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PHIL 1200 Assignment #1 INSTRUCTIONS: This assignment consists of a short essay question, and some short logic questions. The main intent of these questions is to ensure that you have a sound grasp of the fundamentals of the material presented in this unit. The logic questions are intended to draw on some important logical concepts that will be relevant throughout the course. Although an understanding of basic logic terminology and argumentation is important in this course, logic for its own sake is not the focus of this course. As such, the short essay question should attract most of your attention with this assignment. There is a 3 to 4 page (1000 words) limit for the short essay question. As with all the short essay questions you will address in this course, I’m not so concerned with whether you agree with a particular author or not. The quality of your answer is based on your exposition of the competing positions, your comparative analysis of those positions and, lastly, your argument in support of the position you defend. As with all the assignments in this course, the short essay question is not designed to be a “research” question. There is no requirement to get material from external sources such as other authors, or reference websites, who have summarized, or criticized, the authors you are dealing with. In effect, including such material defeats your purpose in completing your essay because you are essentially telling me what some other person thought about the material you should be explaining and assessing. If you make reference to sources external to the course readings it will be detrimental to your mark. In some cases, I may ask you to re-work and submit your assignment. The point of your essay is to formulate the course material and develop your critical response. You can do this by working with the course material and developing your own ideas about the issue. The essay is simply your opportunity to set that out in paper. So, the material you need to successfully complete this assignment can be found in the online course materials available through the UMLearn course site. There may also be some reading material that is part of the hard copy course readings package. You can find this information on the course materials section of our course UMLearn website. QUESTIONS: (The total possible mark for this assignment is 100 marks.) Short Essay Question – The Nature of Philosophy (80 marks) In Apology, Socrates refers to himself, metaphorically, as a gadfly to Athenian society. He uses this metaphor, in part, in arguing for his assertion that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Explain how this metaphor is considered to be characteristic of the discipline of philosophy. Specifically, explain how it justifies what our course readings refer to as the conceptual analysis, and the constructive, tasks of contemporary philosophy. Is Socrates’ conclusion that “the unexamined life is not worth living” still relevant in today’s society? Provide an argument in support of your response. Logic questions – You should try to limit yourself to two or three paragraphs per answer for each of these questions. (10 marks each.) 1. Consider the following two arguments: (A) 90% of observed crows are black. Therefore, 90% of all crows are black. Furthermore, I conclude that the next crow I observe will be black. (B) If 90% of observed crows are black, then the next crow I observe will be black. In fact, 90% of observed crows are black. Therefore, the next crow I observe will be black. Using the logic terminology presented in the course material, classify the two arguments. Which argument is the better argument? [Hint: I realize the term “better” is vague in this context. Part of your response should be to clear that up.] 2. The following argument is deductively invalid. Indicate the form, or structure, of the argument, and provide your own counterexample (i.e., an example with all true premises and a false conclusion) that clearly shows the invalidity. All subjectivists are relativists. Some objectivists are subjectivists. Therefore, some relativists are not objectivists. Go to top Assignment Instructions Introduction • There are six assignments for the course. • Refer to the course schedule for the due dates. Each assignment includes instructions for completion. • The questions in these assignments are not designed to be “research” questions. There is no requirement to research your answers from external sources such as websites like wikipedia. The material you need to successfully complete these assignments can be found in your online course written and video materials, links to readings, and the course readings package. • Use the online submission process to submit your assignments. • Submit the “Honesty Declaration” (located in the assignments section in the course website), when you submit the first assignment. Preparing assignments A wide variety of methods have been used by successful writers. Some people write many drafts of a composition before arriving at a final product, while others write only a few drafts. Some people read over their work and do a lot of editing, while others do not. There are different opinions, too, about who one should have in mind as a potential reader. Should you write as to a friend? To yourself? To a classmate? It depends who you ask. There is an interesting anecdote involving two of the best philosophical writers of this century. Karl Popper, upon examining some of the original longhand drafts of the work of Bertrand Russell, was amazed at how Russell had done almost no editing as he composed. For pages the prose in Russell’s manuscript carried on seamlessly, with no crossed out words or insertions. Popper observed that the contrast with his own style of writing could not have been more stark. His own originals were full of all kinds of revisions and editorial remarks made along the way. These two great philosophers apparently completed their work in very different ways. These facts suggest that how to produce good written work in philosophy is something you will have to discover for yourself. Thus it is difficult to give generally applicable guidelines for putting together your essay assignments. Nonetheless, here are some tips that will be valuable. Philosophy involves the investigation of ideas. Thus, your writing should have the aspect of an exploration. You are not expected to break new ground in the classical philosophical problems. Essentially the grader will look for evidence illustrating that the problems and their proposed solutions are properly understood and clearly explained in an organized manner. Even though your work will therefore primarily be expository, the aspect of exploring the logical relationships between ideas remains of great importance. Each of the course units lays out certain philosophical problems and attempted solutions to them. In most cases solutions are outlined with the arguments that have been made for and against them. After you have studied these arguments you will write your assignment. In your writing, although you are not required to go beyond the materials in the texts and course manual, it is important to try to set out the relevant ideas in your own words. Let the structure of your essay be determined by your own understanding of the issues and arguments, and not necessarily by the order in which they appear in the course material. Thus you should study the course material closely so that you “internalize” the relevant theories and argument, and having done this, you can write your assignment “out of your own head,” allowing the ideas to flow as your understanding of them dictates. This is your own exploration of philosophical ideas. There are certain advantages to this
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