Freedom and Reponsibility (Spring 2014) - First Exam

Free Will - First 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. You have 1,800 words. (There is a 1,500 word minimum.)

I. Answer one question from 1-2. (Classical Compatibilism)

1. How might Hume argue that the insanity defense supports his version of compatibilism?

(This question does not ask for evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain classical compatibilism. Then explain Hume's argument from insanity. When can actions redound to our honor according to Hume? What do the actions of "mad-men" appear to have more of than those of "wise-men"? What does this suggest about libertarianism? How does any of this provide support for compatibilism.)

2. Evaluate Hume's "We are all compatibilists" argument for compatibilism.

(This question requires evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain what classical compatibilism is. Then explain Hume's argument for the claim that most of us are already compatibilists. You should discuss his key examples. Do not use lots of long quotes. Then evaluate his argument. Has he successfully shown that we are compatibilists? If he's right would this show that compatibilism is true?)

II. Answer one question from 3-4. (Frankfurt and Watson)

3. Explain the Problem of Succumbing to Temptation for Frankfurt's theory of free will.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain Frankfurt's theory of free will. Make sure to explain the difference between first-order and second-order desires. Provide some illustrative examples in support of his theory. Then present the problem. Show precisely how it is a problem for his view.)

4. Can Watson distinguish compulsion from weakness of the will? If so, how? If not, why not?

(This question requires evaluation. I want you to consider the Problem of Succumbing to Temptation for Watson's account of free will.)

III. Answer one question from 5-6. (Contemporary Compatibilism)

5. Evaluate the Problem of Jojo for Frankfurt's account of free will.

(This question requires evaluation. Suggested plan: Explain Frankfurt's theory of free will. Make sure to explain the difference between first-order and second-order desires. Provide some illustrative examples in support of his theory. Then present the problem. Finally, evaluate the objection. How could Frankfurt reply in defense of his theory?)

6. According to Wolf's account of free will, does any wrongful action imply that the wrongdoer is insane?

(This question requires evaluation. Wolf thinks the answer is no. Explain why. Do you agree? Suggested plan: Explain Wolf's theory of free will. This will require explaining deep self views and her notion of sanity. Give an example in support of her theory. Then present the objection. Why might one worry that her theory implies that most wrong-doing is done by insane agents? What would be the problem with that? Then explain her reply. Finally, evaluate her reply.)

Note: When evaluating an argument, you need to build up the argument and then show where it might go wrong. To build up an argument, you must do more than merely offer a formalization. You must explain the argument. Explain why someone might believe the premises. Typically, showing where an argument goes wrong will require arguing that one of the premises is false. When providing your own evaluations, be sure to consider obvious, compelling replies to your objections. If you think an argument is good, then you will need to defend it against the strongest objections that you can think of.

Note: Keep quotations to an absolute minimum. Never use a quotation to speak for you. I can't think of a good reason why you would need to use many quotes.

Due Date

Thursday, 3/6/2014


The exam should be in total no more than 1,800 words. This is approximately 6 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font. The exam should be no less than 1,500 words. (I will deduct a letter grade for every 200 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.

You should include a bibliography on the final page. Use the Chicago manual "notes and bibliography" citation style:


You are required to hand in a paper copy at the start of class on the due date. In addition you must submit the midterm through Safe Assign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date. (11:59 pm is after class, 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."