PHH 2063  Spring 2015  Dr. Hauptli  Sample Final Exam Questions

Copyright 2015 Bruce W. Hauptli

The examination will be an in-class objective essay exam.  It will be designed to assess the students’ understanding of the philosophical theories, positions, topics, and methodologies studied.  The following sample questions are examples of the kinds of questions I will be asking and they are distributed in advance of the exam so that you have an opportunity to organize your thoughts and integrate the readings and lectures around sample questions designed to indicate what your are expected to have mastered.  The list of questions is far longer than a reasonable examination could be, and I will ask between two and three such questions on the examination itself.  You will be asked to be as complete as you can in writing essays in answer such questions.  While there is no “length requirement” for the examination, the questions and exam will be designed so that the average student in this class should need to spend most of the allowed time actively writing.  Short answers are unlikely to be sufficiently detailed to earn high grades, and mere outlines or lists (of terms, principles, theories, etc.) do not provide sufficient explanation—they will not convince me that you understand the relevant material.  As the questions clearly indicate, I expect you to explain specific points in answering the questions, and an essay that does not address these points is inadequate.  Please review the following link on the Course Web-Site for additional guidelines regarding my expectations for exam answers: Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli

The exam will be a closed-book, closed-notes exam, and you will not be allowed to consult dictionaries or other reference texts.  It will be on Friday, May 1 from 8:00-9:00.   

1. Explain Hobbes' reasons for maintaining that human beings should be willing to submit themselves to an absolute sovereign.  In answering this question explain what human beings are like according to Hobbes, what conditions are like when individuals are outside a civil society, how he defines `good’ and `bad’ there, why individuals are supposed to be willing to give up the extensive liberty they have in a state of nature, clarify the relationship between meaningful (valid) agreements (or contracts) and coercive power (or force), clarify whether or not the sovereign is a contractee, clarify what Hobbes means by "laws of nature," and explain whether there are any rights which egoists will not surrender to the sovereign (and why). 

2. Explain Anselm's ontological argument.  Indicate how the argument goes and what it is supposed to prove.  In answering the question, clarify what "necessary existence" is (by contrasting this sort of existence with the "other" kinds), the distinction between "exists in the understanding" and "exists in reality," and clarify Anselm's use of `greater'.

3. In his “First Meditation” Descartes clarifies his reasons for skepticism, and in his “Second Meditation” he explains why we need not accept the skeptics' view that we know nothing.  Clarify both the arguments for skepticism and against it as Descartes gives them.  In answering this question, clearly explain what it is which he claims to know (as his first secure knowledge claim), how secure he takes this knowledge to be, what kind of thing he knows himself to be, and how his knowledge survives the various doubts he offered in his “First Meditation.” 

4. Clarify Descartes' argument for the existence of a deity (in his "Third Meditation").  In clarifying that argument, delineate the main points he relies upon, what his idea of a deity amounts to, what principle he appeals to in explaining how this idea came to be in his mind, relate why he believes he is not the cause of the idea of a deity, clarify why he believes only that deity could be the cause of this idea, and explain the role of "the light of reason" in his argument.  In your answer you should also indicate how his argument is supposed to dispose of the possibility of an all-powerful deceiver.  

5. Compare and contrast the arguments offered by Anselm and Descartes for the existence of a deity.  Clarify how each of the arguments goes, and what each is supposed to prove.  In clarifying Anselm’s argument, discuss what it is supposed to prove, what “necessary existence” is (by contrasting this sort of existence with the “other” kinds), discuss the distinction between “exists in the understanding” and “exists in reality,” and clarify Anselm’s use of ‘greater’.  In clarifying Descartes’ argument, delineate the main points he relies upon, what his idea of a deity amounts to, what principle he appeals to in explaining how this idea came to be in his mind, relate why he believes he is not the cause of the idea of a deity, clarify why he believes only that deity could be the cause of this idea, and explain the role of “the light of reason” in his argument.  In your answer you should also indicate how his argument is supposed to dispose of the possibility of an all-powerful deceiver . 

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File last revised on: 04/03/2015