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FACULTY

OF

PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

FHS Philosophy 2012: report of the Convener of Conveners


Introduction .............................................................................................................................................................................. 2
List of examiners and assessors ................................................................................................................................................ 2
Prizes ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 2
Take-up and performance statistics ......................................................................................................................................... 4
Take-up by option, by school ................................................................................................................................................ 4
Performance by option, by school ........................................................................................................................................ 5
Mark distribution by option .................................................................................................................................................. 6
Performance by option by gender ........................................................................................................................................ 6
Take-up of submitted work options ...................................................................................................................................... 7
Individual paper reports ........................................................................................................................................................... 8
101 History of Philosophy from Descartes to Kant ............................................................................................................... 8
102 Knowledge and Reality ................................................................................................................................................... 9
103 Ethics ............................................................................................................................................................................ 11
104 Philosophy of Mind ...................................................................................................................................................... 12
105 Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Psychology and Neuroscience..................................................................... 13
106 Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Social Science .............................................................................................. 14
107 Philosophy of Religion .................................................................................................................................................. 14
108 The Philosophy of Logic and Language ........................................................................................................................ 15
109 Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Criticism .................................................................................................................. 16
110 Medieval Philosophy: Aquinas ..................................................................................................................................... 17
112 The Philosophy of Kant ................................................................................................................................................ 17
113 Post-Kantian Philosophy .............................................................................................................................................. 18
114 Theory of Politics.......................................................................................................................................................... 19
115 / 130 Plato, Republic .................................................................................................................................................... 22
116/132 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics .............................................................................................................................. 24
117 Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein .................................................................................................................................. 26
118 The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein .......................................................................................................................... 28
119 Formal Logic ................................................................................................................................................................. 28
120 Intermediate Philosophy of Physics ............................................................................................................................. 30
122 Philosophy of Mathematics ......................................................................................................................................... 31
124 Philosophy of Science................................................................................................................................................... 33
133 Aristotle, Physics .......................................................................................................................................................... 34
135 Latin Philosophy ........................................................................................................................................................... 35

Introduction
This is the subject report for Honour School Philosophy in 2012. The report will be of use to future
candidates, who should when revising read the subject reports on the papers they are offering. The
report will also be inspected by the Philosophy Facultys Undergraduate Studies Committee as part
of its review of the years examining business.
Prof Cecilia Trifogli
Convener of Conveners

List of examiners and assessors


The following Faculty members served as examiners in the Honour Schools in 2012:
Philosophy, Politics and Economics: Prof Ursula Coope, Dr Antony Eagle, Dr Joseph Schear
(convener), Prof Derek Matravers (Cambridge/Open, external).
Literae Humaniores: Dr Anita Avramides, Prof Roger Crisp (convener), Dr Peter Kail (chair), Prof
Angie Hobbs (Warwick, external).
Mathematics and Philosophy & Physics and Philosophy: Prof Harvey Brown (chair in MP part B, PP),
Prof Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Dr Christopher Timpson (convener), Dr ystein Linnebo (Birkbeck,
external).
Psychology and Philosophy & Philosophy and Modern Languages & Philosophy and Theology: Dr Tim
Bayne (convener), Prof Stephen Mulhall, Prof Scott Sturgeon, Dr Sarah Patterson (Birkbeck,
external).
The following served as assessors: Dr Pamela Anderson, Dr Brian Ball, Dr Stephen Blamey, Prof John
Broome, Dr Daniel Came, Dr Laura Castelli, Prof David Charles, Prof Martin Davies, Dr Manuel Dries,
Dr Robert Frazier, Dr Edward Harcourt, Dr Brian King, Dr Grahame Lock, Prof Adrian Moore, Dr
Michail Peramatzis, Dr Roger Teichmann, Dr Stephen Williams.
The Convener of Conveners, responsible for the overall administration of Philosophy Finals
examining, was Prof Cecilia Trifogli.

Prizes
The Henry Wilde Prize for the outstanding performance in Philosophy across all joint schools was
awarded jointly to Olinga Tahzib (Lady Margaret Hall, Physics and Philosophy) and Benjamin Zelenka
Martin (Brasenose College, PPE).
The Duns Scotus Prize for best performance on the Medieval Philosophy papers was shared by
Katherine Moe (Exeter College) and Maximus Marenbon (St Hughs College).

The Elizabeth Anscombe Prize for the best undergraduate Philosophy thesis was won by Jacob
Williamson (Somerville College) for his thesis on How Kantian is Rawls A Theory of Justice?.
The Gibbs Prize winners for the best performance in Philosophy in each school were as follows:
PPE
Lit. Hum.
MP, part B
PP, part B
PP, part C
PPP
PML
PT

Vicente Solera Deuchar, Balliol College


Rebecca Lees, Worcester College
Cosmo Grant, Merton College
James Read, Oriel College
Christopher Hadnutt, St Edmund Hall
Jingkai Chen, The Queens College (proxime accessit Rebecca
Hewstone, St Johns)
No prize awarded
Christopher Smith, Keble College

Take-up and performance statistics


Take-up by option, by school
School
PPE
Lit Hum
MP
PP
PPP
PML
PT
Theology
Maths
COS
Total

101
62
10
8
4
13
14
16

102
38
6
15
15
4
5
13

103
154
22
9
1
3
12
14

104
14
1
5
4
18
2
4

105
2

School
PPE
Lit Hum
MP
PP
PPP
PML
PT
Theology
Maths
COS
Total

106
6
1

128

96

215

48

1
82

118
16
2
4
2
2
1

119
3

120

121

122

124
2

125
1

23

3
17
1
2
1

27

26

10

2
1

107
32
5
1

108
12
3
9
1

110
1
1
1

4
2

109
22
6
6
1
1
11
7

31

54

128

130

25

9
6
24
4

112
6
3

113
18
4
7
1
1
6
3

114
38
12
8
1
3
10

11

40

131

132

1
1

115
56
18
5

116
30
12

117
1
3

7
5

1
1
2
3

72

91

49

133

140

141

180

Total
514
154
112
70
65
85
93
4
1
2
1100

2
17

19

23

25

1
4

Performance by option, by school


Figures are not given for cohorts of less than 5.

School
PPE
Lit Hum
MP
PP
PPP
PML
PT
Theology
Maths
COS
Overall

101
64.1
64.0
66.1
65.1
62.4
63.6

102
65.6
59.2
66.3
65.4
66.0
62.6

103
63.3
63.0
66.4
63.1
66.3

104
64.5
65.8
65.0
-

105
-

106
66.8
-

64.2

64.5

63.7

64.6

65.0

65.5

School
PPE
Lit Hum
MP
PP
PPP
PML
PT
Theology
Maths
COS
Overall

118
67.4
-

119
-

120

121

122

124
-

125
-

65.6

64.9
-

64.6

66.1

63.0

64.7

64.1

107
65.6
65.6
-

108
67.9
68.9
-

110
-

109
64.7
61.5
65.5
63.7
66.0

66.6

64.4

128

130

64.9
66.2
65.9
-

112
67.3
-

113
67.5
63.4
68.3
-

114
66.8
65.8
64.4
63.2

66.5

66.8

131

132

67.2

65.9

67.2

65.9

115
65.7
65.6
69.8

116
65.1
63.8

117
-

67.1
65.8

65.8

66.0

64.6

68.4

133

140

141

69.7

69.7

180 Overall
64.8
65.3
66.3
66.2
64.3
64.3
65.0
65.0

66.8

66.9

65.6

Mark distribution by option


Figures are not given for cohorts of less than 5.

Range
0-39
40-49
50-59
60-69
70-100
Total

101

Range
0-39
40-49
50-59
60-69
70-100
Total

118

26
81
21
128

1
19
7
27

102
1
1
14
62
18
96

103

104

4
34
143
34
215

119
1

120

3
2
6

105

106

107

108

109

4
36
8
48

1
6
1
8

8
59
15
82

2
18
11
31

10
34
10
54

121

122

124

125

128

3
14
6
23

4
17
5
26

1
8
1
10

1
14
4
19

110

112

113

114

115

116

117

8
3
11

1
29
10
40

10
46
16
72

9
60
22
91

8
32
9
49

130

131

132

133

140

141

180

3
14
8
25

1
4
3
8

5
4
9

1
1
2
4

108
64.5
67.8
66.6

109
63.8
65.2
64.4

110

112
67.0
66.3
66.5

113
66.9
66.8
66.8

114
66.1
65.5
65.8

115
67.4
65.2
66.0

116
66.1
63.3
64.6

128

130
68.8
66.5
67.2

131
65.0
68.5
65.9

132

133
70.8
68.8
69.7

140

141

180 Overall
65.2
64.9
65.0

Total
2
5
143
722
228
1100

Performance by option by gender


101
64.6
63.9
64.2

102
64.8
64.4
64.5

103
63.4
63.9
63.7

104
64.4
64.8
64.6

105

106

Female
Male
Overall

65.0
65.0

107
65.5
65.4
65.5

119
62.0
63.2
63.0

120
68.5
66.5
66.9

121

Female
Male
Overall

118
65.8
66.2
66.1

122
67.5
64.6
65.6

124
66.8
64.3
64.7

125
65.7
63.4
64.1

117

Take-up of submitted work options


Theses
There were 16 Philosophy theses submitted this year: this is relatively few, with normally 20 or 21
being offered. The average mark of the theses was 69.5. No candidate scored below the II(i) band.
Extended Essays
There were 31 Extended Essays from Mathematics and Philosophy candidates, with an average mark
of 66.9; 12 Essays were submitted by Physics and Philosophy students, who averaged 67.2.

Individual paper reports


Reports are not provided where so doing might identify individual candidates.

