PHIL 401-001 (Fall 2009)
Essay III: Cognitive Science and Philosophy

Contact Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on November 31, 2009

Due Date: Class time, December 4 for topics other than analytic philosophy; Monday, December 7 if your topic is analytic philosophy.

Length: 1100 words excluding quoted material; double spaced, word-processed, about one-inch page margins. Please give me a word count, without including quoted material. You may exceed the minimum page length by 2-3 pages if you wish.

Semester Points Assigned: 40

General Description

A paper of at least 1200 words related to what cognitive science has to say about the philosophical teachings of Aristotle, Descartes, Kantian morality, or analytic philosophy.

If possible, 15-35 percent of the paper should address this issue: Towards the end of the chapters on specific philosophers or philosophical movements, LJ usually turn from describing how the metaphors and folk theories of the philosophers or movements work to challenging the claims or assumptions they make. What are those challenges and how persuasive are they?


1. If there are study questions corresponding to the key passages on which you'll be relying and you have not carefully worked through the study questions , you should probably do that before trying to compose your essay.

2. You may refer to Lakoff and Johnson by page number, using the embedded parenthetic format: e.g., "Lakoff and Johnson say that we rarely think without metaphor (LJ, 59)." You may refer to other works by using the author-date and page method, e.g., (Barnes 1995, 325). Use endnotes and a bibliography if you cite such other sources.

3. Use the index to look up any terms whose meanings are not clear. (Don't forget the partial glossary I have provided on the website.)

4. When writing on a particular philosopher, use the index to help you look up what LJ say about this philosopher earlier in the book: it could be relevant to understanding the chapter specifically devoted to the philosopher. If in the chapter on which you are focusing, LJ refer to a Folk Theory or metaphor that they may have discussed more fully in Part II or in an earlier part of Part III, consult those earlier passages.

5. There is likely more material in any of the chapters than you could possibly cover in your paper. Be judicious in the selection of the issues you discuss. I'm willing to discuss with you how to focus your paper. You could draw up an outline and we could discuss it.

6. Depending on your topic, you may have a chance to integrate what you have learned from your study of LJ with what you may have learned in other courses about the philosophers being discussed. Critical judgments based on understanding and evidence are encouraged. (LJ make at least one mistake in their account of at least one of the philosophers. So be on your toes.)

Suggested Topics

1. Aristotle (chapter 18; but also be familiar with chapters 16-17)

2. Descartes (chapter 19; but also be familiar with chapter 12)

3. Kant and Morality (chapter 20; but also be familiar with chapter 14 plus the last five pages of chapter 19)

4. Analytic Philosophy (chapter 21; but chapters 12 and chapter 19 in Part III provide important background information).

If you find yourself stuck at any point, please ask for guidance.