Senior Seminar, Comprehensive Exam Questions

Critical Thinking

  • CT1: State and illustrate the Socratic method of questioning, explaining why it is of such importance to Socrates.  Give an example from one of the dialogues of an exchange during which the Socratic method is used.
  • CT2: How does scientific reasoning differ from reasoning in the humanities?  Give examples of each.
  • CT3: What are some of the arguments for and against the claim that a machine can be constructed that has the capability of consciousness and thought?
  • CT4: What are some prominent theories concerning the relationship between language and the world?
  • CT5: Explain the distinction between syntax and semantics and how Searle uses this distinction to argue against strong AI.
  • CT6: Explain the functionalist theory of mind using the two versions of the Turing Test as an illustration.
  • CT7: Explain Frank Jackson's knowledge argument from "What Mary Doesn't Know". Does his argument successfully disprove physicalism? Argue for your answer.
  • CT8: Explain the “problem of induction” in philosophy of science.  What does Karl Popper propose as an alternative? Does his alternative work? Why or why not?
  • CT9: Compare and contrast at least two proposed criteria of demarcation between science and non-science.
  • CT10: What is a ‘paradigm’ according to Thomas Kuhn?  Give an example of a paradigm shift.  In your answer, be sure to explain the terms ‘incommensurable’ and ‘theory-ladenness of observation.’
  • CT11: Explain coherence theory of justification and both strong and moderate foundationalism.  Identify and explain at least one criticism of each theory.
  • CT12: What are the defining characteristics of a Gettier Problem?  Using these criteria, invent your own example of a Gettier problem.
  • CT13: G. E. Moore offers this proof for the existence of the external world: 1. Here is a hand. 2. If there is a hand here, then there is an external world. 3. Therefore there is an external world. Identify a philosopher who finds this proof to be unsatisfying, and explain his/her objections.  Alternatively, you may give your own objections.
  • CT14: Explain the “brain in a vat” argument for skepticism, and explain at least one argument against it. 
  • CT15: What is Pascal’s Wager?  Identify and explain at least two critiques of it.
  • CT16: How would you distinguish an argument from an explanation? Give an example and make an argument for the distinction between the two. 
  • CT17: Why might one use an analogical argument? Give an example of an analogical argument and explain why it might be a persuasive tool in an argument.
  • CT18: What is the difference between a statistical and a causal argument? Which type of argument would one use to argue why a floodwall collapsed during a hurricane? Explain.
  • CT19: Construct a moral argument using one of the ethical models (consequentialist, deontic, or aretaic). Explain why your argument fits that model, rather than the other two.