Essay Two -Fall 2009                            


1. Your essay should be word-processed, double-spaced, one-inch to one and one-half inch margins. It should be spell-checked. Pages Numbered. Font no smaller than 12 point. 

2. You should have a cover page with title, date, prompt, and your name.  

3. Number each paragraph. Bold your thesis. After the end of the essay, attach an OUTLINE of the essay with the thesis clearly stated and at minimum a line for each paragraph. 

4. Each essay should be approximately three pages long (not including the title page or Works Consulted/ Reference/Bibliography page). 

5. You must include a Works Consulted/Reference/Bibliography Page. I will assume that you have read and understood Turabian 7th edition on when and how to cite sources and include quotations. CAREFUL AND CORRECT CITATION IS REQUIRED. WHEN IN DOUBT, CITE. Remember that simply paraphrasing or changing every third word is not OK. Quote and cite or radically summarize and cite. Use quotation marks when quoting or indent if quote is five lines or longer. Guessing at where your information comes from is not OK. Use page numbers in your in-text citations, footnotes or endnotes. Book or journal titles are italicized or underlined. You need not consult any other sources than what we have read for class. Those sources and any other sources you consult must be included in your Works Consulted/Reference List and cited in-text or in footnotes/endnotes. Turabian 7th ed. (Chicago Manual of Style) and MLA 2009 are the preferred forms.  Click Here for some examples. 

6. Your essay should define any key terms used, use examples to illustrate and support your argument where appropriate, and discuss likely alternatives or respond to at least one objection. Remember that the injunction to evaluate includes both strengths and weaknesses.  

Grading:     Essays will be graded for both form and content as indicated in the Grading Rubric.. You should use these points as one guide in proof-reading drafts of your essay. Note: Information on setting the grammar checker in WordPerfect and MS Word is on my Philosophy Tools site.   

Choose ONE of the following prompts:  

1.  Do both A and B.  A. Describe Hobbes' views on the transition from the natural condition of man (state of nature) to a society ruled by a Great Leviathan. (Be sure to include the right of nature, the first two laws of nature, and the social contract as well as the natural condition of man and the Great Leviathan). B. Explain one or two key reasons you think Hobbes' ideas do or do not have relevance today. Illustrate your answer with at least one example and respond to at least one objection. 

2.  Typically, we think of “ethics” in terms of how we treat others.  We consider those who sacrifice themselves for others as particularly worthy.   How does ethical egoism both fit and not fit this paradigm?  What do you see as a key strength and a key weakness of ethical egoism?  Your discussion may accept or challenge the traditional paradigm.  Be sure to define terms such as ethical egoism in your essay. 

3. Write an imaginary dialog between Hume and someone who disagrees with Hume’s view that morality is determined by passions rather than reason. Be sure to include Hume’s distinction between "is" and "ought". 

4.   Describe Hume’s argument that passions rather than reason determine morality.  Are you persuaded by Hume?  Why or why not? Illustrate your answer with at least one example and respond to at least one objection to your position.

5.  Do both A. and B.  

A. Show the difference between quantitative act and quantitative rule utilitarianism by applying them to one of the following cases.  Be sure to define any terms you use. Keep in mind Bentham’s hedonic calculus. B. If forced to choose, which approach do you find superior?  Why? 

Case One – Containers - Read the Background and Scenarios, etc. about  “ Containers”  at   Use Scenario One as your case. 

Case Two - Integrity in Business at

6. Evaluate utilitarianism as a system of ethics. In your answer, discuss one key strength and one key weakness. Be sure to include examples and charitably entertain views with which you disagree.

 7.    Compare and contrast how one of the texts we have read and a modern film address a particular question, issue, or problem.  Lay out the question/issue/problem and explain how the philosopher's text addresses it.  Then show how a film addresses the same issue.  Be sure to provide examples/quotations from the film and the philosopher's text(s).   Only movies in the IMDB.  Not "The Matrix", please. 

8.     ****Wild Card. Write on a topic of your choice based on our readings in this section of the course.  However, you must have the instructor approve your topic.  You may talk to me after class, visit me in my office, or contact me via email to request approval.  One concern is not making the topic/thesis too broad.

Writing Help

Grammar Checker

The assigned reading from Cruz at

Jim Pryor's "Guidlines on Writing a Philosophy Paper" -

"Philosophy Tools" on my website has many links useful for writing philosophy papers and essays.

Visit the UI Writing Center - The Writing Center is located in Room 323 on the third floor of the Idaho Commons. Tutors help students with writing projects. For more information, the URL is

Turabian textbook for this class.