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Hilary Term 2017
Essay Titles
Junior Freshman Single Honours Philosophy

SHP students must submit a total of TWELVE essays as follows:
PI1010 + PI1011 Central Problems in Philosophy A /B:  3 essays
PI1012 + PI1013 History of Philosophy I A/B:  3 essays
PI1003 Topics I:  3 essays
PI1004 Topics II:  3 essays

  • Essays must not exceed 1500 words in length.
  • It is important for students to complete ESSAY COVER SHEETS in FULL when submitting essays to the Department (including Student name, ID number, email address, module, component, and name of your Teaching Assistant). Essay Cover Sheets with these headings are available from the Dept. Office and on the Philosophy webpage.
  • Students are required to submit their essays via Blackboard with a hard copy handed into the Philosophy Department.  SUBMITTING ESSAYS INTO BLACKBOARD ONLY DOES NOT FULFILL THIS REQUIREMENT.
  • Students must not submit more than one essay for a given module component.
  • Students must identify the component for which the essay is being submitted.
  • Essays must be handed in at the philosophy department office (or placed in the essay box nearby) by 2.00 P.M. on the day specified.
  • An essay may be accepted up to one week late with the loss of 10 marks. It will not be accepted after the lapse of one week.
  • Essay extensions, may be requested on medical or ad misericordiam grounds from you programme coordinator but only via your College Tutor. A list of coordinators is available on the Philosophy webpage and on the Junior Freshmen notice board.  Extensions must be arranged prior to the submission date. 
  • Material already assessed in essays may not be used again in examinations.

Submission Dates
For material covered in Hilary Term 2017/2nd Semester

Weeks 1 - 7 No essays
Week 8

Monday 6th March’17, TWO essays due:

  • PI1013 History of Philosophy I B Component 1 (The Rationalists)
  • PI1004 Topics II, Component 3 (Causation, an Introduction)
Weeks 9 - 12No Essays
Week 13Monday 16th January 2017, FOUR essays due: Monday 10th April’17, FOUR essays due:
  • PI1011 Central Problems in Philosophy B EITHER Component 1 (Metaphysics) OR Component 2 (Moral Philosophy)
  • PI1013 History of Philosophy Component 2 (The Empiricists)
  • PI1003 Topics I EITHER Component 3 (Problem of Evil OR Death) OR Component 4 (Truth)                                                         
  • PI1004 Topics II Component 4 (Epistemology)

PI1003: Topics in Philosophy I

Component 3 (Problems of Evil) Prof. Lilian Alweiss

  1. What is the so-called problem of evil and how do either St Augustine or Leibniz attempt to resolve it?  Do you see any problem with either St Augustine’s or Leibniz’s conclusion?
  2. Compare Rousseau’s response to the problem of evil with that of Voltaire. Which one do you find more convincing?
  3. Where according to Rousseau, lie the root of all evil?

Component 4 (Freewill) Dr. James Miller

  1. What is libertarianism? What is the best reason to be a libertarian about free will?
  2. Does the principle of alternate possibilities provide the best way to understand free will?
  3. Has neuroscience proven that free will does not exist?

PI1004: Topics In Philosophy II

Component 3 (Causation, an Introduction) Pauline Sabrier

  1. What is Plato’s criticism of his predecessors’ use of the notion of cause in the Phaedo passage? What is the solution he advocates in this passage?  Do you find it convincing?
  2. Is the concept of cause derived from sensory experience? Before you start giving arguments for and against, please make sure you have explained what the problem is about, considering in particular the implications of the problem for the modal versus non-modal debate about causation.
  3. ‘We have all been mislead for years and there is actually no such thing as causation’. Critically discuss.

Component 4 (Epistemology) Prof. Paul O’Grady

  1. Must there be basic beliefs which are non-inferentially justified?

    Bonjour L.                           The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Harvard 1985, chs 1 – 2
    J.Dancy and E.Sosa (eds), A Companion to Epistemology, Blackwell, 1992 entries on: foundationalism, coherentism.
    Robert Audi,                       Epistemology, 1998, ch.7
    B. Russell,                          The Problems of Philosophy, 1912, chs.1-5

  2. Is Relativism Self-Refuting?

    Baghramian, M.                  Relativism, Routledge, 2004
    Blackburn, S.                      Truth, Penguin, 2005
    Boghossian, P.                   Fear of Knowledge, OUP, 2006
    O'Grady P.                         Relativism, Acumen 2002,

PI1011: Central Problems in Philosophy A

Component 1 (Metaphysics) Dr. James Miller

  1. What, in your view, is the best way to account for change in objects? What objections might be given against this view, and how might we respond to those objections?
  2. Should we be sceptics about personal identity? If so, why; if not, why not?
  3. I have two red mugs. What is the best way to explain our intuition that they have the same property of ‘redness’

Component 2 (Moral Philosophy) Dr. Ben Bramble

  1. What is utilitarianism? What is the most serious objection to it? Can this objection be answered?
  2. What claim is Peter Singer arguing for in his famous piece “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”? Reconstruct and evaluate this argument.
  3. What is the difference between subjectivism and objectivism about reasons for action? Which is more plausible and why?

PI1013: History of Philosophy I A

Component 1 (The Rationalists) Dr. Kenneth Pearce

Please consult the instructions on critically evaluating arguments, available on Blackboard, before writing your essay.

  1. Critically evaluate Descartes’s ‘wax argument’ in the Second Meditation.
  2. Critically evaluate one of Descartes’s arguments for the existence of God in the Meditations.
  3. Critically evaluate Spinoza’s argument against teleology. Does Leibniz’s defense of teleology provide a successful reply to this argument?
  4. Critically evaluate Elisabeth’s argument against Descartes’s dualism.
  5. Critically evaluate Malebranche’s argument for occasionalism.

Component 2 (The Empiricists) Dr. Kenneth Pearce

Please consult the instructions on critically evaluating arguments, available on Blackboard, before writing your essay. If you think a philosopher has more than one argument for the stated claim, choose the argument you think is strongest. Similarly, if you think an objector has more than one objection, discuss the objection you think is strongest.

  1. Critically evaluate Locke’s argument against innate ideas. Does Leibniz’s objection against this argument succeed?
  2. Critically evaluate Locke’s argument that divine revelation received by tradition can never yield knowledge.
  3. Critically evaluate the argument against ‘what philosophers call material substance’ (DHP 172) presented by Philonous in Berkeley’s Three Dialogues.
  4. Critically evaluate Hume’s argument that there is no idea of power or necessary connection. Does Shepherd’s objection against this argument succeed?
  5. Critically evaluate Hume’s argument for the compatibility of liberty and necessity.  Does Reid’s objection against this argument succeed?