Final Exam Study Questions

  • The final is on Tuesday December 13, 11:30 - 2:30.  I don't think you'll need more than an hour or so, but you can have the whole time.
  • The final will be just like the midterm.  There will be 12 questions and you'll choose 10.  I will grade your first 10 answers, not more.  
  • The quesetions will be similar to those below, or sometimes just the same. If you're ready to answer the questions below, then you're ready for the final.
  • Make sure you make good use of blog material and powerpoints.  You should also have lecture notes.  Go back to the readings and your homework, as needed.
  • You may have received 100s on homework even if your answer wasn't quite right.  So don't assume if you write the same answer on the exam you'll get full credit.
  • Studying in groups--it's helpful but only up to a point. You have to be able to explain things yourself!
  • Make sure you understand logic basics, like how to set up an argument with premises and a conclusion.  
  • I will have extra office hours next week on Thursday 12-2  and Friday 1-3.  If those times don't work for you let me know and we can make an appointment.
  • You should come to office hours having done your best to find the material relevant to each question and to understand that material.  I will help if at that point you still don't know how to answer certain questions.  
  1. What is hard determinism?  How do hard determinists reason from the assertion of determinism to the claim that people are never free?  How do they reason from the assertion that people are never free to the claim that people can never be blamed or praised, no matter what they do?
  2. Think about the movie The Manchurian Candidate as a hard determinist would.  Which of the choices in the movie are free?  Which choices are the characters responsible for?  Explain your answer.
  3. Soft determinists claim that all choices are determined but some are also free.  That sounds like an outright contradiction, but they think it is not.  How does Susan Wolf try to convince us that a choice can be both determined and free?  Explain her analysis with the help of examples.
  4. Think about the move The Manchurian Candidate as Susan Wolf would.  Which choices in the movie would she regard as being determined and free?  Which would she regard as determined and not free?  Explain your assessment.
  5. According to hard determinists, if a person could not have done otherwise, then it inevitably follows that they are not morally responsible.  Harry Frankfurt tries to show this is not actually inevitable, using the case of Black and Jones4.  Either present the Black and Jones4 case or present the case we devised by creating an alternate ending to The Manchurian Candidate.  Discuss why it is that Frankfurt sees the protagonist in these scenarios as unable to do otherwise but still morally responsible.
  6. What is the position on free will known as "Libertarianism" (not to be confused with Nozick's Libertarianism)?  How does Chisholm challenge the claim that every choice is determined by past events?  What does he think is going on when someone makes a free choice?  Does he think all of our choices are free?
  7. What is an a priori argument for the existence of God?  What is an a posteriori argument for the existence of God?  Why is the Ontologal Argument (all versions) a priori?  Why is the Cosmological Argument (all versions) a posteriori?
  8. Very simply state the Ontological Argument, in your own words. Make sure you number the premises and conclusion.  Now circle the premise you consider most problematic.  Make an argument against that premise.
  9. Explain Aquinas's two versions of the Cosmological Argument.  How is the Kalam Cosmological Argument different from those two versions?
  10. Peter Millican has many objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  What are the two best ones?  What is the worst one?
  11. According to Paley's Teleological Argument, is there anything problematic about the idea that a stone has been sitting in a field forever, and had no creator?  Is there anything problematic about the idea that a watch has been sitting in a field forever, and had no creator?  If they're both problematic, why is that so?  If one is problematic and the other isn't, why is that so?
  12. Arguably Paley's Teleological Argument is obsolete and was rendered obsolete by Darwin's theory of evolution.  Explain why someone might say that.
  13. Explain how the Fine Tuning Argument goes.  One of White's points in favor of the Fine Tuning Argument is that we need to explain why the constants are hospitable to life.  Why do we need to explain it?  In what sense is the multiverse theory supposed to eliminate the need for an explanation?
  14. What are some of Carroll's best arguments against the Fine Tuning Argument?
  15. Plantinga says it's fine to believe in God even if you lack a good argument because belief in God is "properly basic".  What does he mean by this?  
  16. Does Pasacal have an argument for the existence of God or some other means of trying to get us to believe?  What's his means of persuasion?
  17. Present the argument from evil, labelling the premises and conclusion.  Theists have responded by constructing "theodicies".  What is a theodicy?
  18. Explain the free will theodicy.  An atheist responding to the free will theodicy might say .... what?  Come up with the most persuasive response you can.
  19. Explain two theodicies that have nothing to do with free will.  What might an atheist say against them?
  20. New question (12/5)!!!  You should be able to explain how the crew of the Hermes (in The Martian) would decide whether to save Mark Watney (Matt Damon) if they thought about it along the lines of Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, Virtue Ethics, and Nietzsche's anti-ethics.
  21. Revised (12/5).  Frankfurt is unimpressed by arguments for egalitarianism.  What are the arguments he considers?  Sufficientarianism is Frankfurt's own position.  What does that mean?
  22. Rawls thinks we should imagine principles of justice being chosen by people in "the original position."  Explain what he means by that.
  23. What principles does Rawls think people would choose if they were in the original position, focusing just on principles that have to do with the distribution of wealth.  What are some practices that would be considered unjust, under his principles?
  24. Explain Nozick's view on when a distribution of wealth is just.  In what sense is his theory "non-historical" and "unpatterned"?  What are some examples of views that are both "historical" and "patterned"?
  25. Nozick says that "liberty upsets patterns," using the Wilt Chamberlain example to make his point.  Does he think it's just or unjust when liberty upsets patterns?  Explain.

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