PHIL 1000 Final

PHIL 1000 Final                                                                      Name:

  1. Identifying Key Terms (20 points): Each of the following describes a key philosophical term, position, or claim we have discussed in class. Your job is to provide the name or label associated with that term, position, or claim (class notes may be helpful here). Some examples:
  • We cannot know anything.

— Answer: skepticism

  • A belief is knowledge only if it is justified by an unjustifiable, foundational belief.

— Answer: foundationalism

  • Being all-powerful.

— Answer: omnipotent

  • All human actions are fully causally determined.
    • The brain is just a digital computer, and the mind is just a sophisticated computer program.
    • Actions are moral if they benefit my self-interest, and are immoral otherwise.
    • Two things are identical just in case they have all and only the same properties.
    • Some human actions are free.
    • The future will resemble the past and present.
    • Mind and body are different substances, having different properties.
    • The laws of nature, together with what has happened in the past, determine a unique possible future.
    • All that exists is material or physical in nature.
    • An action is moral if it conforms to a specific set of morals norms, which must be obeyed, and is immoral otherwise.
    • If we can prevent something bad from happening without having to sacrifice anything of comparable moral value, then we ought to do so.
    • A person is morally responsible for what they have done only if they could have done otherwise.
    • An action is moral if it maximizes well-being and minimizes suffering, and is immoral otherwise.
    • Some human actions are free, but all human actions are causally determined.
    • What determines the referent of an expression.
    • All that exists is mental in nature.
    • Moral claims are true only relative to particular individuals or societies.
    • Being about, representing, or standing for something in the world.
    • Everything is identical with itself.
    • An action is moral if God commands it, and is immoral if God forbids it.
  1. Validity (20 points): Each of the following is a deductive argument which, as stated, is invalid. Your job is to make it valid, by a) putting it into premise-conclusion form, and b) supplying any implicit or missing premises and conclusions. An example:

i) A wholly perfect being exists in our minds, because we can imagine that a wholly perfect being exists.

(P1) We can imagine that a wholly perfect being exists. (P2) Anything we can imagine exists in our minds.

(C1) So, a wholly perfect being exists in our minds.

  • For every day throughout recorded history, apples have fallen from trees. Therefore, in the future, apples will continue to fall from trees.
  • Since saving an innocent child from drowning in a shallow pond would only require getting your shoes muddy, you have a moral obligation to save the child.
  • Because there is significant moral disagreement between people and cultures, and since there is ample evidence available regarding moral issues, morality is not objective.
  • Computers cannot understand Chinese, and understanding Chinese is a mental state. Therefore, computers could not be minds.
  • Since the mind is not material or physical in nature, it does not exist.
  • It is in my self-interest to steal money, assuming I won’t be caught. Hence, it would be immoral for me not to steal money, assuming I won’t be caught.
  • If God commanded an action without having a reason for commanding that action, then God would act irrationally. Therefore, if God commands an action, then God must have a reason for commanding that action.
  • When the doctor bumped Mary’s knee with a hammer, she kicked him. But since she couldn’t have done otherwise, she is not morally responsible for kicking the doctor.
  • A brain can be divided and remain a brain, but a mind cannot be divided and remain a mind. Therefore, the mind is not identical to the brain.
  • The suffering inflicted on animals due to factory farming does not outweigh the enjoyment we receive from eating them. Consequently, eating animals is wrong.
  1. Evaluating Arguments (15 points): Each of the following is an argument similar to one we have discussed in class. Your job is to criticize the argument by targeting a premise or inference and objecting to it. That is, for each argument, you have one of two options: a) reject one of the premises, or else b) reject one of the inferences from the premises to a conclusion. For each argument, indicate which of these two options you want to take, and briefly explain why the premise or inference chosen is problematic. Here are two examples:
  1. (P1) Five is an even number.

(P2) All even numbers are divisible by two.

  • So, five is divisible by two.
  • The problem with this argument is (P1), which is false, since five is an odd number.
  1. (P1) The Bible says that God exists.
    1. So, God exists.
  • The problem with this argument is that (C) does not follow from (P1). It only follows if we also assume that everything the Bible says is true, which is probably false.
  • (P1) Morality is a human convention: it is something we make up, and it would not have existed without us.

(P2) No claims established on the basis of human convention are objective.

(C) Therefore, no moral claims are objective.

(31) (P1) Non-human animals, such as monkeys and dogs, are not self-conscious and do not possess the same degree of intelligence as humans.

(P2) We only have moral obligations towards things which are self-conscious and possess a high degree of intelligence.

(C) Therefore, we do not have moral obligations towards non-human animals.

  • (P1) I am certain that my mind exists. (P2) I am not certain that my body exists.

(P3) Things having different properties are distinct.

