Uploaded by Amala Regi Alex

Short Essay Topics

Short Essay Directions
Value: 25%
Due: March 1st, 2020
Goal: For students to practice explaining philosophical arguments in a clear and organized
manner to an educated audience that is unfamiliar with the argument.
Length: 4-5 pages, double spaced (1000-1300 words).
Assignment: Write an expository paper on ONE of the topics below. Note that an expository
paper is not an argumentative paper, where you explain what your position on the topic is and
defend that position. An expository paper is meant to explain an idea to an unfamiliar audience.
Students should explain the ideas of the authors below using their own words and demonstrate a
nuanced understanding of the similarities and differences between the different positions the
authors take. Students may use quotations (properly cited) but should largely rely on their own
words to explain the ideas and all quotes and key terms should be clearly explained.
Topics: Choose ONE of the following topics to write on.
1. What is happiness? Write a short, expository paper that explains different ideas of
happiness that were covered in the course. Compare and contrast the similarities and
differences in the views of Aristotle, Epicurus, and Bentham.
2. Camus and Nagel both argue that our lives can be seen as ‘absurd’. What do they mean
by this? What solutions do they offer to the problem of absurdity (if it is a problem)?
Compare and contrast the similarities and differences in their views.
3. Fackenheim and Tolstoy both look to God as providing a meaning to life. How does God
provide meaning? Why do we need God to provide meaning? Compare and contrast the
similarities and differences between their approaches to this argument.
4. Nagel and Nozick both note that many people connect their questions about the meaning
of life to God, yet they both argue that God does not necessarily provide them with that
meaning. What do they mean by this? Compare and contrast the similarities and
differences in their arguments.
Required essay mechanics:
• MLA style (8th edition): including typed, double-spaced, 12-point font size text, with 1-inch
margins on all sides, and identifying information and essay title on the first page;
• good writing style, including proper sentence and paragraph structure, proper grammar,
punctuation, and organization;
• effective use of quotations and paraphrases; they must be identified by parenthetical in-text
citation according to the MLA style;
• include a Works Cited page with full bibliographic citations of the texts, following MLA style;
• submit the essay electronically by uploading it using the eClass link provided for this purpose.