Exercise 1, due Friday, January 26
In your own words, state one important point of
agreement between Holbach and Campbell, then one important point of disagreement.
(Not an essay, not even necessarily a whole paragraph. Two sentences could do it.)
Exercise 2, also due Friday, January 26
Why doesn't Campbell buy Ayer's analysis of the
key phrase "could have done otherwise"?
(Here again, a sentence or two will be fine.)
Paper #1, due Friday, February 9
Your job in writing the first paper is to defend a position on the
issue of freedom and determinism.
As we’ve seen, the three most prominent positions on that issue are “Hard Determinism,” Compatibilism, and Libertarianism. So probably you will defend whichever of those three you find the most believable; but you might do some variation on one of them.
To defend your chosen position, just marshal the strongest arguments you can think of in its favor. (The arguments may be comparative, as in “My view does better than the other two in regard to such-and-such.”) You will also need to rebut objections to the theory, either ones you already know about or ones you can anticipate.
You may use arguments that have come up in the readings or in class. Just put them in your own words and state them as convincingly as you can. And/or, you may come up with new arguments of your own; that would be especially good.
Further option: If there is some other issue or argument raised in our readings so far (that is, other than the choice between the three positions aforementioned) that interests you and you would like to write your paper about it instead, that can be negotiated. But you must first see your section instructor and discuss your proposed topic with her/him, to make sure it is viable.
Your paper should be four pages long (which means 1000-1200 words—no fun with fonts, please), double-spaced with normal margins.
Click here for instructions
for the rewrite of Paper #1.
Exercise 3, due Friday, March 2
Reply to Shaffer's "problem of identification,"
on the Dualist's behalf. (One to three sentences.)
Paper #2, due Wednesday, April 11
Write on one of the following topics.
1. There is much more to be said about Descartes’ three skeptical arguments. Choose one of the three and continue the discussion. Reconstruct the argument as you see fit. Argue either that your version of the argument succeeds and some version of skepticism is true, or that despite the various “skeptical possibilities,” we do have some considerable amount of knowledge. If you do the former, be sure to answer objections made in class against skeptical arguments. If you do the latter, defend your position against the skeptic.
2. Is there more to be said for Cartesian Dualism than we allowed in class? Defend Dualism against one or more of the objections made against it by our various authors.
3. State the After-Image objection to materialism; then defend some form of materialism against the objection.
4. Pursue the problem of personal identity, defending either the Memory theory, some version of the Body theory, or some third theory. (A third theory might combine elements of the other two.) Anticipate and address objections that might be made to your chosen theory.
5. Pursue the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, either defending it against objections made in class or attacking it anew.
6. Pursue Paley’s Teleological Argument, taking
one side or the other.
As before, your paper should be four pages long (which means 1000-1200 words, no fun with fonts), double-spaced with normal margins. Give the paper a clear structure: Say what you’re going to do, then do it, then anticipate objections and rebut them.
Revisit the Advice handout (also on reserve in Caldwell 106B). If you have any questions, ask them.
Late policy as before: Unexcused late papers
will be docked one full letter grade per day. (Of course, if you
have a good reason why you can't get the paper in on time, that can be
Exercise 4, due Friday, April 27
Mill's deductive argument has at least two big flaws. Expose one of them, in a sentence or two.