University of Wisconsin–Madison

A FINAL WRITING ASSIGNMENT IN PHILOSOPHY 101

PROFESSOR STEVEN NADLER (PHILOSOPHY 101, INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY)

We have covered many philosophical topics this semester, in metaphysics (the nature of reality, the mind-body problem), ethics (What is [the] good? What is happiness? What is the relationship between being good/virtuous and being happy?), political philosophy (Are you obliged to obey the state? Why?), epistemology (What is knowledge? How does it differ from mere belief or opinion?), philosophy of religion (Can the existence of God be rationally demonstrated? What is the difference between knowing something by reason and believing it on faith?), and the meaning of life (What does it mean to say that life/a life is meaningful? Does death render life meaningless? Or, in fact, is it immortality that would make life meaningless?).

We have also read a number of philosophers, both classic and contemporary (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, St. Anselm, Descartes, Kant, Mill, Sartre, Susan Wolf, Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, Elizabeth Anscombe, etc.)

For your final paper, you are to write a philosophical dialogue (much like the dialogues of Plato that you read). Chose ONE of the philosophical topics we discussed, and TWO or THREE of the philosophers we studied, and put them in dialogue with each other. How would each philosopher explain his/her position and criticize the views of the other(s)? How would each philosopher respond to the other’s criticisms? You may insert yourself into the dialogue as one of the interlocutors, explain whom you would agree with.

5-7 pages, double-spaced.