a. Present and explain one of the following of Descartes’ arguments:
i. Evil Demon Skepticism Argument (Meditation I)
ii. Conceivability Argument Against Body as Essence (Meditation II)
iii. First Argument for God (Meditation III)
iv. Problem of Error Argument (Meditation IV)
v. Ontological Argument (Meditation V)
vi. Argument for Material Bodies (Meditation VI)
Make sure you provide the premises and the conclusion of this argument. (You may use the
version I discussed in class as long as you cite properly.) Also make sure that you present and
explain each premise and the conclusion in your own words, and as clearly and persuasively
as possible. This will involve providing support from the Meditations for the premises and
conclusion. Provide special attention to explaining the part of the argument that you plan to
attack in part b.
b. Present and explain one and only one strong and plausible objection to the argument you
selected in part a. This objection should be your own. Your goal with this objection is to
convince someone who initially agrees with that argument to change their mind and reject
the argument. Notice that a rhetorical question is not an objection, nor is an argument for a
different conclusion. Instead, try to show that some premise in the argument is or might be
false by offering a counterexample or explanation as to why it fails.
For part (a) of the prompt you choose, present and explain, as clearly and persuasively as possible,
the argument mentioned in that prompt. The task in part (a) requires not just rephrasing and
reiterating the premises of the argument, but also defending these premises to show that they are
plausible. Be sure that you fully explain not only what each premise of the argument means, but
also why each premise might be thought plausible. You should present the argument as
sympathetically as possible. Regardless of whether you think the argument is successful, explain it
as clearly, charitably, and persuasively as possible.
Avoid the straw man fallacy. You should work to interpret the argument accurately, and to present
the argument in the strongest and clearest way possible.
For part (b) of the prompt you choose, present and explain, as clearly and persuasively as possible,
one and only one strong and plausible objection to the argument mentioned in that prompt. The
objection you offer should be at least partly your own. Show what impact that objection, if
effective, would have on the chosen argument. Notice that a rhetorical question is not an objection,
nor is an argument for a different conclusion. Instead, try to show that some premise in the
argument is or might be false by offering a counterexample or another explanation as to why the
The objection you offer should be at least partly your own. You can use ideas from class and the
readings for this course. But the objection you offer should be at least partly your own. You should
develop the objection in your own way, using your own ideas in addition to any ideas taken from
class or readings. Also, if you do use ideas from the readings for this course, you must cite your
sources properly, using both a bibliography and in-text citations. For your bibliography and in-text
citations, you may use either MLA or APA formatting.
Use examples whenever you can. Examples make your writing much more illuminating. Do not use
rhetorical questions, however. Rhetorical questions are often lazy devices that do not require any
substantial argumentation on your part. Instead of using a rhetorical question, use a statement. If
necessary (and it will most likely be necessary), you should then defend that statement.
Do not simply quote an author or the slides without explaining what is being said. Directly quoting
from the text, even when it is properly cited, does not demonstrate an understanding of the
material. Instead, you should quote or paraphrase what the author says and then explain what this
quote paraphrase means and why it is plausible.
Your writing assignment should be between 900 and 1100 words. If you are below the word count
you will automatically lose 5 points. Roughly half of these words should be used to write part (1),
and the other half should be used for part (b). You will need to be concise and economical with your
words. Put the word count at the beginning of your paper.
You don’t need an introduction or conclusion. Begin your paper with a brief statement of what you
are going to do (i.e. your thesis) and a short outline, and then immediately start explaining the
argument. Because the paper is short, there is no need to reiterate what you’ve done in an entire
paragraph as a conclusion.
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