The previous two papers assessed your grasp of class material as well as summarize and assess philosophical arguments. In this paper, you will do this again, while also developing your own argument that critically engages with a piece that we’ve considered in class. I will be looking for an accurate presentation of your opponent’s argument(s) and for originality in your own argument against them. I will heavily penalize papers which fail to attempt either, especially those papers which fail to make an original attempt to criticize the opposing argument. Your argument should come from you. That said, here are several potential topics:
Aquinas’ Sub-arguments for the Key Premises in the First Way from his Summa Contra Gentiles
Hume’s Argument For Uncaused Objects from his Treatise
Anscombe’s Response to Hume’s Argument from her “Whatever Begins to Exist…” essay
Descartes’ skeptical arguments or his mind-body dualism
Unger’s argument from “I Do Not Exist”
Regardless of which argument you choose, your paper must consider the argument in these ways: (1) accurately represent the premises and conclusion of the argument, (2) explain how the premises are meant to entail the conclusion, and (3) develop at least one serious counterargument of your own and explicitly identify which premise it is meant to refute. If you have space, it will significantly enhance your own argument if you pose a potential counter to your argument and then defend it.
In this paper, I am looking for your ability to accurately render an argument and intelligently disagree with it. If your objection begs the question in an obvious way, seriously misunderstands your opponent’s argument, or argues by assertion, then you will lose points.
Note: The paper must be 4-6 pages, double spaced, 12pt. font and in Times New Roman.
Particular Options:
Choosing (A): Aquinas provides sub-arguments for these two premises: “Everything that is moved is moved by another” and “That there is no procession to infinity among movers and things moved” (concerning essentially ordered causal series). You can pick one or two of them to represent, explain and challenge. Before challenging the sub-argument(s), please remember to explain briefly how the sub-argument’s conclusion (the controversial premise) fits within the First Way in general.
Choosing (B): For this option, you will want to explain Hume’s positions on the Imagination, Separation, and Abstract Ideas. These are key to the argument. Also, be sure to develop your own counterargument. You may not use Anscombe’s argument.
Choosing (C): For this option, it will be important to focus on representing Anscombe’s argument well. There are a number of steps and it is easy to either misinterpret or miss one of them! As many of Anscombe’s points concern interpreting Hume, your counterargument may challenge her reading of Hume as well as one of her less-interpretative points.