SAMPLE Philosophy 17 Final Exam

This is a sample final only. It is not your final exam. Your final exam will be an interactive exam within Angel, like Midterm 2.

PART I: (64 points)

Answer on your own paper. Name the specific fallacy, if any, committed in each passage below. Choose your answer from the list below. Briefly explain your choice. If no fallacy is committed, explain why the argument is acceptable. If there’s a fallacy, say why it’s the fallacy you named, i.e., how that fallacy applies to this passage. Don’t just restate the passage.

Some arguments may contain instances of more than one fallacy. Pick one: the one you think most applicable to the whole argument.



Ad Hominem abusive

Ad Hominem circumstantial

Ad Hominem tu quoque

Appeal to Common Belief or Practice

Appeal to Force

Appeal to Pity

Appeal to Ignorance

Appeal to Unqualified Authority


Begging the Question

Compatibility with all States of Affairs


Continuum Fallacy

Correlation Fallacy



False Cause

False Dichotomy (Dilemma)

Gambler’s Fallacy

Hasty Generalization

Irrelevant Emotional Appeal

Misleading/Dubious Analogy

Objectionable Vagueness

Poisoning the Well

Post Hoc

Red Herring (Smokescreen)

Reversing Causation

Slippery Slope

Straw Man

Subjectivist Fallacy

Unfair Shifting of Burden of Proof

Weak Analogy

Wishful Thinking


1.      Swedes eat millions of pounds of cheese per year.  Lars is a Swede, so Lars eats millions of pounds of cheese a year.


2.      When you have cancer in your body, you get it removed if you can, or you kill it with radiation or drugs. Well, criminals are just like a cancer in the body of the state. So we should treat criminals just as we would treat any cancer, by killing them. 


3.      You argue that I should cut down on my drinking. But you drink much more heavily than I. You haven’t been sober in a year.


4.      Some people argue that guns cause accidental deaths and wounding in private homes. This is certainly true. But stairways, defective flooring, power tools, lawn mowers, gas stoves, axes, and heaters are just like guns; they cause accidental deaths and injuries, too. And no one would think of suggesting that these things be banned from people's homes. So it seems to me that persons who wish to assume the risk of having guns in their homes ought to be permitted to do so.


5.      You often hear people say that drugs are bad. But where do you draw the line? Caffeine is a drug, and so is sugar. So it’s pointless to argue against drugs.


6.      The Surgeon General recently issued a report arguing that one third of the cancer fatalities in the United States can be attributed to smoking. But this claim is ridiculous. Americans have been smoking for years and a great deal of enjoyment has resulted. What would life be like if you can't enjoy something once in a while? Certain religious groups are that way. Take the Amish, for example. No booze, no dancing, no gambling. Good Lord, those people must be nuts.


7.      You should always tell the truth, so when my girlfriend asks me if that outfit makes her look fat, I’ll have to say yes.


8.      In every marriage either the man or the woman must dominate.  So, honey, who’s it going to be – you or me?


9.      Strenuous exercise is good for people. Therefore, it would be a good idea for Mrs. Bevans, who just had a heart attack, to go run a marathon.


10.  A city council member has proposed that we abolish San Jose’s vice squad. If this proposal passes, it will be signal that “anything goes” in San Jose. Soon there will be soliciting on the steps of City Hall, and then lovemaking on Stevens Creek Boulevard. Organized crime will profit, and San Jose will become the whorehouse of the nation. I say, keep the vice squad!


11.  It would not be a good idea to appoint Jane Williams to the office of city manager. As city manager, Williams would control the city’s finances. But during the past fifteen years Williams has managed five different businesses, and all of them have declared bankruptcy.


12.  For several days before the big earthquake in 1989, the weather was unusually hot.  They’re predicting a heat wave next week, so I’m getting ready for another Big One.


13.  We must accept the fact that there’s a God, because no one has ever disproved it.


14.  If there’s no just God, then life is ultimately unfair. The good are punished and the wicked prosper. But life can’t be unfair; humans couldn’t bear it. Therefore, there must be a just God.


15.  More Americans drink Budweiser than any other beer. Clearly, then, if you drink beer, you should drink Bud.


16.  Either the sides of this figure are all equal or this figure is not a square. The sides are not all equal. Therefore, this figure is not a square.



Part II. (20 points) Answer on your own paper. Read the following sentences. If the sentence contains any errors of spelling or grammar, rewrite and correct all errors. If the sentence contains no errors, write “no errors.” NOTE: Some sentences contain no errors, some contain a single error, and some contain more than one error.


1.           Because ice had begun to form on the wings; the pilot decided not to take off.

2.           This table is not in it’s usual place.

3.           Road construction forced us to change our travel route, otherwise, we would have chosen the scenic route over the bland interstate highway.

4.           Shoplifting is an every day occurance.

5.           The star of the drama performed her part with grace and showed style.

6.           Running well ahead of everyone in the marathon, the new shoes began to hurt Randy’s feet.

7.           When George accused Scott of cheating, he was angry.

8.           Mr. Ciraulo’s lectures had a profound affect on me.

9.           We are obligated to keep our promises to others, if we didn’t promises would loose all value.

10.       The United Nations comprises over one hundred countries.



PART III. (24 points) Rewrite and improve the following passages. Prune unnecessary verbiage, streamline construction, eliminate passive voice, improve word choices, etc. Make the sentences clearer and easier to understand. Significant cutting and revision may be necessary. Be ruthless in the interests of clarity!


