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Philosophy themes research paper
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Philosophy themes research paper - The Lives of Others movie

Your paper must identify and discuss critically one philosophical theme (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. in an essay, chapter, or film.

The structure of an ideal paper is simple: (a) an introduction in which you clearly identify the philosophical theme you plan to discuss and, if possible, say what you’re going to say about it; (b) the body of the paper in which you trace key elements of the theme in the essay (quotations helpful—but only a few key ones); and (c) a conclusion in which you sum up the book’s overall treatment of the theme. You must refer to at least five items, other than encyclopedia articles, including at least two academic books or papers.

Your paper must identify and discuss critically one philosophical theme in an essay, chapter, or film.

Some of you have been asking for guidance on this. Focus on something central to this course:

Normativity (ought, values, virtues, obligations)

Sources of normative authority (institutions? individuals? God?)

Truth (especially moral truth)

Objectivity of norms (Are they objective? Subjective? Relative? Noncognitive?)

You may write about any writer from the second half of the course:

Anna Akhmatova Mikhailo Dray-Khmara Leszek Kolakowski Jorge Luis Borges

Albert Camus C. S. Lewis Friedrich Hayek Lawrence Ferlinghetti

W. V. O. Quine Iris Murdoch * Jean-François Lyotard

Joan Didion John Rawls Robert Nozick Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Vaclav Havel

You may also write about The Lives of Others.

·         Choose a work other than Under the Net for Murdoch.

You may write about what we've read or will read for class (except in the case of Murdoch), or you may choose another work by that author. I strongly suggest writing about only one work for each author, however. Don't try to write about every play Camus wrote, for example. Don't try to write about several Borges stories.

You may also write about two figures if you think that helps you identify, develop, or contrast two approaches to a theme. But one must be from this list. The other could be from the first half of the course. It could also be a political figure from either half (e.g., Wilson, Coolidge, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Reagan).

5.You must refer to at least five items, other than encyclopedia articles, including at least two academic books or papers.

How do you find them? I recommend Google Scholar:

http://scholar.google.com

Look at titles and descriptions to judge relevance to your project; look at citations to judge the importance of the publication. But it's only a rough guide.

In response to some questions I've been receiving:

1. If you write on The Lives of Others, you may have a few extra days;

2. There are 20th-century writers we have not covered who deal with themes of the kind mentioned in my last announcement and could easily be related to writers ands topics in this course. If you want to write about such an author, that's fine with me. Some examples: Kurt Vonnegut; Aldous Huxley; Joseph Heller; Arthur Koestler; George Orwell; John Dos Passos; Evelyn Waugh; Graham Greene; Walker Percy; Lawrence Durrell; Elizabeth Bowen; Samuel Beckett; J.R.R. Tolkien; Ray Bradbury; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; Pablo Neruda; Eugène Ionesco; Flann O'Brien; Kingsley Amis; Mario Vargas Llosa; John le Carré; Tom Wolfe; Milan Kundera; Haruki Murakami; Franz Kafka.

3. You don't have to discuss the sources to which you refer in any detail. This is not a book or article report. Use them to support or advance your own thinking.

 

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