101 History of Philosophy from Descartes to Kant


Overall, the performance of this paper was very solid, with few poor scripts. As ever, the significant
majority of the answers were to the questions set on Descartes and Hume. Locke and Spinoza
formed a second group in terms of frequency of questions attempted, followed by Berkeley and
Leibniz. Very few candidates attempted the Kant questions. We only comment on the more popular
questions.
Question 1, In what sense, if any, is the cogito the foundation of the project of Descartes
Meditations? attracted many answers. Some took it as an occasion to discuss whether or not the
cogito was an inference, but the better answers distinguished not only different senses of
foundation but also different interpretations of the aims of Descartes project. Question 2, Why,
for Descartes, does human error need to be reconciled with Gods goodness? Is his reconciliation
successful? again attracted many answers. All but the very best answers failed properly to criticize
the plausibility of Descartes voluntarism. Question 3 was centred on a quotation: I can obtain
some knowledge of myself without knowledge of my body. But it is not yet transparently clear to me
that this knowledge is complete and adequate, so as to enable me to be certain that I am not
mistaken in excluding body from my essence. (ARNAULD) Is Arnauld right to so object to Descartes
argument for the real distinction between mind and body? Too many answers paid mere lip service
to the quotation, choosing instead to rehearse general discussions of Cartesian dualism. However,
the best answers really got to grips with the issue.
The answers to both question 4 (What does Spinoza mean by claiming that besides God, no
substance can be or be conceived?) and question 5 (Is Spinozas solution to the mind/body problem
satisfactory?) displayed an admirable grasp of the relevant propositions from the Ethics ad their
logical connection, with some answers to question 5 discussing whether Spinoza has a proper notion
of the mental. Spinozistic freedom is no freedom at all Is this true? (question 6) attracted
textually-informed answers but a number of answers were insufficiently critical of the conception of
freedom.
Many answers to question 13 (Is Lockes project doomed if his arguments against innate ideas and
principles fails?) collapsed into discussions of the adequacy of Lockes attack on nativism rather than
address the wider issue of Lockes constructive project. Question 17 (A belief is a lively idea related
to or associated with a present impression (HUME) Discuss and evaluate) was the least popular of
the Hume questions but the answers tended to be adequate, if unsympathetic. Question 18, Does
Humes discussion of probable inference fatally compromise the project of A Treatise of Human
Nature?, attracted a great many answers, many of a good to excellent standard. Too many answers
to question 19, Must Hume think that there are no bodies? failed to address the question of
whether the strictures imposed by his Copy Principle precluded any meaning being attached to the
term body, but the best answers not only considered this issue but also Humes discussion of the
external world in Of the modern philosophy.
PJK

102 Knowledge and Reality


Some comments on the most commonly answered questions this year.
Q1 (The theory that knowledge is justified true belief is a simple and powerful proposal. Just as
we accept simple and powerful, but highly counterintuitive, theories in fundamental physics,
so too we may accept the knowledge proposal despite its counterintuitive consequences.
Discuss.): not well done for the most part; candidates did not use the opportunity to reflect
in any interesting way on philosophical methodology, except to assert without argument that
simplicity and strength have no part to play in conceptual analyses; quite why remains
unclear to me.
Q2 (Disjunctivism is untrue to the phenomenology of perceptual experience. Discuss.) Mostly
anti-disjunctivist. The best answers offered disjunctivist responses to the phenomenological
objection, often along adverbial lines.
Q7 ("When S knows that p, that is a non-linguistic fact about Ss mental state. That fact will obtain
regardless of the linguistic context, and, hence, S will know that p in every such context. So
epistemic contextualism is false." Discuss.). This was poorly answered for the most part
only a few candidates saw that the argument is invalid, since the premises arent relevant to
contextualism at all, with most trying to argueinevitably unsuccessfullythat the claim
that knowledge is a mental state is inconsistent with contextualism about the semantic value
of knows. No answers grappled to any real extent with the Williamsonian claim that
knowledge is a mental state. (Many candidates apparently didnt understand that EC is
ascriber contextualismand change of context for the ascriber need not involve any change
in the subject. One cannot argue that change in an ascribers context will induce a change in
a subjects mental state.)
Q9 (It is more useful to think of a priori status as attaching primarily to justified belief rather than
knowledge. Discuss.) Not well answered. Candidates did not know what to do with this
questionhardly surprising, since many of them defined a priori knowledge as knowledge
with an a priori justification. Better answers considered whether there was a priori
justification for falsehoods; the best answers would have considered the right way to
understand
a
priori
truth
independently
of
knowledge
(e.g.,
Kripke,
Stalnaker/Jackson/Chalmers-style two-dimensionalism).
Q10 (An event A is a cause of a distinct event B just in case bringing about the occurrence of A
would be an effective means by which a free agent could bring about the occurrence of B.
(MENZIES and PRICE) Is it?) Too few candidates engaged with the question; many attempted
to bring it around to counterfactual accounts of causation. There was little sympathy with
the approach, but objections to its use of free agency were mostly ill-targeted. The best
answers gave examples of causation without effectiveness, e.g., probability-lowering
causation. No one mentioned one of the major issues surrounding this theory in the
literature, namely, the non-reductive nature of a definition of causation which explicitly
makes use of the notion of bringing about.
Q12 (Is modality best understood using quantification over possible worlds?) was mostly
adequately answered. Many candidates appeared to think possible world is a synonym for
Lewisian possible world, but that means that various ersatzisms were inexplicably
discounted, and there was much (too much) discussion of the problems for concrete
possibilia. The best answers gave attention to the role of understanding in the question,

arguing that graspability of the basic constituents of a theory of modality was an important
consideration. An ideal answer would have compared realist proposals with those views of
modality which make no reference to possible worlds at all, such as combinatorialism and
modalismunfortunately even the very best of the actual answers did not spend very much
time on these interesting and salient rivals. Many candidates assumed that an understanding
of modality must be a reductive understanding of it, something which is not presupposed by
the question and for which they did not argue.
Q13 (If you are a person, are you essentially a person?) Candidatesdrawing almost exclusively
on material from general philosophy, disappointinglyfocused on personhood at the
expense of attention to essentialism. Most argued from animalism to the falsity of the
essentialist claim, with greater or lesser competence.
Q14 (Can we make sense of change over time without appealing to temporal parts?) was the
most popular question. Many candidates spent far too long describing and evaluating
temporal-parts based accounts of persistence, even though the question did not ask about
them, or about whether a good account of persistence is possible at allit simply asked
whether there was a good account of persistence that did not make use of temporal parts.
The best answers kept discussion of temporal parts to a minimum. Most answers were
competent discussions of endurance, reviewing standard arguments from the literature.
Better approaches showed some snatches of originalityeither in perspective or in offering
less familiar objections and observations. Generally, though, this was answered in a merely
competent fashion. Very few to no answers discussed the notion of wholly present, a crucial
notion for endurantistsno one discussed the now-prevalent multiple location conception
of endurance. A few candidates interpreted the question as meaning whether we can make
sense of change over time without appealing to the A-theoretical determinations of past,
present and future, as if these determinations were what temporal parts referred to.
Q18 (If what is true depends on what exists, how can a presentist explain the truth of Dinosaurs
used to roam around in what is now Oxfordshire?) Mostly well done. A few candidates
strayed into more general evaluations of presentism, but in general the focus was rightly on
truthmaker objections, with the best answers distinguished by their degree of clarity and
incisiveness rather than differing in kind from other answers.
One suggestion for the examiners/USC: induction is on the syllabus for both 102 and 124/105/106.
Given that almost all candidates for the latter papers are candidates for the former too, having the
same topic provides a perverse incentive for difficult-to-police overlap; and there is no reason why
the papers should share this topic. My preference would be for it to be allocated to 124/etc., since
there it connects with issues about confirmation and evidential support that are central to the
subject. In 102, many candidates writing on induction make use of literature that doesnt
substantially differ from the material studied in general philosophy, and there is no natural way to
include better material in tutorials for 102 without overlap with tutorials in philosophy of science.
AE

10

103 Ethics
There were a few outstanding answers, and several more which, even if they were not outstanding
overall, showed a pleasing originality of thought and/or a willingness to shape the answer very
exactly to the question set.

Q1. The requirements of morality are requirements of rationality only if I am rationally required to
ask, of any maxim of action of mine, whether I can will it as a universal law. Discuss.
Many saw this simply as an opportunity to discuss whether all and only morally acceptable maxims
meet some version of a universalizability test. This is certainly relevant, since if moral acceptability
and universalizability dont coincide then it would not be enough to show that the requirements of
morality are requirements of rationality that I am rationally required to ask, of any maxim, whether I
can will it as a universal law. However, the minority of candidates who went on to address the latter
question were rewarded for it.
Q2. Even the best arguments for moral relativism succeed only in establishing moral scepticism.
Discuss.
Candidates sometimes took moral skepticism to mean what Mackie means by this phrase, i.e. the
error theory. That interpretation made the question more of a struggle than it would be if one took
the phrase (surely more naturally?) to mean first-order moral skepticism.
Q3. The only intelligible way of relating moral properties to natural properties is to reduce the
former to the latter. Discuss.
Decently answered on the whole.
Q4(a) The best explanations of moral beliefs explain them by appeal to factors that are incidental to
their truth. So we cannot have any justified moral beliefs. Discuss.
Almost no candidates chose to answer this, though answers to the next disjunct showed that many
were familiar with Mackies argument from relativity, which appeals to best explanation.
Q4(b) Should we be surprised if convinced moral error theorists continue to care about the difference
between moral right and wrong?
A popular question, on the whole decently answered.
Q5(a) Just because reason alone is not a motive to any action of the will (HUME), it need not
follow that moral attitudes cannot be beliefs. Discuss.
A popular question, which many took to be a straightforward invitation to discuss the Humean twostep, i.e. beliefs dont motivate, moral attitudes do, so moral attitudes arent beliefs as if every
Ethics paper must contain this very question, and it is just a matter of identifying it through the
different disguises in which it appears from year to year. But there can be more than one question
about Hume and motivation! The point of italicizing alone was to get people to comment on the
difference between reason alone isnt a motive (or beliefs alone dont motivate) and beliefs
dont motivate, not to ignore the difference.

11

Q5b. Could there be such a thing as moral perception?


