Phil 205 S14: Final Exam Prompt

For the final exam you will need to bring a blue book (the large 8 1/2" by 11" size) or regular note paper, as well as something to write with. The exam will consist of two in-class essays. Each essay should have an introduction with a thesis statement, and a conclusion.

Essay 1: In the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons (pp. 323-330), Justice Kennedy makes reference to an earlier case, Atkins v. Virginia 536 US 304 (2002), that dealt with the execution of the mentally retarded. Based on Kennedy's discussion of the case and our discussion of issues surrounding the death penalty, write a 2-4 page paper in which you investigate the constitutionality of executing the mentally retarded. In answering this question be sure to discuss the following issues:
  1. How does the Court determine that it is unconstitutional to execute the mentally retarded?
  2. What do the four theories of punishment discussed in class say about the permissibility of executing the mentally retarded?
  3. What do you think of this issue?
Essay 2: In our discussion of Roe v. Wade we talked a great deal about the concept of moral status. Write a 2-4 page paper in which you answer the following questions:
  1. What do you think are the sufficient conditions for granting an entity moral status? Why?
  2. Under this conception of moral status, are there non-human persons? Human non-persons?
  3. What does this conception of moral status say about the permissibility of abortion?
  4. What does this conception of moral status say about our duties or obligations to non-human animals?