Philosophy 3600 - Philosophy of Religion

Study Guide for Exam #3



Exam #3 will take place on Friday, November 17 in class. It's a bluebook exam so you must bring a blue book. You must also bring (and write your exam in) blue or black ink (no red ink, no pencil).

Exam #3 is an essay exam. You will be required to write an essay having to do with one of the following topics:

To prepare, focus on our handouts. For each item on the handout (whether a thesis, a definition, an argument, or whatever), be sure you have total mastery of it. If it if a thesis, for example, be sure you totally understand what it is saying -- so much so that you could get a friend of yours who knows nothing about philosophy to understand what it is saying. Obviously, this includes being able to define any philosophical technical terms in it.

If the item is an argument, be sure you get each step of the argument; be sure that for every premise of the argument, you fully understand what it is saying, and also why a defender of the argument would think it is true (notice that the latter is importantly different from just knowing what the premise is saying). Also be prepared to give your own evaluation of all of our arguments. I'm most impressed when someone challenges an argument in a novel and plausible way. Whenever you challenge an argument you must pick a line -- i.e., you must identify some premise as the false premise, and explain why you take it to be false. If you can't tell which part of the argument your objection is supposed to undermine, then you don't understand your own objection.

If you think some argument is sound, you can still be impressive by presenting some potential objection to the argument in a convincing way, and then showing why you think this potential objection ultimately fails.

I strongly recommend that you write out answers to the study questions below. I'm not saying any of these exact questions will be on your exam, but they give you a good idea of the kind of thing I'm looking for.


Study Questions

  1. The Augustinian Version of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge.

    Present both interpretations of the Augustinian Version of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge that we discussed. Explain exactly the way in which they differ, illustrating this by means of examples.

    Then, for each interpretation, explain why it fails (the reason you give for why one of them fails should not also apply to the other interpretation).

    Finally, explain and critically evaluate Augustine's own response to his argument (his response would be the same for either interpretation).

  2. The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge.

    Explain, step by step, why it seems that, for any act anyone performs, the fact that God knew the person would perform it renders the act unfree.

    Explain what you take to be an interesting but unsuccessful objection to this line of thought. When doing so, be sure to explain exactly which step this objection is attacking. Be sure to present the objection as forcefully as you can.

    Finally, explain why you think this objection is unsuccessful.

  3. Pascal's Wager

    Explain why the Dominating Expected Value version of Pascal's Wager harder to defeat than the Expected Value Version of Pascal's Wager. Doing so will require explaining, in some detail, each version.

    Present some version or other of the Many-Gods Objection to the Dominating Expected Value version of Pascal's Wager. Explain the objection in detail, and, as always, explain it so that someone totally unfamiliar with this material would go away understanding it.

    Finally, consider a reply to the Many-Gods Objection based on the following idea:

    "The Many-Gods Objection fails because there is really only one God each of us could ever manage to get ourselves to believe in."

    Explain exactly why, if what this reply claims is true, the Many-Gods Objection fails.

    Finally, critically evaluate this reply. Is it a successful reply to the Many-Gods Objection? Explain.

  4. The Ontological Argument

    Explain, step by step, how Anselm attempts to prove the existence of the greatest conceivable being. (Your explanation should include a discussion of: Anselm's key distinction, Anselm's Thesis about Greatness, along with independent reasons to think each of them is true.)

    Present an objection to Anselm's argument (if you want, you may present one we didn't discuss in class, such as the Devil objection). Explain in detail exactly how this objection is supposed to make trouble for Anselm's argument.

    Finally, think of some sort of reply Anselm might make to the objection, explain it in detail, and then adjudicate the debate. (In other words, say whether what you think Anselm should say in response to your objection is ultimately successful.)

  5. The Fine-Tuning Argument

    Explain, step by step, the Fine-Tuning Argument for the existence of God. During your explanation, you will appeal to a principle of confirmation theory. Illustrate this principle by means of an example.

    Explain what you take to be a bad objection to the Fine-Tuning argument and explain what is wrong with it.

    Finally, give your own view about the Fine-Tuning argument. Do you think it establishes that there is very strong evidence for the existence of some sort of God? Explain your view on this argument. (If you think the argument is unsuccessful, you must clearly present your objection to it.)