Shorty topics #4

Here are the new (week #4) “shorty” topics; please do one of these. These are due by email Sunday night, September 30th. As always, send to Bonnie if you’re registered for PHI 632 and to Ron if you’re registered for PHI 652. And more information is on the Shorties Page.

  1. In chapter 4, Gilbert uses the contrast between Adolph Fischer and George Eastman to make a point about a common mistake people make when attempting to predict happiness. What is the mistake, and do you think it helps to explain or illuminate the example of Fischer and Eastman? Why or why not?
  2. Gilbert claims that we “fill” in the future assessment of how much we’ll like something in something like the way vision “fills in” the blind spot in the eye, or areas in the periphery of vision. What do you think are the best (most accurate and illuminating) and worst (most misleading) consequences of taking this parallel seriously?
  3. What are Griffin’s arguments against hedonism, as recounted by Sumner? Could Bentham or Mill defend hedonism against these arguments? How?
  4. Sumner says that he is looking for “something in between”. In between what two things? What’s the best reason for thinking that there is something in between in the way he thinks, or the best reason for resisting that idea?
  5. In the middle of page 9, Sumner accuses Griffin of a confusion. What is that confusion supposed to be? Does Summer’s criticism seem right? Why or why not?
  6. One of Sumner’s main criticisms of a desire theory of happiness is it implies that we can be benefited by occurrences we never experiences, such as those that occur after we die. Is that right? Defend or rebut this criticism.
  7. What bit of data reported on by Railton do you think has the largest impact on what your view of happiness (or well-being, or whatever)? Why should it have such an impact?
  8. Explain how Sumner uses discounting to resolve the question of whether the wife was or was not happy during the years when she was being deceived. Are you persuaded by his account? Should you be? Why, or why not?