PHIL 350A: MIDTERM REVIEW QUESTIONS
The Midterm Exam will take place in class on Tuesday, Oct. 31. PLEASE BRING A BLANK EXAM BOOK AND A PEN TO THE EXAM. EXAM BOOKS WITH NOTES WRITTEN ON THEM OR WITH PAGES MISSING WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Please answer all questions completely, but concisely. Answer in complete sentences. In preparing for the exam, you are encouraged to discuss these questions with other members of the class, and to discuss what the relevant considerations would be in answering them. However, each student is expected to develop his/her own answers to the questions. You should not discuss the wording of an answer or attempt to come up with an agreed upon answer. If you draft answers to the questions, you should not show your draft answers to others, nor should you read or copy someone else's draft answers. The exam will consist of selections from the following questions.
1. Explain the following distinctions (you may use examples):
(a) knowledge by acquaintance/competence knowledge/propositional knowledge.
(b) occurrent/dispositional belief.
(c) direct realism/representationalism/phenomenalism
(d) primary/secondary qualities
(e) inferential/non-inferential support
(f) basic/non-basic beliefs.
(g) classical foundationalism/moderate foundationalism/coherentism. (Note that Pojman uses "modest foundationalism" and "moderate foundationalism" interchangeably. In your answer, use the distinction between inferential and non-inferential justification in your explanation of the distinctions.)
(h) self-evident/evident to the senses
(i) linear/non-linear justification
(j) conceptual/non-conceptual content
(k) a priori/a posteriori
(m) necessary truth/contingent truth
(n) correspondence/coherence/pragmatic/redundancy theory of truth
(o) strong/weak conception of knowledge
(p) fallibilism/infallibilism about justification or knowledge
2. What is epistemology?
3. What does it mean to say that something is a necessary condition for knowledge? Give an example of something that is a necessary condition for knowledge and explain why it is. What does it mean to say that something is a sufficient condition for knowledge? Can you give an example of something that is a sufficient condition for knowledge? Explain.
4. How did Plato and Descartes distinguish knowledge from mere opinion? In this course, do we assume that Plato and Descartes were correct?
5. What is a proof? What is a philosophical explanation? How does a philosophical explanation resemble a proof? How are they different?
6. What does BonJour mean by "perceptual subjectivism"?
7. According to BonJour, what is the conclusion of the Argument from Illusion? What is the crucial indiscernibility claim in BonJour's version of the argument? Is it true?
8. According to BonJour, what is the Causal or Scientific Argument? What is its conclusion? Do you accept the conclusion? Explain.
9. What is representationalism? What is the "permanent picture gallery" objection to representationalism? What is the Humean version of this objection? What is BonJour's reply to the objection? According to BonJour, how can we know about a causal relations without having past experience of the relevant sort of cause being followed by the relevant sort of effect?
10. What is the (epistemic) regress problem? What are the four alternative responses to the regress problem? What is the assumption that is presupposed by the statement of the regress problem but denied by the holistic coherentist?
11. Talbott has identified two kinds of relations between beliefs, causal and logical. Explain them. To be foundational, a belief must be both causally and logically basic. Explain this with an example? Could a belief be causally but not logically basic? Explain. Could a belief be logically but not causally basic? Explain.
12. What is Pojman's Anti-Foundationalist Argument? What is the Given? How does it provide a response to the Anti-Foundationalist Argument? Why have some philosophers (e.g., Sellars) claimed that the Given a myth? What is your opinion: Is it a myth? Explain.
13. How does the holistic coherentist avoid the charge that s/he endorses circular reasoning? What makes systems of beliefs holistically coherent?
14. What is the Alternative Systems Objection to coherentism? What is the Input Objection to coherentism?
15. What is the Doxastic Thesis? Why have many philosophers accepted the Doxastic Thesis? [Hint: Why have the rejected the Given as a myth?]
16. Ultimately, Bonjour defends a moderate foundationalism according to which experience has non-conceptual content. What does he mean by non-conceptual content? According to BonJour, how does an experience with non-conceptual content justify a belief about it?
17. What kind of answer can be given to the question: What is the justification for accepting moderate foundationalism (or any other epistemological view)?
18. Explain what synthetic a priori knowledge would be? Kant believed that we have synthetic a priori knowledge. Did he make any mistakes? Do you believe any knowledge is synthetic a priori? Explain. Could you be mistaken? Explain.
19. Pojman limits his account of a priori justification to propositions. BonJour extends it to reasoning. What is the role of a priori justification in BonJour's account of reasoning?
20. What is the Fregean conception of analyticity? What are examples of propositions that BonJour regards as justified a priori, but do not fit the Fregean conception of analyticity?
21. Does BonJour believe that apparent a priori insights are infallible? If a priori insights are not infallible, but they give us justification for believing necessary truths, then it would seem that someone who claims to have an a priori insight that p would be claiming: I may be mistaken but p could not be false. Could it make sense to make such a claim? Explain.
22. What is induction? Give an example and explain the different elements. What is the problem of induction? What is Hume's dilemma?
23. What is the "God's eye" objection to claims to knowledge (BonJour 34)? How is it related to the Permanent Picture Gallery objection to Lockean Representationalism?
24. What is the traditional, tripartite analysis of knowledge? What is the most persuasive counterexample to it? A complete logical analysis is a claim of mutual implication (with arrows going in both directions). Which of the two implication claims is the counterexample a counterexample to?
25. What is the Cartesian conception of knowledge? How does it avoid Gettier counterexamples?
26. Pojman discusses four proposals to add a fourth condition to the conditions in the traditional analysis of knowledge. Discuss each of them and explain why there is no general agreement on any of them. BonJour discusses only one proposal for the fourth condition. What is its relation to the four proposals discussed by Pojman?
27. What makes an account of knowledge contextualist? What makes an account of knowledge pluralist?
28. What is the lottery paradox? How do you think it should be resolved?
29. BonJour discusses what we will call the Conjunction Paradox (BonJour 46-47). Explain it. Is it a paradox?