Essay Questions

Answer the first three questions. Your answer to each question should be about 500 words long. 1500 in total. Use the book The Truth about the World: Basic Readings in Philosophy, Third Edition, edited by James Rachels and Stuart Rachels, McGraw-Hill

1. Explain the mind-body problem and the solutions presented by Descartes, Armstrong, and Searle. How do the theories line up relative to one another? What implications does each theory have for whether computers or androids can think? And why might it make a difference if they could think? Remember, the authors are trying to solve problems, responding to other authors, answering possible criticisms, and trying to convince their audiences of the correctness of their solutions to the problems. They are not merely giving opinions. So, your presentation should include the problems, the responses to the problems that the authors are criticizing, the author’s solutions to the problems and their arguments.

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2. Descartes, Parfit, and Dennett raise the issue of whether “I,” a unitary self that persists over time, exists. Descartes supports an Ego theory that Parfit and Dennett both reject. Explain how Descartes arrives at his concept of the self as mind after initial skepticism. Explain how Parfit and Dennett criticize this Ego theory. Then explain why it is important to solve this problem, i.e., what the implications of accepting the Ego Theory or rejecting it are for how we live our lives and for our religious beliefs. Do the same for the Bundle Theory. Remember, the authors are trying to solve problems, responding to other authors, answering possible criticisms, and trying to convince their audiences of the correctness of their solutions to the problems. They are not merely giving opinions. So, your presentation should include the problems, the responses to the problems that the authors are criticizing, the author’s solutions to the problems and their arguments.

3. How can Socrates’s theory of the good life as found in the Apology (the examined life) and the Crito (the just life) be seen as an example of what Taylor would describe as an objective criterion for a meaningful life? What are the problems with using an objective criterion for a meaningful life, according to Taylor? How does Taylor argue in favor of a subjective criterion as a solution to the problem of defining a meaningful life? What sorts of objections can be made to Taylor’s subjective criterion for a meaningful life? Remember, Socrates and Taylor are trying to solve problems, responding to other authors, answering possible criticisms, and trying to convince their audience of the correctness of their solutions to the problems. They are not merely giving opinions. So, your presentation should include the problems, the responses to the problems that the authors are criticizing, the author’s solutions to the problems and their arguments.

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