(C) Therefore, my mind and my body are distinct.

  • (P1) In the past, the future has always resembled the past and present.

(C) So, from now on, the future will always resemble the past and present.

  • (P1) If an action is fully causally determined, then an agent performing that action couldn’t have done otherwise.

(P2) Agents cannot be held morally responsible for actions for what is unavoidable.

(C) So, if an action is fully causally determined, then agents cannot be held morally responsible for that action.

  1. Short Answer (25 points): Answer each of the following. You should be able to answer each question within 300 words maximum.

(35) What is the mind-body problem, and how does Descartes’ argument for mind-body dualism lead to that problem? First, describe the mind-body problem. Secondly, briefly sketch Descartes’ argument for mind-body dualism, and say how the latter leads to the former. Is Descartes’ argument convincing? Why or why not?

(38) What is moral progress and why is it problematic for cultural relativism? First, explain the notion of moral progress, and provide some examples motivating its existence. Second, define cultural relativism, and briefly explain why, if true, it would not allow for the possibility of moral progress. How might a defender of cultural relativism reasonably respond to this argument?

(37) How does Singer’s comparable moral values principle purport to show that we have a moral obligation to donate all of our excess wealth to relief charities? First, formulate the comparable moral values principle, and provide some examples demonstrating when it would apply and when it would not. Secondly, explain how the comparable moral values principle leads to the conclusion that we ought to donate all excess wealth to relief organizations. Finally, explain why Singer’s argument implies that donating to relief organizations is not supererogatory. Is this plausible? Why or why not?

(39) What is Hume’s Problem of Induction, and how does it threaten to render scientific knowledge impossible? First, briefly sketch Hume’s Problem of Induction. Secondly, briefly explain why this argument threatens to make scientific knowledge impossible. Why might the Problem of Induction fail to render all scientific reasoning unjustifiable?

(36) How does Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment purport to show that strong artificial intelligence is incorrect? First, define strong artificial intelligence as a view. Second, briefly describe the Chinese Room thought experiment. Third, explain why this is problematic for strong artificial intelligence. How might a defender of strong artificial intelligence reasonably respond to this argument?

  • Short Essay (20 points): Your job here is to take your 4-Sentence Essay assignment and to convert it into a short essay. The essay should consist of three parts: an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion. The Introduction should consist of the first two sentences of your 4-Sentence Essay assignment. Your Conclusion should fit the following format, consistent with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sentences of the 4-Sentence Essay:

I have argued that          because          . Although one might respond by arguing that                 , I have replied that                                    .

MY FOUR SENTENCE PAPER : The Philosopher Singer argues that if we can prevent something bad from happening without having to sacrifice anything of comparable moral value, then we ought to do so because as long as we can do it without sacrificing something that is important from a moral standpoint because it only requires us to prevent something bad and not to promote good. However, I object that preventing something bad from happening should be a person’s choice because if a person does something out of choice they don’t do it just for the sake of doing it, and with choice, you put more effort to prevent something bad happening. One might respond to my objection by arguing that choice will only make a person think twice before preventing bad from happening and a very less amount of people would choose to help. I reply that everything comes down to choice and when you do something out of choice you are not scared of sacrificing anything or do it anything just for the sake of doing it

The Body of the essay should expand on all four sentences. Specifically, the second paragraph should expand on the first sentence of the 4-Sentence Essay assignment. Put the argument you are discussing into premise-conclusion form, and motivate the premises by briefly explaining why they are plausible. The third paragraph should expand on the second sentence of your

4-Sentence Essay. Specifically, briefly explain which premise or inference in the argument you are rejecting, and give your reasons for rejecting it. The fourth paragraph should expand on the third and fourth sentences of the 4-Sentence essay. Begin by stating the reply to your objection contained in the third sentence, and follow this with your reply contained in the fourth sentence, along with your reasons for accepting that reply. Your essay should not exceed 500 words.

Please include a word count at the end of your essay (not included in the word count itself).

  • Bonus: You do not have to do this if you don’t want to. It will count as extra credit counting towards both your midterm and final exams, and you will not be penalized if you do not do it. But the assignment is simple: formulate your own argument on a controversial ethical issue, e.g. donating to charity, eating meat, euthenasia, capital punishment, gay marriage, or any ethical topic you feel particularly strongly about. Your conclusion should be moral in character, something of the form: Therefore, X is morally acceptable/morally unacceptable. Also, the argument should be in premise-conclusion form, and it should be sound. You should also try to

simplify it as much as possible: arguments with less claims are a lot easier to follow, and more effective, than those with many many claims. Finally, after providing your argument, you should give reasons for accepting the premises. Ultimately, I will award points based on whether the argument is sound, in addition to its ingenuity and persuasiveness.

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