Exam 1


All exam questions are written response questions.  There are three different kinds of questions on the exam.

Type 1 questions:  These are questions that require knowledge of essential concepts that are contained directly in the reading and/or lecture that require little or no interpretation. These questions require a short answer (about 1-2 sentences).

Type 2 questions: These are questions that require understanding of more subtle or detailed topics in the readings and lectures.  These questions require some interpretation and/or explanation of more complex ideas than type 1 questions. These questions require 4-6 sentences to answer properly.

Type 3 questions: These questions test the depth of your understanding of not only the central concepts and reasoning in the unit, but of the purpose of learning those concepts and patterns of reasoning. They require the student to be able to describe how one or more of the authors of the course readings would react to an idea or situation that they did not explicitly write about. These questions require a short essay (about 12-15 sentences) to answer properly.

All questions are graded according to the following concerns:

  • Answers should contain a complete answer to the question.
  • Answers should avoid saying what is false or inaccurate.
  • Answers should be organized clearly and properly reveal the student’s understanding of the material.

Study Guide:

The exam will contain some, but not all of the questions below.  The exam will only contain items that are listed below.

  1. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” Socrates suggests that the person who leaves the cave would be in pain and unable to see because of the sun’s brightness. What is this metaphor supposed to mean?
  2. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” Socrates suggests that the person who has seen the truth would be taken for a fool by those who never left the cave. Why is this? What is this metaphor supposed to mean?
  3. What is Descartes’ goal in the “Meditations”?
  4. According to Descartes, from what two sources do people get their beliefs?
  5. Summarize Descartes’ ‘Argument from Illusion’. What source of knowledge is this supposed to deny?
  6. Summarize Descartes’ ‘Dream Argument’. What source of knowledge is this supposed to deny?
  7. Summarize Descartes’ ‘Evil Demon Argument’. What source of knowledge is this supposed to deny?
  8. What piece of knowledge survives all of Descartes’ arguments? Explain.
  9. What is an idea, according to Locke?
  10. What are ‘qualities’ for Locke? What is the difference between a primary and secondary quality?
  11. Describe Locke’s reasoning concerning whether or not the senses provide us with true information about the world as it is.
  12. What does Stroud say to those who claim that skeptics like Descartes use the word ‘knowledge’ in a different way than the common person?
  13. If none of our knowledge claims are true, as skepticism suggests, how do we tell the difference between the careful and the careless?
  14. Describe Hume’s ‘Negative Argument’ against induction.
  15. Is the fact that past events have provided us with accurate predictions of future events a good reason to believe that induction is a justifiable method for gaining knowledge?
  16. According to Hume, where do people get their idea of causation?
  17. What is Russell’s point when he talks about the farmer and the chicken?
  18. According to Popper, what is the difference between a scientific theory and a non-scientific theory?
  19. If some theory has very much confirming evidence, does this make the theory better according to Popper? Why or why not?
  20. What would Popper say to someone who said that the goal of science is to pursue the truth?
  21. According to Popper, what should a scientist do when some evidence contradicts a particular theory? According to Kuhn, what do scientists usually do instead?
  22. What is a paradigm, according to Klee?
  23. What is induction?
  24. According to Goodman, what can we say about the future based on past evidence? Explain.
  25. What would Kuhn say to a person who claimed that science is incremental?
  26. Some person, call him Biff, after reading Kuhn, decides that he will simply reject all scientific claims as false, and never believe anything a scientist says ever again. Has Biff correctly understood Kuhn’s point? What might Stroud say to Biff?
  27. Some person, call him Gerald, after studying philosophical skepticism, becomes frustrated and claims that all that philosophy does is create doubt and make no progress. Has Gerald correctly understood the point of philosophical skepticism? What might Descartes, Locke, or Stroud (pick one) say to Gerald?