2014-2015 Exam

Short Answer Questions

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About the Short Answer Questions

The weekly short answer questions you have been submitting for your formative coursework are compiled below. 10 questions will be randomly selected to appear in one section of the exam. So, to prepare for this portion of the exam, it is advisable to improve and study your answers to these questions.

  1. Describe the relationship between early Natural Philosophy and what we now call Philosophy, and Science.
  2. What was the scientific revolution?
  3. Explain the "shut up and calculate" dictum.
  4. Explain the verifiability criterion of meaning.
  5. What is the difference between practical, in principle, strong and weak verifiability?
  6. Describe three concerns about modern (logical) empiricism.
  7. Give an example of a claim that was once regarded as scientific but later were not, and of a claim that was once regarded as unscientific but later was not.
  8. Compare the syntactic to the semantic view of theories.
  9. Describe the mechanisms view of theory and a difficulty with it.
  10. Explain the nature of Normal Science according to Kuhn.
  11. What is the significance of an 'anomaly' in the Kuhnian picture of theory change?
  12. During a Kuhnian paradigm shift, what happens to supporters of the old paradigm?
  13. What distinguishes the inductivist view of theory change from the modest conventionalist?
  14. Explain the role of positive and negative heuristics in Lakatos' Scientific Research Programmes.
  15. When does Lakatos consider a research programme to be progressing/stagnating?
  16. Explain the No Miracles Argument for Scientific Realism.
  17. Explain the Pessimistic Meta-Induction against Scientific Realism.
  18. What is structural realism in the context of the Scientific Realism debate?
  19. What is the difference between a formal and a causal/empirical idealisation?
  20. Explain how John Norton distinguishes between approximations and idealisations.
  21. How can idealisations lead one to make incorrect inferences?
  22. Explain the regularity view of laws, and why natural regularities are not sufficient to define a law of nature.
  23. What is the Dispositional view of laws, and how does Chalmers' causal view of laws provide an example?
  24. Explain how the Best Systems view of laws distinguishes a mere regularity from a true law of nature.
  25. Give three or more characteristics that one might take a fundamental law of nature to have.
  26. Compare and Nagelian reduction in the Whole-to-Part (downward) sense to that in the Wild-to-Laboratory (crosswise) sense.
  27. What is Cartwright's argument against Wild-to-Laboratory (crosswise) reduction?
  28. What is an interpretation of probability? Why does probability need an interpretation?
  29. Explain the difference between a classical interpretation and a frequency interpretation of probability.
  30. In what ways does the subjective interpretation of probability differ from the others?
  1. What is the epistemological problem of thought experiments, and why is it a problem?
  2. Explain John Norton's empiricist view of thought experiments.
  3. How is an experiment / anti-thought experiment pair relevant for the epistemology of thought experiments?
  4. Explain the Hypothetico-Deductive (HD) approach to confirmation.
  5. What is the Paradox of the Raven?
  6. What is the Duhem-Quine problem?
  7. Explain Popper's anti-inductivist view of confirmation.
  8. What is the Bayesian approach to inductive confirmation?
  9. How does Norton's material theory purport to solve the problem of induction?
  10. Explain one objection to the DN model of explanation.
  11. How would the Statistical Relevance model explain why Joe, who was born male and is taking birth control pills, has not become pregnant?
  12. What is the Causal Mechanistic model of explanation?
  13. What is wrong with what Goodman calls the 'Most Naïve' or 'Resemblance' account of representation?
  14. Explain the Peirce/van Fraassen 'Of-As' view of representation.
  15. Why does Wigner say that the effectiveness of mathematics in science is 'unreasonable'?
  16. Explain how the regularity account is by itself inadequate as an account of causation.
  17. How does the counterfactual account improve the regularity account of causation?
  18. What is the dilemma that defeats causal fundamentalism according to Norton?
  19. How did modern physics overturn one of Kant's central philosophical claims?
  20. What is an interpretation of a physical theory?
  21. Explain Laura Ruetsche's distinction between a Pristine and an Adulterated interpretation of physics.
  22. Give two fields of study that require an understanding of the nature of life and why.
  23. What is the problem with defining life in terms of the detailed celular process that we associate with life on Earth?
  24. Explain the NASA "working definition" of life.
  25. Explain the difference between a coma, brain death, and a persistent vegetative state.
  26. According to McMahon, what are the physical and moral differences between "the death of a person" and "the death of an organism"?
  27. Describe McMahan's time-symmetry test for understanding the occurrence of death and illustrate its application with an example.
  28. Explain the 'massive modularity' hypothesis as it has been proposed in evolutionary psychology.
  29. How does evolutionary psychology solve the problem of the prisoner's dilemma for gardeners and babysitters?
  30. What problem does learned behaviour pose for the 'massive modularity' view of the mind?