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1500-2000 words, double spaced, 1 inch margins, MLA format citations. (But you are graded on content (like how well you have explained the concepts) not on length of paper).
In this paper, you are to answer ONE of the following questions in a thesis-driven paper, focused on the arguments of at least one philosopher we have read for class:
Is it possible to have arational/justified belief that the all-powerful all-good Judeo-Christian God exists? (this question is not asking whether it is possible to believe (it obviously is possible to believe in God), but rather whether such a belief can be rational or justified given the considerations you read about chapter 7)Relevant readings are from 7.6 (and possibly 7.5 and 7.4)–you might want to consider the debate about pragmatic beliefs and beliefs based on evidence that occurs between Pascal, Clifford, and James
Does the problem of evil demonstrate that an all-powerful all-good God does not exist?Relevant readings are in 7.5
Are the mind and brain two distinct substances (that is, can dualism be the correct view of the mind)? Another way you can think about this question: can evidence about the brain completely explain mental phenomena?3.4, 3.10 and Phelan et al. “Brain Damage, Mind Damage” (uploaded reading) are the directly relevant readings here
Can Artificial Intelligence have minds? (Or another way you might want to consider thinking about this questions—what mental abilities can robots have?)3.10 and Lycan, “Robots and Minds” (uploaded reading) are the relevant readings. If you choose this, you might want to search for information on Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment for the view that robots cannot have minds.
Are there moral truths, or is morality relative to individuals or to cultures?8.2, 8.3, and Rachels, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism” are the relevant readings here
What are our moral duties/obligations to the poor?(where you can interpret “poor” as broadly or narrowly as you want—U.S. poverty, famine conditions, refugees, etc.).Relevant readings here are Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” and O’Neill, “Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems” (both were uploaded readings)
What are our moral duties/obligations to animals(alternatively, is it morally acceptable to eat meat)?Relevant reading here is Singer, “All Animals are Equal” from 9.3.
Along with the basic general paper elements included in the rubric, your paper must contain the following content:
A clear thesis
An argument or arguments in support of your thesis (this should be based on the course readings)
A potential objection to the claim made in your thesis
A response to that objection that is consistent with and makes sense given your original argument for your thesis (but does not simply restate the same argument)
It is acceptable for your argument and the objection you consider to be a clear explanation of a philosopher’s argument—you do not need to come up with your own unique argument or objection (your thesis, for example, could say, “Following Mackie, I will argue that the problem of evil shows that the traditional monotheistic God does not exist…”). Most of your paper should be dedicated to explaining in depth the reasoning in the article (s) read for this course. You can (and even should!) use content from the relevant reading response on the topic in your paper.
Do NOT rely on quotations for your argument–instead, you should explain the author’s argument in your own words. If you use quotations, you must fully explain what the author is saying and explain how it support your argument.
If you use a philosopher we did not read for class, you must cite from an original philosophical source (rather than a summary article, for example). It’s also your responsibility to make sure the author is a credible academic and the article is published. Make sure you do not plagiarize–any instances of plagiarism will result in a 0.