Cut and paste a comprehensive exam that is a bit dated (6 years old) but from a PROMINENT secular institution. Sorry this is so long, but I rather suspect @Eddie hasn’t as much experience apart from hanging out with the DI cohort as he lets on:
DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF ******** (Ultra High-Level Advanced Athletics)
VALUE THEORY COMPREHENSIVE EXAM PERMANENT QUESTIONS
Note: the exam will consist of three questions from each of the following sections, of which the examinee must answer one from each section. (Three answers total.)
ANCIENT & MEDIEVAL
Describe the major points of contention between the ethics of the Stoics and Epicureans, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Which do you think has the better position, and why?
Does Plato present a cogent argument against Gyges using his ring?
Aristotle wavers between two different conceptions of eudaimonia. Explain their differences, the arguments in favor of each, and the extent to which they can be reconciled.
Are human beings by nature political animals? Discuss the meaning of this concept in Aristotle, the role it plays in shaping his political thought, and whether you find it true and insightful.
Critically compare the views of Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas on the purpose and value of the state.
It is sometimes said that the psychological systems of Plato and Aristotle have no place for the deliberate choice of evil recognized as such. Is this true? And do the respective approaches of Plato and Aristotle to this issue represent a strength or a weakness in their philosophies?
Taking one emotion of your choosing (fear, anger, love, etc.), explain its importance for Aristotle’s account of the life of virtue. Explain the sense in which this emotion and emotion generally are necessary to virtue, in contrast to the Stoic refusal of emotions. Which view do you find more persuasive, and why?
Explain the tripartite division of the soul. In what sense is this division of the soul able to answer the guiding question of the nature of justice? In what sense is this division of the soul challenged or undermined by one of either: (a) the “longer way” announced in Book VI, (b) the discussion of regimes in Books VII-IX, or (c) the Myth of Er?
What is law, according to Aquinas? What are its main aspects, from where does its authority derive, and how does it relate to human nature? What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of Aquinas’s account?
Explain and differentiate the Epicurean and Stoic conceptions of freedom. What do you take to be some of the strengths and weaknesses of each view, and which view do you favor?
Discuss in detail the three versions of Kant’s Categorical Imperative as it applies to either the case of suicide or the case of making a false promise. Do you find his account of the moral status of this act persuasive?
Hobbes believes that we can defeat the moral skeptic by showing that acting morally is always in one’s self-interest. How does he show this? Evaluate his answer.
Why should I obey laws with which I do not agree? Explain and evaluate the answers to this question offered by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.
Kant and Hume have widely different views on the role of reason and of sentiment/emotion/feelings in moral action. Do you think they are talking past each other? Explain. Do you find one view more plausible than the other?
Compare the accounts of freedom in Rousseau and Marx, explain the implications of these accounts for their understanding of political community, and assess the adequacy of their notions of freedom and community.
Explain and assess Nietzsche’s ambiguous interpretation of the slave revolt in morality.
Mill believes that he can save act utilitarianism from the problem that it does not respect rights, or that it makes rights subservient to utility. Exactly what is the problem for Bentham’s version of act utilitarianism? Discuss in detail Mill’s attempt to solve it. Evaluate his success or failure.
Notoriously, Mill’s On Liberty appears inconsistent with his Utilitarianism. Describe the major points of inconsistency and to what extent, if at all, they can be overcome.
Critically compare the views on the origin and justification of private property, and the resulting social inequalities, held by Locke, Rousseau, and Marx.
Why is the moral motive so special for Kant? What role does it play in the moral status of actions? Refer in your discussion to some of the cases Kant discusses in connection with the three propositions of morality. Do you think his account is right? Explain why or why not.
Compare Kant and Hume on the question of whether reason by itself can motivate action. What bearing does this have in determining whom we can consider responsible for moral action? Which view do you consider more nearly correct, and why?
PLATO TO NIETZSCHE
Should liberation be an important goal of political philosophy? If so, liberation from what, and how is it to be achieved? Explain and defend your own view in dialogue with those of at least three of the following: Plato, Augustine, Rousseau, and Marx.
Discuss the role of autonomy in the moral theories of Aristotle and Kant. Which provides a more adequate approach to this aspect of the moral life?
