PHH 3402  British Empiricism  Spring 2015  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 which 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. 

The final exam will be on Wednesday, April 29 from 10:15-11:15.

1. Berkeley maintains there are no physical substances.  Explain what it is he is denying, why he denies it, and recount at least three of his arguments against physical substance.  In your answer you should indicate what does exist (according to him), what his view of the relationship of ideas and minds is, what the distinction between real and imaginary ideas is, what sort of relationship our “real” ideas have to one another, and what sort of proof he offers of God’s existence. 

2. What does Berkeley mean when he says “esse est percipi” (to be is to be perceived)?  That is, what arguments does he employ in rejecting the notion of physical substance?  In answering this question discuss at least three of these arguments, and indicate why he rejects the notion of physical substance.  Also indicate what analysis of “things” he offers in place of the materialists’ physical object account, what he means by “ideas,” and what sort of substance he does believe exists.  What sort of proof of the existence of a deity does he offer? 

3. What is an abstract idea, and why (according to Berkeley) aren’t there any such?  In answering this question indicate what sort of role “general terms” play in his philosophical orientation and how they are to fill part of the role played by what other philosophers call abstract ideas.  In answering this question discuss one of the specific examples of an alleged abstract idea which Berkeley discusses. 

4. Explain the difference between impressions and ideas for Hume, which is dependent upon which (any exceptions?), and indicate how we come to have our “beliefs” (especially our belief in causation) according to Hume.  In answering this question clarify what is essential for the causal relation and belief.  Also clarify whether Hume holds our causal beliefs are dependent upon or produced by reason. 

5. According to Hume, one of the relations of ideas “goes beyond what is present to our senses.”  Which relation is it, and what is his analysis of this relation (what sorts of things does he maintain are essential for this relation), is it within the province of reason or of some other “faculty,” and does it produce knowledge? 

6. Does Hume hold that “whatever begins to exist must have a cause of its existence?”  Explain his argument on this topic. 

7. Explain how Hume arrives at skepticism in regard to our “knowledge” of matters of fact.  In answering this question, distinguish clearly “matters of fact” from “relations of ideas,” clarify his analysis of the “inference” we make in regard to the “matters of fact,” and clarify why there is (according to him) no justification for this inference.  In clarifying his skeptical argument, clarify how he accounts for the fact that we are not all skeptics. 

8. What is Hume’s concept of our “personal identity”—what does he think we can know about ourselves, how does his skepticism apply to this topic, and what does he conclude we can say about ourselves without falling into skepticism? 

9. Clarify Hume’s account of pride.  In answering this question clarify what he takes passions to be, elaborate upon the “quality” and the “object,” and explain how they are caused.  In answering the question clarify also what he means by direct and indirect passions. 

10. Clarify Hume’s account of sympathy.  In answering this question clarify what he takes passions to be, elaborate upon the “quality” and the “object,” and explain how they are caused.  In answering the question clarify also what he means by direct and indirect passions. 

 11. Clarify Hume’s account of morality.  In answering this question clarify the relative roles of passion and reason, the specific role of “sympathy,” what the difference is between parricide and “a sapling over-towering its "parental tree", why we “can’t” derive an “ought” from an “is,” and what role Hume assigns to “desire and passion” in making this transition. 

File revised on: 04/17/2015

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