This drew very few answers, despite the opportunity to make something of the comparison between
moral properties and secondary qualities.
Q6. The distinction between intended and foreseen but unintended consequences is real enough, but
it cannot bear any moral weight. Discuss.
Popular, and on the whole well answered.
Q11. Though I want to stay in bed, I decide it would be better to go to the lecture, so I go to the
lecture. Though I want to stay in bed, I decide it would be better to go to the lecture but I stay in
bed. Unless reason is practical, can we account for the difference between these two cases?
An oddity of the answers to this question is how few used the word weakness of will (or akrasia),
suggesting that perhaps candidates did not see the difference between the two cases in the light of
this concept.
Q12a. Must consequentialism misunderstand the value of close personal relations?
A very popular question. Some, wrongly, saw it as an invitation to discuss integrity. Others might
have made more of the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction, and of differences between forms
of consequentialism. But on the whole competently answered.
Q12b. Consequentialism can make no sense of excusable wrongs, so consequentialism is false.
Discuss.
The better answers pointed out that consequentialism can distinguish wrong actions from
blameworthy ones. Few, however, either explored whether this distinction is ultimately viable, or
worried about whether there might be a pre-theoretical notion of an excusable wrong which
consequentialism is required to make sense of.
Q13a. The problem with virtue ethics is that its not interested enough in what it is to be
imperfectly virtuous. Discuss.
Candidates took several different approaches towards this question, but surprisingly few mentioned
the unity of the virtues, i.e. the idea that you cant have any virtue unless you have them all.
Q13b. Being morally good and being excellent of ones kind are two quite different things, so virtue
ethics cannot possibly tell us anything about moral goodness. Discuss.
Decently answered on the whole, though a few took this to be the (distinct) question whether being
a morally good person is good for that person.
ERFH

104 Philosophy of Mind


All questions except Q7a (What would it be to naturalize intentionality? Why might one want to do
so?), Q12 (Are emotions properly conceived as propositional attitudes?), and Q13a (What does it
mean to say that experience is transparent?) received at least one answer. The most popular
questions were: Q2a (Is the mere multiple realizability of psychological kinds a good objection to the
central state identity theory? 12 responses); Q3 (Is functionalism a real advance on behaviourism
as far as the philosophical problems of consciousness are concerned? 27 responses); Q4a (I do

12

not believe we can ever specify what it is about the brain that is responsible for consciousness, but I
am sure that whatever it is it is not inherently miraculous. The problem arises ... because we are cut
off by our very constitution from achieving a conception of the natural property of the brain (or of
consciousness) that accounts for the link. (McGINN) Discuss. 19 responses); Q6 (Are bodily
sensations intentional states? 7 responses); and Q8b (Can we accept the completeness of physics
without being committed to epiphenomenalism about the mental? 24 responses).
Candidates seem to have overlooked the inclusion of the word mere in Q2a, and few answers
considered the implications of the distinction between multiple realizability as a (mere) conceptual
possibility and multiple realization as an empirical claim. However, candidates did generally
demonstrate a good grasp of the various options open to the identity theorist for responding to the
challenge of multiple realizability, and they were able to discuss the limitations of those options in
an intelligent manner.
Answers to Q3 typically suffered from a lack of rigour in characterizing behaviourism and
functionalism. Moreover, many candidates used this question as an opportunity to wax lyrical on the
perceived shortcomings of behaviourism and/or functionalism in general, rather than focus on the
question asked. Some of the best answers spent some time characterizing the philosophical
problems of consciousness.
Q4 was one of the most popular questions, although the quality of answers given to it was not
commensurate with its popularity. Surprisingly few candidates demonstrated any appreciation of
McGinns arguments for the position outlined in the quotation. Many candidates used this question
as an opportunity to discuss Jacksons knowledge argument. This strategy met with mixed success,
although some candidates were able to draw on their knowledge of the debate about phenomenal
concepts to illuminate McGinns position.
Answers to Q6 were somewhat one-dimensional, and candidates tended to give insufficient
attention to objections to the view that they defended. For example, those who argued that bodily
sensations are intentional generally paid little attention to the arguments that have been given for
thinking that bodily sensations are non-intentional. Answers to this question also tended to suffer
from insufficient attention to the question of what it is for a mental state to be intentional.
Most candidates structured their answer to Q8Can we accept the completeness of physics
without being committed to epiphenomenalism about the mental?around responses to Kims
exclusion problem, focusing either on Davidsons token identity account or on treatments of
causation that might allow one to avoid the exclusion assumption, such as counter-factual accounts.
Candidates were generally well-prepared for this question, although few went significantly beyond
the material presented in lectures.
TB

105 Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Psychology and Neuroscience


See also 124 Philosophy of Science.
This paper was available for the last time in 2012 and was taken by four candidates. Ten other
candidates took paper 125 Philosophy of Cognitive Science, which was available for the first time.
Part B of the 105 paper offered ten questions of which Q17 (Why do questions about the degree to
which the mind is modular matter?) attracted two answers and three other questions attracted one
answer each: Q16 (What is the language of thought (LOT) hypothesis committed to, over and above
13

realism about propositional attitude states? What grounds, if any, are there for this further
commitment?), Q20 (What implications might the study of delusions have for accounts of the
architecture of cognition and perception?), and Q21 (Is our everyday folk psychological conception
of thinking and reasoning committed to any principles that are incompatible with connectionism?
What evidence might there be for such a commitment?).
The five Part B answers ranged from brief in extent and under-developed to articulate, well
informed, and showing independent thinking.
MKD

106 Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Social Science


See also 124 Philosophy of Science.
Eight students sat this paper. Only one student answered more than one Part B question (on
Philosophy of Social Science), and there was only one overlap (one of the two questions answered
by the only student answering two was also answered by another student). As such, there are no
patterns in the answers to speak of.
Two comments are worth making. The first that that candidates made a good effort to answer the
question as set. I don't think that there were any "canned" answers at all. The second is that the
strongest papers exemplified and explained theoretical ideas and claims using work with which they
were familiar from their own studies within the social sciences.
RLF

107 Philosophy of Religion


In 2012, the quality of scripts in Philosophy of Religion (FHS Philosophy 0107) bunched in the middle
60s. The least good scripts were not too bad, but the very best scripts were not great either. The
main overall weakness of the scripts was the familiar tendency on this paper to offer fairly superficial
summaries of arguments in answer to the most popular topics; and this year as in the past the
popular topics continued to be the problem of evil, the ontological and teleological proofs for the
existence of God and a divine attribute (e.g., omniscience). The weakness of the answers, then, is a
serious philosophical weakness: that is, a failure to problematize core concepts and to engage
philosophically in the debates raised by the questions. The choice of old-familiar topics and
traditional answers also does not help the candidate demonstrate her or his analytical and critical
skills on new or novel background issues in philosophy.
Consider a few central examples from the specific questions on this years scripts. First, almost
everyone answered question 11 on the problem of evil (To defuse the logical problem of evil, it is
enough simply to point to the logical possibility that God has a morally sufficient reason for
permitting evil. Discuss). However, almost no one actually engaged with the question which was
intended to elicit discussion of logical possibility, what it is for a state of affairs to be logically
possible, and how we determine whether a state of affairs is logically possible. No candidate
addressed the issue of whether or not conceivability entails possibility. Instead candidates quickly
rushed to discuss Mackie and Plantinga which is fine except when the background debates/issues
were not assessed at all.
Second, there was also a preponderance of answers to question 10, on the fine-tuning argument.
(Does God provide a good explanation of the so-called fine-tuning of the universe?) There were

14

some philosophically impressive answers, but a large number of candidates wasted space rehearsing
the history of the argument and its Paleyan predecessor. But, again here, summaries of arguments
does not actually exhibit any philosophical skills, say, by assessing the comparative merits of theism
and multiverse. Admittedly, most candidates who answered this question correctly identified the
multiverse hypothesis as the main alternative explanation to the so-called fine-tuning. However,
very few, if any, candidates raised the philosophical question whether theism or the multiverse
hypothesis violates Ockhams Razor; furthermore, none actually looked in depth at the nature of
Ockhams Razor.
Third, the question of the possibility of God (Is God possible?) was the next popular question and
many candidates correctly related this question of possibility to the modal ontological argument for
the existence of God. Yet once more, standard arguments were rehearsed concerning the
compatibility or not of the divine attributes. Much more could have been done philosophically and
imaginatively with this question.
Finally, the least answered questions were 4 on Dawkins (The robust muscular Christian
haranguing us from the pulpit of my old school admitted a sneaking regard for atheists. ... What
this preacher couldnt stand was agnostics. (DAWKINS) Discuss), and 5 on Kants transcendental
argument (Transcendental arguments purport to identify the preconditions for the truth of
something that is assumed by all parties. Does Kant have a successful transcendental argument
for Gods existence?). Fair enough, since these topics were not directly covered in lectures and
probably not in tutorials. However, it is a pity that no matter what the other questions are on the
paper, candidates still tend to answer the very same core topics in Christian theism every year. In
fact, the nature and content of questions 4 and 5 are totally different from each other. So, a
candidate could have brought in some of their greater philosophical knowledge into at least
question 5, and similarly, into question 7 on unsurpassable knowledge (A being is omniscient if and
only if it has unsurpassable knowledge. Discuss). But there is only the slightest evidence that
candidates are endeavouring to think independently on the nature of the issues at the heart of a
range of questions in philosophy of religion.
To repeat, the quality of the scripts was not generally bad; but scripts did generally lack real,
independent philosophical thinking. Instead text-book answers were often given. Perhaps, with this
paper, part of the problem is that students think it ok to answer questions as if they were
reproducing theology or defending Christian theism. However, this is a philosophy paper for which
rigour, incisiveness and other critical skills are necessary!
PSA

108 The Philosophy of Logic and Language


31 candidates sat the paper of whom 11 received first-class marks, and 2 received lower secondclass marks; the remainder received upper second-class marks. The overall standard was high.
The most popular questions were Question 1 (Do sorites paradoxes show that classical logic is
untenable?; 17 answers), 14a (Do proper names and definite descriptions ever mean the same
thing?; 15 answers), and 14(b) (What is the logical form of sentences like The King of France is
bald?; 11 answers). These were followed by Question 7 (Can metaphorical sentences and nonmetaphorical ones ever mean the same thing?; 9 answers), and 17(a) (Evaluate the following
argument: if its true that Sherlock Holmes is a detective, then Sherlock Holmes exists; but
Sherlock Holmes doesnt exist. So its not true that Sherlock Holmes is a detective ; 9 answers).

