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Short Essay Question: (100 marks) The philosophical problem of Free Will and Det
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Short Essay Question: (100 marks)
The philosophical problem of Free Will and Determinism involves the following three positions: Hard
Determinism, Soft Determinism, and Libertarianism. Explain these three competing accounts by making
reference to the authors included in our course readings. Which account offers the most plausible
response to the problem? Provide an argument in support of your conclusion.
INSTRUCTIONS: This assignment consists of a short essay question. The main intent of this question is
to ensure that you have a sound grasp of the fundamentals of the material presented in this unit. To that
end, there is a 3 to 4 page (1000 words) limit for this question. I’m not so concerned with whether you
agree with a particular author or not. The quality of your answer is based on your exposition of the
competing positions, your comparative analysis of those positions and, lastly, your argument in support of
the position you defend.
As with all the assignments in this course, the short essay question is not designed to be a “research”
question. There is no requirement to get material from external sources such as other authors, or reference
websites, who have summarized, or criticized, the authors you are dealing with. In effect, including such
material defeats your purpose in completing your essay because you are essentially telling me what some
other person thought about the material you should be explaining and assessing. If you make reference
to sources external to the course readings it will be detrimental to your mark. In some
cases, I may ask you to re-work and submit your assignment. The point of your essay is to
formulate the course material and develop your critical response. You can do this by working with the
course material and developing your own ideas about the issue. The essay is simply your opportunity to
set that out in pape
Review the course reading by David Hume on the problem of personal identity. Explain why Hume
concludes that personal identity, or the notion of a self, is an illusion.
NOTE: If you make reference to sources external to the course readings it will be detrimental to your mark.
PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RESPONDING TO SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Short Answer Questions – What they are all about
The purpose of a philosophical question is to inquire into the reasons in support of a position. Indeed, some philosophers contend that the answer to a philosophical question is of less importance than the reasons offered in support of the answer. Other philosophers will point out that that’s a characteristic of a philosophical question.
The questions I ask usually follow a particular pattern. First, I’ll ask for some explanation of a position or an argument from a particular author. (Note: this will be your link to the required reading.) I’ll then ask for a criticism or objection to that position or argument. (This will probably also be found in the required readings.) Then I’ll ask for your assessment of the criticism and the position. In most cases, either you’ll support the criticism or the original position. In either case, what is important is the reasons you have in support of your assessment (i.e. the reasons in support of your conclusion).
So, when it comes to your reasoned assessment, I’m not looking for a particular answer. I’m more concerned with your reasons in two ways. First, that you provide reasons in support of your answer and, secondly, the quality of the evidential support that those reasons provide. In short, I’m looking for your argument.
This is a task that you should be able to do in 1,000 words (3-4 pages) – maximum. So, being concise is a virtue. The questions are not designed to be the basis for a research paper. Focus immediately on the question. A lengthy introduction that makes commentary on all aspects the issue and their perceived importance isn’t required. Part of your task in responding to the question is filtering out material that is not relevant.
Here are some tips on how to structure your answer:
Introductory paragraph: Tell the reader what your response contains. In this sense, be specific – do not say merely “I am going to raise an objection to Walsh” or (worse) “I am going to discuss Walsh.” Instead say what the objection/reply is going to be. Avoid the wasteful descent into the particular, e.g., “Philosophers have long pondered the ethics of warfare. One of the most popular topics has been just war theory. Walsh claims…” To ensure that the introduction correctly describes the paper, you might consider writing it last.
Exposition: Focus on accurately explaining the argument or position the question asks you to explain. While doing this, you might keep in mind the particular objection you will also be explaining. It is beneficial to be able to clearly show how the objection is relevant.
Your assessment: Your assessment should, to some degree, find you in agreement with either the original position/argument or the objection to it. This should be clearly expressed, and most importantly your reasons in support of your assessment must be clearly articulated. Do not simply give a list of objections – give one and develop it.
Conclusion: Tell the reader what you have argued. Do not introduce new thoughts here – No surprises.
Assigned reading/viewing/listening The assigned readings should be read in the following order:
The assigned readings should be read in the following order:
1. Baron D’Holbach. Chapter XI: Of the system of man’s free agency. In The system of nature.
2. C. A. Campbell. Has the self ‘free will’? In On selfhood and godhood
3. David Hume. Of liberty and necessity, Section VIII. In An enquiry concerning human understanding.
4. Edwards, Paul. 1992. Hard and soft determinism. In Argument and analysis: An introduction to philosophy, ed. Martin Curd, 367-371. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company
Available in your readings package
5. Nagel, Thomas. 1979. Moral luck. In Mortal questions, 24-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Available in your readings package
6. Goldman, Alvin I. 1968. Actions, predictions, and books of life. American Philosophical Quarterly 5: 135–151.
Available in your readings package
7. Rowe, William L. 1987 Two concepts of freedom. In Proceedings and addresses of the American Philosophical Association 61: 43-64.
Unit 6: Hume’s account of liberty (free will) and necessity (determinism). See this URL: https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/hume1748.pdf This is a link to Hume’s entire Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. You only need to read Section 8 “Liberty and Necessity”.
Examined Life Videos: Do We Have Free Will?
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