Philosophy of Religion (Spring 2012) - Final Exam

Philosophy of Religion (S12) - Final Exam

*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 minimum.)

Answer one question from 1-2. (Personal Identity)

1*. At the beginning of the Second Night, Miller argues for the personality theory of personal identity. In your own words, explain the argument he presents on (roughly) pages 19-22. How does the conceivability of Kafka's metamorphosis lend support to the personality theory over the body theory.

2*. At the end of the Second Night, Weirob raised an important objection to the personality theory. In your own words, explain the objection she presents on (roughly) pages 32-36. How is it a problem for the personality theory that God could make more than one heavenly being with with my personality?

(*Note: Neither of the first two questions asks for evaluation. I simply want you to explain the arguments as clearly and convincingly as you can. Don't use any quotations or external sources. Your roommate should be able to understand every sentence. In answering these questions, you need to explain the concept of personal identity and the personality theory.)

Answer one question from 3-4. (Immortality)

3. Evaluate Fischer's reply to Williams's argument against the Serial Model of immortality.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Williams's argument. Explain his distinction between two types of desires. Spell out the two conditions he proposes for evaluating various models. Don't try to explain all of the models. Focus on the Serial Model. Explain the model. Explain Williams's criticism. Explain Fischer's reply. Make sure to explain the difference he draws between two types of pleasures. Is Fischer's objection compelling, why or why not?)

4. Evaluate Williams's argument against the Tiresias Model of immortality.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Williams's argument. Explain his distinction between two types of desires. Spell out the two conditions he proposes for evaluating various models. Don't try to explain all of the models. Focus on the Tiresias Model. Explain the model. Explain Williams's criticism. What condition, if any, does it fail to meet? Is Williams right? You can consider Fischer's reply if you want.)

Answer one question from 5-6. (Meaning of Life)

5. Evaluate the theory of the meaning of life at the heart of the The Epic of Gilgamesh. You should consider Taylor's objection to the theory.

(This question requires evaluation. You will need to provide an interpretation of the story. You should support your interpretation with textual evidence, i.e. quotes. Your interpretation should explain the theory of the meaning of life found in the story. Evaluate the theory. Taylor raises an objection. Is it persuasive? You should not try to evaluate Taylor's positive theory here.)

6. Evaluate Wielenberg's theory of the meaning of life.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Wielenberg's theory. You should say why it is superior to subjective theories. Explain his test for what makes an activity intrinsically valuable. Do the things on his list pass? If not, is this a problem? You might ask if the items on his list open his theory up to experience machine style objections?)

Note: In order to evaluate an argument, you need to build up the argument before showing 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 or for textual evidence to support an interpretation of a story or a complex argument.

Due Date

5/12/2012 (Saturday)


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 300 words shy of the minimum.)


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 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.


I do not need a hard copy. You must submit the final exam 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 <> 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 three documents under the writing section of Blackboard: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "How to Write a Philosophy Paper."