Philosophy and psychology

PHIL 1301/#10510 F19
Writing Workshop/Critical Paper
Guidelines for
Writing Workshop
in class
on Tuesday 11/19
) and
Critical Paper
due Thursday 11/21 by
4 P.M.
on Canvas
Writing Workshop
In class on Tuesday 11/19, we will hold our Writing Workshop. For this Workshop, which accounts for a full
10% of your final grade in this course,
you must come to class with at least 2 paragraphs of the Critical Paper
(details below) completed
. (If you do not come to class to attend the Workshop at all,
you will receive a 0
this assignment.) Obviously, then, this means you must come to class (1) first of all having
which topic
you will respond to. I will also check to see if you have (2)
a written draft of your introductory paragraph
with thesis statement as well as the reconstruction
. These two paragraphs are
that you must bring
to class to receive a full grade for the Workshop—either
on paper, typed, OR on a laptop/tablet
. (You
bring more advanced drafts of your papers, but you do not have to do this.) I will check to see that you have
brought these components with you to the class session during which the Workshop is held.
In addition, during the Workshop, (3) each member of the class will be
paired with one or two peers to
each other’s drafts
—to help each other create better thesis statements, and then also to help each other think
about how to answer the question from the prompt that you have chosen to respond to in a satisfactory and
complete way—
and I will talk over your drafts with you too
. In this portion of the Workshop, each student
think through and discuss
the philosophical questions asked on the prompt.
Critical Paper
2-2.5 pages, double-spaced, 12-size font, 1-inch margins
Please adhere to these guidelines or
your paper’s grade will be automatically lowered
. To be turned in on Canvas by 4 P.M. on November 21. This
Paper is worth
20% of your final grade
in this course.
: Write a
three-paragraph essay
that (a)
a philosophical argument from one our
readings this semester (see paper topics, below), and (b) presents a cogent
of that argument.
In order to complete these objectives, follow the guidelines explained below.
Paragraph 1:
. After briefly stating the theme or topic of paper, here you will present a
that specifies (a) the philosophical argument you will be discussing as well as (b) the critique of that
argument you will be making. Since (a) and (b) make up the entirety of the rest of your paper, you can
understand your thesis statement as basically a
summary of your entire paper
. Your thesis statement shows
that your argument makes a consistent overall point. An adequate thesis statement
take the following
Against philosopher P’s argument that X, I will raise the objection Y
. The introduction MUST, to receive
full credit, include a thesis statement.
10 points
Paragraph 2:
. In this section, you will explain a philosophical argument from one of the paper
topics below. Your task is to summarize a philosophical view
in your own words
while, at the same time, also
ample textual evidence and citations
for your discussion. Thus, while it is essential for success on
this section that you provide textual support for your explanation of a philosopher’s view, it is not enough that
you simply quote the philosopher. You must also explain the view in your own words, demonstrating your
understanding of their position. Here your overall task is to show you understand the philosophical position and
that you can explain the reasoning of another philosopher.
20 points
Paragraph 3:
. Here you will
object to the philosopher’s argument
. After you’ve shown that you
understand what this philosopher is claiming, now it is your turn to present (at least) one objection to or critique
of that argument. Recall that an objection is either (a) a challenge to
the truth of a premise
, or (b) a challenge

PHIL 1301/#10510 F19
Writing Workshop/Critical Paper
to the
overall inference
from premises to conclusion. In other words, this is an objection to the philosopher’s
reasoning. Your objection must be connected to the argument given by the philosopher as you have previously
reconstructed their claims. Here you show you understand how
to argue against another point of view
. After the
second paragraph where you’ve shown you can understand another argument, now you are demonstrating
can effectively argue against someone else
. This paragraph should include at least one well-developed
objection, but if you feel you have the space, include a second objection as well. Present a real problem with the
philosopher’s argument!
What flaws are in their reasoning? In what way is their conclusion not well-
20 points
, i.e., if you use another person’s words or ideas without attribution,
you will
receive a 0
and may be subject to academic discipline from HCC. Think and write your own thoughts!
: Your Critical Paper, in which you complete all the tasks outlined above, should respond to
of the
following topics, each of which below contains the argument you should
as well as hints toward
formulating an
to that argument:
1. Explain Russell’s
distinction between philosophy and science
, with reference to his definition of the value
of philosophy, and argue why someone might deny that there is such a distinction or at least disagree with the
way Russell draws it (“The Value of Philosophy,” 1-3).
2. What does Kant mean by the “
” and why does he think enlightenment requires liberating ourselves
from them (“An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” 58)? Next, explain why someone might
defend the legitimacy of at least some of the guardians in our society.
3. In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato claims that the prisoner who sees the sun and surface must
return back to
the cave
, 519d). Explain what these images in the Allegory represent, and why Plato thinks the return
of the prisoner (including what this symbol means). Why might somebody think the prisoner is in fact
obligated to return to the cave, and could justifiably remain on the surface?
4. Augustine claims of God that, “If I am to reach him, it must be
through my soul
”—specifically, he will go
on to argue, through
, 213). Explain Augustine’s argument for this conclusion. Is it
possible we could access God through other means?
5. Nietzsche presents a
critique of Christian morals and values
, saying, “do not believe those who speak to
you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they,
decaying and poisoning themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go” (
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
, 125).
Explain Nietzsche’s argument for why Christianity makes one into a “despiser of life,” and then argue how
Christianity could possibly be understood in other ways.
6. Explain Hume’s argument for the
“Bundle Theory” of the self
and why he thus thinks that we are basically
always different people at different times. Provide a reason, against Hume’s specific argument, to think that
there may be such a thing as a self that persists through time.
7. In the First Meditation, Descartes proceeds through three level of doubts to arrive at
skepticism about
claim to knowledge
, 1-3). Explain
of these three levels, and then see if you can find a place
in the chain of reasoning where perhaps doubt may not be as justified or as necessary as Descartes thinks.
8. Show why Hume considers
the missing shade of blue
to be an exception to his empiricist epistemology
, 16-17, end of Section II), and then indicate why he has the resources to show it is actually
exception to his view of the source of knowledge.

PHIL 1301/#10510 F19
Writing Workshop/Critical Paper
9. Nagel distinguishes between an
objective view of death
, that sees death as a brute fact, and a subjective
understanding of death, that sees it from a more human point of view (“Death,” final paragraph). Explain the
details of this distinction, and critically interrogate the extent to which human life may
always consist of
“indefinitely extensive possible goods.”
10. If you would like to discuss
a topic not on this list
, discuss this with me
the Workshop
Critical Paper Rubric
Guidelines for how to achieve
full credit
for each section:
Introduction: Clearly states problem; contains a thesis that takes a recognizable stance on the issue by indicating
a concrete objection
Reconstruction: Contains all the premises of the argument and shows what motivates or drives the argument;
the conclusion is stated in the student’s own words with clarity and precision; and contains references to the text
Objection: States an appreciable problem for the philosopher’s argument that challenges the truth of a premise
or the overall inference from premises to conclusion

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