Questions for Final Exam
1. If Locke is right, I probably need not worry that I am a brain in a vat. But is being a brain in a
skull any better? True, this skull has seven orifices, “windows to the soul”, through which
environmental influences enter, as they do on nerve endings at various points on my skin. So
instead of a neurologist stimulating my brain, particles stimulate my sense organs which
stimulate my brain. Is that any better an epistemic state? Have I any more reason to trust ideas
about “the world” derived in this way than ideas implanted by a neurologist or evil demon?
2. Is there anything Achilles should have learned from the tortoise about deduction? Is there
anything we should learn from the tortoise about induction?
3. Is Berkeley‟s idealism just the logical conclusion of Locke‟s and Hume‟s empiricism?
4. “A hallucination of a seaside beach can appear exactly like the visual appearance brought on
by the actual presence of a seaside beach. It is reasonable then to suppose that in both cases one
is directly seeing the same mental image; only the causes of each mental image differ.”
5. What am I really seeing when I think I am seeing a chair?
6. “Hume‟s main interest in causation is to destroy the idea that we could have such knowledge
[about a Straightjacket], and hence ever apprehend a Straightjacketing fact: we have no
conception of it, nor any conception of what it would be to have such a conception nor any
conception of how we might approach such a conception. In particular we must not think of the
advance of science as targeted on finding such a thing. The lesson drawn from Newton is that
just as Principia [by Newton] gives us the operation of gravitational force, but does not „tell us
what it is‟, so any conceivable advance in science can only do more of the same. It can put
events into wider and more interesting and exception-free patterns, and that is all. „The most
perfect philosophy of the natural kind only staves off our ignorance a little longer‟ (Hume,
Enquiry).” Simon Blackburn, “Hume and Thick Connexions”, pp. 244-245.
Is it true that we can never have any conception of a Straightjacketing fact beyond the simple
observation of the regularity of the phenomenon in question? Should we be troubled by this, and
should it undermine our confidence in our inductive inferences?
7. “We… commonly ascribe to material things colours as we see colours, as they occur as
elements in our experiential content, and again heat, cold, roughness, and so on as we feel the