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Topics for your Essay, Choose A or B

Essay Length tips–To answer these topics completely, it takes about 2 pages—8-10 paragraphs. Use the topic questions and the scoring rubric to see if your draft responds fully to all parts of the question. A complete, thoughtful answer is more important than word count.

Topic A:

In this essay you will address the controversy between free will and determinism. You will go deeper into the problem of determinism by choosing whether it is the  predictability or the  unpredictability of our actions that poses a bigger threat to free will. Using passages from the textbook, explain in detail what determinism is and why determinism threatens the idea of free will.Now consider these two opposite points of view about our ability to predict behavior:

  1. Everything you do is predictable to those who know you well. This predictability means your life is determined by choices beyond your control.—Paraphrase from Vaughn, p.258
  2. “He sat a long time and he thought about his life and how little of it he could have foreseen and he wondered for all his will and all his intent how much of it was his doing.”—Cormac Mc Carthy (reprinted in Vaughn, p.255)

Explain what these two points of view mean and then give your own reasoned view, highlighting the information from the text, about which point of view is strongest.  

Topic B:

Describe how Kant’s  theory of knowledge attempts to integrate views of rationalism and empiricism. For example, how does Kant dispute that our mind’s are at birth a blank slate? How does he nonetheless argue that experience is needed for knowledge? In addressing these questions, consider and explain the meaning of Kant’s view that “thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”  Also describe how the distinction between the phenomena and nuemena fit into his epistemology.