Phil. 26:  Second Essay Exam                       


Procedure:  This exam consists of two parts:  an essay and 3 short answer questions.  These two parts should be word processed and stapled together with your name on the first page of the completed essay exam.  Do not put the completed exam into any sort of folder.  After completion, put your exam into my Lock Box which is outside my office (Mendocino 3024) or slide them under my office door or hand them in to the Philosophy department secretary (Mendocino 3000) by the due date and time, which is by 12 PM in the afternoon of the day that the exam is due in class.  NO LATE EXAMS OR LATE PARTS OF THE EXAM WILL BE ACCEPTED. 


Part 1: Answer each part of this question.  Do not include any extraneous information.  Follow the format indicated below for writing philosophy papers.  Otherwise, you will lose 15 points at the outset.  The essay should be about 2 ˝ to 3 pages.  It is worth 70 points. 


In the First Meditation, Descartes is undertaking an investigation of all of his prior beliefs to determine which, if any, are not subject to doubt.  Given this project,

1. What is its ultimate aim?  That is, for what long range purpose does Descartes undertake an examination of all of his prior belief?

2.  What method of investigation does Descartes use for carrying out this project?  That is, exactly how does he propose to examine all of his prior beliefs?

3.   How does Descartes apply this method of investigation to sense perception as a foundation for knowledge?  That is, on specifically what three grounds does Descartes call into question the reliability of knowledge based on sense perception?

4. How plausible is Descartes’ conclusion that we cannot rely on our sense perception because at any particular time we might be dreaming? Be sure to give a reason to support your opinion. (Note:  This is the only part of the question that calls for your own opinion.  Also note, Descartes does not claim in Meditation 1 that everything we are experiencing might be a dream.  Rather, he claims that any one of our experiences might be a dream.)


Format for Part I:

            1. Open your discussion by restating the question, saying which part of the question you will discuss first, which part second, and so on.  Answer the parts of the question in the order in which they are posed. 

            2. Use quotes from the text to substantiate, illustrate, or amplify what you are saying.  Put in parentheses the page number of the text where the quote can be found.  Be sure to quote accurately.  Also, make sure that the content and grammar of the quote properly fits with the content and grammar of the sentence that you are using the quote to substantiate, illustrate or amplify.

            3. Use the first person when you give and defend your opinion in (4) of the question. Use the present tense when explaining what Descartes does.  This is called the historical present, since his philosophy is still considered accurate at this time.  Spell his name correctly.


5. Connect your paragraphs in a logical way, even if that means that you have to say something like “Having discussed x, I will now consider y,” where “x” and “y” stand for parts of the question. 

            5. Close with a paragraph that summarizes your entire discussion.  That is, repeat the parts of the question that you have answered, saying that you have answered each part.

            6.  Use a dictionary to look up words whose meaning or spelling you are unsure of and pay attention to word usage, sentence structure, consistency in verb tenses and subject-predicate agreement.  You will be marked down for poor spelling and grammar in addition to the 15 points for not following the format directions.

            7. Bibliography or footnotes are not required unless you consult outside sources.  Please consult the plagiarism rules on the syllabus because any kind of cheating will earn you an F in the course. 


 Part II: Answer each part of the three following questions. This part of the exam is worth 30 points. No quotes are required for this part of the exam.    Below question (1) I have given you a model to use for answering (1).    Your answer for question (2) should have the same form as the model that I have given you for answering (1).  (5 points will be deducted from each answer, if you don’t use this model for answering both questions.) 

1. Aquinas uses the same assumption in his proof from motion and in his proof from efficient cause, two of his proofs for the existence of God.
a. State that assumption.
b. Give the philosophical name of the fallacy that the assumption commits.
c. Define or express in words the mistake in reasoning made by someone who commits this fallacy.

Model for your answer to question (1):
1a. The assumption that Aquinas uses in both aforementioned proofs is ---------.
   b. The philosophical name of the fallacy that the assumption commits is ………..
   c. The mistake in reasoning made by someone who commits this fallacy is that they ……..

2. Descartes in Meditation II describes himself heating a piece of wax.
a. What happens to the piece of wax after Descartes heats it?
b. What ‘revised’ conception or idea of the wax does Descartes arrive at after he has heated it?
c. What is the source of this ‘revised’ conception of the wax?