Logical Empiricism:

1. What is the verificationist criterion of meaning?

2. What is the difference between an analytic statement and a synthetic statement? Why is this distinction important?

3. The logical empiricist view of scientific method was foundational. What does this mean?

4. What are the foundations of scientific inquiry?

5. What are the rules for building scientific theories from these foundations?

6. Explain the hypothetico-deductive method? How does it attempt to interpret the method of hypothesis and experiment? How did Popper alter this method?

7. What view of scientific progress did Logical empiricism result in? Is this different from the view held by Kuhn?

8. What were the significance of the following theories or arguments: (a) Quine's argument on the indeterminacy of translation; (b) The Lowenheim Skolem Theorem. (c) Goodman’s Grue/Bleen argument


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Contemporary reactions:

1.            What are the two main senses of the word paradigm as used by Kuhn?

2.            What is a disciplinary matrix? What are its components?

3.            What is an exemplar? What role does it play in a paradigm and in normal science?

4.            How is a paradigm not just a set of rules, but something more fundamental from which rules may later be abstracted? How does a paradigm involve tacit knowledge?

5.            How is normal science like puzzle solving?

6.            Does Kuhn think Science progresses in normal science by the steady accumulation of knowledge?

7.            How about in revolutionary science? Why or why not?

8.            What is the basis for the acceptance of a new paradigm and the rejection of the old? Why can't this involve any logical or rational argument?

9.            What is meant by saying that two theories are incommensurable?

10.          Can the theories in an old paradigm be derived from the new? Why or why not?

11.          How does a change in paradigm involve a change in the definitions of terms.

12.          How does a change in paradigm involve a change in worldview?

13.          What problems does this present for explaining how science progresses and how theory change is rational?

14. What is the network theory of meaning? How does it lead to Kuhn's thesis of incommensurability?

15. What is Putnam's Causal theory of reference? How does it attempt to answer Kuhn's claims of incommensurability?

16. What is the difference between Scientific Realism and Constructive Empiricism?

17. How Does Scientific Realism Respond to Kuhn? How does Constructive Empiricism?

18. What is the difference between the Manifest and the Scientific Image? What are the attitudes of Scientific Realism and Constructive Empiricism towards each?

19. What is Internal Realism? How does it differ from the positions of Kuhn or Rorty?

20 What thesis is Putnam’s “brain in a vat” argument an argument for?

21. How do Thomas Nagel and Daniel Dennett differ in their response to Kuhn?

22. What was the Sokal hoax? What was its significance?

23. What is a pragmatic theory of truth?



1. What is Quantum Mechanics and what does it say about the basic character of reality?

2. What was the two slit experiment and how does the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics interpret its results?

3. What is the difference between Galileo's Principal of Relativity, Einstein's Special Relativity, and his General Relativity?

4. What was the significance of the Michelson-Morley experiment?

5. What are the postulates of Special Relativity? What is their significance? What are their limitations?

6. What does Special Relativity Theory say about time and space? What is meant by the relativity of simultaneity? What causes length contraction and time dilation?

7. What is the principle of equivalence?

8. How does General Relativity theory explain the force of gravity?

9. What significance do the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment and Bell’s Theorem have?

10. What two theories does String theory try to combine? What are the strings? What role to they play in the theory?



  1. What is the basic problem to be dealt with in Dennett's book?
  2. What is essentialism? How did Darwin Challenge it?
  3. What is Darwin's great idea, evolution by natural selection?
  4. What is an algorithmic process?
  5. What is Darwin's dangerous idea stated in terms of algorithmic processes?
  6. What is the principle of accumulation of design?
  7. What is the difference between a skyhook and a crane?
  8. What is the difference between good and greedy reductionism?
  9. What are the pysical, the functional, and the intentional stances? What is Dennett’s thesis about them?
  10. What is the anthropic principle?
  11. How do problems with the originof life or the origin of the universe lead to arguments for the anthropic principle?
  12. How does the anthropic principle involve a simple mistake in logic, according to Dennett.
  13. Explain the point of Dennett's example of the two-bitser? How does he use it to answer Putnam's Twin Earth argument?
  14. What does the example of the two black boxes purport to show?
  15. What is the point of Dennett's example of the time capsule in section 4? How does he use it to explain how real meaning might emerge from a meaningless universe?
  16. What does Dennett think should be the fate of religious faith ?
  17. What is Dennett's thesis about whether Darwin's Theory of evolution robs Life of its meaning?
  18. What is time's arrow?
  19. What is time's cycle?
  20. What is Gould's final thesis about Time's arrow and Time's cycle? Does he favor one or the other?
  21. What is the Chinese Room argument?
  22. What is the Turing Test?
  23. What is functionalism?
  24. What was Godel's theorem? What was its significance?
  25.  Why does Roger Penrose think that Godel's theorem is important for understanding the mind? Why is it important for understanding physics?


