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Write out this exam as an attached word-compatible file (not a PDF) and then copy and paste your results into the work submission box. Before submitting, make sure that you authorize review through the Global Reference Database. Length is up to you. But it seems to me that a good length to aim for is approximately two-three pages per essay (that is, for each of the questions 1-4, not for each numbered part of each question). Please organize your essays in the way that I ask you to in the questions. Your clarity of organization, diction, spelling and general care in composition will factor into your grade. Note that even though I require individual, non-plagiarized submissions from each of you, I still encourage topical discussion between students. To this end I have built a separate threaded discussion site, or exam discussion forum into the discussion assignment page which I encourage you to make use of (although I will not be grading it in any way). I provide more specific length guidelines for each question part. Please organize your essays in the ways that I ask you to in the questions (i.e., divide your answers to question 1 into distinct labeled sections 1, 2, 3; your answers to question 2 into labeled sections 1, 2, 3 etc.) Let me say that I know that philosophy is new for many of you, and this has caused some serious worry among some students. I really would like your concern to be with the material of this course and the opportunities for intellectual challenge that it poses rather than with grades. But grading is unavoidable, given the nature of the university system. Obviously, there needn t be single correct answer to these questions, even though this does not mean that some answers aren t better (i.e., more reflective, more systematic, more closely related to our lectures and readings, more carefully thought out) than others. With this in mind, however, I can say the following. I will reward all sincere effort that I can detect on this exam. This is compatible with my reserving the highest rewards for those who do the best work. My point is that with sincere effort no student in this class should have to worry about a failing grade

Philosophy 115 (Philosophy of Death and Dying) Essay Midterm #1

1. This is the argument from conceivability that Kagen reconstructs in Chap. 4 of Death, and which we discuss in PowerPoint #7 (Part 1).


1) I can conceive or imagine that my mind exists without my body existing. (premise)
2) If I can imagine that my mind exists without my body existing, then it is logically possible that my mind exists without my body existing. (premise)
3) If it is logically possible for my mind to exist without my body existing, then my mind and body must, in fact, be distinct items. (premise)
4) My mind and body are, in fact, distinct items. (conclusion from (1) – (3))

As you should remember, we spent very little time in lecture discussing the highlighted premise #1. I would like you to please do this now.

I would like you to address these three related questions in sequence.

1) What does Kagen say about the conceivability of disembodied existence (a la Descartes) in his Chapter (4) on Descartes Do you agree Why or why not

2) What do Schick and Vaughn say about the conceivability of disembodied existence (a la Descartes) in their section on NDE s What does Hospers say about it in his short piece Is the Notion of Disembodied Existence Intelligible

3) Do you find this notion intelligible Ask yourself what disembodied consciousness would be. Would it be like anything at all Why or why not

2. Remember the discussion in PowerPoint lecture #8 (Parts 4 and 5) of split-brain research In particular, remember our discussion of the interpreter thesis concerning the alleged special role of the left hemisphere in the formation of identity. Then please do the following:

1) Describe one of these experiments (its setup and results), in particular, one of the experiments conducted by Michael Gazzaniga, described at the following website: v=RFgtGIL7vEY.

2) Say what, if anything, you take these results to demonstrate concerning the unity of consciousness that Descartes attributes to the mind. In this connection, be sure to mention the interpreter hypothesis. You can find a lengthy exposition of the interpreter hypothesis at v=mJKloz2vwlc. This is a video of a conference presentation by Gazzaniga concerning his research.

3. Remember our reconstruction of Plato s Argument for the Immortality of the Soul from the Nature of the Forms in PowerPoint 9 (Part 5). It looks like this:


1. The forms are non-physical. (premise)
2. The forms cannot be cannot be detected through the senses. (sub-conclusion from 1)
3. The forms must be detected through a purely intellective faculty. (sub-conclusion from 2)
4. When we are embodied, our thought is too distracted by the concerns of the body to adequately exercise our purely intellective faculty. (premise)
5. We must have existed (as disembodied souls) to apprehend the forms prior to being born. (sub-conclusion from 3-4)
6. If the soul existed prior to our physical births, then it can exist without our bodies. (premise)
7. The soul is immortal. (conclusion from 5-6).

Please do the following:

1) Fill in all of the implicit premises required to make this argument valid.
2) Evaluate the soundness of the resulting argument reconstruction by querying the plausibility of its premises one-by-one in sequence.

4. Remember our reconstruction of Plato s Argument for the Immortality of the Soul from the Simplicity of the Soul in PowerPoint lecture #9 (Part 5). It looks like this:


1) The soul is undetectable (in principle, both to the unaided senses and to the senses aided by instrumentation). (premise)
2) If something is undetectable, then it is immaterial. (premise)
3) The soul is immaterial. (sub-conclusion from 1-2)
4) If something is immaterial, then it isn t composite (i.e., composed of parts). (premise)
5) The soul isn t composite. (sub-conclusion from 3-4).
6) If something isn t composite, it doesn t change. (premise)
7) The soul doesn t change. (sub-conclusion from 5-6)
8) Going out of existence is a type of change. (premise)
9) The soul does not go out of existence (i.e., it is immortal). [Actually, Plato concludes that the soul is indestructible or nearly so .] (conclusion from 7-8)

This argument reconstruction is valid, so please do the following: Evaluate the soundness of the argument by querying the plausibility of its premises one-by-one in sequence.


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