What does it take for an action to be virtuous or (in the fullest sense) morally right? Discuss with reference to Aristotle and either Kant or Hume. Which of the two authors do you consider more nearly correct, and why?
Both Marx and Nietzsche reach back to recover important insights from ancient philosophy that they feel have gone unrecognized to the detriment of philosophy. Choosing one figure or the other, explain how this thinker incorporates ancient insights into his philosophical system, and evaluate his success.
The idea of history bursts onto the scene in a significant way in the 19th century. Explain the importance of this idea for either Nietzsche or Marx, and explain what might be importantly lacking in an account that does not acknowledge the importance of history.
What might be some advantages and disadvantages of a character-based moral theory (e.g., Aristotle, Plato) as opposed to a rule-oriented one (e.g., Hobbes, Kant, Mill)? Which view do you favor, and why?
Compare Aristotle’s account of eudaimonia to Bentham’s account of pleasure and Mill’s account of happiness. Do you think that one is better than the others in terms of the role it plays in grounding a moral theory? Explain your answer.
“All humans are created equal” – true or false? More precisely, in what ways is this assertion true and in what ways is it false, and what significance do any various forms of (in)equality have for political philosophy? Explain and defend your own view in dialogue with those of at least three of the following: Aristotle, Augustine, Locke, and Nietzsche.
Critically compare Aquinas’s conception of natural law and Kant’s idea of universal moral law. Which do you find more tenable, and why?
Do we choose to be moral? Discuss with reference to one philosopher from each of the above periods.
Yeah, clearly @Eddie doesn’t really know what he is talking about. In other news, dog bites man. Film at 11!
No good turning the question back on me. You made the claim that evangelicals ran southern campuses. And it’s clear from my example that one part of the campus that they don’t run is biology departments. Why not just admit that you made an exaggerated overclaim, and retract it?
No, not at all. I was just rebutting your false claim that evangelicals control southern campuses. They don’t. But as it is, left-liberal students are the ones who are catered to, on most campuses. In many Arts departments, the undergrad curriculum is built around catering to them, and to producing more of them.
I never denied the existence of open-minded professors. I was speaking about the preponderant bias. And my statements are correct, at least for the Blue States. Maybe they aren’t correct for Alabama. But it’s not professors from Alabama that are culture leaders in the USA. It’s professors from New York, Boston, Chicago, California, etc. They set the cultural tone.
Watching @Eddie use his Post Hole Digger to dig and dig and dig is getting tedious, but I thought I’d point out one way the goalposts are oscillating wildly. As the keystrokes pile up, it’s easy to miss the constant switching between people being treated poorly (verbally attacked, disrespected, forced to take a crappy job, denied tenure, denied access to good jokes, etc) and ideas being treated poorly. We should always challenge any apologist who does this, and @Eddie is doing it repeatedly in this silly thread.
It can be difficult to critique a ludicrous idea, and especially difficult to expose a lie, while sparing the person from feeling attacked. But it’s a worthy goal. What is not a worthy goal, or even a respectable suggestion, is to treat ideas as things worthy of respect.
Because I didn’t. Your biggest mistake in all of this is assuming all these students care about all of this as much as you. And they just don’t. The demand for these things isn’t there. If enough people wanted to take a course on creationism it would be offered. Money drives everything. Which is Why we pay 500 dollars for a parking pass. Has nothing to do with biases. It’s supply and demand. One frat boy shouting “evolution is bullshit!” In an intro to biology class (This happened and it was handled gracefully by the professor) isn’t enough to warrant a course on freaking creationism.
I have no objection to the kind of philosophy questions you have provided. I think they’re good. It does not surprise me at all that a good graduate program in philosophy would have a set of comps questions like that. I’m not saying there are no good graduate programs in philosophy anywhere. But since we are discussing religious belief, and in particular conservative religious belief, how is this relevant to what I’m talking about? Are you denying or accepting my claim that a preponderance of philosophy professors do not accept traditional religious beliefs? Are you denying my claim that faculty are sometimes hostile to students who do have such traditional beliefs? Not just in philosophy, but in many other departments? Are you denying my claim that the religious ideas of most faculty in arts departments are liberal, agnostic, atheist, and maybe in a few cases “New Age”, but very rarely traditional and conservative? Are you denying my claim that this affects what they teach, how they teach it, how they respond to students with traditional beliefs, who they vote for when they hire new faculty, etc.? Are you denying that many students with traditional beliefs have experienced hostility, mockery, condescension, etc. from profs who don’t share those beliefs?
