Ethicist: It would be a mistake to say that just because someone is not inclined to do otherwise, she or he does not...

Leila on August 7, 2013

Ethicist

Completely lost ... ?????!!!!

7 Replies

Melody on August 7, 2013

Okay, what is the Ethicist trying to tell you? He wants you to see that just because someone isn't inclined to do wrong, doesn't mean that he does not deserve to be praised for doing what is right (as opposed to someone who resists a desire to do wrong). Our premise is: even though those who resist a desire to do wrong are considered especially virtuous, those who are not inclined to do wrong because they have eliminated all such desire are no less virtuous.

Answer choice (A) is incorrect because the Ethicist does not provide justification for it.

Answer choice (B) is CORRECT because the Ethicist is saying it is not sufficient to use the belief that people are considered especially virtuous if they successfully resist a desire to do wrong to conclude that those people deserve more praise. Thus, this assertion is insufficient to justify the claim that the argument concludes is false.

Answer choice (C) is incorrect because we never discuss the "primary obstacle to some people's having an adequate conception of virtue."

Answer choice (D) is incorrect because the ethicist does not say that the assessment is false, rather he merely points out that those who no longer have a desire to do wrong are no less virtuous.

Answer choice (E) is incorrect because the assessment does not serve as evidence for the conclusion

Try and slow down when the language gets abstract like this. Really break down the stimulus into its conclusion and premise. Don't hit the answer choices till you feel you understand what the argument is saying. Abstract language is strewn in to confuse you.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Leila on August 8, 2013

Thank you !!

jing jing on May 2 at 05:49PM

Hi
I am still lost. What exactly is the stimulus concluding? What are the premises? Thank you

Shunhe on May 3 at 03:32PM

Hi @jingjingxiao11111@gmail.com

This question is a bit abstract in nature and pretty confusingly worded. But let’s break it down bit by bit.

First clause: “It would be a mistake to say that just because someone is not inclined to do otherwise, she or he does not deserve to be praised for doing what is right”

What is this saying exactly? Well, it’s telling us that someone who does the right thing should be praised for it, even if they aren’t inclined to do otherwise. So the idea here is that there’s two types of people. Some people do the right thing, even though there’s reasons for them not to do it. For example, person A might not take a stolen wallet for themselves and instead turn it in to authorities, even though they might need the money themselves, which would incline them to not steal the money. Meanwhile, person B might turn in the wallet, but they do it without thinking about it—it’s just automatic for them, they have lots of money and it’s just the way they were raised. The ethicist here is saying that even though person B isn’t really making a “moral choice” that’s as difficult as the one person A makes, person B should still be praised for doing the right thing.

Second clause: “for although we do consider people especially virtuous if they successfully resist a desire to do what is wrong,”

Notice a couple of things here. The part starts off with “for,” which indicates that it supports what’s above. This suggests that the first clause is going to be our conclusion, which makes sense based on its content.

Now, this part is telling us that we think person A is especially virtuous, more so than person B. Why? Because person A had good reasons to not do “the right thing,” but still did it anyway (resisting a bad desire) whereas person B didn’t really engage in any kind of moral activity in the same sense with regards to their intentions, and so we think of person A as better.

Third clause: “they are certainly no less virtuous if they have succeeded in extinguishing all such desires.”

Now notice that the second clause followed the word “for” with “although,” which indicates a contrast is about to come. The contrast comes here. The “all such desires” refers to desires “to do what is wrong” in the previous sentence. And what the ethicist is saying here is that person B actually isn’t less virtuous than person A if they’ve succeeded in getting rid of the desire to steal the wallet entirely.

So now let’s reconstruct this argument:

Premise 1: We consider people especially virtuous if they successfully resist a desire to do what is wrong.
Premise 2: But, actually, a person isn’t less virtuous than another if they have succeeded in extinguishing all such desires (to do what is wrong).
Conclusion: It would be a mistake to say that just because someone is not inclined to do otherwise, he or she does not deserve to be praised for doing what is right.

So now the question is asking us what role premise 1 plays in the argument. And remember that premise 1 is there to set up a contrast; the ethicist concludes that a given claim is false, and premise 1 is supposedly what justifies that claim (that the ethicist thinks is false). So, as (B) states, premise 1 makes an observation that is insufficient to justify the claim that the argument concludes is false.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.

jing jing on May 6 at 02:13AM

Thank you so much shunhe! Your answers saved my studies! Thank you thank you!

Shunhe on May 27 at 08:51PM

Glad I could help!

Shunhe on May 27 at 08:51PM

Glad I could help!