1. Couples starting out who would prefer contributions toward their first home over a toaster or coffee maker now have a way to do it.


2. Relativism is the idea that morals and values are a relative position and that true and false are completely up for discussion. Even if the culture knows that the outsider may have a point, it will not waiver them from what they hold scared or moral.


3. Values are developed and upheld to by every culture or society, so tolerance of individual cultures must be adhered to!



PART IV. (28 points) Define/explain the following. Your answers must reflect familiarity with the use of these terms and expressions in the context of this class. Clear and complete explanations will require, in some cases, more than one sentence, so you should write your answers on your own paper.


1.      anomaly

2.      ad hoc hypothesis

3.      coherence theory of truth

4.      correct logic

5.      hundredth monkey phenomenon

6.      scientific paradigm

7.      “seeing is seeing as”


Part V. (64 points) True or False? Answer here or on your own paper.


1.            _____ An argument can be valid and have a false conclusion.


2.            _____ In the sentence “Whooping cranes are rapidly disappearing,” the predicate applies to the subject distributively but not collectively.


3.            _____ An argument can have true premises and a true conclusion and yet be unsound.


4.            _____ A deductive argument can be both logically correct and factually correct and yet have a false conclusion.


5.            _____ The fallacy of appeal to ignorance consists in making statements that take advantage of the ignorance of one’s audience.


6.            _____ It is impossible for a logically correct deductive argument to have false premises and a true conclusion.


7.            _____ Modus ponens is a deductive argument form that has no invalid substitution instances.


8.            _____ Any deductive argument with false premises and a false conclusion is invalid.


9.            _____ Sense perception occurs by a simple mechanism: the impact of raw sense data on sense organs.


10.        _____ When the eye and the ear receive contradictory input, the ear usually wins.


11.        _____ In the video shown in class, James Randi visited a college classroom and gave each student the same horoscope, yet all the students thought their horoscopes were very accurate. This experiment is a good illustration of the Forer effect.


12.        _____ The classical theory of probability requires that all outcomes be equally likely.


13.        _____ I can be certain I’ll find an item costing $10 if the store says the average price of its merchandise is $10.


14.        _____ An anomaly is a hypothesis that cannot be verified independently of the phenomenon it’s supposed to explain.


15.        _____ There is no mechanical procedure for constructing explanatory hypotheses. This proves that science is not entirely experimental; hypothesis formation, at least, requires creativity. So does experimental design.


16.        _____ According to SV, science is a method rather than a particular body of truths.


17.        _____ Science uses both inductive and deductive logic.


18.        _____ According to Schick and Vaughn, it is reasonable to say we know a claim p if we have no good reason to doubt it. Absolute certainty is not required for a knowledge claim.


19.        _____ Coherence of a belief p with the rest of our belief system is sufficient reason to believe p.


20.        _____ Some knowledge is not propositional (knowledge that).


21.        _____ James’ example of precursive faith shows that faith can be a source of knowledge.


22.        _____ In a double blind experiment, neither the experimenters nor the subjects know which subjects are members of the control group.


23.        _____ The correspondence theory of truth claims that the statement “p” is true just in case the state of affairs claimed by p is the case.


24.        _____ Being male is a necessary condition for being a biological father.


25.        _____ Getting an A is a sufficient condition for passing a class.


26.        _____ Claiming that sprinters should eat jaguar meat to improve their running time illustrates the representativeness heuristic. (Jaguars run very fast.)


27.        _____ The phenomenon of seeing a vague stimulus as something it’s not – e.g., seeing a “face” on the surface of Mars – is called pareidolia.


28.        _____ Solipsism (the view that only I exist) is inconsistent with most of our other well-supported beliefs. This inconsistency is a sufficient warrant to doubt solipsism.


29.        _____ The human tendency to resist changing beliefs -- the tendency to hold on to beliefs as long as those beliefs are reasonably useful -- illustrates what SV call confirmation bias.


30.        _____ According to Occams’ razor, the best model is the one that is the most fecund, i.e., the one that makes the greatest number of novel predictions.


31.        _____ Epistemological relativism implies moral relativism but not vice-versa.


32.        _____ Peter in Who’s To Say? defends what SV call conceptual-scheme relativism.



PART VI. (50 points maximum per question) EXTRA CREDIT

Answer one or both questions.


1. Write an essay critically analyzing the following argument. Be sure your essay demonstrates familiarity with the vocabulary and techniques of argument analysis discussed in this class. I suggest you follow the argument analysis procedure outlined in the “Critical Thinking Checklist” below. Your essay should be at least 4 pages, typed double-spaced. Essays not typed will not be accepted.


Morality is possible only if there’s a God. That’s because there’s no objectivity in morality; it’s just a matter of opinion or feeling. Sure, people can reach consensus about empirical, scientific matters of fact. But moral matters aren’t matters of fact. People are bound to disagree with one another when it comes to right and wrong. So you really have only two options: you can either believe in God and know the objective truth about morality, or you can abandon belief in God and allow the world to plummet straight into moral chaos. Do you really want a world in which morals are totally relative and anything is permissible?


2. Peter's position in Who's to Say? represents an unusually subtle and complex form of relativism. What is Peter's position? What arguments does he give to support his position?  What counter-arguments are given by other characters in the dialog? Be sure your essay reflects familiarity with the dialog. For example, when you explain Peter's position, you should support your explanation by quoting the passages in the dialog that support your explanation. When you explain counter-arguments, you should also use quotations to establish that the other characters indeed say what you claim they say.