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Great Philosophical Questions

1.Crito argues that Socrates should accept his offer to facilitate Socrates escape, because otherwise Crito and the rest of Socrates wealthy friends will be blamed and suffer diminished reputations among the many; the multitude will believe that Crito valued money more than the life of his friend. What is Socrates argument against Critos position? Why exactly shouldnt one care about the opinions of the many? (See especially Crito 46d-48a).
2.Be prepared to (a) to summarize and explain the Cultural Differences Argument (Rachels, p. 19), and (b) to state at least one objection against the argument.
3.Explain and give an argument to support each of the following three claims:
(a)If cultural relativism is true, then I have no basis for criticizing my communitys moral rules.
(b)If cultural relativism is true, then there is no such thing as moral progress.
(c)If each person has her own moral truth, i.e., if moral subjectivism is correct, then moral disagreements are impossible.
4.Be prepared to summarize Thomas causal argument for the existence of God (The second way is from the nature of efficient causes, Summa Theologica, p. 53)
5.Consider Cleanthes proof of the existence of God in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, part II (Look round the World: Contemplate the Whole and every Part of it).
(a)In your own words do not talk about machines how is this an example of the Argument from Design?
(b)According to Hume in Dialogues, part II (If we see a House, Cleanthes, we conclude, with the greatest Certainty), the Argument from Design is based on a false analogy. Summarize and explain his argument.
6.According to Thomas, we can demonstrate that God exists through the reasoned process of giving a logical argument.
(a)How does Kierkegaard use the Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac to reject that idea?
(b)In what sense is Abrahams situation in the story absurd? How does the absurdity of his situation prepare Abraham to make the leap of faith (or, better, the leap to faith)?
(c)In what sense is faith objective (i.e., knowable from a public perspective) for Thomas, but
subjective (knowable only from the perspective of the knower herself) for Kierkegaard?
(d)Is killing Isaac unethical, according to Kierkegaard?
7.Ayers position on free will is usually described as a form of compatibilism.
(a)What does that mean? According to Ayer, what is compatible with what?
(b)What is the thesis of determinism?
(c)It is usually said that a person performs an action A freely if she could have chosen to do otherwise than A. Give an example that illustrates this definition.
(d)If we define free will as in (c) and also assume that determinism is true, do human beings have free will?
(e)How does Ayer define free will? According to Ayer, are human beings ever morally responsible for their actions?
8.Define the following terms in Frankfurt, and provide an example that illustrates how they fit together: (a) first-order desire, (b) second-order desire, (c) will, and (d) second-order volition.
9.Korsgaards writes:
I desire and I find myself with a powerful impulse to act. But I back up and bring that impulse into view and then I have a certain distance. Now the impulse doesnt dominate me and now I have a problem. Shall I act? Is this desire a reason to act? The reflective mind cannot settle for perception and desire, not just as such. It needs a reason. (The Sources of Normativity, p. 93)
(a)Be prepared to analyze and explain this passage using Frankfurts conceptual framing (i.e., his talk of first-order desires, etc.) and Taylors notion of strong evaluation (What is human agency?, p. 16).
(b)How does the process that Korsgaard describes which is the process human beings go through to choose their will compare with how a nonhuman animal chooses its will?
(c)In what sense does the distance Korsgaard speak of in this passage give a human being space to develop her self-conception, and how does this differ from the case of the nonhuman animal. (Compare Sources, pp. 100-1.)
10.Sketch a diagram of Searles Chinese Room, and explain how he uses this example to argue against the possibility of strong AI. Include in your answer Searles idea that the Chinese Room or a computer they come to the same thing only performs computational operations on formally specified elements (Minds, Brains and Programs, p. 334)
11.Explain in detail the Systems Reply. Why might one find it persuasive? Why doesnt Searle find it persuasive?
12.Explain in detail the Robot Reply. Why might one find it persuasive? Why doesnt Searle find
it persuasive?

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