Sample Cumulative Questions:

1.            How  is the mode of explanation of Darwin's theory of evolution (and Dennett's definition of  it in terms of algorithmic processes) both a departure from and a continuation of the scientific tradition of  Pythagoras and the Scientific Revolution?

2.            How is Time's cycle similar to the view of form held by the Pythagoreans?

3.            What is the problem with a pure Time's arrow view of time? How is this similar to problems with the infinite?

4.            What is the basic pattern that we saw science take in applying  ideal forms to complex phenomena? How was this pattern illustrated in Borderliners?

5.            How do Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity seem to lead to a post-modern view of science and reality?

6.            What was unique and important about Darwin's theory of evolution as a scientific theory? What is scientific about it? How did it change science?

7.            How do Kuhn's, Heidegger's and Hoeg's views represent a reversal of the Pythagorean view of  form's relation to reality? How is this a new way of seeing the problem of Western Science?

8.            How do Logical Positivism and Kuhn's theory of science each, in different ways, illustrate the pattern of scientific inquiry  from Pythagoras to Galileo.

9.            What was the basic Idea of the scientific revolution? How did it lead to post-modern theories of science?

10.          What are Dennett's stances or levels of description? How does Dennett revert neither to sky hooks or bad reductionism in his explanations of human nature?  How does this fit into the tradition of science from Pythagoras to Galileo? What recurring pattern in this tradition does it exemplify?

11.          What was the two slit experiment and how does the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics interpret its results? How does this lead to or reinforce a post-modern view of  science and reality?

12.          What was the basic idea of the scientific revolution? How, according to Hoeg, did this lead to the system that produced Biehl's Academy? How did this basic idea of science itself lead to post-modern theories of science? What discovery about time did Peter make in Hoeg's novel that led him to this post-modern view of time and science?

13.   How, according to Hoeg, is Science like a spider web? Why does this make science limited and make it dangerous for science to attempt to overstep those limits? How does he think love provides an alternative account of our relationship to external reality?

14.   What did Godel's Theorem show? Why was this so important?







Long Essay

This section of the exam will be open book and open notes. You should bring to the exam any outlines, research notes, or materials you need to aid you in the summary of your example. You are expected, however, to write the essay itself in class

(Option 1 (Scientific Option) Choose one example of scientific knowledge we have studied and master it in some detail then write an essay  explaining and defending your thesis on the philosophical significance of that scientific knowledge.

Option 2 (Philosophical Option): Does Science give human beings objective knowledge of the nature of a mind-independent world?

Defend a thesis on the question against the most powerful objection against it that we have studied.

Your answer should have these four sections clearly separated and labeled. That is, you should mark the summary of your example with an A, the paragraph where you defend your thesis with an B, the paragraphs with your arguments should be labeled with a C, and your consideration of objections and responses with a D.

A. A short summary of how the problem arises for the particular example you have chosen. You may assume the reader knows the basic facts. Just explain how the problem of knowledge arises in your example and any special considerations involved in your case.

B. Your thesis.

C. Your argument for your thesis

D. Explanation of at least one objection to your thesis and your response to it.


You will be evaluated in your answer to this question only on the clarity, cogency, and insightfulness of your analyses and arguments, not on the adequacy of your summaries of positions or history. You are being asked to articulate and defend a thesis, not to merely summarize views we have studied and their history.