God(s) (Spring 2011) - First Exam

The Philosophy of Religion [God(s)] - First Exam (S11)

*Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

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

Answer question 1.

1. Evaluate the The Paradox of the Stone Objection to the Thomistic Account of Omnipotence (TAO).

(This question requires evaluation. You'll need to explain the TAO. Then explain the The Paradox of the Stone. Show how it can be used in an argument against TAO. Finally, consider a reply or show how no good reply is forthcoming.)

Answer one question from 2-3.

2. Explain Pike's argument for the incompatibility of divine omniscience and free will.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. Be as clear and concrete as possible. Do not copy the formalization.)

3. Evaluate Augustine's solution to the problem of divine foreknowledge.

(This question requires evaluation. Make sure that you explain the argument as clearly as you can before you evaluate it.)

Answer one question from 4-5.

4. Evaluate Wielenberg's Contest for Omnipotence Objection to the Control Thesis.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain the Control Thesis. Then explain the objection as clearly as you can. Finally, evaluate the objection. Does it assume what it is trying to prove? Why or why not?)

5. Explain the Command Failure Argument against the Karamozov Thesis.

(This question does not ask for evaluation. Explain the Karamozov Thesis. Suggest why one might think it true. Then explain Wielenberg's argument. You need to explain what properties a command must have in order to successfully create an obligation. Given this, explain how a reasonable atheist might pose a problem for the Karamozov Thesis.)

Note: In order to evaluate a theory, you must first explain the theory. When explaining a counter-example to a definition, you need to specify whether the example shows that a proposed condition is not necessary, not sufficient, or neither. If you are 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. Typically, showing where an argument goes wrong will require arguing that one of the premises is false. 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. The only quotations in your exam should be of formalizations.

Due Date

Thursday 3/10/2011


The complete exam should be no more than 1,800 words. This is approximately 6 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font.


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 "course documents / writing" section on Blackboard.

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.


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 midterm. 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.


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. 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 <helpdesk@ric.edu> 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.


Your paper should be clearly written, well-structured, and free of grammatical and spelling errors. It is practically impossible to get higher than a C if you start writing the night before the paper is due. The grading scale is as follows:

A = excellent

B = good

C = meets minimal expectations

D = bad

F = awful


Before writing, you must read several documents under the writing section of Blackboard. Read the following: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, 3. Kagan's "How to Write a Philosophy Paper", 3. Pryor's "Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers", and 4. Pryor's "Glossary of Philosophical Terms."