Phil 513 Fall 2012
Instructions: Answer TWO of the following questions. Your answers should be in the form of well-constructed essays. Each answer should be no longer than 5 pages (typed, double-spaced).
DUE: November 15th (11:59 pm).  Please submit by email to as WORD DOC attachment.

  1. What is Berkeley’s philosophical project in the Principles and the Dialogues? Contrast the negative and positive aspects of his project. In discussing the former make sure you explain Berkeley’s understanding of “skepticism” as well as his treatment of philosophical perplexity.In discussing the latter make sure you explain the importance of God as a divine governor. How might Berkeley answer the charge that he is trying to secure moral conduct by appealing to self-interest (e.g., fear in a hell)? Do you find that satisfying? Discuss.
  2. Explain the contest that is set up between Philonous and Hylas in the Dialogues.Make sure you explain the definitions of ‘matter,’ ‘immediate perception,’ ‘sensible thing,’ and ‘skepticism.’ What are the two assumptions that Hylas makes at the outset? What is the Pain Argument and how is it designed to undermine these assumptions? Discuss two objections that Hylas raises to the argument. How does Philonous reply? Do you find his response successful? Discuss.
  3. Explain the difference between direct and indirect representational realism. How does this distinction matter to the arguments Philonous provides in the First Dialogue (i.e., the Pain Argument and the Perceptual Relativity Arguments)? With the rise of the new science, the Aristotelian model of sense-perception was rejected. What were three other theories offered in its place (Error, Equivocation, Power)? Why does Philonous think that all of them fall prey to skepticism or depart from common sense? Briefly discuss Philonous’ rejection of the Power theory as well as the broader ontological consequences of that rejection.
  4. What is Locke’s account of abstraction and how does it connect to his views about language? Distinguish between ‘selective attention’ and ‘separation’ as possible ways of conceptualizing abstraction. Formulate one interpretation of Berkeley that has him misunderstanding Locke (in light of the preceding distinction). How might Berkeley be read so as not to have misunderstood Locke (make sure you distinguish between mental and discursive selective attention). Discuss why Berkeley might reject the possibility of abstraction from simple ideas (of colors, for example) and how this matters to more complex ideas (of humans, etc.). What consequences does this have for Locke’s theory of language?
  5. What is the standard “parity objection” to Berkeley’s appeal to spiritual substance? How might Berkeley reply? Why might one worry that terms such as ‘spirit’ do not, for Berkeley, have any underlying “phenomenal content”? Is this worry well-founded? Discuss. Explain the related notions of “the reflexivity of thought” and “essential consciousness.” Explain how Berkeley’s rejection of mode ontology leads to a transformed model of essential consciousness. What work does this transformed model do in Berkeley’s theory? Discuss.