Week 1 Discussion 1: What is Philosophy
Most people have views that are strongly influenced and informed by philosophy, often without realizing it. Identify a view you have—whether on politics, religion, science, culture, or even the media and entertainment—that might be regarded as being related to philosophy. What kind of reasons do you have for holding that belief? What figure from the history of philosophy section do you think might have some views that are similar, or at least relevant, to your own? Explain why you chose that particular figure.
Week 1 Discussion 2: Justifying Beliefs
Many philosophers insist that our most strongly held beliefs should be examined and critically evaluated. Using the required text and outside sources, explain what philosophers mean when they say that beliefs need justification? What is the importance of subjecting our beliefs to critical scrutiny? What are the advantages of believing something without examining it? What are the disadvantages? Identify a specific belief you have that you think is worth defending, and then explain your reasons for holding that belief. Be sure to include logical reasoning as well as factual evidence in all your arguments.
Week 2 Assignment: Famine, Affluence and Morality
Please read the article “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” by Peter Singer and complete the following tasks:
Explain Singer’s goal in this article, and then present his argument in relation to this issue. Explain three counter-arguments to Singer’s position that he addresses in his article, and then indicate Singer’s responses to those counter-arguments. Define Singer’s concept of marginal utility and identify how it relates to his argument. Compare how the ideas of duty and charity change in Singer’s proposed world? Finally, present your personal response to Singer (this should be no more than one page of the entire assignment). Provide an argument either in support of Singer’s position, against his position, or somewhere in the middle of his position. Remember that when you present your own positions you need to support those positions with as much logical reasoning and factual evidence as possible. The paper must be at least three pages in length, formatted according to APA style, and include a title and a reference page (which does not count towards the page length). Support your point with examples from the text and at least two sources, which can be found in the Ashford Online Library. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.
Carefully review the Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.
Week 2 Discussion 1: Ethics and Relativism
Our text discusses the challenge relativism presents to various ethical and religious viewpoints. Consider a specific moral question which might make it difficult to accept the relativist’s response. State the moral issue involved, and provide an explanation as to why you think a relativist might have a problem giving a justified response to it. In addition, use one of the positive ethical theories from the text to interpret the issue and how one should respond to this issue.
Week 2 Discussion 2: Animal Rights
Do human beings have any obligations to animals in terms of their treatment? If it is wrong to treat animals cruelly, why is it not wrong to eat them? Explain if, and how, you think humans can find a balance between treating animals ethically while also raising them for food and for other reasons, such as the testing of pharmaceuticals.
Week 3 Assignment: Euthyphro – Plato
In the Euthyphro, Socrates and Euthyphro discuss the concept of piety/holiness. This essay will not only test your ability to recognize and engage philosophical concepts and analysis, but also brings you into the dialogue as a participant, asking you to create your own definition of holiness.
Read the Euthyphro, and write a paper in which you do the following:
Explain how the concept of holiness emerges in the dialogue and why it takes a prominent position in the conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro. Present the three definitions that Euthyphro uses in his response to Socrates, and then explain how Socrates refutes each of Euthyphro’s definitions. Formulate your own argument as to what you think Socrates’s goal is in this dialogue. How do you know that is his goal? What features of the dialogue align with your interpretation of his goal? Provide your own definition of piety/holiness and then create a Socratic response/critique of your definition. After you present your definition, take on the role of Socrates and respond to your own definition as you think he would. The paper must be at least three pages in length, formatted according to APA style, and include a title and a reference page (which does not count towards the page length). For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.
Week 3 Discussion 1: The Limits of Skepticism
Can a person be skeptical about everything, or are there limits? Is it possible to doubt everything or almost everything? Does a person have an obligation to use ethical and moral reasoning when examining ones beliefs. Are there beliefs you possess that cannot be challenged or shown to be false? How might the skeptic respond to your claim that such a belief cannot be doubted? Identify one such specific belief and present your response to the skeptic. (If you don’t have such a belief, explain how one could live while not accepting any claim as true.)
Week 3 Discussion 2: Truth and the Limits of Knowledge
Explain the epistemological perspective from the text (or outside sources) that most coincides with your view of truth and the way that the human mind grasps reality. Explain why you find it to be the best explanation of the way that the human mind is able to understand its world. Finally, present your views on whether humans can actually know the truth about objects or ideas in the world. If you believe they can, explain why. If you do not think they can, explain why not. Feel free to consult outside academic sources in order to explain more of the details of the theory that you describe here.
