Introduction to Philosophy Long Paper

Write a roughly 1200-1500 word argumentative essay on one of the topics below:
1. Between Sartre and Murdoch, who do you think has a more convincing theory of human
freedom?
2. Do you agree with Murdoch’s contention that appreciating beauty in nature and art,
and/or mastering an “intellectual discipline” (87), can help train us for a moral life?
3. If life is absurd for the reasons Camus says, is immortality desirable?
4. On the assumption that this life on Earth is all there is (no reward or punishment in an
afterlife), do you think that it is more important to be good or happy? (Note that you
can answer this in a lot of ways. You might even reject the assumption underlying the
question by, for instance, denying that there is such a thing as being good, or
maintaining that goodness and happiness are the same thing, or that one is a necessary
or sufficient condition of the other. Just be sure to draw upon some of the writings we
have covered in this class.)
The Structure of this Argumentative Essay
The point of an argumentative essay, unsurprisingly, is to produce arguments in favor of some
thesis. This thesis can be a positive claim (e.g. “Humans have free will”) or a negative claim
(“Humans do not have free will”). It can even be a skeptical claim (“There is no way of knowing
whether humans have free will”). Here are the components that you will need to include in
your essay:
(a) A clear thesis to be defended. Your thesis statement should address a philosophically
significant subject matter concerning which there is reasonable disagreement. And it
should be formulated in unambiguous, straightforward terms. Be sure to underline your
thesis statement and put it in the first paragraph of your paper.
(b) At least one main argument in support of your thesis. This argument will ideally consist
of premises which logically entail or render highly probable your thesis, and which are at
least as, and hopefully more, plausible than the thesis itself. Your thesis is the conclusion
of this argument. If an argument contains a premise that is decidedly controversial, you
may need to argue for that premise as well. So, your main argument may consist of subarguments for at least some of its premises. It always helps to illustrate your central
points with examples.
(c) At least two objections to your thesis and/or your arguments for it. These objections
must be cogent and strong. Since your goal is winning the truth rather than winning a
debate, you should try to think of the very best and most plausible objections to your
thesis you can come up with or discover. If those objections weaken your credence in
your thesis, that’s fine. It’s rational to lower one’s confidence when compelling
objections arise and to be uncertain when matters are unclear. Just say so in your essay!
Think of your task as that of presenting the best possible case for a thesis rather than
that of producing unshakeable conviction in your readers or yourself. (But, of course, if
you have more confidence in the truth of an objection than your thesis, choose another
thesis.)
(d) At least one response to each objection—two responses altogether. In most cases, your
response must specify which premise or set of premises is wrong in the objection, and
explain why it is wrong.
As always, I urge you to write clearly and straightforwardly—like you’re trying hard to find the
truth and to be understood by others. (Some philosophers write as though they’re trying hard
not to be understood. Please don’t emulate them.)
Finally, the structure of your essay should be clear. You should, for instance, flag transitions
with sentences like “One objection to my view is this:…” “In response to this objection, I
maintain that…”

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