philosophy exam 1 prelim questions

philosophy exam 1 prelim questions - Phil 2010 Rand Fall...

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Unformatted text preview: Phil 2010 Rand Fall 2010 Exam #1 The exam on Thursday will include short-answer questions, as well as two (2) essay questions. I will select the essay questions for Thursday from the following set of essay questions. Remember that the exam is open-book and open-note. Remember to write clearly and neatly if I can't read your writing, I can't give you a good grade and remember to give evidence and arguments for all your claims. The questions are not about you, but about the philosophers we're reading. Thus when you give reasons why, say, some argument is a bad one, those reasons should be reasons that are not personal reasons for you they should be reasons everyone can share (otherwise, they aren't really reasons for thinking what you think they're just excuses for having the opinions you have). 1. In the so-called "argument from design," William Paley makes a comparison between our thinking about complex man-made objects such as watches, and our thinking about complex natural things like animals and even the universe as a whole. He argues that just as we would correctly assume that something as complex and function-oriented as a watch must have been designed by someone, so we would correctly think that something as complex and function-oriented as an animal must also have been designed by someone, namely God. In the discussion of his "wager," Pascal encourages us to see a similarity between our thinking about betting--that is, our thinking about risks and rewards--and our thinking about God. More specifically, he encourages us to transfer the kind of reasoning process we would use in a casino to our decision- making about whether to believe in God (or to try to believe in God). Which of these two comparisons is a better one? What are their similarities? What are their major differences? What are the major flaws of each? Which one should people find convincing, if either? [Note: this last question is not the same as the question of which one you do in fact find more convincing.] 2. In the Meditations, Descartes offers two arguments that seem to lead to the conclusion that the world as we experience it may in fact not exist. The first of these is the "dream argument." According to this argument, any experience I could have of the world outside me is also possibly just a dream and thus not really an experience of the world. The second argument is the "evil demon argument." According to this argument, all my experience and indeed all my thinking may be manipulated by an evil demon so that it appears to me to be consistent and normal, but is really wholly false and illusory. But while these two arguments can seem to point to the same conclusion, they in fact are directed at slightly different conclusions. What are those different conclusions? Why does Descartes move from one argument and its conclusion (the dream argument) to another one (the evil demon argument)? Is one or the other of them a better argument? If so, which one, and why? If not, why not? 3. In his exposition of the causal theory of perception, Locke makes a famous distinction between primary and secondary qualities. What is this distinction? Why does he make it that is, how does this distinction help him lay out his causal theory of perception? What are some examples of primary vs. secondary qualities? Do you find this distinction convincing or compelling? Why or why not? 4. In the Euthyphro, Socrates asks Euthyphro to define the term `piety.' Socrates them complains about Euthyphro's first definition, saying that it is not the right kind of definition. But although Socrates doesn't think Euthyphro's second definition is a good one, he thinks it is at least of the right kind. What is Euthyphro's first definition? What does Socrates think is wrong with it that is, what does Euthyphro's first definition lack that is supplied by the second definition? Is Socrates right to reject Euthyphro's first definition for the reasons he rejects it? Are definitions of that kind good for anything, anywhere? What about the kind of definition Socrates wants are those definitions really useful for anything? Give some examples in your discussion. ...
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