PHL 606 Winter 2014
I have listed below several possible test questions for your mid-term.
• You will be asked three of these questions, each worth 30 points, on your test.
• There will be a fourth question, not included here, which will ask for your critical
reflection on one of the key ideas in questions 1-3. This question will be worth 10.
• You have 1 hour and 50 minutes to respond.
• Your answers should be in essay form, and hand-written in legible writing.
• No books may be consulted during the test. For this reason, you are also not expected
to cite the text.
• The test will take place in our regular classroom, at the time of our class.
How to Develop Good Answers
1. Make sure you’ve developed true insight into the core ideas of the readings, and that
you articulate this insight in your own voice.
The aim of this course is to help you develop insight into some deeply influential ideas, and to
see why they are rationally compelling. That means that in the assignments for this course I am
not looking for a regurgitation of what has been said in class; nor am I looking for a mere
paraphrasing of what the text says; nor will I be satisfied with the kind of standard interpretation
of these texts that you might find in popular secondary sources. Rather, I want to see that you
have struggled with the text yourself, that you have worked to make good sense of it as a whole
(seeing how all the parts and details fit together), and that you have digested and reflected upon
the key ideas—that is, you have made them your own. You don’t need to fully and completely
agree with the ideas in question. But you must be able to fully explain their meaning and to
make them rationally compelling for your reader; and you must be able to do this in your own
2. Do not refer to other sources beyond those which we have read for class.
Reading other sources will give you someone else’s way of making sense of the text. You’ve
already heard mine. You don’t need another. Now you need to work out your own way of
making sense of it (which needn’t be different than mine, though it could well be). One of the
biggest problems (there are many) with consulting other sources on a text is that, once you’ve
heard someone else’s way through the text, it’s very difficult to find your own. And especially if
that other person’s way through is superficial, but e