phil 150 critical essay

  • Your essay should be roughly 1200-1500 words. No more than 1500.
  • Use the Critical Essay Rubric to complete this assignment
  • Because your Critical Essay is also being used for the university’s General Education Task Assignment for this class, you will also submit your completed Critical Essay for the university’s General Education Assessment. This second submission is used for university assessment only and is not factored into your actual grade for the paper.
  • GuidelinesYour Critical Essay will be on any one of the topics we cover in the course. The aim is for you to go deeper into some specific subject of interest to you. I encourage you to read through the questions that appear at the end of the chapters of our text to see if one of those questions might work to form the crux of your essay. You will be required to use primary (and scholarly) sources which will involve library research. You will be expected to take a position on an approved topic of philosophical significance and defend it.A critical essay is an essay in which you take a stand on a topic and defend your stance with reasons. A critical essay is not a research paper where you present other people’s views alone. In a critical essay, you are expected to do your own evaluation of the subject matter you’ve selected. Your voice is privileged over the voices of your sources. It is paramount that you rely on primary sources. That way you will be forced to do your own interpretation of the original sources you cite. This will ensure that your analysis does not import the biases that other scholars may have. These primary sources must be scholarly sources also. What this means is that if you choose to write about Plato or Aristotle, you must read the relevant works by Plato and Aristotle on the topic you’ve selected. Our textbook will not do. It’s a secondary source. If you choose to write about Descartes and Hume, you must read the relevant works by Descartes and Hume. This means no Stanford Encyclopedia references or other secondary sources who interpret Plato and Aristotle, Descartes or Hume for you. It also means that you will have to avoid all websites and blogs where, say, Sam Harris or Martha Nussbaum publish their viewpoints. If you wish to invoke these philosophers, you will need to rely on what they say in peer-reviewed articles or published books.
    The introduction to your critical essay should clearly state your thesis and how you intend to support it. A good thesis statement is specific, informative and insightful. It tells your reader precisely what you plan to argue and why. The “why-part” is the most important part of the thesis. Your thesis should not merely promise a discussion on a general topic.
    A popular and meritorious form of critical essay is one in which a particular philosopher’s view is compared and/or contrasted with another philosopher’s view. The aim of such a critical essay is to determine whose position is superior and spell out the reasons why. Comparing and contrasting are excellent ways to learn, discuss, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of alternative viewpoints. Note that essays that compare and contrast depend upon analyses that pinpoint areas of agreement and/or disagreement. Comparing and contrasting are not accomplished simply by juxtaposing two views alongside one another.Most importantly, the stance you ultimately take on the topic you’ve selected must fall out of (be derived from) the analysis you’ve provided in the body of your paper. It can’t be unrelated. It can’t be just a third view. Your thesis statement must emerge from the analysis you’ve provided, perhaps, by taking the highest and best parts of the two views you’ve considered and weaving them together in some cohesive way. You are also welcome to investigate the position of one philosopher only with the aim of pointing out the biggest weakness or greatest strengths in their philosophy en route to articulating a view of your own on the subject. The main requirement is that you support and defend your position with reasons – the better the reasons, the better the support, the better the essay.