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Knowledge, Truth, Ethics, and Freedom


Pick three questions from your primary specialty to write on and two questions from your secondary specialty to write on. For example, if you’ve chosen Ethics as your primary specialty and Truth as your secondary speciality, then you are responding to three of the Ethics questions below and two of the Truth questions. You should be submitting five essays total.

Each essay should be 2-3 paragraphs. Essays should be numbered (using the numbers from the questions below) and submitted all together as one document.

To review the details regarding your primary and secondary specialty, see the study guidePreview the document from last week.

QUESTIONS (Choose 3 from one category and 2 from another category.)


1. What leads Russell in The Problems of Philosophy to conclude that the real table, if there is one, is not immediately known to us at all, but must be an inference from what is immediately known (194)?

2. What is it in Meditation II that Descartes concludes he cannot doubt? How does he arrive at this conclusion?

3. It is common today for people to believe that all knowledge comes from the senses. Some of the most famous arguments in the history of philosophy are those that attempt to demonstrate why this is false. Explain the argument that either Descartes in Meditation II or Leibniz in New Essays on Human Understanding gives to demonstrate this point.

4. How does Humes fork between relations of ideas and matters of fact lead him into skepticism?


5. What is the correspondence theory of truth? Explain how either Kant or Hegel challenged this common way of thinking about truth.

6. What is relativism? Is it the case that someone who rejects the correspondence theory of truth is necessarily a relativist?

7. Why according to Grosz and Narayan is it important to consider the history of womens subordination when searching for truth? What does it mean to think critically in light of this history?

8. Do all feminist epistemologists accept an empiricist account of knowledge? Explain. (Remember to review the discussion of feminist epistemology in Lecture 6 for this one.)


9. Those who believe that there is a god that is all-powerful and all-knowing struggle to explain how the human beings created by this god can be free. Different religious philosophers over the centuries have responded differently to this problem some arguing that humans are not free and others trying to reconcile Gods omnipotence with the idea of human freedom. Explain how one of the religious philosophers presented in the chapter (Augustine, Muhammad Iqbal, or John Edwards) deals with this problem.

10. Explain why hard determinists cannot see people as responsible for their actions.

11. What are the implications of giving up the determinists premise that every event has a sufficient natural cause? Would abandoning this claim solve the problem of freedom?

12. What does Frankfurt mean by first-order and second-order desires? Using an example of your own, explain why a person who only acts on first-order desires is not really free.


13. Is compassion natural to human beings? In your answer, make sure you draw from arguments presented in Chapter 8 by Mencius, Joseph Butler, and/or Plato (in the excerpt on The Ring of Gyges from the Republic) to make your case.

14. What is the difference between acting out of duty and acting in accordance with duty? Why is it only the first of these actions that has moral worth for Kant?

15. Come up with an example of your own to help explain how you use Kants categorical imperative as a test to determine if an action is morally permissible.

16. Come up with an example of your own to help explain how you use Mills Greatest Happiness Principle to determine which of two actions is ethically better.

The Text book is
introducing philosophy
A text with integrated Readings 11th edition

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