Choose ONE of the following topics:
Philosophy in Books and Film
Select a philosophical theory or movement that we have covered in class. Relate it to a book, short story, film, play, or other media. Show how key concepts from the theory are illustrated in your chosen medium. Be sure to really incorporate the theory into your work (this is not simply a book report or movie review; your focus must be on the philosophical theory).
➢ Examples: Read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and pull out existential themes. Descartes’ doubt experiment and Shutter Island.
➢ Remember, you must include direct quotes from our textbook and cite from our textbook
➢ Remember the 60/40 rule. At least 60% of your paper should focus on philosophy with no more than 40% discussing the story.
Read John Searle’s “Is the Brain’s Mind a Computer Program?” (available on Moodle). Then check out Josh Bongard’s “Star Robot.” After summarizing (without injecting your opinion) both works’ opposing points, finish by explain who you think is right and why.
• Explain Searle’s arguments why computers can not become self-aware and conscious
• Explain Bongard’s arguments why computers can become self-aware and conscious
• Finally, what do you think and why?
• Remember, you must cite from Searle’s article
Star Robot article: http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/857
Interview with Bongard about Evolutionary Robotics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bitcEBjJSLQ
Cartoons and Choice
Watch the RSA Animate-Choice clip found on Moodle. Compare (show similarities) between key terms in the video and Sartre’s essay “Existentialism.” Terms in the video to pay attention to: feeling “overwhelmed and horrified” by choices, anxiety and guilt, frozen in indecisiveness, and choice involves loss. Don’t forget to relate these terms to Sartre’s essay and his own definitions of anguish, forlornness, and despair.
The You Tube address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bqMY82xzWo
➢ Remember, do NOT get caught up in her discussion of politics and economy. Your focus should be on how these concepts support Sartre’s points in his essay “Existentialism.”
➢ Remember, you must cite from Sartre’s “Existentialism” essay
Biographies of the Free and Determined
For this topic, find an example of a person making a critical decision. This must be a real person and the event/decision must be documented (because you will need to cite this information). You will need to do some biographical research on this person and the event. Make a strong case that when making this decision or act, this person’s decision was necessarily caused. Then make a strong case that when making this decision or act, this person’s decision was NOT necessarily caused (remember the strict philosophical definition of necessary—“could not be otherwise”). Finally, decide which side makes a better argument and why.
**I highly recommend you clearing the person and incident with me before starting this paper. I will be evaluating your information critically.
➢ Remember, you must cite from our textbook
• Minimum of 3 full pages (about 1000 words). You may always write more, but not less. Papers that do not meet minimum page requirements will suffer point deductions.
• Your work must be double spaced.
• You must draw information from the textbook or designated articles and it must be cited in your work. If you do not include meaningful quotes from the text, you cannot receive a passing grade. Aim for about 2 quotes per paragraph, excluding the final paragraph.
• Please use MLA citation (there are very helpful MLA links on the BC Library webpage and Canvas)
• If any of these requirements are unmet, you will be deducted points.
Key Elements to Remember:
• Organization, spelling, and grammar are essential; no matter how great your argument is, it is not worth much if no one can follow it (hint: use transitions for organization and read your paper aloud to yourself to check for grammar and spelling errors)
• Specific examples always make for a more convincing argument; take time to think of some and incorporate them
• Tie up loose ends; don’t leave anything up to your reader to assume or force your reader to make any leaps in your logic. Show how you conclusions should naturally follow from your premises.
A note on grading:
You will be graded on your argument, organization, and critical thinking. In other words, you must demonstrate that you know and understand this problem, what other people (namely other philosophers) have said about this problem, as well as clearly expressed what you have to say about this problem.
A: excellent discussion of terms, several specific examples demonstrate understanding and applicability, original and creative thought
B: adequate discussion of terms, many specific examples demonstrate understanding, shows some original thought
C: basic discussion of terms, some examples to demonstrate knowledge, little or no original thought
D: lacking a basic discussion of terms
F: missed the target, does not meet the assignments requirements
**A NOTE ON PLAGIARISM**
“Plagiarism: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work; the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work” (from Dictionary.com)
Plagiarism is cheating and a serious academic offense. Please don’t do it. Again, the best way for me to know you know and understand this material is if you put it IN YOUR OWN WORDS! Also, the best examples are the ones relevant to you, so make up your own examples to illustrate the material. If you are ever unsure how to quote, cite, or reference outside material, please ask me. Furthermore, cheating is a very serious offense and will not be tolerated. Students who cheat will be penalized accordingly and may be subject to disciplinary action from the Dean of Students. If you plagiarize this assignment, you will receive a zero and will not be allowed to redo it. Again, if you are unsure, check with me first.
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