PHIL 2100: Introduction to Philosophy

Dr. Robert Lane

Summer 2010


Study Guide for Exam 1

·         Date: Tuesday June 15

·         This test will be worth 30% of your total course grade.

·         This will be a timed test. You will have 60 minutes to complete it. The test will begin promptly at the official start time of class. It is important that you be in your seat and prepared to begin at the official start time. If you arrive late for the test, you will not be given extra time to finish.

·         See my online test archive for examples of past tests in other courses:



Section I: Identification of Argument Forms (6% of total test grade). I will give you examples of arguments (real English-language arguments, not just argument forms). You will be required to identify each argument as having one of the following forms:

You will also be required to indicate whether the argument is valid or invalid.



Section II will consist of definitions (10-20% of total test grade). I will give you a list of terms and phrases to define. Typically, only a sentence or two is necessary for a satisfactory answer. The terms and phrases will come from the following list:


·         inquiry

·         philosophy

·         metaphysics

·         epistemology

·         ethics

·         logic

·         argument

·         subjective

·         objective

·         dogma

·         dilemma

·         allegory

·         inculcation

·         deductive validity

·         soundness

·         deductive invalidity

·         conditional

·         antecedent

·         consequent

·         begging the question

·         logical strength

·         design argument

·         global design argument

·         local design argument

·         argument from analogy

·         monotheism

·         the birthday fallacy

·         atheistic evolutionism

·         theistic evolutionism

·         creationism

·         speciation

·         principle of sufficient reason

·         theodicy


Your definitions should as be as detailed, clear and precise as possible. For example, the following is not an adequate definition of deductive validity: “the conclusion follows from the premises.” This would not get you full credit. A much better definition is this: “In a deductively valid argument, the truth of the premises would guarantee the truth of the conclusion; in other words, it is impossible for the premises to be all true and the conclusion false at the same time.”



Section III will consist of short answer questions (24-34% of total test grade). Your answers to these questions should be as detailed, clear and precise as time allows. Typically, a paragraph of about five to seven sentences is sufficient for a satisfactory answer. The questions will be drawn from the following list:


·         Explain Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, making sure to explain its different elements and what each one represents.

·         Use the gambling analogy to explain the difference between deductive and non-deductive arguments. Make sure to include examples of each kind of argument in your explanation.

·         Explain the different between induction and abduction, and illustrate your explanation with examples of each.

·         Explain the Surprise Principle and illustrate your explanation with an example of an argument that follows the Principle and another argument that does not follow it.

·         Explain the Only Game in Town Fallacy, and illustrate your explanation with an argument that commits that fallacy.

·         Explain the difference between “in practice” scientific ignorance and “in principle” scientific ignorance, and give examples of each.

·         Explain why, according to Sober, it is impossible for science to explain why there is something rather than nothing



Section IV will consist of one discussion question, worth 50% of your total test grade.


You will be given two questions and allowed to choose one question to answer. Your answer to this question should be as detailed, clear and precise as time allows. In other words, tell me everything you know about the question asked. If you omit something that is relevant to the question, I will assume that you do not know the material you are omitting.


The essay you write should incorporate material covered in the lecture notes and your readings, as well as your own thoughts on the subject at hand. The purpose of this question is to test (1) your understanding and memory of the material covered in class and (2) your ability to engage in original thought about that material. The majority of the grade you get on your essay question will be based on requirement (1); but for full credit, I will require that you state and defend your own position(s) on the issue at hand, thus fulfilling requirement (2).


The two questions from which you may choose will be drawn from the following list:


·         Discuss both “the older charges” and “the newer charges” made against Socrates, as well as how he defended himself against those charges. Do you agree with that attitude Socrates took toward philosophical inquiry during his defense? Why or why not?


·         Discuss William Paley’s design argument. Your discussion should include an explanation of the argument itself; the Surprise Principle and how it might help us to evaluate Paley’s argument; and David Hume’s criticisms of that argument. Do you think that Paley’s argument proves the existence of a creator? Why or why not?


·         Discuss Sober’s treatment of (what I called in class) Perfectionist Creationism, Minimal Creationism, and Deceptive Creationism. You discussion should include clear explanations of each kind of creationism, and an explanation why Sober thinks that none of them is a better hypothesis than the theory of evolution. Do you agree with Sober? Why or why not?


·         Discuss the Argument from Evil. Your discussion should touch on the different forms of the Argument and the objections that have traditionally been made against it. Do you think any form of the Argument works? Why or why not?


By requiring that you answer one of these essay questions, I am assessing your ability to engage in informed philosophical reasoning about the issue at hand. In studying for this portion of the test, I recommend that you practice composing essays that explain the arguments and other considerations relevant to each issue and that incorporate relevant facts (from the lecture notes and/or the textbook) where appropriate.


I expect that you will spend at least between 25 and 35 minutes on this essay during the 60 minutes you will have to take the test. I realize that, for some essay questions on this study guide, we may have covered more material than you can address in that length of time. So in preparing for the test, you should select which claims and concepts you plan to discuss while writing your answers.




It is very unwise to study simply by reading through the lecture notes and textbook again and again and then to attempt to compose your answers “on the fly” while taking the test. In preparing to take the test, you should actually practice taking the test by writing your definitions, short answers, and essays as much as possible. You should also practice for section I by practicing writing the four argument forms and coming up with your own examples of English-language arguments that have those forms. The efficacy of this study method, which requires that you put away your books and notes and engage in active recall of the course material, has been demonstrated by recent psychological research; see David Glenn, “Close the Book. Recall. Write It Down,” Chronicle of Higher Education 55 (34): May 1, 2009 (available online through GALILEO, accessible via the UWG Library website).



Please don’t hesitate to talk to me if you have any questions about the test.