Freedom and Reponsibility (Spring 2014) - Final Exam

Free Will - Final Exam (Spring 2014)

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer three (3) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained.

Answer any three questions from 1 - 7

1. Evaluate Arpaly's revised principle of praiseworthiness (p.84). Does it account for the putative praiseworthiness of Huck Finn? Why or why not? If not, would this be a problem for her account?

(This question requires evaluation. You might want to consider the source of Huck's concern. What does he care about? Is this what makes his action morally right? You might also consider the two shopkeepers objection. Is the more upstanding shopkeeper more worthy of praise the more he cares about honesty?)

2. Evaluate Pereboom's Four Case Argument: Are there any relevant differences between Case 3 and Case 4? Do they undermine the conclusion? Why or why not?

(This question requires evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain Pereboom's argument for incompatibilism. Make it clear. Spell out what he calls the core incompatibilist intuition. Then consider an objection. You might want to ask if the presence of external manipulators in cases 1-3 makes a difference.)

3. Evaluate Strawson's answer to the question: If we came to believe in determinism, should we give up the reactive attitudes?

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Strawson's theory. Explain his answer to the normative question. Evaluate. You might want to consider Pereboom's distinction between practical and theoretical rationality.)

4. Would love be less valuable if hard incompatibilism were true? Would an acceptance of hard incompatibilism undermine romantic love? Does The Romance of Tristan and Iseult support Pereboom's argument for optimism?

(This question is fairly open. But I do want you to consider Pereboom's argument and give some consideration to the novel.

You might want to consider how we would feel about the story if they fell in love naturally, without the aid of a potion. Does our reaction to such a revised story give us reason to think Pereboom is wrong? Or might there be an explanation compatible with his claim?

Alternatively, you might consider how you would feel if you found out that your long term spouse had been taking Lovezac so they would love you. Tristan and Iseult don't seem to care about the potion, but would you? If so, does this give us reason to think that Pereboom is wrong?)

5. Evaluate Pereboom's argument for the claim that we would be better off if we could curb our moral anger. This is one of the putative benefits of accepting hard determinism.

(This question requires evaluation. Make sure that you explain the argument as clearly as you can before you evaluate it. Do not evaluate the argument for hard determinism. Just assume that hard determinism is true for the sake of argument.)

6. Pereboom defends the view that we shouldn't punish criminals. Instead, we should only quarantine and rehabilitate them. How might he respond to the objection that if hard incompatibilism is true, then humans have little value over and beyond other animals. As Frankl would say, the hard incompatibilist accepts nothingbutness. Hence, we should save our resources and treat criminals like we do sick and dangerous animals: we should exterminate the brutes.

(This question requires evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain why Pereboom thinks that quarantine and rehab are the best options available for a hard incompatibilist. Do not summarize the entire chapter. You can simply explain why backward looking theories are ruled out. Then present the objection. Consider whether the hard incompatibilist has a good reply.)

7. Evaluate Smilansky's "Unprincipled Nihilism" argument for Illusionism. Would a general acceptance of hard determinism lead to a unprincipled nihilism?

(This question requires evaluation. Make sure that you explain the argument as clearly as you can before you evaluate it. Do not evaluate the argument for hard determinism. Just assume that hard determinism is true for the sake of argument.)

Due Date

Monday, 5/12/2014


The exam should be in total no more than 2,400 words. This is approximately 8 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font. The exam should be no less than 1,500 words, about 5 pages. (I will deduct a letter grade for every 300 words shy of the minimum.)


You don't have much space, so you will need to be clear and to the point. Clarity should be your chief goal in writing the answers. Pick your words carefully. Write to be understood. Assume that you are writing the paper to be read by someone completely unfamiliar with the issues.

I want you to explain the theories and objections as clearly as you can within the space allotted. I do not want papers that are longer than the word limit. The space limitation is designed to force you to practice verbal economy. That said, it is impossible to write a set of adequate answers in much less than the allocated space. You'll have to use most of the space, and use it well.


The exam must be typed. It should be double spaced. It should have one inch margins. You should use a 12 point font. I prefer Arial, since it is easy to read. Please follow the general paper and exam instructions under the "writing" section on the course Blackboard page.

Write a separate essay for each answer. Do not try to answer all the questions in a single essay. Formal introductions and conclusions are unnecessary, though you must use paragraphs.

Please skip a line or two between your answers. You do not need to start a new page. Include the number of the question at the start of each answer. Do not copy the questions.

If you have citations, include a reference list on the final page. You can use whatever citation format you prefer.


I do NOT need a hard copy. And please do NOT email the exam to me. Instead, you should submit the exam through Safe Assign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date. (11:59 pm is the end of the day on the due date, not to be confused with the night before.) Safe Assign is a plagiarism detection tool. It will compare your paper against others available online, in journals, submitted in this class, RIC, and from all other universities that use the software.

*If you are unable to submit the paper to Safe Assign due to technical difficulties, you must send an email to the helpdesk <> explaining the problem. Make sure to CC me. If this happens, send me a copy of your paper as an attachment. Note: I will not accept your paper if you don't report the problem to the helpdesk.

Note: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the class, not just on this assignment. I recommend that you not use any outside sources. If you do, you must cite them even if you don't quote them. You must attribute all ideas to their proper sources.


Before writing, you must read three documents under the writing section of the course Blackboard page: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "Writing Philosophy Papers."