PHL 126 03 Fall 2014 Test Two


1. This test will be held in class at the start of class on Thursday, 11 December, 2014. The test period will begin at 10:30 and end at 11:45 AM or whenever the last person present finishes. Do NOT be late! No late or make-tests will be scheduled. There will be no exceptions.

2. The blue book you provided will be returned to you with appropriate identification. You may use a pencil or blue or black pen to complete the test. No notes, books, handouts, dictionaries, electronic devices, or any other materials of any kind may be used.

3. Do not write your name anywhere on your test. Please also “double-space” your answers, and write only on the front of the pages. (Don’t worry—you will have plenty of space.)

4. Your test answers should be your own work. Any detectable collaboration will be considered cheating. So will absences from the test longer than five minutes. Cheating will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, sanctions up to and including automatic failure of the course may be applied in cases of cheating.

5. This is NOT a research assignment. You are NOT to use outside sources. Usage of verbatim quotations from the textbook and paraphrasing of the textbook are to be used sparingly and kept under three lines per occurrence. If you must use quotations, know that all verbatim quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks. All such quotations, and any paraphrasing of material from the text, must be followed by an appropriate citation. The following simplified format may be used: ([author’s name], [page number from which the text is taken]). The following is an example of the minimally acceptable citation format:

For a verbatim quotation: “Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, far the greatest is the possession of friendship.” (Cahn & Markie, p. 183)

For paraphrasing: Epictetus says that friendship is the most important thing for a blessed life. (Cahn & Markie p. 183)

Failure to cite quoted or paraphrased works properly is plagiarism—the misrepresentation of other’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, the first instance of plagiarism will merit a grade of “0” on the test and the notification of the student’s advisor. Repeated offenses will be met with more serious sanctions. Lecture material does not need to be followed by a citation.

6. Be sure that you address all parts of the question. Be efficient, clear, and thorough in your writing. Keep in mind that this is a test of your understanding of the material, not a solicitation of a manifesto of your own personal philosophy. Stay focused on simply and directly answering the questions.

7. Your answers should be substantive and your points should be supported with evidence (from the text), lecture material and independent argument. All technical philosophical terms (e.g. ‘psychological continuity’, ‘substance’, etc.) should be defined. Charts, graphs, and drawings should not be used. Your answer must be correct and clear. It need not be rhetorically pleasing. That said, basic issues such as grammar, spelling, and structure will all count towards your grade. Clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand.

8. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at any time. I do not give provisional grades to test answers but I will answer questions about the test insofar as I can without conferring an unfair advantage on anyone.

9. You are strongly encouraged to review the rubric and guidelines on the Tests page.


On the day of the exam the instructor will return your blue book to you with your student number on the outside cover. On the day of the test one of the questions below will be allotted to each student via a random procedure. This means that you have an equal chance of getting any one of the four questions below. The question assigned to you will truly be the luck of the draw. Not even the instructor will know which of the questions you will answer before the day of the test. You will be responsible for answering ONLY the question assigned to you. Do NOT answer the others. No extra credit of any kind will be given.

Below are the questions. These questions will not be altered in any way prior to the exam. They will occur exactly as they are written here. READ EACH QUESTION VERY CAREFULLY and break it into its composite parts before attempting to answer.

Pro Tip: Stay strictly within the framework provided by Kekes' essay to answer these questions. Do NOT default to opinion or use "talk-show" style pop-psychology!

Alex is 55 years old. After a successful career as a dentist, his sole ambition in life is now to become a champion MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. Though he has a congenital heart defect that puts him at the risk of cardiac arrest after any physical exertion, hemophilia, and no training at all in any contact sport, including any martial art, he insists on this life project. Explain in detail all of Kekes' "objectively limiting conditions" on choices of life projects. Which of these might Kekes suggest that Alex ought to consider in light of his desire to become an MMA fighter? Why?

Amit's parents raised him from a very young age to be deeply religious. He was made to go to every possible service, to read (and believe without question) every bit of literature espoused by their community, and reminded at every turn of what his values should be and of what kind of person the religious community expected him to be. Amit was taught never to question the beliefs of the community, but simply to follow the rules. Use Kekes' example of John Stuart Mill to explain how Amit runs the risk of having his life become meaningless. On Kekes' view, what steps could Amit take on his own in order to keep his life from becoming meaningless?

Imani is a graduate student in astrophysics. As she learns about the workings of the universe at the smallest levels of physical reality, she comes to feel that human life is absurd. "After all", she thinks to herself, "how could there be a meaning of life in a universe governed by rules so complex and so hidden from our comprehension?" Explain as completely as you can how Kekes would answer her complaint that the apparent absurdity of the universe entails that life has no meaning.

Camila has been a heart surgeon for ten years. Over the course of that time she has saved countless lives. Seeing so many people in trouble, however, has made her somewhat bitter and pessimistic about humanity's ability to survive in general. She comes to believe that her work is pointless because everyone she saves will eventually die anyway. Using Kekes' criteria, would we say that Camila's life has worth? Would we say that it has meaning? In each case, why or why not?

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