15

Questions 4 (Can basic logical principles be justified?), 9 (What is meant by the claim that
translation is indeterminate? Is it true?), 17(b) (Is exists a second-level predicate?), 19 (Use
determines meaning. Meaning determines truth-conditions. So truth-conditions cannot transcend
use. Discuss), and 21 (Are pronouns variables?) received no answers.
Of the popular questions, Question 1 was well and shrewdly answered, candidates often displaying a
good knowledge of standard theories and criticisms; several showed awareness of the relevance of
higher order vagueness and the difficulties it posed. Question 14(a) was not so well answered, too
many candidates adopting an insufficiently critical attitude to standard problems with descriptivism.
Question 14(b) elicited some very good answers, the best ones containing, rather than
presupposing, at least a brief explanation of logical form. The questions on metaphor and empty
names showed a sound knowledge of the literature. The other questions received too few answers
to draw any substantive conclusion, though the examiners welcomed the fact that most questions
received answers, indicating overall a reasonably wide coverage of the syllabus.
SGW

109 Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Criticism


Few of the scripts submitted were flawed in serious ways: most candidates showed a reasonable
familiarity with key texts and central issues, and were able to put together clearly expressed and
well-structured essays under examination conditions. At the same time, however, few answers were
genuinely outstanding: although a pleasing number displayed qualities of the kind expected from
first class scripts, few of them invited us to use the higher range of first class marks; and few of the
scripts in the high second class range encouraged us to consider them seriously for a first class mark.
There were several reasons for this.
1. Of the four most popular questions on this paper - question 1 (Can a great work of art be
immoral?), question 2 (Is work of art a family resemblance concept?), question 8 (If we
restricted ourselves to non-representational art, we could avoid all of Platos criticisms of art.
Discuss) and question 16 (Is the intentional fallacy a fallacy?) - it is striking that only one is
author-based: the other author-based questions on the paper (question 9 on Aristotle, question 10
on Hume, and question 11 on Kant) attracted far fewer candidates. We suspect that this was
because some effort had been made to ensure that these questions could not be answered simply
by providing an exegesis of the relevant historical texts, but also required candidates to engage with
broader conceptual or thematic questions. And we further suspect that the relative lack of excellent
answers to the Plato question was due to the fact that most candidates failed to appreciate that the
same was also true in that case (since question 8 could only be well answered by candidates willing
to query whether mimesis was a synonym for representation, and willing to explore the question
of what makes a work or genre or medium or art non-representational). Good candidates can put
their exegetical knowledge to use in addressing matters of broader philosophical import; they do not
write as if these authors were of essentially hermeneutic interest, and as if the authorities
dimension of this paper was essentially distinct from its thematic concerns.
2. Few candidates made productive use of their work on other philosophy papers in answering
questions on this paper whether by enriching their account of an authors view on aesthetics by
linking it to his or her views on other matters, or by deepening their treatment of a topic in
aesthetics by drawing on broader philosophical treatments of pertinent concepts. For example, few
candidates addressing question 16 made any use of work on the concept of intention in the
philosophy of mind and action, or of work on the concept of meaning in the philosophy of language;
and even more surprisingly, few candidates who addressed question 10 (Humes approach to
16

aesthetic judgement is subverted by his decision to model his account of good taste on his account
of the sensory faculty of taste. Discuss.) could buttress their knowledge of Humes account of good
taste with an equally detailed knowledge of his account of secondary qualities.
3. Few candidates showed much sensitivity to the historical context of art and aesthetics. Several
questions on the paper invited them to consider the historical and cultural specificity of various
aesthetic concepts, and indeed of the idea of the aesthetic as a distinct evaluative field; and they
were amongst the least popular. Question 4 (Is the very idea of a literary canon politically or morally
suspect?) received two answers; question 6 (The realm of the aesthetic is an invention of
modernity. Discuss) received two; and question 7 (Modernism is an indispensable concept for
understanding the history of art; our current need to resort to the concept of post-modernism
indicates that we have reached the end of that history. Discuss.) was the only question on the
paper to be entirely avoided.
4. Candidates were generally unwilling to draw on their personal interests in and engagements with
to enrich their answers. Few discussed particular works of art in any detail, or any real familiarity
with influential periods or movements or schools in the history of art, or figures or events in the
contemporary art world. To judge from these scripts, very few candidates are drawn to this paper by
anything other than a purely academic interest in philosophical aesthetics; we find this hard to
believe.
SM

110 Medieval Philosophy: Aquinas


Three candidates sat this paper. The standard was higher than in the last couple of years. The best
candidate showed a very high degree of engagement with Aquinas's texts. No questions from
section B (Action and Will, Natural Law) were answered. The only question that received more than
one answer was q. 3, Since wisdom and power are distinct accidents in creatures, then they are
also distinct accidents in God. How would Aquinas reply?, which all three candidates answered.
The weakest answer dealt almost exclusively with the simplicity of God, without addressing the
specific question about the attributes of God.
CT

112 The Philosophy of Kant


Eleven candidates sat this paper. As usual, the performance was very strong, with three of the
candidates gaining a first-class mark, and the remaining candidates gaining an upper-second class
mark.
The most popular questions were Q. 2 (We assert, then, the empirical reality of space, as regards all
possible outer experience; and yet at the same time we assert its transcendental ideality. (B44/A 28)
Explain and evaluate. - six answers), Q. 7 (What are Kants arguments against the Humean sceptic?
Are they convincing? - six answers), Q. 12 (Does Kants transcendental unity of apperception commit
him to the rejection of any substantive notion of the self? - six answers) and Q. 10 (Why does the
concept of synthesis play such an important role in the Deduction? - four answers). Other questions
received two answers or fewer.
Q.2 This question did not attract very good answers. Candidates generally provided an accurate
explanation of the quotation but their evaluation of it was disappointing. The best answers showed a

17

very good knowledge of the secondary literature but did not display a high degree of independent
discussion.
Q.7 Most candidates took this question as an occasion to discuss Kant's reply to Hume's scepticism
about causality rather than addressing the issue in a more comprehensive way. Some attempts were
made to consider Kant's defence of synthetic a priori arguments against the Humean sceptic, but
they were insufficiently critical.
Q.12 This question was generally well-focussed and also attracted some excellent answers. The best
candidates provided a very articulated and subtle discussion of what a substantive notion of the self
can mean and argued incisively for a negative answer.
Q.10 There were some excellent answers that showed a detailed textual knowledge of Kant's
Deduction, good argumentative skills, and effective use of the secondary literature. The weakest
candidates tended to give a clear but too general and scarcely critical presentation of Kant's project
in the Deduction.
CT

113 Post-Kantian Philosophy


The exams on the whole were quite good. Many of the essays displayed a hard earned grasp of the
texts and arguments. No less importantly, students for the most part approached these texts, not
out of hero worship, but rather with their gloves off i.e. ready first of all to interpret the positions
in the best possible light, but also ready where necessary to challenge those positions.
The most popular questions were on Nietzsche, predictably, and Sartre, less predictably. MerleauPonty also enjoyed a significant uptick in attention compared to last year (6 essays, from 2 the year
before), whereas Heidegger suffered a significant downtick (9 answers, from 15 the year before). Of
the two general questions not directed toward any particular philosopher, question 29 (The
traditional picture of human beings as rational animals must be overcome. Discuss with regard to
one or more of the post-Kantian philosophers.) had 5 answers, several of which were bold,
interesting, and creative. The better answers here focused on a single philosopher and gave
traditional picture, rational animals, and overcome determinate interpretations.
As for the Nietzsche questions, there were 9 answers to question 10 (What then is truth? A mobile
army of metaphors, metonymies and anthropomorphismsTruths are illusions which we have
forgotten are illusions. (NIETZSCHE) Is this true?), 10 answers to question 11 (What would it be like
to live a life beyond good and evil?), 10 answers to question 12 (a) (Is Nietzsche a naturalist?), and
only 1 answer to question 9 (According to The Birth of Tragedy, art is better guide to the true nature
of things than philosophy. Discuss.) The best answers to question 10 addressed rather than ignored
the idea of a mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms. The weaker
answers headed straight to the more familiar issue of whether there is some kind of paradox in
asserting that truths are illusions. The best answers to question 11 accommodated, indeed pursued,
the many remarks sprinkled throughout the Genealogy that make the following clear: Nietzsches
picture of life beyond good and evil is not a nostalgic plea for a return to a pre-moral condition. The
best answers to question 12 (a) disambiguated the term naturalist in careful and precise terms, and
proceeded to give evidence for and against categorizing Nietzsche as a naturalist in the various
senses. Many students unfortunately rehearsed standard secondary literature positions on the
naturalism issue, which of course was not sufficient to earn first class distinction.

