Skepticism Theory

See the general instructions in the Essay Discussion Instructions section of the course menu. Once you choose which question you’d like to write about, write your essay and post it in the discussion board and also save it as a Word document.

To create your post, click the blue Create Thread button. To be able to read and respond to others’ posts, you will first need to publish your own post. Your first post is the one that will be graded–a blank post WILL be graded if it is your first post in the board. You can save your post as a draft, but it will not be published for students to view, nor will it be queued for grading until you click the Submit button.

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When you refresh the board, after you publish your post, it will allow you to view everyone’s posts. If you hover your cursor at the bottom of a post, the button to reply to that student’s post will appear.

Use your course texts to help you respond to the topic, and when you quote and summarize from the course texts, include information about the page reference.

You are discouraged from using additional sources. If you do choose to use an outside source, be sure to cite your source, just as you do when you use the course texts. If you use a quotation or an example from a website, cite the website’s url and the date accessed.

Once you are ready for your classmates to read it, post the thread containing your essay.

Finally, read your classmates’ posts. A complete assignment includes your written response to at least two essays besides your own–part of your score is based on your reply to at least one of your classmate’s posts. It should be a meaningful reply that continues the discussion, points out something good about the post, and makes a constructive suggestion for improvement.

Topics for your Essay, Choose A or B

Essay Length tips–To answer these topics completely, it takes about 2 pages—8-10 paragraphs. Use the topic questions and the scoring rubric to see if your draft responds fully to all parts of the question. A complete, thoughtful answer is more important than word count.

Topic A

In this essay you will address the controversy between free will and determinism. You will go deeper into the problem of determinism by choosing whether it is the predictability or the unpredictability of our actions that poses a bigger threat to free will. Using passages from the textbook, explain in detail what determinism is and why determinism threatens the idea of free will.

Now consider these two opposite points of view about our ability to predict behavior:

  1. Everything you do is predictable to those who know you well. This predictability means your life is determined by choices beyond your control—Paraphrase from Vaughn, p.258
  2. “He sat a long time and he thought about his life and how little of it he could have foreseen and he wondered for all his will and all his intent how much of it was his doing.”—Cormac Mc Carthy (reprinted in Vaughn, p.255)

Explain what these two points of view mean and then give your own reasoned opinion about which point of view is correct. Defend your answer.

Topic B

Describe the theory of knowledge called skepticism. Consider the skeptic’s charge that we can never be confident about the reliability of our normal sources of knowledge (perceptions, memory, introspection, and reasoning.) Describe why and how, for each of the 4 sources mentioned, the source is unreliable. Use examples to show your understanding.

If a source of knowledge is unreliable, it means these sources can trick us into believing falsehoods. Does it follow from the fact that we are sometimes mistaken when we rely on these sources that we are always mistaken? In other words, once we admit is possible that we are mistaken, does that mean that we need to admit that we might never be correct? How would you respond to the skeptic?

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