Philosophy Final Exam Study Note
Time: 9-12 am
Part One: Short-Answer Questions
What is the point of Humes Missing Shade of Blue Objection?
The Missing Shade of Blue states that if one is given various shades of blue and one is missing, the
person can identify that there is a missing shade and form an image of that shade as well. The point
of Hume's objection is that one does not need the relevant sensory experience to generate an idea.
What, according to Sartre, is abandonment (in the world)?
Abandonment according to Sartre is the lack of guide (God) to set certain rules on how we act
(whether it is right or wrong) and nothing can be measured to be good or evil because no one is
regulating both extremes.
The Materialist View of Human Nature
Hobbes believed that all phenomena in the universe, without exception, can be explained in terms
of the motions and interactions of material bodies. He did not believe in the soul, or in the mind as
separate from the body, or in any of the other incorporeal and metaphysical entities in which other
writers have believed. Instead, he saw human beings as essentially machines, with even their
thoughts and emotions operating according to physical laws and chains of cause and effect, action
and reaction. As machines, human beings pursue their own self-interest relentlessly, mechanically
avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. Hobbes saw the commonwealth, or society, as a similar
machine, larger than the human body and artificial but nevertheless operating according to the
laws governing motion and collision.
In putting together this materialist view of the world, Hobbes was influenced by his contemporaries
Galileo and Kepler, who had discovered laws governing planetary motion, thereby discrediting
much of the Aristotelian worldview. Hobbes hoped to establish similar laws of motion to explain
the behavior of human beings, but he was more impressed by Galileo and Keplers mathematical
precision than by their use of empirical data and observation. Hobbes hoped to arrive at his laws of
motion deductively, in the manner of geometrical proofs. It is important to note that Hobbes was
not in any position to prove that all of human experience can be explained in terms of physical and
mechanical processes. That task would have required scientific knowledge far beyond that
possessed by the seventeenth century. Even today, science is nowhere near being able to fully
explain human experience in physical terms, even though most people tend to believe that science will one day be able to do just that. In the absence of such a detailed explanation, the image of the
human being as a machine in Hobbess writing remains more of a metaphor than a philosophical
The Inadequacy of Observation as a Foundation of Knowledge
Hobbes rejected what we now know as the scientific method because he believed that the
observation of nature itself is too subjective a basis on which to ground philosophy and science.
Hobbes contested the scientific systems of the natural philosophers Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle.
These major figures in the Scientific Revolution in England base their natural philosophy on a
process of inductive reasoning, making inferences and conclusions based on the observation of
nature and the manipulation of nature through experimentation. For Hobbes, the chief aim of
philosophy is to create a totalizing system of truth that bases all its claims on a set of foundational
principles and is universally demonstrable through the logic of language. He rejects the observation
of nature as a means of ascertaining truth because individual humans are capable of seeing the
world in vastly different ways. He rejects inductive reasoning, arguing that the results of contrived
experiments carried out by a few scientists can never be universally demonstrable outside of the
laboratory. Accordingly, Hobbes holds that geometry is the branch of knowledge that best
approximates the reasoning that should form the basis of a true philosophy. He calls for a
philosophy based on universally agreed-upon first principles that form the foundation for
Fear as the Determining Factor in Human Life
Hobbes maintained that the constant back-and-forth mediation between the emotion of fear and
the emotion of hope is the defining principle of all human actions. Either fear or hope is present at
all times in all people. In a famous passage of Leviathan, Hobbes states that the worst aspect of the
state of nature is the continual fear and danger of violent death. In the state of nature, as Hobbes
depicts it, humans intuitively desire to obtain as much power and good as they can, and there are
no laws preventing them from harming or killing others to attain what they desire. Thus, the state
of nature is a state of constant war, wherein humans live in perpetual fear of one another. This fear,
in combination with their faculties of reason, impels men to follow the fundamental law of nature
and seek peace among each other. Peace is attained only by coming together to forge a social
contract, whereby men consent to being ruled in a commonwealth governed by one supreme
authority. Fear creates the chaos endemic to the state of nature, and fear upholds the peaceful
order of the civil commonwealth. The contract that creates the commonwealth is forged because of
peoples fear, and it is enforced by fear. Because the sovereign at the commonwealths head holds
the power to bodily punish anyone who breaks the contract, the natural fear of such harm compels
subjects to uphold the contract and submit to the sovereigns will. Good and Evil as Appetite and Aversion
Hobbes believed that in mans natural state, moral ideas do not exist. Thus, in speaking of human
nature, he defines good simply as that which people desire and evil as that which they avoid, at
least in the state of nature. Hobbes uses these definitions as bases for explaining a variety of
emotions and behaviors. For example, hope is the prospect of attaining some apparent good,
whereas fear is the recognition that some apparent good may not be attainable. Hobbes admits,
however, that this definition is only tenable as long as we consider men outside of the constraints
of law and society. In the state of nature, when the only sense of good and evil derives from
individuals appetites and desires, general rules about whether actions are good or evil do not exist.
Hobbes believes that moral judgments about good and evil cannot exist until they are decreed by a
societys central authority. This position leads directly to Hobbess belief in an autocratic and
absolutist form of government.
Absolute Monarchy as the Best Form of Government
Hobbes promoted that monarchy is the best form of government and the only one that can
guarantee peace. In some of his early works, he only says that there must be a supreme sovereign
power of some kind in society, without stating definitively which sort of sovereign power is best.
In Leviathan,however, Hobbes unequivocally argues that absolutist monarchy is the only right form
of government. In general, Hobbes seeks to define the rational bases upon which a civil society
could be constructed that would not be subject to destruction from within. Accordingly, he
delineates how best to minimize discord, disagreement, and factionalism within societywhether
between state and church, between rival governments, or between different contending
philosophies. Hobbes believes that any such conflict leads to civil war. He holds that any form of
ordered government is preferable to civil war. Thus he advocates that all members of society
submit to one absolute, central authority for the sake of maintaining the common peace. In
Hobbess system, obedience to the sovereign is directly tied to peace in all realms. The sovereign is
empowered to run the government, to determine all laws, to be in charge of the church, to
determine first principles, and to adjudicate in philosophical disputes. For Hobbes, this is the only
sure means of maintaining a civil, peaceful polity and preventing the dissolution of society into civil
Social Contract Theory:
social institutions are the product of voluntary agreement among free individuals.
Hence, the scope and nature and even the extent of government, as a particular kind of social
institution, should be understood by analyzing the agreements that would be so made.
Explains why there is any moral obligation at all among people in society, and to give account of
the nature of moral obligation, which will allow us to deduce particular obligations. Covenant of every man with every man, in such manner as if every man should say to every
man: I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of
men, on this condition, that you give up your right to him, and authorize all his actions in like
State of Nature:
A hypothetical theory that shows rational being are act in way that only benefits themselves.
How people behave in society without laws or Social authority
Results in a war against all when scarcity exists
War of all against all: each person competes for gain with all others, and each equally strives for
power and reputation
Reasoning why the war against all would occur because everyone is going for the same thing,
and because everyone is equal everyone can achieve the same goals creating competition.
Were all more or less equal in our abilities and the fear of death equal hope for attaining his
or her ends, produces competition
Everyone has the liberty to use any means possible to preserve his or her life
A basic right to self-d