Moral Responsibility (Fall 2012) - First Exam

Moral Responsibility (F12) - First Exam

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer five (5) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained.

I. Answer one question from 1-2. (Frankfurt and Watson)

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

(This question does not ask for evaluation. You merely need to explain Frankfurt's theory and then present the objection.)

2. 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.)

II. Answer question 3. (The Reasons View)

3. Evaluate Wolf's reply to the objection that according to her account of moral responsibility all wrongdoing implies that the wrongdoer is insane?

(This question requires evaluation. Explain Wolf's theory. Explain the objection. Then explain her reply. Is it successful? Why or why not?)

III. Answer question 4. (Strawson)

4. 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.)

IV. Answer question 5. (Pereboom)

5. 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.)

V. Answer question 6. (Arpaly)

6. 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 shopkeeper. Is the upstanding shopkeeper more worthy of praise the more he cares about honesty?)

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 11/1/2012


The complete exam should be no more than 3,600 words. This is approximately 12 pages double-spaced in 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 short 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. Include the question number at the start of each answer. Do not copy the questions.


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. (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.

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 this paper you must read several documents under the writing section of Blackboard. Read the following: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers". The last document is the most important.