Week 4 Discussion 1: Proof of God’s Existence
After reading about the various proofs of the existence of God, identify which of these arguments seems to be the best, and explain why you think so. If you find none of them convincing, present your best argument against one of these proofs and why it fails to accomplish its task. Complete your response by reflecting on why philosophers have sought for thousands of years to provide such proofs, and whether it is necessary to do so.
Week 4 Discussion 2: The Turing Test
Present three specific questions that you would ask in the Turing Test to determine if something is real or artificial intelligence. Explain why you think these questions would be the type to reveal the computer to be a computer? Why would these responses have to be given by a human being? (If you don’t think there are such questions, explain how the three questions you chose would fail to determine which one of the respondents was a computer and which was an actual human.)
Week 5 Final Argumentative Paper
Three important sub-disciplines of philosophy are addressed in this course: ethics, epistemology, and religion. For this paper, you will develop an argument that includes your own view on one specific topic relating to one of these sub-disciplines. Below is a list of topics from which you must choose. Feel free to combine topics that seem to fit with one another. It is recommended that you choose a topic that interests you or that you have thought about previously.
In philosophical papers, it is always best to present both sides of the issue (remember that there are usually more than two sides to any issue), and then to present the side that you find the most convincing. Remember to back up your position with logical reasoning and factual evidence. In addition, be sure to utilize the philosophical content and ideas that you have encountered in this course.
Identify the specific issue. Make clear one basic dispute over this issue. Clarify the arguments on multiple sides of the issue. Structure an argument that supports the side of the issue you find to be better defended. Explain why you find that side of the debate superior. State your own view, and defend it with an argument. Provide at least two references for each side of the debate. Utilize the philosophical theories and ideas that you have encountered in this course as much as possible. In order to write a strong paper, you will need to clearly and specifically present both sides of the debate using at least five academic sources in addition to the course text, three of which can be found in the Ashford Online Library.
Select a topic from the following sub-disciplines:
Ethics What is the most convincing ethical system? Why? Is it necessary to have universal ethical principles? What are the fundamental principles of ethics? What is the good life and how does one achieve it? Is ethics natural or learned behavior? What is an ethically bad life? How do we know? How do humans differentiate between good and bad in the realm of ethics? Do ethical actions have value apart from the outcomes of those actions? Are humans free or determined, and how does this perspective relate to human responsibility?
Epistemology What can humans know for certain and how can they justify that they actually know what they think they know? What are the limits of human perception and cognition? What is the relationship between scientific knowledge and other types of knowledge? What are the limits of skepticism? What are the differences between the mind and the brain? Is radical relativism defensible? What is the best epistemological argument and explanation of how humans perceive their worlds? How did human consciousness emerge and where is it headed?
Religion Is proof for the existence of God necessary? Which argument for the existence of God is strongest? Why? What are the foundations of the universe and from where did the universe emerge? Can one be moral and not believe in God? Can God and real evil be reconciled? Are science and religion in conflict? Can God’s omniscience and human free will be reconciled? Is there a rational argument for atheism? The paper must be six to eight pages in length, formatted according to APA style, and include a title and a reference page (which does not count towards the page length). Support your point with examples from the text and at least five sources, three of which can be found in the Ashford Online Library. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.
Writing the Final Argumentative Paper
The Final Paper: Must be six to eight double-spaced pages in length, and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. Must include a title page with the following: Title of paper Student’s name Course name and number Instructor’s name Date submitted Must begin with an introductory paragraph that has a succinct thesis statement. Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought. Must end with a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis. Must use at least five scholarly sources, including a minimum of three from the Ashford Online Library. Must document all sources in APA style, as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. Must include a separate reference page, formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. Carefully review the Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.
Week 5 DQ1 The Meaning of Life
Chapter 5 is focused on the meaning of human life. Present your view on the ultimate meaning of life. Be sure to back up your view with logical reasoning and as much evidence as you can. What gives human life meaning? How do you know? How should one act in the world once one realizes this meaning? Connect your ideas on the essential meaning of life to the views of at least one philosopher. This philosopher can be someone whom we studied or can come from an outside source. You might connect your ideas in a harmonious or contradictory way. Utilize the academic resources aligned with this course to find a philosopher that coincides with or contradicts your own ideas.
Week 5 DQ2 Philosophy and Society
After watching Relationship of Philosophy to Other Fields, reflect on the relationship of philosophy to your life in terms of your future education and career goals. What value does philosophy have? How can people benefit from thinking more philosophically? How does philosophy affect ethical issues? What significance does thinking and reasoning critically play in society, and in human flourishing?
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