Philosophy of the Human Person (0122-300-05)

All of the paper topics for the class

arisaka@usfca.edu
422-6424

(These are not identical to the ones we actually had in class, but more or less the same thing.)

#1. Explain Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment.  What does this illustrate, and how does it support his argument and conclusion?(What is his conclusion?) What is Dennett's criticism of it?  If you had to defend one side of the debate, which side would you support, and why?  Select two point in your opponent's argument (in other words, if you are supporting Searle, then pick two claims from Dennett to critcize) and explain why you think the claims are not convincing.

#2.  Why does Peters think that genetic engineering is NOT "playing God?"  If it is not the DNA, what defines what is special about being human, according to Peters?  Do you agree with his view?  If yes, imagine 2 objections to Peters and give your own response.  If not (i.e., if you disagree with Peters), what are your 2 objections, and why do you think that Peters is wrong?  Exlain.

#3.  Explain Plato's argument for the immortality of the soul.  What are the three sub-arguments, and how are they put together in the end?  If you agree with Plato, imagine a counter-argument that someone might make against this theory and try to respond to it.  If you disagree with Plato's argument, then what are its weaknesses?  Explain.

#4.  Explain the 4 theories of the soul in terms of whether the soul is immortal or not and how the soul is or is not connected with the body--Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Gyekye.  Which one do you agree with the most, and which one do you disagree with the most?  Explain.  What are some of the weaknesses of the position you do not agree with?  (Note: this assignment depends heavily on the lectures, so if you were absent, I'd pick another topic.)

#5.  How does Descartes establish the mind-body dualism, and "solipsism?"  (What does this mean, and how exactly does he get there?)  What is Cole's criticism of Descartes' "isolated self" view?  What is Cole's alternative theory?  Do you agree with Cole's critique of Descartes?  If you agree with Cole, then give your own illustration to support her alternative theory.  If you don't agree with Cole, then what is your objection to her theory or critique of Descartes?

#6.  What is a relational theory of the self?  Use at least two of the relationalists to explain (Cole, Confucianism, MacIntyre, Native American views), pointing out the similarities among the two.  Do you agree with a relationalist point of view?  If so, give your own explanation to support their position.  If you disagree, then give your own example to explain why a self is not necessarily relationalist.

#7.  That was another make-up opportunity.

#8.  Explain Hobbes' view of human nature.  In what way would he oppose a relationalist theory?  Select a relationalist theory and explain a possible objection Hobbes would raise.  Do you agree with Hobbes?  If so, explain by giving your own support, by an example, etc.  If you disagree with Hobbes, what would be a relationalist reply, and how would you try to show that Hobbes is not right?

#9.  What is the "Racial Contract," according to Mills?  What are its three components, and their legacies today?  Do you agree with Mills' account?  If so, give your own example/illustration to show he is right.  If not, give your own counter-argument.  Explain.

#10.  According to Spelman, in what way do generic gender or ethnic categories "inessentialize" the self?  What does this mean?  In what way could these categories become "essentializing" to a self?  What is the problem with it, according to Spelman?  Do you agree with her assessment?  If so (if you think that the categories inessentialize the self), explain in what way, by giving your own example.  If you disagree (if you think that these categores are very important to the self-identity of the person, that they are essential, and there is nothing wrong with that), then explain in what way, and try to argue against Spelman.  

#11.  According to St. Augustine, how do people end up committing evil acts?  Is God responsible?  How is free will related to this problem?  In what way is freedom of the will responsible for our moral choice?  Explain.  Do you agree that we do have free will in the way St. Augustine explains?  Why or why not?  Explain.

#12.  What does Sartre mean when he says "man is nothing but what he makes of himself?"  In what way are we absolutely free, according to Sartre?  How is freedom related to responsibility?  What would be Blatchford's objection to Sartre?  Which side do you agree with, and why?  Explain, and critique your opponent's view (if you agree with Sartre, explain in what way Blatchford is wrong.  If you agree with Blatchford, explain in what way Sartre is wrong).



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