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My Exam Questions

June 13, 2015

Here are all but one of the exam questions I’ve sat in the last few weeks. One from the Knowledge and Reality paper is omitted because I’ve forgotten how it was worded and I didn’t take the paper out of the exam room. Thought some of you might be interested to see what kind of thing I’ve been studying in the last 2 years, and wanted to write this down somewhere so I can look back at it someday. I would be interested to hear thoughts on some of these questions.

International Relations:

“Realism’s greatest failing is its incapacity to take domestic politics into account.” Discuss.

“The impact of ethnic nationalism on the international order since the end of the Cold War has been much exaggerated.” Discuss.

“Democratic peace theory is so deeply flawed that it has lost any explanatory value.” Discuss.

International Relations in the era of the Two World Wars:

Was World War One the result of a clash between competing imperialist ambitions?

Does the experience of Central and East European countries in the 1920s and 1930s show that national self-determination is a flawed principle on which to base international order?

Did Neville Chamberlain make a strategic error in attempting to appease Hitler?

Political Sociology:

What difference does it make for democracy if social capital is in decline?

Why are people nationalist?

“To the extent that people still vote the same way as others in their social class, they do so for different reasons than fifty years ago.” Discuss.

The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein:

“Wittgenstein’s discussion of logical necessity fails to identify a way of avoiding the choice between Platonism and conventionalism about necessity.” Discuss.

“Wittgenstein attempts to show that disputes between Idealists, Solipsists, and Realists are merely verbal. But his own philosophy leads in the end to a kind of idealism.” Discuss.

“Where does our investigation get its importance from, given that it seems only to destroy everything interesting: that is, all that is great and important?” (WITTGENSTEIN) Does Wittgenstein offer a satisfactory response to this question?

Medieval Philosophy: Aquinas

Discuss Aquinas’ view that whatever human beings seek, they seek under the aspect of the good (sub ratione boni).

How does Aquinas distinguish between imperfect and imperfect happiness (beatitudo)? Why does he think that this distinction is useful, and is it in fact useful for understanding happiness?

How satisfactory is Aquinas’ account of the ways in which the will is, and is not, moved necessarily?


If a moral theory tells me which acts are better than which others but no more, has it missed out anything of importance?

How free does the will need to be?

“Moral naturalists claim that they can easily explain how we can have moral knowledge, by holding that we can know moral facts just as we can know other natural facts. However, this explanation backfires against naturalism, because the way we do know moral facts is clearly different from the way in which we know natural facts.” Is this a good argument against moral naturalism?

Philosophy of Religion:

“Immortality, or a state without death, would be meaningless. Death gives the meaning to life.” (WILLIAMS) Evaluate the truth of these claims.

What is the theist’s best response to the problem of natural evil?

“Biologically considered, our minds are as ready to grind out falsehood as veracity, and he who says, “Better go without belief forever than believe a lie!” merely shows his own preponderant private horror of becoming a dupe.” (JAMES) Discuss.

Knowledge and Reality:

What, if anything, is wrong with the view that knowledge is rationally held, reliably true belief?

Can positing variation in standards across contexts for ascribing knowledge be helpful in solving sceptical puzzles?

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