Philosophy of Death (Fall 2013) - Final Exam

Philosophy of Death - 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 word minimum.)

I. Answer one question from 1-2. (Immortality)

1. Evaluate Fischer's reply to Williams's argument against the Continuous 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 Continuous Model, the one involving EM. Explain the model. Explain Williams's criticism. Then explain Fischer's reply. Make sure to explain the difference Fischer draws between two types of pleasures. Is Fischer's objection compelling, why or why not?)

2. 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.)

II. Answer question 3. (The Nature of Suicide)

3. Evaluate this objection to Cholbi's definition of suicide: It incorrectly implies that a soldier who dies on an extremely risky mission, say, to ferret out a sniper, commits suicide.

(This question requires evaluation. You should explain Cholbi's definition. Get into the details. Then explain why he thinks that Foxhole Jumper is a case of suicide. Then explain the objection. Evaluate the significance. Does this putative implication show that the definition is wrong? What could Cholbi say in defense of his theory?)

III. Answer one question from 4-5. (The Morality of Suicide)

4. Evaluate the "You Can't Wrongfully Steal from God Objection" to the Property Argument for the impermissibility of suicide.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain the property argument. What is it designed to show? Then explain the objection. Finally, evaluate the objection. Is it the case that one can't wrongfully steal from God? You shouldn't try to canvas all the objections the the property. You don't have space for that. Just focus on this one objection.)

5. Evaluate the Gun Toting Toddler Objection to the Self-Defense Argument for the permissibility of suicide.

(This question requires evaluation. Explain the self-defense argument. Make it clear. Then explain the objection. Make it clear how the objection is an objection. Explain the analogy between the toddler and oneself. Then evaluate the objection. Don't try to discuss all the objections Cholbi raises to this argument. Focus on this objection.)

Note on Order: 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 on Quotations: Keep quotations to a 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

Saturday 12/21/2013


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.)


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. And please do NOT email the exam to me unless there is a problem. 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 on Plagiarism: 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 {very clear; comprehensive; well-organized}

B = good {mostly clear; answers the questions; few, if any, errors}

C = minimal expectations {unclear sentences; no evaluation; some errors}

D = bad {very unclear; incomplete; messy; lots of errors}

F = awful {very unclear; doesn't answer the questions; sloppy; error ridden}


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."