Second Major Paper Assignment PHIL 302

Most recent alteration: October 28, 2008

Instructor: Jan Garrett

Due Date for 100- to 150-word Outline: Monday, November 10, class time. (5 points)

I will make comments on the outline and return it to you on Nov. 12 if time permits. You should return the outline to me when you hand in your paper. Feel free to turn the outline in before Nov. 10. If you do so, it will be more likely I can return it to you with improvement suggestions that you'll have time to implement before the paper due date.

Due Date for Paper: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 class time.

Semester Point Weighting: 36 points

Length of Paper: About 1200 words (approximately 4.0 pp. at 300 words per page).

The total word count on the two major papers and the initial short paper should be at least 3300 words. If you fall short of the total, you will have to expand the second paper to make up the shortfall or receive an incomplete in the course.

Word count does not include quoted material, footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography. You may, however, be required to supply notes and a bibliography, e.g., if you quote translations not included in VAP or derive insights from secondary sources apart from the part of VAP written by Annas.

Please give me a correct word count.

Format: double-spaced (except for longer quotes and individual steps of formally reconstructed arguments), 10-12 point easily read font; paragraphs normally consisting of 7-10 lines.

References and Bibliography: use standard scholarly techniques for endnotes or embedded author-date references and, if needed, bibliography. For referring to ancient authors, see techniques described in the assignment for the first major paper. I should be able to find without difficulty any text or passage you use as evidence for claims about what is in your written sources. Be prepared to supply me if requested with a copy of any secondary sources on which you rely.

If you are not familiar with Dept of English Policy and FAQ's on Plagiarism, please review it.

Subject: You may explicate a philosopher's, or philosophical school's, position and the reasoning behind it, on a debated philosophical issue (or a couple linked issues). Philosophers or philosophical schools that may be discussed include ancient Greek and Roman philosophers after Plato and medieval philosophers through Aquinas.

I would like to encourage a discussion of a debate between two positions. Strong papers will include some close analysis of particular passages from primary texts (in translation, of course) and reasoned evaluation of the positions.

You are not limited to the topics listed below and those topics may require further focusing. The Annas (Voices of Ancient Philosophy) anthology may or may not have the key original texts you need to consult. Please select at least a partly focused topic and consult the instructor regarding the most relevant texts. If they are not in VAP they are probably readily available in the library. Especially if the topics are not on the list below, please consult with me about your topic choice. A prudent choice of topic can increase chances of success on this paper.

Note: The Annas textbook does not contain all or most of the primary material that we have from the major ancient philosophers. Since I know most of you don't have a lot of time to try to figure out what the other relevant passages are on any given topic, especially when they are not included in your anthology, I am willing to suggest additional primary sources and, if you wish, secondary sources that may assist your comprehension. Please remember that this resource is available!

And, finally, a Word of Caution: Secondary source books and internet articles should not become a substitute for reading and trying to understand the relevant primary source, at least for the main thinker(s) on which your paper is focusing. It is all right if you glean a few specific insights from secondary sources, but even then it is best to check them against the primary source on which the secondary source is commenting. The point is to "digest" the material, that is, to integrate it with your own understanding, not to "cut and paste" the work of others (even if you correctly quote and cite them).

Suggested Topics

Please do not substantially duplicate a paper you wrote for another philosophy course, including PHIL 350.

1. Aristotle on one of the following ethical topics: happiness, friendship, pleasure, practical wisdom. Ask instructor for help in pinpointing the most relevant passages. (The most important passages are in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.)

2. Aristotle on some topic of natural philosophy: the definition of nature, or motion, or time, or place. (Main sources: Physics.)

3. How does one become wise and good? (Compare Stoics on moral development with Aristotle, Epicurus, or some other pre-modern philosophical perspective since Plato.)

4a. The debate on the good life (two of: Aristotelian, Epicurean, Stoic positions); selections in VAP sections 2 and 5.

4b. You could also compare the Epicurean or Stoic view on the good life with Thomas Aquinas on happiness. See me for directions to Aquinas' writings on Happiness.)

5. Epicureans (Epicurus or Lucretius) v. Plato on the question of the afterlife and/or why we should not fear death. If you wrote on Plato's views on the immortality of the soul in your first paper, do not choose this topic.

6. The Skeptics' critique of the "dogmatic" philosophies. (For a start, see the Sextus Empiricus excerpt in VAP 213ff.)

7. Augustine's Confessions on the nature of time; or compare Augustine with Aristotle's Physics on time (both in VAP 280-294). If you have studied Augustine's Confessions in another philosophy course, do not do this assignment.

8. Explicate the main arguments of Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy book iii or book v. (See Study Questions for Boethius.)

9. Boethius' or Thomas Aquinas' view of values compared with Aristotle's view or the Stoic view.

10. Summarize Thomas Aquinas' thinking on natural law (in Aquinas, On Law, Morality, and Politics) and compare with the Stoic-inspired view found in Cicero's On Laws (VAP 397-404).

Special Expectations. Papers are expected to do some argument analysis (a real attempt to distinguish conclusions and premises, and where appropriate, intermediate steps) and evaluation of the arguments.

If you have any questions or think this assignment needs elaboration, please ask.