Philosophy of Religion (F08)
The paper should be 6-8 pages (double space, typewritten) and explore a topic of your choosing in the philosophy of religion. The paper counts for 34% of your course grade and so it should be a significant effort..
A one page paper proposal is due Wednesday, October 29th, at 1pm, in my mailbox, 1st floor 14 Glebe. It should include a title, characterization of your topic, the major lines of argument you intend to pursue, tentative thesis, and a brief review of one key philosophical article you will use in your paper (including how you will use it). Please put this article review in a separate paragraph and fully cite the article (i.e., author, title, journal or book name, publication date, and so on)so I can find it if I want to.Keep a copy of the proposal for yourself.
The paper is due on Friday, November 14th at 1pm, in my 14 Glebe mailbox.Staple the paper proposal (with my comments) to the back of the final paper, and keep an extra copy of the final paper for yourself.
This paper should be a philosophy paper not a religion paper. Focus on the conceptual issues and arguments involved in your topic. Factual information about certain religions or scientific matters might be relevant but should be a relatively minor part. Statements about your own religious faith or beliefs (or lack of them) are not particularly appropriate; what matters is your reasons or support for you views.
You may write either on a topic that we address in the course or on one that is not specifically addressed by the course. In either case, you must tie your paper into the central themes of the course. The paper must show that it was written by someone who took this course. If an assigned article has bearing on your topic, you must discuss what it says about it and your response.
At least one outside (not assigned in the course) philosophical reading is required for this paper. You can use a philosophical article from our text that has not been assigned for the course. I suggest looking for articles in the following journals: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (College library has this on line); The Journal of Law and Religion (College library has on line); the Journal of Women and Religion (College library has on line); Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion (College library has on line); Journal of Religious Ethics (College library has on line); Zygon (College library has on line); Philo (http://www.philoonline.org/previous.htm); Faith and Philosophy (http://www.faithandphilosophy.com/index.php – look at “article index”). You can also use the reference (in the Library Reference section) called “Philosophers Index” (it is also available on line through the library) which lists by subject, title, and author most philosophical articles that have been published. Don't get bogged down on this dimension of the paper. I want you to think for your self; the outside reading is meant only to help stimulate your own thinking. Still, every paper description should include such an article (fully referenced so I can find it) and a discussion of how you will use it and each paper must use one such article to some extent.
Talk with each other (and me) about your ideas. Read ahead for topics on the syllabus we have not yet discussed. Look in the table of contents of our text for topics of interest. Make sure you write on an issue you want to spend some time thinking about. Use the College Skills Lab and the Philosophy Writing Lab. See the flier on the Philosophy Writing Lab.
Some possible topics (you are not limited to these and if you choose one of these topics, you must make these your own):
1. Role of reason, rationality, argument, and faith in religion. What is faith and how does it relate to reason?
2. The problem of evil; in general or specific dimensions of it.
3. The relationships between science and religion. Can they conflict? Can (does) science support religion?
4. Paper on any of the arguments for God’s existence: Cosmological argument, design/teleological argument, argument from religious experience, moral argument (God is needed for objective morality), ontological argument (An all perfect being must exist because of the nature of the idea of such a being), pragmatic argument (we gain more by believing in God than we stand to lose, e.g., Pascal’s Wager)
5. Free will and God’s omniscience
6. Worries about God’s omnipotence, including the paradox of omnipotence
7. The relationship between God and time
8. Philosophical analysis of miracles
9. Philosophical analysis of immortality: Would it really be me?
10. Freud and the truth/falsity of religion, including worries about the genetic fallacy
11. Is there one true religion or might several different religions all be true? Is it permissible to believe that one’s religion is the correct one? Are any religions better than other religions? Can non-believers be saved?
12. Exploration of atheism (and/or agnosticism).
13. Humanism as an alternative to religion
14. Intelligent design and creationism: a philosophical analysis
15. Separation between church and state
16. Women and religion: philosophical issues
17. Religion and environment
18. Is there a hell?
19. Religion and the meaning of life
The paper should be 5-7 pages (double space, typewritten) and explore a topic in ethics, social & political philosophy, philosophy of religion, or aesthetics. The paper counts for 34% of your course grade and so it should be a significant effort.
You choose the topic. Any topic that we have discussed in class or that is considered in the assigned reading is suitable. You may, if you want, write on a topic we haven't discussed in class and on which there is no assigned reading-though this is somewhat risky. All topics must in some way relate to the course content and refer to and use the course materials relevant to your subject. This is an absolute requirement. (It must be true that only someone who was in this class could have written the paper.) If you write on a topic the course specifically addresses, your paper should show a thorough understanding of the readings and class discussions on the issue. Some suggestions for suitable topics are listed below.
A paper description is due on Thursday, March 23th, 3 pm, 14 Glebe, 1st floor mailbox (keep a copy for yourself in case this copy gets lost). It should include a characterization of your topic, the major lines of argument you intend to pursue, tentative thesis, and a full bibliographic citation and a paragraph description of the content of one philosophical article you will use in your paper. The paper is due on Thursday, April 13, 3 pm, 14 Glebe, 1st floor mailbox (keep a copy for yourself in case this copy gets lost).
The paper should be a philosophy paper in which you focus on normative, evaluative, or conceptual issues. (Always ask: What should we do concerning this issue and why? What are the philosophical, ethical, and conceptual questions which must be answered if this issue is to be resolved?)
One outside philosophical article must be used in your paper. Those of you who write on a topic not specifically covered on the schedule of assignments will have to rely more on your outside philosophical article. Although I require that you to interact with the ideas from some philosophy article that we have not read in the class, the main point of the paper is to have you think philosophically for your self; the outside reading is meant only to help stimulate your own thinking.
One good way to find an article related to your topic is to use The Philosopher's Index. This is in the reference section of the library and lists philosophical articles by title, author, and subject matter for each year. Perhaps the best approach is to look under the subject heading that best approximates the issue you want to write about. Then see if our library carries the journal the article is in.
Philosophy and Public Affairs, Between the Species, Bibliography of Bioethics, Bioethics, Biology and Philosophy, Business and Professional Ethics Journal, Environmental Ethics, Ethics, Feminist Review, Hastings Center Report, Hypatia (Feminism), International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Journal of Applied Philosophy, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Journal of Medical Ethics, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Journal of Religion, Journal of Value Inquiry, Law and Philosophy. Possibly of use: Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Monist, Nous; A Quarterly Journal Of Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Forum, Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Topics, Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy East and West, Philosophy of Science-(East Lansing), Phronesis, Southern Journal of Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Economy and Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis-(Blackwell), Australasian Journal of Philosophy, History of Philosophy Quarterly, Inquiry, International Philosophical Quarterly.
- Some dimension of the cultural relativism issue. (Are morals relative to culture?)