PHIL 110 Sample Exam Questions, 2008

Questions on the exam may be be drawn from this list or may be similar to these questions.

There will be four actual question on the exam (with three hours to answer them).



(1) What is confirmation bias? Give an example or two (cold reading might be relevant here, or conspiracy theories). Explain what the availability error is. Explain how confirmation bias and availability error work together to lead people to believe things they ought to be more sceptical about.

(2) Can a society or an individual make something true simply by believing it to be true? Give an example (a) where the answer might be "yes," and another example (b) where the answer is clearly "no." Explain the differences between these examples.

(3) That is the difference between a deductive argument and an inductive argument? Give a clear example of each.

(4) Name and describe seven of the seventeen examples of informal fallacies given in your text. Give an example, preferably one you've invented yourself, of each.

(5) The text argues that extreme relativism about truth and knowledge is self-refuting. How does your text argue that this claim is true?

(6) In light of the arguments presented in the text and in the lectures, what in your opinion are the considerations that should make us the most sceptical about paranormal or other extraordinary claims? Use examples drawn from the text or from your own experience.

(7) Explain what an ad hoc hypothesis is, giving an example or two, and discuss how they might be treated in Karl Popper's philosophy of science. Can ad hoc alterations to scientific theories sometimes be reasonable? If so, when?

(8) Explain the difference between an inductive argument and a deductive argument. In analysing arguments, what is the difference between validity and soundness?

(9) It is impossible for a cow to jump over the moon. It is also impossible for God to make a stone so heavy that he cannot left it. Explain the difference between these two senses of possibility (and impossibility).

(10) How does Karl Popper distinguish between science and pseudoscience? Illustrate your answer with examples of science and pseudoscience, showing how his theory applies.