with that. I started with a page saying what she would expect: "Here's the argument Hume gives about how, if reason were the grounds for ethics, it has to be universalized, even to will-less and inanimate objects." Then I just steered the entire paper to where I could pointlessly attack Hume for the following:
1. Limiting reason to a descriptive capacity.
2. Setting up his premises (vis a vis emotion controlling reason) to preclude any argument one can concievably make about reason, since inferential arguments (as well as inductive) are impossible according to Hume. Despite the fact that he uses them. A lot.
3. Being fat. I realize this isn't really relevant, but I felt it necessary to point out that Hume is a chunky boy. I may have intimated that I thought he should have spent more time jogging.
4. Being Scottish. It's within the realm of possibility that I called him a hick on multiple occaisions.
5. The fact that Hume perpetually refers to the validity of sense-data in relation to the passions and the propinquity of morality to our presumptions, yet basically says that information resulting inferrentially from sense data and analytic truths are more persuesive than the direct experience of certain sense data when combined with definitional truth

This took the front and back of the sheets of an entire exam booklet, less one page which I had to do identifications on. While the professor may not appreciate the amount of malice I seem to have against Hume, I think I actually wrote an essay which she won't be able to justify giving less than an A. Unfortunately for me, she doesn't have to justify it, which is going to ultimately hurt me, since she generally doesn't appreciate any open attack on an argument, by a student.

Now I just have to finish my thoroughly mediocre paper on the applications of internal based v. externally based modes of moral thinking, and I will be done with this class for the semester... and I never once had to read or discuss Aristotle. I think, all in all, everything's coming up Greg.

cranked out at 10:12 AM | |

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