Philosophy 180 Final Exam Study Questions Fall 2015

The final exam for this class will be drawn from the list of study questions below. Five questions will be generated randomly on the day of the final. The test will be administered in class on  Tuesday December 15, 12:45 - 2:45.  The exam is closed book and notes. Please write in a large Blue or Green book. Each question is worth 10 points. As indicated in the syllabus, if your exam grade is higher than any of your previous analyses receiving a 10 or above, your lowest such grade will be raised to the score of your exam grade. (See syllabus for clearer statement of this policy.)


The questions below are based on the reading for this course, including the articles assigned for analysis. Strong answers will demonstrate complete understanding of the relevant concepts and familiarity and strong comprehension of the related readings.  The exam is designed to take you two hours.  If you finish in less time than this, consider it strong evidence that you have not provided adequately detailed answers.

1.  Summarize the argument by skeptical hypothesis and three distinct non skeptical ways in which one might respond to it. (e.g., Moorean, contextualist, denial of closure, etc.). Of the three you discuss, identify the one that seems to you to be the strongest response and why you think this.

2. Explain how the concept of knowledge as justified true belief is challenged by the Gettier problem, appealing to at least two distinct versions of the problem. Summarize a reliabilist alternative and explain why reflection on the Gettier problem has resulted in the popularity of a reliabilist analysis despite the fact that reliabilist theories are no better at solving the problem. (Be sure your answers shows a strong grasp of the difference between justification and reliability as a criterion). 

3. Summarize David Lewis' attempt to provide a contextualist account of knowledge that (a) preserves the view that knowledge requires certainty in the sense of eliminating all alternative hypotheses and (b) preserves Dretske's view that we are not required to consider all alternative hypotheses, while rejecting Dretske's denial of epistemic closure.  Be sure to explain the sotto voce proviso and how the rules he introduces function within it.  Identify at least one restrictive rule and one permissive rule and an interesting consequence of each.

4.  Summarize the Meno problem  (i.e., the primary value problem) and give a reason for thinking that reliabilism does not provide an adequate framework for solving it. Summarize the virtue theoretic response to the Meno problem.  Explain both the main difficulties facing the virtue theoretic approach and how reliabilism might overcome the charge of inadequacy. Explain what you take to be the best overall response to the Meno problem and why.

5.  Explain what J. Adam Carter means by robust virtue epistemology and why he prefers it to modest virtue epistemologies, being clear about the difference.  Summarize Carter's adaptation of Greco's attempt to circumvent the wrong kind of fact problem. Critically discuss at least one problem with Carter's version of RBE.

6.  Summarize Schwitzgebel's view about the nature of belief and what it entails about self-knowledge (in the sense of self-ascribing beliefs), in particular, how Schwitzgebel understands the mechanisms of self knowledge and the conditions under which our self-ascriptions are reliable. Explain how Schwitzgebel treats problematic cases of self-knowledge, such as the Laura and Piotr examples. Do you think he provides an adequate account of these problematic cases? Explain why or why not.

7  Summarize what you take to be the strongest case that people sometimes do not know what they believe. (Meaning, that they have beliefs that they do not know about.) Evaluate it and state what you take it to suggest about our basic reliability in reporting our beliefs as well as the status of the view that we have privileged access to our own mental states. Your answer to this question should be informed by the views of Schwitzgebel, Gendler or both. 

8.  Does reflection lead to wise choices? Answer this question in light of Lisa Bortolotti's article. Be sure to be clear about the meanings of the terms 'wisdom' and 'reflection' and how these bear on Bortolotti's views and your own. 

9.  Briefly summarize the difference between reflective equilibrium and explication and compare the role of epistemic intuitions in each. Summarize what you take to be the two strongest naturalistic arguments against the use of epistemic intuitions.  Evaluate these arguments.

10. What does Kornblith mean when he suggests that knowledge is a natural kind, and on what basis does he advocate this view? Does this strike you as more in keeping with a reflective equilibrium approach or an explication approach or neither? Explain. Identify at least two ways in which Kornblith's views depart from more traditional accounts of knowledge and explain how he motivates these departures.  In your view, can Kornblith's approach be accommodated within virtue epistemology? Why or why not?

11. Knowledge that P is traditionally regarded as absolute rather than gradable. You can not .9 know that the cat is on the mat. You either know it or you don't. Drawing on at least three different sources we have read during the semester, including, if you like, various thought questions, discuss reasons for thinking that knowledge is at least a partially gradable concept. Evauate these reasons.

12. Distinguish Alison Gopnik from J.D. Trout in terms of their respective assessments of the feeling or sense of understanding for developing an adequate understanding of the nature of explanation. Does there seem to you to be a real disagreement here, or are they perhaps just working on different problems? Explain.
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