WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

 
If you are reading this text in connection with a course you are expected to submit the assignments below to the instructor by the dates listed in the course calendar and by the means described in the course outline.  Revisions are not only permitted but encouraged and assistance is also provided.  Consult the course outline for more information.

1. ESSAY -- INTRODUCTION

Do no research before you answer these questions.  Do your best based upon prior knowledge. 

A.   List the five or so most important questions or problems you think about. 

B.   If you had virtually unlimited financial resources at your disposal what would you begin doing with your life? 

C.   Why did you take this philosophy course? 

D.   What do you expect to put into this course? 

E.   What is Philosophy? 

F.   How do you use the term "philosophy"? 

G.   How do others use the term "philosophy"? Give examples. 

H.   What good is philosophy? 

I.   What importance might philosophy have in your future?

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For Essays #2 and 3 you may want to use this system for quotations.  You may cut and paste the passages from the internet text, if you wish, but include citations. 

HOW TO QUOTE PLATO

In most copies of Plato’s dialogues you will see numbers and letters, e.g., 201e by the text. [These numbers and letters refer to the page number (e.g., page 201) and the section (e.g., section e) of the 1578 edition of Plato’s dialogues].  These numbers are called Stephanus numbers.  They are almost universally used to quote Plato.  Assuming your copy of Plato’s dialogues has Stephanus numbers, this is how to reference a quote from the dialogues.

First, you mention the title of the dialogue and italicize it. 

            Symposium

Next, you cite the Stephanus number that begins the quote without italics

            Symposium 222a

Lastly, you cite the Stephanus number that ends the quote. 

            Symposium 222a-222b, or  Symposium 222a-b.

Note, if the Stephanus number that begins the quote and ends the quote is the same (e.g., the quote is contained within 202a) then just write the Stephanus number once.

            Symposium 202a   

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 2. ESSAY 

 SOCRATES and The Decision to Remain and Die

 Base your answer on class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

 Socrates refuses to go into exile when offered the opportunity to do escape and to go into exile.  He accepts verdict and the sentence posed upon him even though he thinks that there was no reason to charge him and the jury was wrong to convict him and to sentence him to death. 

·       Why , according to Socrates is escaping not the right thing to do?  Why did he think it would be wrong to leave with Crito? CAUTION: Socrates gives SEVERAL reasons, starting with the use of reason itself

·       In the Crito, how does Socrates think his life will be viewed if he escapes?  How does this compare to the way he viewed his own life, as stated in the Apology and Crito?

·       What are his reasons for thinking that if he leaves he will be doing wrong to the state even if the charges and the verdict and the sentence are all wrong?

·       How is Socrates decision to remain in prison and accept the sentence an example of “Socratic  Irony”?

·       How would Socrates leaving the prison make him guilty of the two charges and prove the jury was correct when otherwise they were not correct or just? 

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3.     RESEARCH PAPER- PLATO’s  SYMPOSIUM 

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

A.    Summarize Phaedrus’s, Pausanias’, Eryximachus, Aristophanes’, and Agathon’s view on the nature of love in Plato’s Symposium. Be clear and complete as to the essentials of each view. 

B.    In the passage 201d-212c in the Symposium, Socrates presents Diotima’s instruction on the nature of love and the ascent of the soul to a truer love and understanding of knowledge.  Describe how this passage about love represents Plato’s key philosophical ideas.

C.    Describe how Alcibiades’s love for Socrates is an example of love already spoken about in the dialogue.  In your answer, describe how Alcibiades regards Socrates. 

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4.     RESEARCH PAPER-PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION- 

This has two (2) parts.  Answer both parts. Use the textbook and any other sources you may choose.  In your essay indicate that you are at least familiar with the materials in the texts.

In your essay, be sure to use the textbook by citing relevant passages. 

A.          ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD  The arguments for the existence of god have weaknesses.  Some have more problems than others.  Some seem more attractive and some stronger than others. 

_____  i. What do you think the value of these arguments to be?

______ ii. Why do humans care about these arguments or proofs?

______ iii. Since they all have problems, are they necessary for the believer in god?

______ iv. Select any one argument :Ontological, Cosmological, Teleological,                           Miracles, Experience

1.     _____describe it

2.     _____describe its weakness or flaw

3.     _____point out what its attraction would be

4.     _____what use a believer can make of it despite its problem. 

B.    The Problem of EVIL 

Many believe that the Problem of Evil can not be solved.  The resolution of the conflict between God’s characteristics and the existence of evil can only result in the changing of the properties of the deity or a recasting of the idea of evil so that it really is not evil at all.  What is your position?

_______ i. State your position

_______ii. Defend your position against the other two possible views. 

______a. explain what was wrong with the other two positions. 

______b. respond to the criticism of you position from the point of view of the other two positions

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4.     RESEARCH PAPER-PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION- 

This has two (2) parts.  Answer both parts. Use the textbook and any other sources you may choose.  In your essay indicate that you are at least familiar with the materials in the texts.

In your essay, be sure to use the textbook by citing relevant passages. 

A.          ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD  The arguments for the existence of god have weaknesses.  Some have more problems than others.  Some seem more attractive and some stronger than others. 

_____  i. What do you think the value of these arguments to be?

______ ii. Why do humans care about these arguments or proofs?

______ iii. Since they all have problems, are they necessary for the believer in god?

______ iv. Select any one argument :Ontological, Cosmological, Teleological,                           Miracles, Experience

1.     _____describe it

2.     _____describe its weakness or flaw

3.     _____point out what its attraction would be

4.     _____what use a believer can make of it despite its problem. 