18

The most popular Sartre questions were 22 (The problem with Sartres account of bad faith is that
he leaves it unclear how we might avoid it, and what it might be like we did avoid it. Discuss.) and
23 (Sartre neither solves nor dissolves the traditional problem of other minds. Discuss.). Very few
answers to question 22 actually took up the issue of what it would be like to avoid bad faith, if it is
accepted that it is avoidable; the few that did were rewarded for answering the question. Several
high quality answers rejected the idea that bad faith is avoidable, and explained clearly why such a
rejection should be attributed to Sartre. The best answers to 23 were careful to address the sense of
solves and of dissolves in the question, and careful also to spell out what precisely the problem of
other minds is.
There were 7 answers to the Hegel questions, and 11 answers to the Schopenhauer questions with
questions 5 (5 answers) and 6 (6 answers) most popular. Questions 7 and 8 were entirely avoided.
Like last years essays on these two 19th century giants, a fair amount of the essays this year
displayed decent knowledge of the texts. However, many essays failed to motivate the issue
addressed by the respective question, or assess the position held by the mighty dead systematic
philosopher at issue.
JS

114 Theory of Politics


As usual, there was a general tendency to fail to retain attention on the specific question throughout
the answer. Many scripts used their introduction to address the question directly, only to deviate
from it in subsequent paragraphs. Weaker scripts generally seemed to invoke points of analysis
independently of one another whereas better scripts offered a stronger structure of argument.
There was a high level of uniformity between answers. Nearly all candidates are well prepared with a
repertoire of stock positions and points, gleaned mainly from textbooks and lectures, which they
manage to some extent to orient to the question put. Candidates are generally unprepared or
unwilling to engage in much independent critical analysis of the concepts, the arguments, or the
intellectual problems posed. Those who seemed to be thinking for themselves, making but going
beyond the familiar moves while retaining focus and control of their answers, did very well.
This means that candidates, for instance, who answered the question on neutrality did very little to
analyse that concept, turning the question instead to one about the freedom of the individual;
candidates who answered the question on majoritarianism didnt notice the significance of decision
procedure; candidates did nothing with the concept political in the obligation question beyond
proposing the lecturers (Im guessing) argument that legal obligation is political.
Candidates often failed to tackle both 'arms' or components of a question - for instance a good many
candidates wrote about what the industrious might owe to the lazy, but not to the reckless (and one
the other way around). Similarly, a number of answers to the obligation question were fairly stock
responses to a question about whether we had an obligation to obey the law, and not about what
political obligations citizens might have in general. Several candidates failed to clearly structure
their answers, though there were notable exceptions who managed to produce excellent work in the
conditions.
1. Does democracy require majority-rule as a decision procedure?
A fairly popular question. Many candidates saw this as their opportunity to make general points
about deliberative v aggregative conceptions of democracy. Candidates largely failed to distinguish

19

the conceptual relation of majority-rule to democracy and the substantive question of whether the
best forms of democracy involve majority-rule.
2. Poverty restricts freedom, disability does not. Do you agree?
A very popular question not well answered for the most part, though most were familiar with the
stock point that property rights are upheld by law. A surprisingly large number of candidates either
agreed with the statement or argued that both/neither restrict freedom relatively few argued that
either could represent restrictions on freedom depending on further factors. Many insisted that the
constraints on the poor were human or social while those on the disabled were natural, missing
the extent to which it is the interaction of natural capacity and human or social decision (e.g.
construction of buildings, or jobs) that affects the options available to the naturally impaired.
3. EITHER: Do the industrious owe anything to the lazy or the reckless?
A fairly popular question producing a broad spectrum of quality in answers, the weaker ones
answering only with respect to the lazy or the reckless rather than both. Most took the opportunity
to offer general discussions of luck egalitarianism. A large number of candidates simply assumed the
lazy and reckless to be in relevantly similar positions with respect to the industrious. Stronger
answers reflected on possible different explanatory factors for industriousness, laziness and
recklessness.
OR: What should egalitarians believe?
Again fairly popular and again a wide range in the quality of answers. Weaker ones tended to offer a
general discussion of luck egalitarianism and the weakest took this as an excuse to discuss the metric
of equality. Better answers either discussed the leveling down objection or contrasted the luck
egalitarian view with status or relational views of equality. The distinction between telic and deontic
forms of egalitarianism was sometimes introduced, though very few of the candidates that did so
seemed to understand it.
4. Legislation by representatives is a form of aristocracy. Do you agree?
Very few takers for this question. Those who answered it did not handle the concept of aristocracy
well.
5. Does the claim that gender is socially constructed help the feminist?
This feminism question with no obvious stock answer had few takers. The weakest answers did not
know what socially constructed meant. The best reflected on the different ways in which the claim
might help.

20

6. Socialism and liberalism can be rendered compatible only by abandoning the essence of
each. Discuss.
Another non-standard question, this time requiring candidates to talk about two isms at once,
proved unpopular. Some clearly answering out of desperation talked almost entirely about one or
the other but the few with the resources to discuss both produced some very good answers.
7. Should minority groups have cultural rights?
A fairly popular question. The better answers managed to distinguish between rights for minority
groups and rights specific to members of minority groups. Candidates tended to offer unnuanced
yes or no conclusions. The weakest candidates wrote down anything they knew about rights.
8. Citizens have political obligations, but the obligation to obey the law is not one of them.
Do you agree?
A very popular question answered by many keen to offer standard general discussions of possible
grounds for the obligation to obey the law. Better answers tried to explain why the obligation to
obey the law was indeed a political obligation, though often in a handwaving way suggesting they
were regurgitating something from a lecture rather than something they really understood.
Disappointingly few explored in any detail what other political obligations there might be (e.g. to
engage in civil disobedience?).
9. How can we tell when people are subject to power?
Not a popular question. Most candidates invoked Lukes and answers often focused primarily on a
discussion of when people are subject to power rather than the issue of how we can tell that they
are subject to it. The best answers challenged the framing of the question.
10. Can conservatives offer coherent criteria for evaluating political options?
A tricky question with correspondingly few takers and generally poor answers: little reflection on
what might count as coherent criteria and rarely any discussion of the difference between
philosophical conservatism and political conservatism.
11. Should political theorists be realistic?
Not a popular question but this was generally answered very well perhaps the best of all the
questions - with those choosing it showing good knowledge of the literature and control of the
issues. There was some good discussion of why being realistic might be thought to be a good thing
and on the whole answers came to balanced conclusions on the basis of interesting and coherent
arguments.
12. The principles of justice that apply within nation-states are different from those that
apply between them. Discuss.
This fairly straightforward question proved relatively popular and generally attracted solid answers.
Most candidates offered a general discussion of associative v non-associative views of principles of
justice, while better answers distinguished between different bases for affirming global principles of
justice. There was, however, little reflection on possible differences between principles of justice
and other normative principles. Weaker candidates seeing the word justice chose to write down
what they knew about Rawls.

21

13. Should the state try to be neutral with respect to its citizens views about how they should
live their lives?
A mix of answers though overall this was answered better than other questions. Weaker answers
neglected try and discussed the impossibility of neutrality in abstract terms. Better answers tried to
get to grips with the motivation for trying to be neutral. The best tied this to a reflection on the
unique role of the state.
DPIR

115 / 130 Plato, Republic


Some of the more difficult questions on this paper drew excellent and imaginative answers. Weaker
candidates tended to confuse simply presenting Platos views with defending them. References to
texts of Plato other than the Republic were rare. In answering the gobbets questions, candidates
often failed to mention the context (or where they did mention the context, did not specify it
precisely enough).
(Some comments on the more popular questions are provided below. The numerals refer to the
question number in 115, with the 130 number in brackets.)
1. (2) Why is the notion of a ruler in the strict sense important in Republic I? Is the use that is made
of this notion defensible?
Most candidates were able to explain the way in which the notion of a ruler in the strict sense is
used in Thrasymachus argument. In general, candidates needed to pay more attention to the role of
this notion in Republic I, and to evaluating whether its use is defensible.
2. (3) Why is early education in music and gymnastics important for future guardians? Is this view of
education plausible?
Weaker answers simply said that this education prepares the soul for later education in
mathematics. Better answers drew on a more detailed knowledge of the text, and attempted to
show how exactly this education might act as such a preparation. Such answers considered, for
instance, how listening to the right kind of music might contribute to developing a harmonious soul.
3. (4) Is the tripartite division of the soul useful for explaining human behaviour?
Some good points were made in answers to this question. Among weaker candidates, there was a
tendency simply to describe Platos own view, using his examples, as if this by itself answered the
question. Better candidates were able to discuss, critically, how well Platos view might explain
behaviour of various different types (beyond those mentioned in the examples with which Plato
introduces the view in the Republic).
5. (4) Does Plato have any good reason for supposing that justice in the individual must resemble
justice in the city?
A surprisingly large number of candidates didnt mention the forms in answering this question. The
better answers discussed the way in which the soul is structurally analogous to the city. Some of the
better candidates also made use of the distinction between vulgar justice and Platonic justice. There
could have been more discussion of whether there is a causal relation between a citys being just
and its rulers being just (and whether, if there is, that suggests that justice in the two is the same).

22

6. (7 ) Does Plato think it possible to have knowledge of the many beautifuls? Is he right?
There were some good attempts here to explain the distinction between knowledge and true belief
in Republic V. More consideration could have been given to the problems Plato needs to answer if he
thinks that it is not possible to have knowledge of the many beautifuls (or would need to answer, if
he thought this). For instance, if we cant have such knowledge, then how can knowledge of forms
help philosophers to rule in the world of particulars? Some candidates didnt distinguish clearly
enough between the claim (i) that we cant have knowledge of the many beautifuls, and the claim (ii)
that we cant have knowledge of the many beautifuls unless we have knowledge of a form, beauty.
7. (8) In the divided line, what is thought (dianoia)? Does Plato present a plausible view about the
importance of its role in intellectual progress?
In answering this, candidates would have benefited from a more detailed knowledge of the relevant
parts of the text. There was a tendency, moreover, simply to present Platos view without really
evaluating its plausibility.
8. (9) Even if there is a form of the good, it cannot have any relevance to practical matters. How
might Plato respond?
Most candidates claimed that Plato would answer that an understanding of the form of the good is
important for ruling, but few candidates really attempted to explain why having such an
understanding is important for ruling.
9. (10) Does the Republic offer any good argument against the view that a calm and self-controlled
criminal could be happy?
Not all candidates noticed that Plato might object to the very possibility of a calm and self-controlled
criminal. Of those who did notice this, most simply said that Plato doesnt think it is possible to be a
self-controlled harmonious criminal, without explaining how Plato might defend this claim.
Insufficient attention was paid to what might be meant, in this context, by a criminal.
11 (12). In modern Greece and Italy, governments of unelected economic experts are imposing
austerity. If so, would Plato approve?
There were some good, imaginative answers to this question, making excellent use of the text as a
whole. Several candidates said that though Plato would approve of having unelected experts as
rulers, he wouldnt think that a training in economics qualified one to be a ruler. Some candidates
also went on to discuss whether Plato would approve of imposing economic austerity.
12. (13) Does Platos attack on imitation (mimesis) apply equally well to both poetry and painting?
This was a popular question and was, in many cases, well answered. The best answers considered
arguments from both books 3 and 10.
13a (1a) Passage from I.350
This question was very popular. Most candidates managed to give a plausible analysis of the
argument, and raised objections to it. Several candidates failed to note the possible ambiguity in
outdo (pleonektein)
13b (1b) Passage from IV.420
This question was also popular. The best answers explained the analogy between state and statue,
and went on to raise questions about this. Several candidates discussed whether this analogy
suggests that Plato is thinking of the state in an objectionably totalitarian way. Others discussed
what notion of happiness (eudaimonia) is being employed here. Weaker candidates (especially those
doing the English version of the paper, which gave less context) failed to identify the context of the

