Philosophy Final Essay Sample
Select topics from the list below. Consult with the instructor first if you wish to write on a different topic. Refer to the handout Writing Philosophy Papers for more specific instructions. Please be sure to document any sources that your discussion relies on or refers to.
1. Using Plato’s Euthyphro as a starting point, discuss the relationship between morality and religion. Is morality created by divine command or do such commands conform to moral principles that are independent of God?
2. Explain the “religious epistemology problem” that Plato raises in the Euthyphro. How do contemporary religious believers defend their claims to know God’s moral will?
3. Discuss the Socratic Mission as described in Plato’s Apology . What are the main
elements of Socrates’ ethical teachings? What role does religious belief and inspiration play in Socrates’ mission? What contemporary moralists remind you of Socrates?
4. Critically evaluate the arguments Socrates offers in the Apology to support the claim that it is irrational to fear death.
5. Select one or more traditional arguments for the existence of God (i.e., the cosmological or teleological argument) for critical evaluation.6. Evaluate Blackburn’s critique of dualism in ch. 2 of
7. What is the problem of evil (as defined in lecture and the text)? Evaluate one or more attempts to resolve this problem.
8. Explicate and evaluate William James’ defense of theism in The Will to Believe
9. Pascal held that religious belief should be based on “inspiration” (i.e. religious experience) rather than logical argument. Explain and analyze his position.
10. Discuss the problem of free will and determinism. Which response to the problem seems most promising and why?
11.Analyze the skeptical arguments that Descartes presents in Meditation 1. What does Descartes think he has shown? What do you think Descartes has shown?
12.Evaluate Locke’s empiricist theory of the acquisition of knowledge.
13.Explain and evaluate Aristotle’s views on the acquisition of virtue and the nature of virtue as a mean between extremes.
14.Evaluate Kant’s categorical imperative by applying his theory to contemporary moral controversies.
15.Discuss the relative merits of Kantian ethics and utilitarianism by applying each theory to a contemporary moral controversy.16.Evaluate Sartre’s argument for the claim that morality is subjective in
Existentialism and Humanism.
17.Explain how Tolstoy’s character Ivan Ilyich exemplifies what later existentialists describe as the inauthentic life. How, according to Tolstoy, does Ilyich overcome his inauthenticity?
18.Explain how Camus’ character, Meursault, exemplifies Camus’ atheistic existentialist outlook. Critically evaluate Camus’ contention that “nothing matters.”