Possible exam questions

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The questions on the take-home final exam will be chosen from the following list. More will be added as the semester progresses. Good answers will not only present information from the readings, but will synthesize and analyze with as much detail as possible. 

 

1. Defend or criticize the following statement: "Debt is an idea inherently grounded in morality." 

2. Discuss Neale's "levels" for defining money—money as stuff, money as process, and money as idea. Which one(s) help explain the idea of debt the most? 

3. What is the difference between a debt and an obligation? Why is the distinction an important one? 

4. Discuss Polanyi's forms of integration, and connect each to the idea of debt. 

5. Explain Graeber's argument about the connection between slavery and the rise of markets.

6. Graeber highlights many ways in which classical economic assumptions about markets are wrong. Do you agree? Why or why not? Why does it matter? 

7. Discuss the connection that Graeber alleges exists among the rise of markets, debt, and patriarchy. Evaluate the strength of this allegation.

8. The Axial Age saw not only the widespread use of coinage, but the widespread appearance of "reasoned inquiry." What's the connection?

9. Defend or criticize the following statement: "The existence of markets implies the existence of capitalism."

10. Describe the differences among Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic conceptions of debt and markets. 

11. Describe two arguments from the Graeber book that you agree with, and two that you disagree with. Defend each.

12. Explain how credit card debt could be explained using Veblenian analysis. 

13. Discuss the current state of student loan debt. Would you recommend that student loans be forgiven? Why or why not? 

14. Write a thoughtful, well-reasoned defense of Alexander Hamilton's assertion that the national debt is a national credit.

15. Write a thoughtful, well-reasoned defense of Andrew Jackson's assertion that the national debt is a national curse.