Philosophy of Emotion (Spring 2012) - Final Exam

Philosophy of Emotion (S12) - Final Exam

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer four (4) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained.

I. Answer one question from 1 and 2. (What Should We Care About?)

1. Consider an athletic father who loves his athletic son more than his intellectual son. The father has a greater affinity for the athletic son and they enjoy the sporting life together. What should we say about this case? Is this a problem for Wolf's theory of care? Does her theory have the resources to handle the problem, if it is indeed a problem?

2. Evaluate Frankfurt's reply to Wolf. Frankfurt argues that the worth of what one cares about does not directly affect how good it is for the one who cares. Does this meet Wolf's objection? Does Frankfurt's reply assume rational egoism? Why does Wolf think it is better to like better things? Does she appeal to self-interest? Does Frankfurt's reply meet her objection?

II. Answer question 3. (Understanding Value)

3. Stocker (pp.183-184) and Oakley (pp.49-51) argue that the emotions are necessary for understanding certain kinds of value, such as that of a loving relationship or the importance of the loss of a loved one. Explain and evaluate this claim. Do they think that a sympathetic reaction is necessary for understanding someone else's loss? You can focus on either argument.

III. Answer one question from 4 and 5. (Moral Value of Emotions)

4. Evaluate Blum's argument for the claim that altruistic emotions are intrinsically valuable. You should discuss both the Hospital Visit example and the Major Tom (aka "Joan") example. Evaluate his claim that altruistic emotions "convey goods" to the object. How does this work in his examples? Does Blum's explanation of the source of the value undermine his claim about intrinsic value?

5. Hurka argues that it is morally bad to enjoy fictional suffering. Explain his argument. How might Hurka reply to the objection that fictional suffering is not actual suffering. Can he reply in a way consistent with his account of why such attitudes are bad, with LE and HG?

IV. Answer one question from 6 and 7. (Responsibility for Emotions)

6. Evaluate Oakley's argument for the claim that "we are responsible for a present emotional state of ours if we could at some prior time reasonably have avoided getting into it" (p.141).

7. Adams (pp.25-27) offers a brief account of why we are blameworthy for some involuntary states (ex. some emotions) and not others (ex. hunger pangs). Why are normal human adults blameworthy for malicious pleasure on his account? Can his account exclude young children and non-human animals while not excusing the callously insensitive? What should he say about Antoine Chigurh?

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

5/14/2012 (Monday)


The complete exam should be no more than 3,300 words. This is approximately 11 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.


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 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.