The essay assignment is to defend ONE of the following four philosophical theses:
We can know, without doing empirical research, by reflecting inwardly on our capacities for choice and judgment, that the mind is an immaterial substance whose essence is to think.
The thesis that the mind is identical to the brain provides us with the best explanation of empirical research in psychology and neuroscience concerning our capacities for choice and judgment.
The thesis that the mind is a multiply realizable function that is implemented in the brain provides us with the best explanation of empirical research in psychology and neuroscience concerning our capacities for choice and judgment.
The thesis that the mind is an immaterial substance whose essence is to think provides us with the best explanation of empirical research in psychology and neuroscience concerning our capacities for choice and judgment.
It is your choice which thesis you want to pick. The textbook is “Philosophy Here And Now” 3rd edition by Lewis Vaughn. Videos from the “Closer To Truth” series on YouTube should be the remaining sources besides the textbook. The writing prompt is as follows:
I am not asking for a brief summary of every idea that you encountered on this topic. The resulting paper would be “a mile wide and an inch deep.” You should select what you think are the strongest arguments, potentially focusing on just a single argument, and concentrate on the most centrally important ideas. Aim for focused and deep discussion of that material, ideally incorporating your own reactions into the discussion.
You should defend your chosen thesis in an essay that is a minimum of five complete, 12 pt, Times New Roman, double-spaced pages of writing. Your essay should include proper references to course materials, and demonstrate how you have developed and defended your thoughts in response to the various positions we have encountered in the readings and videos. Defend the view you find most plausible.
A defense of one of these theses is not a story about how you, personally, came to hold the view that you hold. A defense should aim to persuade the reader, who may not share your personal history, to hold your positions on the basis of reasons and arguments that appeal to the broadest audience possible. This essay should be about the evidence and arguments for your views, not the psychological causes of your beliefs.
Good responses will show thoughtful engagement with the course materials, so be sure to make explicit references to the course media. You should review discussion posts, yours and others, reread, and rewatch where appropriate, in order to marshal support for your chosen thesis. In addition to explaining arguments contained in the videos, you should expand on them with your own ideas and examples. Good responses will focus on what you judge to be the most important arguments. Rather than trying survey many arguments in support of your thesis, focus on one or two, explain them in detail, then explore and refute counter-arguments from opposing viewpoints.
It is impossible to adequately defend any one of these theses without discussing the others.
The very best essays will exhibit exemplary awareness and sensitivity to opposing viewpoints. To do this most effectively you will need to anticipate and refute objections from opposing perspectives.
In preparing and writing the essay, contemplate what might lead someone to endorse each of the three theses that you reject, so you can anticipate and respond to objections.
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