B.    The Problem of EVIL 

Many believe that the Problem of Evil can not be solved.  The resolution of the conflict between God’s characteristics and the existence of evil can only result in the changing of the properties of the deity or a recasting of the idea of evil so that it really is not evil at all.  What is your position?

_______ i. State your position

_______ii. Defend your position against the other two possible views. 

______a. explain what was wrong with the other two positions. 

______b. respond to the criticism of you position from the point of view of the other two positions

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5.  RESEARCH PAPER-METAPHYSICS

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

A. Describe at least four issues that are fundamental to metaphysics, e.g., reality, being, space, time, god, soul, causation, values, truth...

This means you must describe what the metaphysical issues are related to the ideas you selected.  These issues relate to the question of the reality of or the existence of those beings or entities you select to describe.  E.g., is time real? How is time real?  Are souls real? From what traditions of thought? What are the problems related to establishing the existence of souls? 

You do NOT need to solve problems or discuss the issues in detail, you only need to describe them.

B.  What do you think of the theory that there can be simultaneous multiple realities? 

_______     Do you believe that what one person believes may not agree with another person’s belief and so what may be real to one person may not be real to the second person?

_______    Do you think that each group and each person is entitled to their own reality?

________  What is to be done when there is a conflict between two different “realities”?

 Provide some coherent reasoning to support each of your answers establishing at least that your position is plausible.

NOTE: This means what is real and not a person's view of what is real. This question is asking if there can be more than one total reality. It is not asking about whether or not people can have different experiences or views of the same reality. This question is asking whether there can be more than one entire reality (universe) at the same time. Granted that people have different experiences and different views what are they of? Is there a single reality that people have different views of? or, are there as many realities as there are different views? Is it possible that there is one reality and some people have correct views of it and other people have wrong or incorrect views of it? Or are there many realities and each group of people can have their own reality? What becomes of the reality of other groups? Are they no longer real?

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6. RESEARCH PAPER  EPISTEMOLOGY- Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections.   

A. Describe the epistemological theory of transcendental idealism (KANT)

B. Describe three different theories of truth: correspondence, coherence and pragmatic.   How do the pragmatists criticize the correspondence theory?  What problems are there with the pragmatists theory of truth?  Is it possible to use all three theories at once and how may they all be employed in a fourth theory (science or objectivism)?  

C. Richard Rorty and other Pragmatists correct about the end of objective truth? What do you think of the theory that there can be simultaneous multiple truths?  Do you believe that what one person believes may not agree with another person’s belief and so what may be true to one person may not be true to the second person?  Do you think that each group and each person is entitled to their own truth?  What is to be done when there is a conflict between two different "truths"?  

Provide some coherent reasoning to support each of your answers establishing at least that your position is plausible.

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7. RESEARCH PAPER- THE MIND BODY PROBLEM

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

METAPHYSICS OF MIND

Adopt a metaphysical position on the nature of the relationship between the mind and body.  Select from Materialism, Idealism or Dualism.

Provide some coherent reasoning to support each of your answers establishing at least that your position is plausible. 

State what a body is according to that position.  

State what a mind is according to that position. 

State what the relationship is between the mind and body according to that position. 

Present a reasoned criticism of the position. 

Present a reasoned reply to the criticism.  

Present reasons for rejecting the other major positions

Possible metaphysical positions are listed below. Do NOT explain all of them.  Adopt ONE of them and defend it! 

I.                 Dualism

A. Causal Interaction

B. Parallelism

                        i.Pre-established Harmony

                        ii.Occassionalism

II.               Monism

A. Idealism

B. Dual Aspect

C. Materialism

a.      Epiphenomenalism

b.     Radical Behaviorism

c.      Logical Behaviorism

d.     Identity

e.      Eliminative Materialism

f.       Structuralism

f.    Functionalism   

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 8. Research paper- FREE WILL

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

Do Humans have free will, if so, how free is it?   In other words, are all human actions determined, if so how so, to what degree?

Adopt a metaphysical position on the nature of freedom or determinism. In other words, which of these three theories do you think is most accurate in describing the human condition and why do you think so?

DETERMINISM
LIBERTARIANISM
COMPATIBILISM

State what determines human actions according to that position. 

Present a reasoned criticism of the position.

Present a reasoned reply to the criticism.  

Why do you prefer that theory to the other two? 

How do you refute the critiques of your position  from the other two positions? 

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9. RESEARCH PAPER-ETHICS

 Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

A. List at least three things that are wrong with or problems with each of these theories:

EGOISM

UTILITARIANISM

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

NATURAL LAW

THEORY OF JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS-The MAXI- MIN Principles

WILL TO POWER

CARING

NORMATIVE ETHICAL RELATIVISM

B. Which of the theories listed above do you think is the theory with the most acceptable disadvantages?  That is to say, which is the most acceptable theory to serve as the basis for a moral order in a society in which you would want to live?  Why do you think so?  Give reasons which take into consideration both:

 1.the criticisms of the theory you prefer

 2.the advantages of the theory you prefer  

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10.RESEARCH PAPER-LEGITIMACY OF THE STATE AND GOVERNMENT   

 Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections.   

A. List and explain five theories that legitimize government?

B. How does Hobbes theory of government and its purpose differ from Rousseau's theory? 

C. With any theory of a just state there must be some way to resolve the tension between public interests and individual interests.  For each of the following thinkers describe how they would resolve the tension, which interest would be more important that of the individual or that of the group? 

PLATO, HOBBES, LOCKE, MILL, RAWLS, MARX, HOSPERS 

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BONUS ESSAY-  worth up to 10 points- submitted at the last scheduled class meeting

What is your position on the justification of the state?  Which theory do you prefer and why do you prefer it?  State one criticism of it and why you prefer it despite the criticism. Why is the criticism not effective in causing you to change your position?

 

© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved.

Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.

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