Introduction to Philosophy
First Summer Semester, 2018
Dr. Scott Kimbrough
Topics for Second Paper
a maximum three page paper on one of the topics below. There is no minimum
length. Papers are to be typed and double-spaced, with reasonable margins. Papers
are due Tuesday, June 19th. Late papers
will be penalized 5 points per week-day late.
goal of this paper is to evaluate objections to a philosophical theory. This
involves three basic tasks:
- Set up the debate. Using textual
evidence, describe the relevant claims made by the philosopher. Then
explain the objection to those claims. You must discuss the specific examples provided in the paper topic
- Provide the philosopher’s reply to
the objection. This involves using
textual evidence to infer how the philosopher would or should respond
to the objection.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the
philosopher’s reply. Give reasons for your own conclusion about whether
the philosopher succeeds or fails in fending off the objection.
that your task is to evaluate a particular objection, not the philosopher’s
theory as a whole. It is possible that you might disagree with the
philosopher’s overall view, yet still conclude that the philosopher has an
effective reply to the specific objection under consideration.
Give textual evidence for any quotations and whenever you
attribute a specific view. Papers without
textual evidence will receive no higher than a D. Since this is not a
formal research paper, you may simply provide page numbers from the textbook in
parentheses. For example: “According to Aristotle, moral virtue is a product of
habit (p.509).” However, if you use sources other than the textbook (which is
not recommended), full bibliographical information must be provided.
Grading: The paper is worth a
total of 125 points. You will receive a letter grade that will be converted to
a numerical score. The main criteria for grading are:
Use of textual evidence
Accuracy of interpretation
Depth of analysis/defense of conclusion
one of the topics below:
- According to Nielsen, to be
free is “to act in accordance with one’s own rational deliberations,
without constraint and compulsion” (p.341). Briefly explicate this
definition. Against Nielsen, it has been objected
that some people fail to have free will despite acting on their own
rational deliberations. For example, consider David, a child born to drug-addicted
parents who from a young age teach him to steal in order to get the money
to fuel their drug habit. Through beatings, withholding food, and other
abusive techniques, David’s parents turn him into a remorseless thief.
Once he grows up, he continues down the same path, stealing whatever he
can when the opportunity arises. But according to
the objector, when David decides to steal something, it’s not really an
exercise of free will because he was conditioned to behave that way and
doesn’t know any better. How would Nielsen respond to this objection? Is
his response effective? Why or why not?
- According to Frankfurt, a
person has free will when “he is free to will what he wants to will, or to have the will he wants” (p.363). Briefly
explain this definition of free will, introducing Frankfurt’s distinction
between will and second order volition. Against Frankfurt, it has been objected that his definition of free will does
not sufficiently account for external sources of compulsion, such as
threats. For example, suppose a burglar breaks into your house and demands
your money or he’ll kill your
family. In that situation, you want your will be to be hand over the money
because you want to save your family. So you have
the will you want when you hand over your money to the burglar. But according to the objector, it is wrong to say that
you gave the burglar your money of your own free will. How would Frankfurt
respond to this objection? Is his response effective? Why or why not?
to the Introduction to
Philosophy page or my homepage.