PHLA10 Reason and Truth
Essay 1 Topics

Select one of the following topics to write your first essay on. Please keep your essay between 1000-1200 words (no more, no less).

A philosophy essay is concerned with presenting and analysing arguments using reason. You do not have to pick a side. If you choose to defend one side of the argument, it does not matter which side of the argument you pick. What matters is the quality of your analysis of the arguments and the quality of the new arguments you advance. It is always important to look at both sides of the question and consider counter-arguments that could be made against your own position. It is usually a good idea to devote more of your essay to analysing arguments than simply explaining the position. Too much exposition makes for an uninteresting and unoriginal paper.

On the course webpage you can find links to some guides to writing a philosophy essay which might be of help.

I do not advise looking at secondary sources for such a short paper but if you are stuck secondary material can help generate ideas (but remember to cite all your sources, including of course Sober).

  1. First Cause Arguments. The first two ways of Aquinas (as presented by Sober) involve causation. Explain how these arguments work and consider their strengths and weaknesses. Assess their overall level of success in the task of proving that God exists.

  2. Divine Design. What is the basic structure of the argument from design? Explain how you think the argument works and consider its strengths and weaknesses. You might also consider the significance of Sober's claim that the argument is abductive rather than analogical.

  3. Evolution and Creation. What is the basic conflict between these two views? Explain how evolution forms an alternative hypothesis to the design hypothesis. What are some of the reasons that Sober considers in favour of evolution? Can you develop criticisms of them?

  4. The Problem of Evil. Carefully outline the argument against the existence of God which is based on the evident presence of evil in the world. What kind of argument is this? How strong do you think it is? Why? Try to give an overall assessment of whether the argument works, defending your assessment with arguments.

  5. NOTE ON PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism is when you use the words or ideas of another person without citing the source and pass them off as your own. It the most serious academic offense. Penalties for plagiarism are severe. For more information see the Academic Integrity website here. If you have any questions about academic integrity, please ask me or your tutorial leader.