Is it something of whose existence we can doubt? Is it something that has a physical consistency?
(1) Present the main elements of one concrete situation or event, which can be taken
from your own experience, from history, from the news, from another class, from
a movie, from a book, from a videogame, etc.
(2) Present a detailed explanation of that situation/event using the concepts
introduced in one of the readings we discussed this semester. You can choose any
reading we discussed.
(3) Present an objection to your explanation: how could somebody holding a
different position interpret the situation/event you have presented and how could
they answer to your own explanation of that situation/event?
(4) Respond to that objection from the point of view you have chosen to defend.
Example: I have recently read on the New York Times that a big cryptocurrency company
went bankrupt and millions of dollars disappeared into nothing in a few days if not
minutes. Suppose that I choose to focus on that situation, and I decide to explain it using
the conceptual framework of Descartes’ First Meditation. (1) So I start my paper by
giving a brief but clear and comprehensive account of that situation as I read it on the
New York Times. (2) Then I explain that scenario using Descartes’ First Meditation, for
example by raising the question of the metaphysical status of cryptocurrency: is it real?
Is it something of whose existence we can doubt? Is it something that has a physical
consistency? Following the lead of Descartes’ First Meditation, I argue that
cryptocurrency is not real in the sense that it is nothing outside our own minds. (3) I then
present an objection to my Cartesian interpretation of cryptocurrency, for example
supposing that someone might argue that cryptocurrency is both real and physical
because (a) it depends on some physical machinery carrying out algorithms and (b) it has
some very real consequences on economics and on the lives of people (especially those
who invested on it). (4) I respond to that objection arguing that many things that exist
only in our mind (for example, dreams, imaginary characters, moral ideals) have a real
influence on our lives, but that this doesn’t make them any more real, in the sense that
they still have existence only in our minds.
Please note that this is only an example (and probably not a very good one), and it is
given to illustrate how you should proceed. You should choose a situation or event
different from the one I have given in my example, and you should analyze it from a
perspective different from the one I have indicated in the example.
The paper should address the four points I have indicated, but it should be structured
as one paper and not as four separate answers to four questions.
After you have finished outlining your paper, you should write a short opening
sentence in which you state what you are going to argue for in the paper and announce its
outline (we will discuss some examples in class).
When writing and reviewing your paper, ask yourself the following questions:
Philosophy of Human Nature, Fall 2022
(a) Is the thesis you intend to defend clear?
(b) Is the structure of the paper clear? How can it be improved?
(c) Is the concrete situation or event well suited to be explained from the point of
view that you decided to defend?
(d) Is the objection clearly expressed?
(e) Is the response to the objection clearly expressed?
(f) Is the paper written in a grammatically correct form?
(g) If you are using technical concepts, are you sure that you have explained them in