Writing Assignment: philosophy

  1. We defined philosophy as ‘the discipline that addresses non-empirical questions and their answers.’  What does this mean?


  1. Briefly define and discuss the following fields of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy.



  1. Identify a philosophical issue or debate that interests you. Explain one philosopher’s view on the issue you identified.


  1. Do you agree or disagree with the view you chose to discuss?  Explain why.  If you agree, consider a reason why someone might reject the view then offer a response to that reason (you may rely on the text in order to find critiques of the view you are discussing).  If you disagree, explain what is wrong with the view and offer a well-reasoned alternative or describe a relevant competing view from the book and why you find it more plausible.



  1. This Assignment needs more then 900 words.



  • For this paper, you will be graded on the extent to which you successfully complete the assignment.  You must address all points listed in the assignment. You will also be graded on the correctness of your definitions and explanations, as well as on the quality of reasoning you demonstrate. You should certainly avoid the errors in reasoning discussed in the text.


  • There is no need to use outside resources.  If you do use outside resources, you are required to include a bibliography page that lists the resources you used.  If you use a resource in any way and do not cite it, your grade will be ‘0’.  You should include no direct quotes from any source in the body of your paper.


  •  Be sure to be charitable when explaining the view you choose to discuss for the the assignment.  This means that you should give it the best representation possible.


  • Your paper should be typed, using space-and-a-half or double-spacing. 12-point Times New Roman font is preferred.


  • -Practice good grammar; proofread and correct errors.





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Note: the samples provided here are from another semester during which the assignment instructions may have been a bit different than they are for this class. Please use these primarily as a guide on style.

The following is a sample outline I created. The outline you create to prepare for the assignment should look something like this, but of course, will be ‘filled in’ with your own content:

  • Philosophy is the discipline that deals with non-empirical questions


  • After defining the fields of philosophy: identify an important question within epistemology: “What is truth?”



  • S. Peirce and William James (pragmatists) believe that truth is what is fated to be accepted by all who investigate the matter using empirical evidence, or the method of science


  • The pragmatic theory of truth is superior to other theories of truth because it is grounded in reality and places reason and experience equally at the foundation of knowledge



  • While I agree with the pragmatic theory of truth, I think Peirce goes too far when he contends that science will eventually answer all meaningful questions. In my view, concepts such as justice, equality, and human rights cannot be fully addressed through empirical evidence.


The following is a sample first paragraph I created:


Philosophy addresses questions that humans seek to answer, but cannot do so conclusively using data gathered through the five senses. For instance: What is the meaning of life? What is the true nature of the universe? How should I live my life? What sorts of responsibilities do I have to others? A field of particular importance within philosophy is ‘epistemology’: the study of human knowledge. Epistemology addressed questions about the foundation of knowledge, the nature of truth, and whether or not humans can ever have certain knowledge. In this paper, I will explain the pragmatic theory of truth and why it is superior to rationalism, empiricism, and skepticism. After doing so, I will advance the view that while pragmatism offers a superior theory of truth, it goes too far in contending that science will eventually answer all questions we seek to answer and so will bring an end to philosophy.


The following is a sample final paragraph I created:


While I agree with the pragmatists on the nature of truth, I think they go too far in claiming that science will eventually answer all meaningful questions. Their verifiability criterion of meaning suggests that if a claim cannot be verified empirically, then it is meaningless. However, some of the most important claims that we make as human beings cannot be verified empirically. A good example of this is: All human beings are equal. We cannot ‘see’ human equality or verify it through any of the other senses. In fact, if we try to verify this claim, we would be led to believe that the opposite is true. When we look around the world, we do not see people existing in equality with one another. To me, though, this does not mean that all humans are not equal. It means that we still have work to do through our social and political organizations. Some truths are beyond verification and in some cases; we have a moral duty to work at realizing them until they become verifiable.





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