The purpose of the essay, regardless of the topic you choose below, is to analyze a philosophical question. Though there are hundreds (at least!) of philosophical questions, here are a few examples (Please note! These are simply examples of philosophical questions, NOT the topics for the essay; topics are below all of the instructions.):
* Who “owns” human life? For example, does anyone have the right to take an individual’s life? The state? The individual?
* Does free will really exist? (And, if there is no free will, are people ever “responsible” for their acts? should we ever punish people?)
* What is the difference between living and being alive?
* How do you know your perceptions are real?
* If God exists, why is there so much evil in the world?
* What is a person? Is it the mind, or the body?
Regardless of the topic you choose, your essay must include the following:
* An original title (hint: ‘Essay 1’ is not an original title; nor is the title of the article you choose to write on)
* An introduction with a thesis statement; if you need help with writing a thesis statement, read this advice on developing a thesis. Since the main idea of your essay is an analysis of a philosophical question, your thesis should most likely express this specifically (e.g. state the philosophical question your essay will be analyzing).
Here is some VERY helpful advice on how to write your intro/begin your essay: https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/beginn…
* A paragraph (most likely the second paragraph of your essay, following the introduction) that summarizes the article related to the topic you chose below; your summary should be written such that the reader of your essay has a general understanding of the article you are
summarizing; give an overview of the main ideas (and argument if there is one). Read this helpful advice on how to correctly summarize a text.
* A discussion/explanation of a philosophical question that relates to the article you chose; you must explicitly discuss the philosophical question your essay is exploring; this means you should state what the question is, explain the significance of the question [i.e. why is this a question of concern in philosophy?], and perhaps explain various ways others have answered this question.
* Research (incorporated through quotation, paraphrase, or both) from at least 2 scholarly/professional sources not including the article; all research must be cited according to MLA. When incorporating sources into your work, they must be present so as to serve your position/argument/discussion. In other words, they should not be there just to be there; they should be incorporated AS part of the discussion/argument, in a meaningful, substantial way. Because this is a philosophy paper, appropriate sources would likely be those written by other philosophers and directly related to philosophy.
* Your own response, including explanation and reasons, to the philosophical question/problem your paper addresses
* A conclusion
Here is some VERY helpful advice on how to conclude your essay: https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending…
* A MLA works cited page (the works cited page is NOT part of the four-page length requirement)
NB: Many people make the mistake of trying to argue for one side or another in their essay. For example, if your essay is analyzing the question of whether humans have free will, your essay should NOT take a position on this question (this topic has been debated for thousands of years, and in its current form, unless you are a neuroscientist or physicist, you are most likely not qualified to tackle this question); rather, your essay should explain WHAT the debate is with regard to this question, what the various arguments are with regard to this question. Of course, feel free to share your view, but doing so is not the focus of your essay. An effective way to do this is not just ‘I support x’ or ‘I don’t support x’ but something along the lines of ‘the view presented by (whomever, John Stuart Mill, Kant, Hume, Peter Singer, Ayn Rand, whatever you have discussed already) is more reasonable/valid/convincing because blah blah blah.’ This IS a stance, but it shows a thorough, intellectual understanding of a position, an evaluation of an argument.
Any instance of plagiarism will be punished by a minimum of an F on the assignment and a report to the associate dean of the humanities division.
Further punishment could include failure in the course, suspension, or expulsion.
The articles below are all from The New York Times. Non-subscribers are limited to the number of articles they can read, but the Richland Library has full access to The New York Times. You can access The New York Times via this DCCCD Library web page.
Topic #1: “We Are Not Born Human” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/opinion/we-are-…
The above relates to personal identity/what being human might mean or not mean.