23

passage, and hence failed to see that it is a response to a worry about whether the guardians will be
happy.
13c (1c) Passage from VII.518
Many answers stressed the difficulty of education and the analogy drawn here between intellect and
sight. The best candidates were also able to discuss what it means to say that the whole soul is
turned around. A few good candidates also raised questions about claim made here that this power
is in everyones soul.
13d (1e) Passage from VIII.553
This passage was frequently misidentified. The better candidates knew the context of the passage,
and were able to discuss what it shows about Platos views on parts of the soul.
13e (1f) Passage from IX.585
Many candidates didnt focus enough on the argument presented in this passage, and attempted,
instead, to rehearse all of Platos arguments about pleasure in Republic IX.
13f (1d) Passage from X.617
There were several excellent answers to this question, many of them containing interesting
discussions of the roles of luck and responsibility.
UC

116/132 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics


This paper was reasonably well done. Better candidates paid close attention to the question, argued
independently, and used knowledge of the text as a whole (and occasionally other works by Aristotle
and others).
Essays (Question number for 116 first, followed by 131 in brackets)
Q.1 (2) What does Aristotle mean by the claim that happiness is complete (teleios)? Is his claim
correct?
Many candidates didnt say clearly what they took Aristotle to mean by complete. A significant
number of candidates confused completeness with self-sufficiency, or failed to distinguish between
the claim that happiness is complete and the claim that it is most complete.
Q. 2 (3) Since the gods as well as human beings are rational, Aristotles function argument is a
failure. Discuss.
Some good and imaginative answers on this, explaining why this claim might be raised as a criticism
of the function argument, and then suggesting some reply (e.g. that godly rationality is different
from human rationality). Some candidates failed to note that in book 10 Aristotle does recommend
striving to be godlike.
Q. 3 (4) Once the Doctrine [of the Mean] is literally expressed it becomes platitudinous (BARNES).
Discuss.
Not a popular question. Few of those who answered it discussed Aristotles own advice based on the
mean in 2.9, or his own recognition in 6.1 of the doctrines possible emptiness.

24

Q. 4 (5) Can Aristotle allow that some apparently vicious actions are to be excused when they result
from mental illness?
Some excellent answers, drawing distinctions between different forms of mental illness and relating
them to various claims made by Aristotle in book 3 in particular.
Q. 5 (6) Is Aristotle right to suggest that we are jointly responsible (sunaitioi ps) for our
characters?
Surprisingly unpopular. Better candidates showed good understanding of 3.5.
Q. 6 (7) In what way is magnanimity an adornment of the virtues?
This was a straightforward question. Its unpopularity is perhaps to be explained by its not concerning
a standard tutorial topic.
Q. 7 (8) Analyse critically Aristotles account of the relation between prudence (phronsis) and the
virtues of character.
Better answers showed signs of serious thought about the end of book 6, and were genuinely
critical.
Q. 8 (9) Is the idea of the practical syllogism helpful in explaining incontinence?
Too many candidates answered Yes to this question, and then provided little more than a summary
of Aristotles argument in 7.3. Few seemed aware of the question whether the bad syllogism
concerns sweetness or some other property, such as unhealthiness.
Q. 9 (10) Is Aristotle right that there is something lacking in friendships between vicious people?
Popular and usually well done, including discussion of friendship for utility and for pleasure.
Q. 10 (11) What is the role of pleasure in Aristotles account of the human good?
Unpopular, though those who knew the text were able to offer wide-ranging and imaginative
answers. Little awareness was shown of Aristotles position on false pleasures.
Q. 11 (12) How might Aristotle advise someone undecided between a life of great political virtue and
a life of contemplation?
This was especially well done by those candidates with knowledge of the text as a whole, including
books 1 and 10 in particular.
Commentaries
As often, many candidates did less well on gobbets than on essays. Misidentification was worryingly
common. Some candidates would have benefited from more advice about how to approach gobbets
(the need to say something about the context, and the need to try to find something philosophically
interesting to say about the passage). Candidates should avoid merely paraphrasing the content of a
gobbet, unless that is required for elucidation.

25

Q. 12(a) (1(a)) 1.8: Aristotles methodology.


Unpopular. The better candidates were able to provide examples of Aristotelian dialectic, as well as
criticism of it.
Q. 12 (b) (1(b)) 2.4: Acting in accord with the virtues.
The best answers were able to explain the exact context of these remarks, as well as to comment on
the particular conditions placed here on acting virtuously.
Q. 12 (c) (1(c)) 3.3: Deliberation.
The best answers explained why this remark might be puzzling, and discussed, e.g., whether there is
any sense (for Aristotle) in which we do deliberate about ends. Helpful links were established by
some candidates with work on Hume for paper 103.
Q. 12 (d) (1(d)) 5.7: Natural justice.
Quite frequently misidentified. Too many candidates brought in irrelevant discussion of universal
justice.
Q. 12 (e) (1(e)) 6.12: Value of prudence and wisdom.
Rarely and then usually not well done. Few were able to explain the context.
Q. 12 (f) (1(f)) 9.8: Sacrifice.
Popular and often reasonably well done, though several candidates failed accurately to describe the
context of the passage.
RSC

117 Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein


The exam had 17 questions, 6 with a and b parts, yielding 23 questions in total. With only 5
candidates sitting the exam obviously not all questions were answered. Most popular were Frege on
Concepts and on Sense and Reference, Russell on Descriptions, and Wittgenstein on the Picture
Theory; but the answers were fairly widely distributed with 10 of the questions having been
attempted by at least one candidate. Below I comment on those questions which received more
than one answer. In general, though, answers displayed good general knowledge of the material;
stronger answers marshalled this knowledge effectively in directly answering the question asked.
Q2
Answers: 1
Q3
Answers: 3
This question concerned Freges view that phrases of the form the concept F denote objects, not
concepts. All answers correctly noted that if singular terms are complete, and complete phrases
denote objects, then such phrases must denote objects and not concepts (which are denoted by
incomplete predicate expressions). Stronger answers also recognized (a) that concepts belong, on
Freges view, to the more general category of functions, and (b) that objects cannot serve as
26

representatives for concepts since there are strictly fewer of the former than there are of the latter.
Somewhat surprisingly, no answers explicitly mentioned Freges Law V, the truth of which requires
(impossibly) a one-one relation between concepts and their extensions.
Q6a
Answers: 2
This question concerned Freges grounds for drawing a distinction between sense and reference;
answers to it were particularly strong. Candidates wisely began by articulating some theses of
Freges concerning sense and reference for instance, that the former determines the latter, and
that senses are to be distinguished not only from referents but also from ideas. Freges concerns
surrounding identity statements were taken to motivate the distinction; it was also recognized that
his worries about differences in informational value between sentences involving substitution of coreferring terms generalize. A distinction was drawn between the cases of singular terms and of other
expressions and in the former case between names and definite descriptions. General
considerations from the philosophy of language were brought to bear (e.g. those surrounding
Kripkes Paderewski case), as were considerations specific to those working in the period (e.g.
whether Russells theory of descriptions might provide a better explanation).

Q8a
Answers: 2
Candidates were asked to explain how Russell avoided rejecting the law of excluded middle. Answers
were solid, recognizing that he appealed to his theory of descriptions, and to the (scope) distinction
between primary and secondary occurrences. Meinongs alternative was compared; Russells
criticisms were upheld somewhat flat-footedly (in particular, without challenge).
Q8b
Answers: 1
Q10
Answers: 1
Q11b
Answers: 1
Q14
Answers: 2
This question concerned Wittgensteins picture theory of meaning. Candidates distinguished
pictorial form, representational form, and logical form, and recognized that isomorphism is a key
component of the possibility of meaning in the Tractatus.
Q15b
Answers: 1
Q16
Answers: 1
BB

27

118 The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein


There were twenty-seven candidates for this paper. The paper contained fourteen questions.
Pleasingly, every single question was answered. Indeed, every single question was answered at least
twice. The most popular questions were Question 7on whether it would be possible for only one
person, only once in a life-time, to follow a rulewhich was answered by seventeen candidates, and
Question 9on whether there is any sense in which Wittgenstein thinks that sensations are
privatewhich was answered by sixteen candidates. No other question received more than nine
answers
The marks ranged from 57 to 76. Apart from the one script that was awarded 57, every script was
awarded at least 61. Nineteen scripts were awarded marks in the 60s, three were awarded 70, three
were awarded 71, and one was awarded 76. This means that seven candidates (just over a quarter)
were awarded a First Class mark. Only one of them, however, performed at a level significantly
above the class borderline, as their marks testify. In general, the scripts had a solid Upper Second
Class feel about them. On the one hand, the candidates tended to display good knowledge of
Wittgensteins texts, together with good expository skills and a commendable ability to marshal
their knowledge in response to the questions posed. There was little of the irrelevance that so
frustrates examiners (with the notable exception of a tendency for candidates who answered
Question 6on whether Wittgenstein thinks that understanding is akin to an abilityto focus on
rule-following, despite the fact that there was another question, explicitly on rule-following, to
which their answers would have been more relevant). On the other hand, the candidates tended to
be somewhat unadventurous in what they wrote. Just as there was little irrelevance, so too there
was little originality. The candidates also tended to do something that candidates for this paper
nearly always do: they showed a certain reluctance to take issue with Wittgenstein (though it has to
be admitted that the reluctance was less deeply rooted than in previous years, and their broad
consensus was in many cases laced with points of incidental criticism). Overall, this was a year in
which the answers were on the whole good, but where there was very little that was really
outstanding.
AWM

119 Formal Logic


There were six candidates: three PPE, two PP (one Part B and one Part C), and one PML. Two scripts
were Ist-class; three scripts were in the II.1 band; and one got a mark a little below the III/Pass
borderline.
An erratum sheet was provided to correct a misplaced occurrence of nonempty in the statement
of the Axiom of Countable Choice in question 8.
Propositional and Predicate Logic
Two candidates answered three questions (and answered none from any other section). Four
candidates answered two questions.

