PHIL 3600 -- Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado Boulder
3600 - Philosophy of Religion
Final Exam Study Guide
The final exam will come in two parts and will take place over two class periods. The first part will consist of very-short-answer questions (multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank questions, and the like). The second part will consist of short-answer questions (questions that can usually be answered in a sentence to a paragraph). Those will be similar to the sorts of questions below. Both parts are in-class, closed-note, and closed-reading exams. For the second part, you'll need to bring a bluebook.
The final exam will cover everything we've done since the midterm, that is, the following four topics:
- Pascal's Wager
- The Ontological Argument
- The Fine-Tuning Argument
- The "No Evidence" Argument.
You are responsible for nine readings:
- Pascal, excerpt from Pensées (1660)
- Hacking, "The Logic of Pascal's Wager" (1972)
- Anselm, excerpt from the Proslogion (1077), with an introduction by editors Pojman and Rea
- Gaunilo, Anselm, Gaunilo's criticism and Anselm's rejoinder (1077)
- Kant, excerpt from The Critique of Pure Reason (1789)
- Heathwood, "The Relevance of Kant's Objection to Anselm's Ontological Argument" (2011)
- Ananthaswamy, "Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?" (2012)
- Collins, "God, Design, and Fine-Tuning" (~2002), §§I-II
- Hawthorn, "Arguments for Atheism" (1999)
Being responsible for the readings includes being responsible for the Reading Questions. Some reading questions might even appear on the exam.
And you are responsible for everything we did in lecture.
To prepare for the exam, re-read any readings that you found challenging, re-take the reading quizzes, study your notes, and, most importantly, write out your answers to the questions below, as if it were the exam. Do this before the review sessions, so that you will know what questions you need to ask.
- (a) Explain the difference between an epistemic reason to believe something and a prudential reason to believe something.
(b) Give examples that illustrate each.
- (a) What is it for one act, from among a set of alternative acts, to dominate?
(b) Write out an example of a decision matrix in which one act dominates.
(c) What is the Principle of Dominance? (In stating the Principle of Dominance, you can use the word 'dominate', which you defined earlier.)
(d) We discussed a problem with the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Dominance having to do with the "libertine life." Lay out that problem in detail.
- (a) What is the expected value of an act? (Hint: it's probably harder than you think to state this accurately.)
(b) What is it for an act to maximize expected value?
(c) What is the Principle of Expected Value?
(d) Give an example of a decision matrix, along with an assignment of probabilities to the possible states of the world, in which one act maximizes expected value, and explain why it does this.
(e) State and explain the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Expected Value. In doing so, you should write out the relevant decision matrix, along with the relevant assignment of probabilities. Do it as we did it in class, i.e., as NOT involving infinite utilities.
(g) What is wrong with with the version of Pascal's Wager that is based upon the Principle of Expected Value?
- Explain how the version of Pascal's Wager based on the Principle of Dominating Expected Value is an improvement over the one based upon the Principle of Expected Value.
- (a) Explain some version of the "many Gods" objection to Pascal's Wager.
(b) Evaluate this objection.
The Ontological Argument
- (a) What does Anselm mean by 'God'?
- (a) Explain Anselm's distinction between existence in reality and existence in the understanding.
Give an example of something that exists in the understanding but not in reality.
Give an example of something that exists both in reality and in the understanding.
Does anything exist in reality but not in the understanding? If not, explain why not. If so, can you give an example? If so, do so. If not, explain why not.
- (a) Define 'negative existential'?
Give an example of a negative existential.
What is the Problem of Negative Existentials? Explain the problem thoroughly.
What is the Anselmian Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials? First state the solution in general terms, and then illustrate it with two examples: one involving a true negative existential and the other involving a false negative existential.
- State and explain Anselm's Ontological Argument. Be sure to justify each step in the reasoning. Be sure to state and discuss the thesis about greatness that the argument relies upon, and to illustrate it using an independent example.
- (a) Explain Gaunilo's "Lost Isle" Parody Argument and how it is supposed to make trouble for Anselm's Argument.
(b) Explain why Plantinga thinks Gaunilo's Parody Argument is not in fact analogous to Anselm's Argument?
- (a) As we understood it in class, what does Kant mean when he says that existence is not a real property?
Give an example of a property that is real and explain why it's real.
Give an example of a property that is not real and explain why it's not real. (Don't use existence for either of your example in (b) and (c).)
If Kant is right that existence in reality is not a real property, which part of Anselm's argument, according to Heathwood, is in trouble?
(e) Explain, in your own words, Kant's argument for his view that existence in reality is not a real property.
The Fine-Tuning Argument
- Explain in detail two ways in which the universe is apparently "just right" or fine-tuned for life.
- (a) Fully state the Fine-Tuning Argument in line-by-line format, as we stated it in class.
(b) Give the rationale for each of the first three premises.
(c) Illustrate the fourth premise by means of a neutral example.
(d) What sort of God does the Fine-Tuning Argument support, if it's successful?
- (a) Explain the objection based on the idea that any set of laws is just as unlikely as any other.
Explain how a defender of the Fine-Tuning Argument should respond.
- (a) Explain the Multiple Universes Objection to the Fine-Tuning Argument.
(b) Explain one of the replies to this objection that we presented in class.
The "No Evidence" Argument
- (a) Fully state the "No Evidence" Argument in line-by-line format, as we stated it in class.
- (a) How does Hawthorn define 'knowable a priori'?
(b) Give an example of a claim that seems to be self-evident.
(c) Give an example of a claim that is a priori but not self-evident.
(d) Give an example of a claim that is very obviously true but not a priori or self-evident.
- Hawthorn highlights two main kinds of (empirical) evidence.
What is the first one? Explain it. Give an example of something we know on the basis of that kind of evidence.
(b) What is the second one? Explain it. Give an example of something we know on the basis of that kind of evidence.
(c) Fully state the rationale for P3 of the "No Evidence" Argument (the premise that is about whether there is (empirical) evidence for God's existence)?
- (a) What is the Thomistic Account of Self-Evidence?
Why does Aquinas think that the claim that God exists is not self-evident? Explain in detail.
- (a) If the Ontological Argument is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(b) If the Fine-Tuning Argument is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(c) If a person has a convincing religious experience, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument will he/she conclude is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
(d) If Pascal's Wager is sound, which premise (if any) of the "No Evidence" Argument is mistaken? (State the whole premise.)
- (a) Explain Hawthorn's objection to the Thomistic Account of Self-Evidence.
(b) State Hawthorns own account of self-evidence.
(c) Explain Hawthorn's account of faith, and show how it is supposed to answer the "No Evidence" argument.