Exam Date: April 19 , 2017 Final Exam Notes
PHL 550 FINAL EXAM QUESTIONS
1. According to Clifford, it is always wrong to believe anything on insufficient evidence. James
disagrees. Explain the reasons that each philosopher gives for his opinion. Do you think that
either of them is right, or more right than the other? Why, or why not?
Clifford: Ship owner who does not do maintenance on his ship and everyone dies. But if
everyone didn’t die, it would still be wrong. Belief against self-interest.
Clifford: Prosecutor accusing a group of individuals of wrong-doing. When they turn out
innocent, the group’s image is ruined. It is wrong to not do the appropriate investigation
before making assumptions.
According to James, decisions are:
o Live or dead for a person (if one has nothing to do with a decision, then that
decision is dead to them)
o Forced or avoidable (some decisions are avoidable and some decisions must
o Momentous or trivial (some decisions are so important that they must be made
right away, while other decisions can be made and taken back if not important)
Religions belief to James is forced and momentous. Believes that faith is sensible
though not rationally demanded.
James argues that one does not choose one’s beliefs, but one just has them and we
look to our leaders and authority figures to model our beliefs after theirs. Usually, we
accept what we’re told.
2. Plantinga argues that some religious beliefs may be properly basic. Some might object that,
if Plantinga is right about these religious beliefs, then any belief--however silly or irrational or
groundless--might be properly basic. Explain this objection and Plantinga's reply to it. Do you
think his reply is convincing? Why, or why not?
According to Clifford and ‘evidentialists’, even if it is true that god exists, one is
unjustified and irrational for believing this due to lack of evidence.
Only beliefs that are properly basic (those that are self-evident or obvious) do not require
evidence. But why can’t belief in God be properly basic?
o There are other things we believe without evidence that we are entirely justified
in believing (for example, the world is older than 5 minutes).
o There is no evidence that only propositions that are self-evident and incorrigible
are properly basic. The theory fails its own test.
1 Exam Date: April 19 , 2017 Final Exam Notes
According to Plantinga, justification is easy to come by because it’s warrant that is
important for knowledge. In order for something to be warranted:
o Cognitively, the person must be sound.
o The cognitive environment must be appropriate.
o The purpose of the knowledge is aimed at producing true beliefs.
o The probability of the belief being true is high.
Discussion with the Great Pumpkin objections. An objection that states it could lead to
radical relativism. Plantinga says that they are still being lied to, so they possess no
Plantinga argues that any belief, no matter how silly or irrational, can be justified in their
belief, but not warranted.
3. What is the self-defeat argument for (belief in) phenomenal conservatism? Do you think that
belief in any rival theory (i.e., any theory inconsistent with phenomenal