Philosophy of Film (Spring 2013) - Final Exam

Philosophy of Film (S13) - Final Exam

Before you begin writing, read this entire document.

Answer four (4) questions. All key terms, theories, and named objections must be explained. You have 3,600 words. (There is a 2,400 word minimum.)

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

1. Evaluate Gaut's claim that identification has explanatory priority over care in accounting for our emotional responses to fiction (p.261). Consider the objection from the opening scene of Manhunter (Mann, 1986).

(This question requires evaluation. You should consider Gaut's objections to care based theories. See the second paragraph in the section called "The Concept of Identification." And you should consider his discussion of Silence of the Lambs. You might want to assess Gaut's claim that when we fear for a swimmer threatened by shark, we imagine the shark's attack on us (PFMP, p.265). Is this at all plausible? Is his reply available for the sleeping victims in Manhunter?)

2. Evaluate Smith's claim that perverse allegiances are rare. You should assess his criteria for what counts as a perverse allegiance. Remember, he is primarily interested in second-order perversity. Does this set the bar too high, perhaps at the level of radical evil? Why or why not? Does it matter? Would we find more clear cases of perverse allegiances if include first order perversity?

(This question requires evaluation. You should consider at least one example.)

II. Answer question 3. (The Paradox of Horror)

3. Evaluate Carroll's solution to the paradox of horror.

(This question requires evaluation. You should motivate the paradox, explain Carroll's solution, and consider an objection or two.)

III. Answer one question from 4-5. (The Paradox of Painful Art)

4. Defend a solution to the paradox of painful art.

(Since you don't have much space, you won't be able to provide much negative argument against the opposing views. You can simply setup the problem and defend a view.)

5. Evaluate Hume's solution to the paradox of painful art.

(This question requires evaluation. Motivate the problem. Then try to make Hume's solution as compelling as you can. Finally, evaluate the theory.)

IV. Answer question 6. (Can Film do Philosophy?)

6. Evaluate Livingston's problem of paraphrase for the bold thesis.

(This question requires evaluation. You should explain the bold thesis. Present the problem of paraphrase. And then evaluate it.)

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

Monday, 5/13/2013


You have at most 3600 words (roughly 12 pages, double-spaced, Arial, 12 point font). The exam should be no less than 2,400 words, about 8 pages. (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 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. And please do NOT email the exam to me. 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: 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 the course Blackboard page. Read the following: 1. Writing Tip Sheet, 2. General Instructions, and 3. Pryor's "Writing Philosophy Papers". The last document is the most important.