Exam 2 Instructions Phil 100, Winter 2021 Roholt

Due Date: 1/15, 10PM

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You will upload your written-exam document to Canvas. To submit, click “Assignments.” The assignment will be processed through Turnitin, which is cloud-based, originality-checking software. Make sure that you understand plagiarism and its repercussions.1

The exam is worth up to 400 points.

Mechanics The length must be between 900–1,100 words. Double-spaced, size 12 font, one-inch margins on all sides. The top left of the first page of your paper should include the following heading, which should not be double-spaced: — Your name 
 — “Exam 2”
 — Title and section number of the course 
 — Name of the instructor 
 — Date — Word count of your paper

MSU “University Writing Standards” [The following is quoted from the MSU Student Handbook]

Standard English, Grammar, Style
 Your papers should be written in formal, standard English. They should be free of nonstandard constructions (such as double negatives) and of informal usage (such as “The experiment went O.K.”).

Your sentence structure should be free of major grammatical problems, such as sentence fragments, subject-verb disagreement, inconsistent verb tenses, unclear pronoun reference, and misplaced modifiers.

Your sentences should be clear and concise, showing capable use of the tools necessary to a mature writing style, such as coordination, subordination, parallelism, and transitional devices. Your choice of words should be precise and appropriate to your subject. You may sometimes find it essential to use technical terms, but you should always avoid unnecessary jargon. [In this course, when you use technical terms, you must explain them.]


Mechanics And Appearance
 Your papers should contain no errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or typing. You should show careful attention to matters of appearance, including legibility, neat corrections, and suitable presentation.

[Handbook quotation end]

Additional Instructions Begin the process early. Begin by jotting down the main themes, arguments, or concepts that you think the exam requires. What are the sub-themes? What is required in order to thoroughly present these themes? (You can ascertain much of this by reviewing lecture notes and by skimming the text—which you have already read carefully and marked strategically.) From these initial notes you can construct a working outline.

Concision will be a factor in your grade; avoid verbiage. Avoid grandiose introductory comments. Do not include, for example, a philosophers’ biographical information or an evaluation of his or her importance. Get right down to business.

Philosophical writing should be focused on concepts, claims, and arguments; this dictates the order of presentation. Typically, you must take information from different parts of the text and present it in the best order for making the claims and their justifications clear and effective. Do not present information in the order given in the text, as you might in a book report (unless this order just happens to be effective).

Give reasons (justification) for all positions you set out, and for evaluative comments you make, thereby making your comments more than mere opinions.

Your imaginary reader is not someone who has read the text you are writing about; she does not already understand the claims and arguments. You must explain the positions and criticisms. You might imagine yourself (before you read the text) as your reader, or a reasonably intelligent friend or family member. Relatedly, in grading your exam, I shouldn’t have to read the exam sympathetically; what you have to offer should be clearly on the page. When you use terms that have a special meaning for an author (e.g. “substructure” “a good life”), you must give that meaning.

Your exam should contain no quotations from the text; describe the author’s ideas in your own words. Be sure to use very plain language. You ought to strive to breakdown the ideas into the simplest, most straightforward terms possible; this involves thoughtful word-choice and uncomplicated sentence structure (but of course, you don’t want to simplify expression at the expense of accurately representing the details and subtleties of the concepts and arguments). 

To find an objective perspective on a draft, write an outline from it.

Do not use secondary sources; do not use internet sources. This is an exercise in working with the assigned texts, lecture notes, and discussing the issues in the discussion group, with me and others.


Feel free to ask me any questions that might occur to you during the writing process.

Exam Instructions This exam has three parts. Number the parts of your exam as below.

1. Sartre offers an example of a young man who is attempting to make a particularly difficult decision. Examining why his decision is difficult enables Sartre to explain the important elements of his existentialism. Come up with your own example in which a similarly difficult decision has to be made. Describe your example, but use most of the space to explain the main components of existentialism through the example. It’s important that your writing demonstrate that you understand the main elements of existentialism which Sartre sets out. (If, instead, you choose to use the example of the young man, your grade for this portion of the exam will be capped at B. But even in this case, you will need to invest most of the space in explaining the main components of existentialism through the example.) This part of the exam should be approximately 350 words.

2. Describe (a) a focal thing and a related focal practice (e.g. a musical instrument, playing music with friends) which (b) has been commonly replaced in our culture by a device (e.g. listening to music on a smartphone). Come up with your own example of a focal thing, practice, and device not discussed in the text. Note that the thing, practice, and device are related, as the example above shows. (If, instead, you use an example from the text, your grade for this portion of the exam will be capped at B.) Explain enough of Borgmann’s theory so that your reader will understand these concepts (focal thing, focal practice, device). Finally, why are focal practices relevant to living a good life? This part of the exam should be approximately 350 words.

3. This is a question about Charles Mills’s The Racial Contract. This question has two parts. (a) What is the racial contract (itself [not the theory])? What reasons does Mills provide to support his account of the racial contract (itself)? In other words, what does he say to convince us that he is correct? (b) Describe the impact the Mills reading has upon your understanding of recent social-justice issues or events. (By “recent social-justice issues or events,” I mean the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and so on.) Does the Mills reading improve your understanding of these issues and events? If so, in what way? If not, explain why, and explain your reasoning. Answer number three should be approximately 350 words.

Grading Criteria • Does your exam have a proper heading, including the word count? And is your paper the proper length? • Is your exam written grammatically, clearly, concisely, and do you avoid quotations? • Do you unpack, flesh-out the claims and terminology sufficiently by using plain language, rather than merely paraphrasing the philosopher’s statements? (In other words, is the proper imaginary reader taken into account?) • Do you demonstrate that you have read the texts carefully, and have invested time in attempting to answer the questions? • Are most of the relevant and important issues addressed? • Do you accurately explain the claims and reasoning of these theories?


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