PHIL 2100: Introduction to Philosophy

Dr. Robert Lane

Summer 2010


Study Guide for Exam 2

·         Date: Tuesday June 22

·         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

·         skepticism

·         JTB Theory

·         counterexample

·         rationalism

·         foundationalism

·         epistemic certainty

·         psychological certainty

·         a posteriori

·         a priori

·         thesis of the incorrigibility of the mental

·         empiricism

·         implicit premise

·         tautology

·         Humean skepticism


Your definitions should as be as detailed, clear and precise as possible. For example, the following is not an adequate definition of validity: “the conclusion follows from the premises.” This would not get you full credit. A much better definition is this: “In a 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 the three different senses of the word “knowledge,” illustrating each with at least one example.


·         Is propositional knowledge a necessary or a sufficient condition of object knowledge? Explain your answer.


·         Explain why “x is necessary and sufficient for y” means that same thing as “x if and only if y.” Use a specific example to make your explanation clear.


·         Explain Gettier’s counterexample to JTB Theory.


·         Explain how the success of a Getter counterexample depends on whether one adopts a strong or a weak concept of justification.


·         Explain the distinction known as “Hume’s Fork.”



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 the beginning of Descartes’ attempt to overcome skepticism (in Meditations I and II). Your discussion should address, but not necessarily be limited to, the exact nature of the skepticism he is trying to overcome; his foundationalism; the Method of Doubt test; and the Cogito and other beliefs about which he thinks he can be certain. Do you think that Descartes has overcome skepticism with regard to knowledge of his own mind? Defend your answer.


·         Discuss Descartes’ attempt to overcome skepticism with regard to knowledge about the external world (in Meditations III and IV). Your discussion should address, but not necessarily be limited to, the Representational Theory of Perception, the Problem of the Criterion; the “Idea of God” argument; and the “Clearness and Distinctness” argument. Do you think Descartes was successful at overcoming skepticism about the external world? Why or why not?


·         Discuss Hume’s defense of skepticism in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Your discussion should address, but not necessarily be limited to, the exact nature of the skepticism he is defending; his views on cause and effect; his distinction between “demonstrative reasoning” and “moral reasoning”; the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature; and the role of “custom.” Do you think Hume was successful at defending skepticism? Why or why not?



By requiring that you answer one of these essay questions, I am assessing your ability to engage in informed moral 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 moral 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 between 25 and 35 minutes on this essay during the 50 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.