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Write a four to five page paper in which you defend a thesis of philosophical interest to you and relevant to the material we have covered in the course. Your thesis should be clearly stated in the first paragraph of your paper, and every paragraph that follows should play an essential role in your defense of that thesis. A thesis is not a topic, or a general subject matter. A thesis is a claim that you attempt to establish as true in your paper. Once you have chosen a topic, you will have to decide on a thesis relating to that topic (e.g., While Sandel raises some serious concerns about genetic modification, ultimately these concerns are groundless because it is of the essence of human beings to take control of our condition and escape from it). Your paper should include exactly as much exposition as is necessary to make your argument clearly.

Some possible topics:

– Descartes and skepticism
– Cartesian dualism and the nature of the mind or soul
– Descartes and Kant/Camus/Beauvoir on the soul and/or freedom
– Descartes proof for the existence of God in Meditation Three
– Hobbes on the state of nature and sovereignty
– Utilitarianism vs. deontology
– Nietzsche and Kant on the nature of morality or equality
– Kant and/or Beauvoir on freedom
– Beauvoirs ethics
– Camus and/or Beauvoir on the meaning of life
– Sandel on bioethics or some particular aspect of it
– A Kantian or utilitarian response to Sandel
– The idea of the human person

You may pick one of these topics, or you may propose to me another topic of your choosing.

Guidelines

The paper should have a clearly defined thesis.
It should reflect a clear understanding and a fair interpretation of any authors discussed.
It should defend its thesis clearly and consistently, employing valid/strong arguments with plausible premises.
It should be organized in a logical way, never digressing nor becoming repetitious without good reason.
It should be written in a lucid, engaging, literate, and never overwrought style.
It should be in 12 point, Times New Roman font, with 1 margins, double spaced.
Quotations and other references should be cited in a consistent way (I do not require a particular format, but it might help to choose one and stick to it).
Please do not begin your paper with some statement about how long people have been interested in your topic (whether it is since the dawn of time or some other moment long ago). These statements are not an interesting contribution to the paper, and are frequently not even true.
Please do not use a thesaurus. If you do not already know a word, it is unlikely that you will use it correctly.


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