I disagree. The idea of God is worthy of respect. The idea of a soul is worthy of respect. The possibility of special revelation is worthy of respect. The possible existence of absolute moral standards is worthy of respect. The possibility that pre-Enlightenment thought may be superior to post-Enlightenment thought is worthy of respect. The possibility that liberal theology was a wrong turning is worthy of respect. All these ideas should be discussed in religion, philosophy, and other departments, without a massive tilt or slant of faculty prejudice. But anyone who has studied in such departments lately (which includes almost nobody here) is aware of the massive tilt or slant. And why the people here, who spend their lives producing technical articles on genomes that read to a layman as if they are written in Sanskrit consider themselves to be knowledgeable about the current faculty composition and biases of Arts departments, is beyond me.
Yes you did. You said they run the southern campuses. Your words are there above. Don’t deny you said what you said. Do you maintain that claim, or withdraw it?
I am not advocating offering a course on creationism.
I didn’t say it did. I don’t think courses should be offered on creationism. I am speaking of a more general phenomenon of intellectual bias among faculty regarding religious questions, that goes far beyond the narrow question of creationism.
I notice that you have not answered my question about the job application. If you knew anything about the faculty composition of current religious studies departments, you would be able to answer it easily.
Sure you did, because your claim was false. For all four of the counterexamples I provided, you were unable to rebut by showing examples of how the evangelicals controlled things. You claim the evangelicals are running things, but so far the only examples you have given of “running things” are:
some of them utter anti-homosexual epithets
one of them rushed into a biology class saying evolution was bullshit.
This counts as evangelicals running the campus? You use English words very strangely.
Denying. My own experience with schools large and small throughout the country (blue and red) tells me something else.
No. But I do deny that this is widespread and a problem.
Most definitely yes.
Many? A useless descriptor. Most? I deny such an assertion.
@Eddie, show us the numbers. The facts. The data. Most of what you are claiming goes against my own experiences with schools small and large, north and south, coast to coast. This includes my experiences with colleagues in the liberal arts. I don’t buy any of what you are claiming here. None of it.
Holy cow. You are so out of touch of reality. What the conservatives want, they get! But what they want is not what you think they should want. They don’t care about this stuff like you do. Do you not get that? Bama caters to these assholes by keep building them frat MANSIONS.
Art, you’re a plant biologist, for Pete’s sake. Your experience of undergraduate Arts education is at best very limited. I don’t recognize your superficial outsider’s judgment of what happens in Arts department as having any value at all.
And if you want figures, data, etc., why don’t you take the time to read the dozens of books that have been written on the subject of systemic bias in the universities? If you don’t like Dinesh, then try Jonathan Haidt. There are lots and lots of books on the subject, and if you find one of them on Amazon, Amazon will bring up more on similar subjects down below. These are people who, unlike you in your plant genetics lab, live and breathe Arts education. They know the territory from the inside, not as a tourist. Their judgment takes precedence over your half-baked internet lookups etc.
Then you’re wrong. I’ve seen many jobs deliberately redefined by search committees to make sure that a feminist gets the job.
Wrong again. Most faculty in Arts departments are not traditional or conservative in their religion. If you disagree, I don’t care, because I know, and you don’t. But believe whatever narrative you want.
@Eddie, you don’t know me. You don’t know how much work I put into researching the many, many colleges and universities my kids looked into. You don’t know how many colleagues in “Arts” colleges I have worked with, formally and informally. You don’t know how much these interactions factor into my own work. You basically know nothing.
I, on the other hand, know with certainty that your assertions here do not describe the broader landscape of higher education, even at large secular institutions in blue states. (Especially the latter, like my alma mater. Consider that my nephew, currently a student there, would likely have to read titles such as “Human Nature and the Limits of Darwinism”, “Does Animal Ethics Need a Darwinian Revolution?”, or “Can Science Determine Moral Values? A Reply to Sam Harris” were he to dabble in religion and philosophy.)