PHI 3300  Fall 2013  Dr. Hauptli  Sample Final Exam Questions


     Copyright © 2013 Bruce W. Hauptli


The following sample questions are examples of the kinds of questions I will be asking.  The list is far longer than a reasonable examination could be, and I will ask between two and three such questions on the examination itself.  You will be asked to be as complete as you can in writing essays in answer such questions.  While there is no “length requirement” for the examination, the questions and exam will be designed so that the average student in this class should need to spend most of the allowed time actively writing.  Short answers are unlikely to be sufficiently detailed to earn high grades, and mere outlines or lists (of terms, principles, theories, etc.) do not provide sufficient explanation—they will not convince me that you understand the relevant material.  As the questions clearly indicate, I expect you to explain specific points in answering the questions, and an essay that does not address these points is inadequate.  Please review the link Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli on the Course Web-Site for additional guidelines regarding my expectations for exam answers.


The exam will be a closed-book, closed-notes exam, and you will not be allowed to consult dictionaries or other reference texts. 


The exam is from 10:15-11:15 on Wednesday, December 11. 


1. Explain the difference between “linear” and “nonlinear” conceptions of epistemic justification.  In answering this question indicate what epistemic justification is primarily concerned with. 


2. Explain what BonJour means by ‘coherence’.  In answering this question discuss his notion of nonlinear justification, the importance of logical consistency, and the role of explanation. 


3. What is the “doxastic presumption,” and what role does it play in BonJour’s coherence theory?  In answering this question clearly indicate why such a presumption is important for the coherence theorist. 


4. What are the three “standard objections” to a coherence theory?  In answering this question explain these problems in detail. 


5. How does BonJour respond to the three “standard objections” to coherence theories? 


6. Explain the role of the “Observation Requirement” in BonJour’s coherence theory.  In answering this question indicate clearly what the requirement is (what it requires), how BonJour employs this requirement as he addresses the input objection, the alternative coherent systems objection, and the problem of truth. 


7. Detail the meta-justificatory argument which BonJour offers and indicate how he uses it to address the objection against coherence theories which claims that they have a problem of truth.  In answering this question indicate why, according to BonJour, a coherent theory of the sort which he discusses (some clarification will be requisite here) is one which is likely to be true.  Is this argument supposed to be an a posteriori one?  What argument does he offer against other explanations for the existence of such a system of beliefs? 


8. Clarify what BonJour’s view of a priori truth is—what is necessary if a truth is to be an a priori one, and why does he appeal to such truths in his “meta-justificatory argument? 


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File revised on 11/22/2013