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word essay on a philosophical topic of your choice. In your essay, you must summarize the relevant philosopher’s views, express your take and raise an objection to your own point of view. Detailed instructions, grading rubric, and topic suggestions will be provided.

Please see attached for corresponding rubric. This is a list of suggested topics you may choose from: 1. Explain Plato’s theory of goodness, and of justice, as articulated in his Republic. 2. Compare and contrast Plato’s and Aristotle’s ethics. In what ways are they similar? In what ways do they differ? 3. Explain Thomas Hobbes’s nominalist theory of ethics, and show how it supports his theory of psychological egoism and consequent dim view of human nature. What draw us into conflict? Why do we need to limit our liberties to escape from the Hobbesian “state of nature”? 4. Compare Hobbes’s and Rousseau’s contrasting views of human nature, e.g. as depicted in Chapter 13 of Hobbes’s Leviathan and in Rousseau’s The Social Contract. Based on contemporary evidence, such as presented by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate, whose view appears vindicated, and whose view appears discredited? Why? 5. Explain, with at least one example, “Hume’s guillotine”—the argument that we cannot derive “ought” from “is.” How does Kant attempt to resolve this problem? Again, give at least one example. Does Kant succeed? Why or why not? 6. What is utilitarianism? How does John Stuart Mill’s reformulation of utilitarianism rescue it from the charges of hedonism levied at Jeremy Bentham’s earlier version? Beyond this, utilitarianism attracts other criticisms; for example, that its pursuit of the greatest happiness for the greatest number ignores or disregards individual rights. How does Mill’s essay On Liberty answer this serious allegation? 7. Illustrate comparative strengths and weaknesses of the ethical systems we have studied. Why is there apparently no perfect theory of ethics? Can there be one? 8. Summarize Anselm’s ontological argument. Do you agree with it? Why, or why not? What objections have been raised by other philosophers? Are you persuaded by any of them? 9. Do square circles exist? Why, or why not? Suppose we define a “squircle” as “an existing square circle.” Do squircles exist? Why or why not? What does it mean for something to exist? Or not to exist? Or to be named? 10. Can we reliably tell the difference between appearance and reality? Why or why not? Is this central question from Descartes resolved, or just rehearsed, in The Matrix? 11. Descartes was a rationalist; Berkeley, an empiricist. Explain the differences in their epistemologies (philosophies of knowledge). Is there any potential agreement between them on the nature of “material substance”? On God? Explain. 12. Is there any “stuff” out there? Does anything exist that lies beyond perception? How would Berkeley answer? How would Churchland answer? How would you answer? 13. What is eliminative materialism? What are Churchland’s main arguments in support of it? What objections does he raise against it, and how does he counter them? 14. What is a Turing test? What do you think Turing would say about the AI robot Sophia’s ability to pass such a test? What do you think Searle would say? Sophia has been made an honorary citizen of Saudi Arabia. Does she therefore have personhood? Why or why not? 15. Explain Searle’s allegory of the Chinese room. What is he attempting to demonstrate? Do you think he succeeds? Why or why not? 17. Can “understanding” be reducible to a complex algorithm —e.g. a computer program? Or is understanding irreducible? Contrast the answers given by Churchland’s reductionism, Turing’s functionalism, and Searle’s holism. Which (if any) position(s) do you favor, and why? 18. How does Charles Mill’s racial contract differs from the Hobbesian contract? Why does Mills differentiate his contract from the classical one? Is his theory successful at addressing racial inequality? Why or why not? 19. Should identity traits interfere with knowledge acquisition processes? Why or why not? Do such traits in fact interfere with knowledge acquisition? How relevant are phenomena such as epistemic appropriation, hermeneutical injustice and other forms of epistemic injustice? 20. Do ignorance and identity interact with each other? If so, how? If not, how what is wrong with epistemologies of ignorance? 21. Choose your own topic, find two relevant philosophical references about it, and obtain my approval before writing your essay.