I’m trying to learn for my Philosophy class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

READ CAREFULLY: Herrick Philosophy Instructions for Papers


Dr. Dan Herrick

Instructions for Papers

Papers are due on the dates specified in the syllabus. Of course you are welcome to hand them in sooner. Please hand in the papers via Canvas submission only; emailed or hard copies will not be considered.

Though this is technically a paper, your finished product will read more like an extended outline than an essay. It consists of a thesis, a follow-up sentence, four arguments (two against your thesis, two in favor), and four examples (one supporting each argument). The intro consists of two sentences; there is no conclusion. The examples must be drawn from your own life experience. Do not employ any external sources; but feel free to use terms and definitions from class.

Here is the structure the paper must display:

  1. Header: your name, my name, class name, date
  2. Title: the question you will be addressing in the paper
  3. Thesis sentence: “In this paper I will argue that…” followed by a short summary of your thesis.
  4. Follow-up sentence: “I will first consider two arguments [against my thesis], before replying with two arguments [for my thesis].” (Feel free to copy-paste this sentence and edit it for your own thesis.)
  5. Argument 1, against thesis
  6. Example 1, supporting Argument 1
  7. Argument 2, against thesis
  8. Example 2, supporting Argument 2
  9. Transition sentence “Such, at any rate, are the arguments [against my thesis]. But they are readily answered.” (Feel free to copy-paste this sentence and edit it for your own thesis.)
  10. Argument 3, for thesis
  11. Example 3, supporting Argument 3
  12. Argument 4, for thesis
  13. Example 4, supporting Argument 4

The section headers must be in bold font, as they are here: the sample paper I include on Blackboard shows what such a paper needs to look like. In addition, please adhere to the following superficials:

  1. No upper word limit, but a 1,100-word minimum word count.
  2. Name, date etc. in a header, not in the body of the paper

For paper topic ideas, please consult the “Ideas for Papers” page in this module. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Good luck!

Ideas for Paper Topics

Ideas for Ethics Paper

Listed below are some ideas for your first Ethics paper. Keep in mind that we have not yet (as of the time of this posting) covered all the topics listed here, so some of the questions may not make sense. You are free to begin writing on a topic that we’ve covered, or you may wait until we’ve covered all the topics and then begin. The key is staying in touch with me about any questions you have! Good luck, and enjoy!

  1. How Well Does my Life Reflect my Values?
  2. Is Wisdom Really the Most Important Thing to Seek?
  3. Do People Really Agree on Moral Values?
  4. Where Do we Get Our Knowledge of Right and Wrong?
  5. Is it really Wrong to (fill in any number of supposed moral wrongs here…)
  6. Is Socrates’ Method the Best Way of Becoming Wise?
  7. Is the Unexamined Life Really “Not Worth Living”?
  8. Which Virtues are Really the Most Important?
  9. Is Humility (here you can substitute any number of virtues/vices) really a Virtue?
  10. Do You Really Need Deep Knowledge to be a Good Person?
  11. Would the Ring of Gyges be a Good Thing?
  12. If You Never Got Caught, Should You Still Do the Right Thing?
  13. Does the Human Soul Really Have Three Parts?
  14. Should You Always Be Led by Reason?
  15. Are our Physical Appetites Good or Bad?
  16. What is More Important: Your Actions or Your Character?
  17. How Should You Determine Your Priority in Life?
  18. Do We Really Have one Final End?
  19. What is the True Value of Tranquility?
  20. Is Virtue Really the Only Good? (OR Is Vice Really the Only Evil?)
  21. What is Mental Toughness?
  22. Is the Stoic Method of Mental Training Really the Best?
  23. Who is Really Mentally Tough, and Why?
  24. Should You Really Have No Emotions at all?
  25. Is it Ever Appropriate to Worry/ be Anxious?
  26. Which Should You Trust More: Reason or Your Senses?
  27. Is Pleasure Really the Only Good?
  28. What is the Proper Role of Pleasure in the Good Life?
  29. Are Big Physical Pleasures Really the Best?
  30. Is the Good Life Easy to Get, or Hard?
  31. Should You Really Have No Beliefs at All?
  32. Does Having Beliefs Really Endanger Your Tranquility?
  33. Would it be Good or Bad to Make all Your Decisions in Ten Seconds?
  34. Should You Go With the Flow, or Make Your Own Path?