28

Question 1 (expressive adequacy and non-standard connectives): 2 answers.


Question 2 (axiom systems and the Deduction Theorem): 5 answers. In part (c) the exercise was to
show that all theorems of a system S1 were theorems of a system S2, where the systems were
exactly the same except that S1 had an axiom scheme (B1) where S2 had an axiom scheme (B2).
Three of the answers (more than half) set out to show this with a back-to-front argument,
attempting to show that instances of (B2) could be derived in S1 using (B1), which it was impossible
to do anyway, since S2 was strictly stronger than S1. There was also a lot of sloppiness in answers
especially in parts (d) and (e)because of not distinguishing between an axiom and an axiom
scheme.
Question 3 (first-order semantics): 3 answers.
There was some unfortunate use/mention
confusionor, at least, sloppinessin one of the answers.
Question 4 (the expressive power of first-order languages): 3 answers. One answer went seriously
astray because of confusion over the Compactness Theorema weirdly off-key statement of the
theorem was offered. Another went wrong by supposing that an infinite set of sentences could be
conjoined to form a single sentence.
Question 5 (the construction of a maximally consistent set of first-order sentences): 1 answer.
Set Theory
Only one candidate answered a question from this section.
Question 6 (the Axiom of Foundation): 1 answer. The answer insisted that the empty set has no
subsetand claimed that therefore part (b) was ill formulated. But the empty set does have a
subset: the empty set.
Question 7 (orderings): 0 answers.
Question 8 (the Axiom of Choice): 0 answers.
Question 9 (ordinals and cardinals): 0 answers.
Metamathematics
Three candidates answered a question from this section.
Question 10 (primitive recursive functions): 1 answer. The answer claimedfalselythat a function
was primitive recursive if it was URM-computable, and went on to do everything with URM
programs.
Question 12 (computable functions; no effective enumeration of total ones): 0 answers.
Question 12 (axiomatization of specified theories in the language of arithmetic): 0 answers.
Question 13 (a variation on Gdels First Incompleteness Theorem): 2 answers. In parts (c) and (d)
both answers fudged things: they both jumped straight from the theoremhood in T of an
arithmetized statement of the existence of a proof in T to the actual existence of such a proof, rather

29

than appealing to the definition of what it is for a theory to express (represent) an arithmetical
relation and to the -consistency of Tboth of which had figured explicitly earlier in the question.
They appeared to be making the assumption that the standard model of arithmetic was a model of
the theory T, but they didnt say so; and such an assumption was in any case inappropriate.
SB

120 Intermediate Philosophy of Physics


19 candidates took this paper. The overall standard was solid (average mark 67), but less
distinguished than sometimes, with no mark above 75 in the first class bracket and a general
clustering at the upper end of the 2.1 bracket.
Answers were rather unevenly distributed between sections A and B, with only a little over 1/3 of
answers from Section A (1/3 is the minimum possible).
Section A:
The following questions received one answer each only:
2. How can it be that inertial coordinate transformations have empirical content?
3.Henceforth space by itself and time by itself are doomed to fade away into mere shadows...
(MINKOWSKI) To what extent, if any, does the Special Theory of Relativity vindicate this
pronouncement?
The most popular question (13 answers) in section A was 4 (Why would an explanation of the Twins
Paradox which rested on appeal to the relativity of simultaneity be a bad explanation?) and this was
well handled overall. The best answers noted the significance of simultaneity conventions (possibly
distinct) in both frames and included discussion of various relevant senses of explanation. Some
answers showed impressive recall of the Debs and Redhead discussion of conventionality of
simultaneity, which was very relevant to the question.
Next most popular in section A (4 answers) was 1 (Is it any more than a convention that force-free
bodies move with uniform speed in straight lines?). While all answers had a decent grip on the issue,
some struggled to organise the material effectively.
Q 5 (The late Einstein stated the core content of the Special Theory of Relativity as being that the
laws of non-gravitational physics are Lorentz covariant. Was he right to prefer this to his earlier
formulation in terms of the 1905 postulates?) received only two answers. Strong answers would
distinguish both constructive from principle-theory approaches and different forms of constructive
approach (e.g. geometric vs. dynamical).
Section B
Q6. (What is the nature of the hypothetical de Broglie-Bohm corpuscles and what active role, if any,
do they play in the theory?) This was the most popular question in Section B. Reasonably well done
overall, better answers took care to introduce the features of the de B-B theory carefully (while
avoiding the danger of sliding into a generic essay on the pros and cons of de B-B). The Everett in
denial objection was reasonably popular. Quite a few slips in detail throughout, however.
Q 7. (What should a proper account of the measurement process in quantum theory look like?).
With only three answers, a somewhat unpopular questions. Good answers avoided the temptation
30

to reproduce a standard measurement problem essay and looked in detail at the physical analysis of
measurement procedures.
Q. 8. (Bells theorem is not required in order to show that quantum theory is non-local. Do you
agree?) The second most popular question of this section (10 answers). While the majority of
answers had a decent grip on the dialectic, details were often weak or muddled; or where they
werent, the discussion tended to be rather too brief.
Q 9. (Does it matter for questions of quantum ontology that decoherence is not a precise process?)
Six answers; rather mixed. Weaker answers were hand-waving about what decoherence was (indeed
no answer really adequately characterized decoherence) and tended to endorse a Dennett/Wallace
approach without much argument.
Q 10. (Is quantum theory an intrinsically probabilistic theory?) Four answers. By and large not
handled that well, with a notable exception.
Overall comment on the paper: While a good general grip of the issues was on show from
candidates, overall there was a disappointing lack of attention to detail, particularly technical detail,
which was often missing (rendering answers rather thinner than one would like) or muffed. More
ambition in this direction would have led to better answers overall and is to be encouraged.
CGT

122 Philosophy of Mathematics


The examination consisted of 15 questions, two of which (qq. 8 and 11) were disjunctive. The
examiners were pleased by the fact that every question was attempted by at least one of the 23
candidates, all of whom belonged to the Mathematics & Philosophy Final Honours School, Part B.
There were six Firsts (26%), fourteen Upper Seconds (61%), and three Lower Seconds (13%); the
mean mark was 65.6 and the standard deviation was 5.2.
Qq. 2, 3, 9, 12, and 15 were each attempted by only a single candidate.
Q. 1, 'What can we learn about the nature of mathematics from Socrates exchange with the slaveboy in Platos Meno?', (6 attempts): Generally not well answered. Candidates either focused on a
general exposition of Platonic philosophy of mathematics or on questions surrounding
contemporary platonism. Almost every candidate failed to focus on the significance of the slaveboy's proof.
Q. 4, 'Assess the view that the most interesting differences between mathematical knowledge and
natural-scientific knowledge are all differences of degree, not of kind.', (10 attempts): The second
most popular question. This question was too often used as an excuse for an automatic answer on
Quine or on empiricist philosophy of mathematics more generally. The best answers made good use
of Quine as a proponent of this view without forgetting that the view, and not he, is the object of the
question.
Q. 5, 'Does logicism rest on an inappropriately robust conception of logic?', (6 attempts): Largely
poorly answered with garbled accounts of Quine's and Boolos' pronouncements on second-order
logic or an automatic essay on logicism. At their best they considered what evidence might be
adduced for and against a conception of logic.
Q. 6, 'Does consistency, in a mathematical context, guarantee existence?', (5 attempts): There was a
31

wide range of marks for answers to this question. Some used it as an opportunity for automatic
essays on Hilbert and were duly punished; others considered the question on its own merits, using a
broad range of ideas and arguments (including Hilbert's), and were duly rewarded.
Q. 7, 'Can the structuralist give an account of mathematical epistemology without relying on the
existence of abstract objects?', (15 attempts): By far the most popular question, with most
candidates attempting an answer. Unfortunately, very few candidates focused on mathematical
epistemology, as the question required, preferring instead to offer automatic (and irrelevant) essays
on structuralism. As with q. 5, there was a certain amount of attempted restatement of Boolos'
views on plural semantics for second-order logic.
Q. 8a, 'Taking the principle of the excluded middle from the mathematician would be the same as
prohibiting... the boxer the use of his fists. (HILBERT) Discuss.', (3 attempts): Answers tended to
offer a rather vague discussion of issues surrounding intuitionism without focusing on the particular
critique advanced here by Hilbert.
Q. 8b, 'Whether mathematical objects are mental constructions of ours or exist independently of
our thought is a matter of what it is to which they owe their existence; whereas the important
disagreement between Platonists and intuitionists is unaffected by this metaphysical question.
(DUMMETT) Do you agree?', (4 attempts): This question was mostly answered to quite a high
standard. Candidates did well to distinguish the quotation's two parts and to consider agreement
with each of them in turn.
Q. 10, 'Does any philosophical significance attach to the fact that we cannot, in principle, survey an
infinite domain but not to the fact that we cannot, in practice, survey a very large domain?', (2
attempts): The examiners were prepared to reward interesting thoughts about human finitude,
medical possibility, supertasks, etc., but not irrelevant discussion of Hilbert's programme.
Q. 11a, 'Is there more than one legitimate conception of a set?', (3 attempts): All three answers
were interesting and clearly argued, though to varying degrees superficial. Curiously, none
mentioned the limitation of size as a conception of set.
Q. 11b, 'Does the continuum hypothesis have a truth-value?', (2 attempts): Though the question
concerned realism about the theory of sets, candidates focused on intuitionism as the paradigm
alternative with mixed success.
Q. 13, 'What can we learn from Gdels Incompleteness Theorems about the relation between
mathematical truth and provability?', (4 attempts): Candidates seemed to think that the refutation
of Hilbert's Programme exhausted the philosophical significance of the Incompleteness Theorems,
rather than merely being an illuminating example thereof.
Q. 14, 'What is the point of unapplied mathematics?', (4 attempts): Generally well done, if done a bit
too quickly. Candidates would have been well served by considering the point of intellectual
endeavour more broadly: answers tended toward justifying mathematics as a useful tool for
empirical scientists (if only in potentia) or as an enjoyable recreation, but not as a science in its own
right.
BK

