Philosophy – Short answers

  Define metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

2.      Explain the difference between subjective and objective claims, and give examples of each.

3.      Distinguish between the metaphysical views of materialism, dualism, and idealism.

4.      Define determinism. (Do not use the word “determined” to define it, unless you define that also.)

5.      Define and explain the differences between hard determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism.

6.      Explain the cosmological (or “First Cause”) argument and a criticism of it.

7.      Explain the argument from design and a criticism of it.

8.      Define the problem of evil.

9.      Define rationalism, empiricism, and skepticism.

10.What are Descartes’s epistemological goals in the Meditations, and how does he try to achieve them?

11.Define and distinguish deductive and inductive reasoning, giving examples of each.

12.Explain Hume’s problem of induction.

13.Suppose someone says “but science works” to respond to the problem of induction.  Will this work?  Why?

14.Explain how Kant thought he could solve Hume’s skepticism.

15.Explain Popper’s criterion of falsifiability and a criticism of it.

16.Define moral relativism and emotivism.

17.How is the possibility of moral error or argument an objection to moral relativism?

18.Does moral relativism imply greater tolerance or sensitivity toward other cultures?  Explain.

  1. Define utilitarianism.
  2. Be able to explain how and why someone following utilitarian principles might act in a given situation.
  3. What argument does Mill give to defend his distinction between higher and lower pleasures?
  4. What is the categorical imperative?  Explain both forms, using examples of actions that follow the categorical imperative and actions that do not.
  5. Be able to explain how and why someone following Kantian ethics might act in a given situation.
  6. For Aristotle, what is a virtue?  Give a specific example of a virtue, describing how someone with such a virtue would act differently from someone lacking it.
  7. What does Aristotle mean by happiness (eudaimonia)?
  8. Explain how social contract theories try to justify the state.
  9. Define the minimal state, explaining how it differs from modern states such as the U.S. government.
  10. What is the veil of ignorance?  Why does Rawls think it essential to a just social contract?
  11. How would a Rawlsian criticize a libertarian theory of justice?
  12. Distinguish between mimetic, expressive, and formalist definitions of art.
  13. Explain George Dickie’s institutional definition of art.
  14. Explain why “what is the meaning of life?” may or may not be a meaningful question.

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