Phil 100

Handout 12

Study Guide for Exam #3

Preliminary Version

updated 12/11/01

1. What conclusion does Pascal reach in his Wager?  How does he reach this conclusion?  Does Pascal's Wager provide an answer to any of the fundamental questions in Philosophical Theology?  If so, which one?  If not, why not?

2. P.E.E. the Third Cosmological Argument inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas.  Explain the difficulties that plagued the previous versions of this argument.  How does this argument avoid them?  Leibniz certainly agrees with the conclusion of the Third Cosmological Argument, but does he think the argument is sound?  If not, which premise would he deny, and why?

3. State the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).  State the main idea behind PSR in your own words.  Contrast PSR with another principle with which it might be confused.  Discuss some reasons to think PSR is true.

4. P.E. Leibniz's Argument from Sufficient Reason.  What do you think is the most interesting objection to the argument?  Are you convinced by this objection?  Why or why not?

5. The world in fact exhibits design and purpose.  But suppose it didn't -- suppose it consisted of just a few million stray particles bouncing around in the void.  Of the two types of argument for the existence of God that you studied -- the cosmological and the teleological -- which one would be affected?  How would it be affected?  Why wouldn't the other one be affected?  Discuss.

6. In "Evil and Omnipotence," (Feldman, pp. 120-128), what three propositions does Mackie think are inconsistent?  What additional premises does Mackie think are needed to generate the contradiction between the three propositions?  Explain how these three propositions are inconsistent (to do this, show how to derive a contradiction using these three propositions along with the additional premises). If you believe in God (and continue to in the face of the Problem of Evil), defend your belief by criticizing the Mackie's view.  Even if you are an agnostic or an atheist, discuss what you take to be the strongest reply to the Problem of Evil.  Ultimately, do you think this argument against Theism is decisive?