Introduction to Philosophy Richard Lee
Philosophy 2003 C 001Spring 1999

Study Guide for the Fourth Examination

A note of explanation: There is no guarantee that all the questions on the examination will be taken from this study guide. However, any student who knows, understands, and is able to formulate clearly the answers to all the questions on this study guide should do quite well on the examination. A student who can give answers to practically none of the questions on this study guide will very likely do rather poorly on the examination.

Format of the Examination

This examination counts as fifteen percent (15%) of your course grade.

This is a closed-book, in-class examination on the scheduled date.

There will be two parts.

Ground Rules

As always, cheating will not be tolerated. No help in answering the questions may be received from anyone (except yourself) during the examination. You may not use books or notes during the examination.

Sample Questions and Points to Study

Define "determinism." What is the universe like if determinism is true?

What does it mean to say of something that it is "causally determined." Is any event not causally determined? Explain.

How might a hard determinist argue that no one is responsible for any of her or his actions? Critically discuss.

Explain the compatibilist view on the relation between free action and determinism. Make this view as plausible as you can and give examples of actions that would be free, and others that would not be free, according to this view. Is compatibilism correct? Explain.

What does it mean to say that someone does some action freely? That is, how is "acting freely" to be defined? What would an incompatibilist say it means? What would a compatibilist say it means? Who is right? Critically discuss.

What, according to a soft determinist, does it mean to say that someone did something freely? How is the soft determinist's understanding of freedom different from that of the hard determinist and the libertarian? Critically discuss.

Argue for or against the view known as compatibilism. Critically discuss this view and the arguments for and against it.

There are three propositions such that the hard determinist, the soft determinist, and the libertarian each accept two of the propositions and deny a third (although they each deny a different one). What are these propositions and which do which views accept and deny? Explain.

Be able to define and discuss the interrelationships among: determinism, indeterminism, libertarianism, compatibilism, incompatibilism, hard determinism, and soft determinism.

What, according to a soft determinist, does it mean to say that someone did something freely? How is the soft determinist's understanding of freedom different from that of the hard determinist and the libertarian? Critically discuss.

How might a hard determinist argue that no one is responsible for any of her or his actions? Critically discuss.

Walter T. Stace wrote: "The problem has been created by the fact that learned men, especially philosophers, have assumed an incorrect definition of free will, and then finding that there is nothing in the world which answers to their definition, have denied its existence." What was the "incorrect definition" that Stace thought some philosophers assumed? How did this lead philosophers to deny the existence of free will? What, according to Stace is the correct definition of free will? Which definition, if either, is correct? Critically discuss.

What is Stace's account of free action? Is this account correct? Critically discuss.

Explain Stace's "internal cause" account of free action. Give examples of actions caused by psychological states. Give examples of actions caused whose immediate cause is not a psychological state. Does Stace's account seem to distinguish free actions from those that are not free? Explain.

One example of an "unfree act" that Stace gave was "stealing because one's employer threatened to beat one." Is such an act unfree on Stace's own account of free will? Explain and critically discuss.

Walter T. Stace argues:

Thus we see that moral responsibility is not only consistent with determinism, but requires it. ... If there were no determinism of human beings at all, their actions would be completely unpredictable and capricious, and therefore irresponsible. And this is in itself a strong argument against the common view of philosophers that free will means being undetermined by causes.
Explicate and critically discuss this argument.

What, according to Richard Taylor, are the "three claims of soft determinism?"

Explain Richard Taylor's "ingenious physiologist" example. How does it figure into his refutation of soft determinism?

Explicate and critique Richard Taylor's argument against the view he calls "simple indeterminism."

In a section of "Freedom and Determinism" entitled "Determinism and Simple Indeterminism as Theories" Richard Taylor argues that if determinism is true we cannot deliberate about we are going to do. Explicate and critically discuss Taylor's argument to this conclusion.

Explain and explore the argument Taylor puts forward to the conclusion that determinism is false.

Explain Taylor's Theory of Agency. According to that theory what is a free action?

How does the view Richard Taylor calls "The Theory of Agency" differ from that which he calls "Simple Indeterminism?" Explain why Taylor thinks the theory of agency is not susceptible to the same objection he raised against simple indeterminism. Critically discuss.

In regard to determinism, freedom, and compatibilism, what do the hard determinist and the soft determinist agree on? What do the hard determinist and the libertarian agree on? What do the soft determinist and libertarian agree on ?

Explain Epicurus's reasoning that "death is nothing to us?" Does that mean that death is not bad? Explain.

What was Epicurus's attitude towards death? Critically discuss his defense of this attitude.

Epicurus thinks that pleasure is "the first good." Explain Epicurus's view on whether we should seek pleasures, and his views on what pleasures, if any, we should avoid, and why. Critically discuss.

Why, according to Epicurus, should we not choose every pleasure? Explain.

Explain the sort of life Epicurus thinks we should live.

According to Epictetus: "Some things are up to us, some are not up to us." (P 524b) What does Epictetus think is up to us? What does he think is not up to us? What conclusions does he draw from this concerning how we can be happy? Critically discuss.

Summarize and critique Epictetus' prescription for happiness, being sure to mention any central distinctions Epictetus draws in his discussion of how to be happy.

Epictetus wrote, "It is not things that upset people but rather ideas about things" What does this mean? Is it right? What conclusions does he draw from this concerning who is to blame for unhappiness? Critically discuss.

"Remember that in life you ought to behave as at a banquet." Who said this? What does it mean? What are its implications? Critically discuss.

According to Epictetus what attitude should we have if our spouse or child dies? Why? Critically discuss.


Richard Lee, rlee@comp.uark.edu, last modified: 26 April 1999