32

124 Philosophy of Science


There were 26 candidates for this paper. There was a reasonable spread of marks, with four first
class marks, four 2.2 marks and the remainder fairly evenly spread across the 2.1 bracket.
Disappointingly, there were no marks above 70 however.
Comments on individual questions.
Q8. (Our statements about the external world face the tribunal of sense experience not individually
but only as a corporate body. (QUINE) Do they?) received no answers.
The most popular questions were:
Q4. (Can one rationally accept just one of a pair of theories that are equally empirically adequate?)
The best answers paid some attention to what rationally might mean and what accept might
mean.
Q5. (Is the theory that emerges after a scientific revolution incommensurable with its predecessor?)
Weaker answers assumed without much explanation or argument a Kuhnian position. Stronger
answers tended to differentiate different senses of incommensurability; and sought to give
examples drawn from actual scientific cases.
Q9. (Can there be satisfactory scientific explanations that do not advert to laws of nature or other
robust generalisations?) Answers tended to show a decent grasp of the covering law account of
explanation (and standard problems with it) though sometimes the answers amounted to little more
than this standard material with little detail and not enough engagement with the specifics of the
question.
Q.11 (Does the success of science support scientific realism? If so, which version(s) of scientific
realism does it support?) The most popular question. A number of essays focused too much on a
standard recounting (following Worrall) of the no-miracles argument vs the pessimistic metainduction and their resolution in structural realism. Structural realism was frequently enthusiastically
endorsed without enough attention to difficulties the position faces.
Of the remaining questions receiving more than three answers each:
Q.3 (Is falsificationism an adequate basis on which to accept a theory to guide the design of a
bridge?) was largely confidently handled with some good and thorough discussions of problems for
Popper.
Q.7 (Is a generalisation always confirmed by its instances?) Answers here tended to amount too
much to general discussions of the paradoxes of confirmation.
Q.12 (Baseball managers with losing records are more likely to lose their jobs than managers with
winning records. Accordingly, it is to be expected that the past will contain more managers with
losing records than with winning records. (LANGE) Does this observation pose a problem for the
pessimistic meta-induction? If so, can it be overcome?) This question produced some lively and
interesting discussions, but they did not always succeed in giving the most plausible reading of
Langes contention.
CGT

33

133 Aristotle, Physics


Text (d) (from book IV.4, 211a12-23) was completely avoided for translation/commentary by the
candidates. Texts (e) and (f) (V.4, 227b3-14 and VI.10, 240b8-17 respectively), which were offered in
translation, were completely avoided for commentary. All candidates translated and commented on
text (a) (I.7, 190b1-17), which is about change and its analysis in terms of substratum, form, and
privation. Text (c) (IV.11, 219a10-19) was chosen by three out of the four candidates, while text (b)
(II.1, 193b8-20), which is about matter as a nature of things, was surprisingly-- translated and
commented on by only one candidate. One would have expected that a passage from any of the first
three chapters of book II of Aristotles Physics would be a popular option as Aristotle there sets out
some of his most fascinating ideas and arguments about the science of nature (the notions of
nature, form, matter, four causes, etc.).
There was a similar sort of lack of variety in the choice of essay-questions. Three out of the four
candidates chose question 4 (Are Aristotles four causes entities in the real world or merely our own
ways of making natural beings intelligible to us?) and question 6 (How does Aristotle deploy the
notions of potentiality (dunamis) and actuality or completeness (entelecheia) in his account of
change? Are these two notions helpful for understanding change?). There was only one candidate
who answered question 3 (In what sense do matter and form constitute the nature of an object
(Physics II.1)? Is Aristotles hylomorphic account satisfactory?), and another one who tackled
question 8 (How does Aristotle use the distinction between the different ways in which being in
another thing is spoken of in his account of place? Is he successful in his use of this distinction?).
Again, it seems surprising that no one attempted to address question 2 (Does Aristotle have a good
response to Parmenides claim that change is impossible?) or question 7 (How does Aristotle
describe and deal with the Zenonian paradox of motion which he calls Achilles? Is his solution
satisfactory?) as both topics strike one as mainstream and accessible.
One general observation about the translations/commentaries is that most candidates chose to
translate a passage in which their translation had gaps, i.e. lines which they could not translate at all.
It is, then, clear that their commentaries on the same passages had some short-comings due to
these translational gaps. Few candidates noted that the notion of unqualified change in text (a)
referred to coming-to-be and passing-away. There were problems with translating the verb
phuomai: instead of becoming or coming to be naturally (literally to grow/spring/sprout), some
candidates rendered it to be naturally. Another problematic term was aphairesis which was
rendered separation (an informed mistake?) and fading away. I found surprising the translation of
ditton in text (a) into double by several candidates: this rendering does not make sense in the
context, and is anyway incorrect.
In their commentary on text (a) some candidates thought that Aristotles analysis was based on
distinguishing between different senses/uses of the verb to be. This seems to be a far-fetched idea.
Another mistake was that some candidates took the notion of a hupokeimenon involved in change to
correspond to a grammatical concept of a subject, which is exactly what Aristotle wishes to avoid.
In the same text most candidates correctly pointed out that Aristotle is in the present context
replying to Eleatic worries about creation ex nihilo. Some of them, however, did not make clear
whether Aristotle rejects or accepts the notion of creation ex nihilo.
Most answers to question 6 did successfully tackle the important issue of whether Aristotles
definition of change in terms of dunamis and entelecheia is circular or not, and discussed various
interpretations of how to avoid the charge of circularity. A mistake in question 3 was that some
candidates wrote as if Aristotle has a further notion of nature, over and above matter and form.
Indeed, they identified this extra nature with the efficient cause. It is unclear what the source of

34

this confusion is; perhaps Aristotles claim that formal, efficient, and final causes are in some cases
one in kind? Another point where more caution is needed is when candidates (e.g., those tackling
question 4) discuss final causation: some do not clarify the distinction between the final cause itself
(e.g., the good of the beneficiary) and what is for the sake of some final cause (e.g., the rainfall).
MP

135 Latin Philosophy


This is not one of the most popular papers in Ancient Philosophy, but the general performance is
usually quite strong and this year was no exception.
Three questions were avoided: Question 3a (Are the pursuit of wisdom and the practice of justice in
contrast with each other?), question 6 (One of the so-called Stoic paradoxes is the thesis that all
wrong acts are equal (cf. Cicero, Stoic Paradoxes, Paradox III). Why is this thesis regarded as
paradoxical?) and question 8 ( It is also apparent that if pleasure is not a good and an activity, it
will not be true that the happy person lives pleasantly. For what will he need pleasure for if it is not a
good? Indeed, it will even be possible for him to live painfully; for pain is neither an evil nor a good if
pleasure is not, and why then would he avoid it? Nor indeed will the life of the excellent person be
more pleasant if his activities are not also more pleasant (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, VII 13,
1154a1-7). How would the Stoic Sage comment on this passage?).
Other questions were chosen in the following order of popularity: Question 5 (If the indifferents and
really indifferent, what reasons do the Stoics have to distinguish between preferred and nonpreferred indifferents?), question 9 (If nature leads us to virtue and all human beings have the
same nature, why are we not all virtuous?), questions 3b and 4 (respectively: Are self-love and
altruistic behaviour equally natural? and Does it make any difference if we act virtuously for the
sake of moral goodness or for the sake of happiness? What do the Stoics think?); question 2
(Discuss the role of order and consistency in Stoic ethics.); question 7 (Is the unjust person
responsible for her actions?). As for translations and commentaries, the vast majority of candidates
opted for Cicero instead of Seneca.
Despite its popularity, question 5 did not receive the best answers, with one exception. We note that
most candidates took question 5 as an opportunity to write about the indifferents without
addressing the question. The best essay on question 5 qualified the notion of indifference and
articulated a lucid answer by showing the problems which led some Stoics to introduce various
versions of the doctrine of the indifferents. The best answers to question 9 discussed the issues
involved in the two claims introduced in the question (nature leads us to virtue and all human
beings have the same nature), showing how reference to nature in these claims can be taken in
different ways. The best essay on question 4 provided a thorough discussion of Stoic views on
happiness, virtuous actions and moral goodness, whereas the weakest essays simply assumed a not
better qualified understanding of the terms of the question. Answers to question 2 focused on the
role of oikeisis but generally failed to explain the link between life according to nature and life
according to reason. More generally, we note that candidates did not make much use of the
secondary literature.

35

With respect to translations and commentaries, the general quality of the translations was good,
whereas the general quality of the commentaries was less encouraging. The best candidates
analysed the claims presented in the passages by emphasizing the philosophical issues emerging
from them, whereas the weakest commentaries mainly proposed very general considerations on the
contents of the gobbets.
LMC

36