PHH 3700  Fall 201Dr. Hauptli  Sample Midterm Questions


     Copyright © 2014 Bruce W. Hauptli


The following sample questions are examples of the kinds of questions I will be asking.  The list 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.  The exam will be a closed-book, closed-notes exam, and you will not be allowed to consult dictionaries or other reference texts.  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 in class on Friday, October 31. 


1. What, according to Dewey, is the influence of Darwinism on philosophy?  How does he describe the pre- and post-Darwinian perspectives on reality and inquiry? 


2. According to Peirce, why do we want to “fix” belief?  What are the four methods of fixing belief, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?  In answering this question indicate why Peirce believes that the method of science is peculiarly suited to lead us toward truth and what is real. 


3. Peirce maintains that “the essence of belief is the establishment of a habit.”  Clarify his view of the relationships of doubt, inquiry, and belief; and indicate why he believes that one particular method of habit establishment is preferable to the others he considers. 


4. According to Peirce, what are the three degrees of clarity of our ideas?  Clarify. 


5. Peirce maintains that “our idea of anything is our idea of its sensible effects.”  Clarify what he means by this (clarify his pragmatic theory of meaning”) and indicate why he believes his sort of clarity is valuable. 


6. In Peirce’s “architecture,” what are the three “stages” of reality?  That is, what does his “Cosmogonic Philosophy” say about “reality?”  Explain what role chance plays in the world, and how this may change over time according to him. 


7. Is Peirce a proponent of “the doctrine of necessity?”  What does he mean when he says that “everywhere the main fact is growth and increasing complexity?” 


8. What does James say pragmatism means?  When he contends that “theories are instruments,” what does he mean?  What does he say about truth, and how is this connected to his “instrumentalism?” 


9. Clarify and contrast the views of Clifford and James regarding our epistemic responsibility.  Clearly indicate when James thinks it is proper to invoke his doctrine of the “will to believe” and why James believes his orientation is preferable to that recommended by Clifford. 


10. What does James mean when he says that “moral questions present themselves as questions whose solution cannot wait for sensible proof”?  What does he recommend we do since we can’t “wait?” 


11. Does James believe consciousness exists?  What does he take it to be, and what does he mean when he talks about “the object-thought-of” and “the thought-an-object”?  Are they the same, different, or both (and what does that mean)? 


12. What does it mean, for James, to talk of experience as “continuous?”  Is the continuity simply “temporal” for him?” 


13. James says he is not an ethical skeptic.  Is he, then, an “ethical absolutist?”  What, in the world, is ethics about; what is necessary for there to be morality, and how do moral questions arise?  How according to him are moral questions to be resolved? 


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File revised on 10/22/2014