own reasoning and analysis


own reasoning and analysis

Paper instructions:

Write a 5 page essay about the assigned topic below, using only the assigned readings as references and providing your own reasoning and analysis to carry the argument of the paper.

Topic: From among the skeptical texts assigned, what seem to be the most compelling reasons that are provided, to doubt that we can have knowledge about important moral or ethical

matters? In response to those reasons for doubt, provide what you think are reasonable counter-arguments or counter-considerations that allow us to have some kind of confidence in our moral

or ethical judgments. Then, in conclusion, explain whether you find yourself as confident in making moral or ethical judgments as you were prior to the analysis essay.

Some tips for successful essay writing:

Brainstorm or write reflections about the topic, then after that, ORGANIZE your essay by putting that material into a coherently written paper. Don’t turn in a set of random or

spontaneous reflections about the topic.
Use an example of a moral or ethical judgment, or two, to focus your discussion. Choose the example(s) carefully so that it is relevant and represents a type of judgment that you think is

important and central to the question of skepticism and a response to skepticism.
Stay within your means. Write in a way that is clear and expresses what you want to say in short, precise ways. Avoid terminology with which you are not fully familiar.

Skeptical Attitudes Toward Knowledge – From a variety of cultural and philosophical perspectives, there have always been questions about whether and how we know anything of importance. To

think that we don’t know certain kinds of truths that people think we know is called “skepticism” (or, sometimes spelled “scepticism”). Even Socrates began his mission in Athens this way by

questioning whether the so-called experts about virtue actually knew anything they thought they knew.
(A) Skepticism is often used as a starting point, in order to rethink and re-theorize what people think they know. That’s a form of skepticism that is a means to an end, the end goal being a

reconstruction what we know. So, you can start out as a skeptic in order to end up, ultimately, claiming that we actually do or can have knowledge – it’s just that we had to rethink what we

thought we knew.
(B) There’s a more extreme form of skepticism that regards itself as the conclusion of certain arguments about the inability and limitations of humans to know anything for certain or at all. So,

you might think you have powerful enough arguments to support very strong and enduring doubts about claims to know certain kinds of things, for example, about the ultimate nature of reality

– about how things really are beyond the way they appear to us. Phrases like “metaphysics,” “ultimate reality,” or “things in themselves” are meant to refer to such things. In brief, the key

question of the skeptic about such things is “How in the world could we ever get beyond the way things appear or seem to us and have access to the things that could never appear to us?”

Skepticism about Moral or Ethical Knowledge
(C) In addition, there is a form of skepticism that is aimed specifically at knowledge of moral or ethical truths about what kinds of actions or life are good, right, happy, wrong, evil, virtuous, etc.

Generally, moral or ethical skepticism is less about the inability of humans to know such truths than about whether there actually are any such truths.
Moral or ethical opinions can seem like the sorts of thing that have little to do with objective truths about the world, much like opinions or judgments of taste. Think of the opinion that a life of

reason and moderation is the best life for a person. Is that a judgment that tracks an objective truth about humans? Or is it merely a judgment of taste? Perhaps some people prefer a reckless,

risky life full of intense pleasure as well as some pain, even if it ends up being a short life. If we are tempted to think that either kind of life might be just fine depending on what a person

ultimately wants from life, then we are on the road to skeptical questioning about whether there’s an objective truth about the best human life.
With each of the skeptics assigned in your readings, it is worth trying to identify the kind of skepticism, from among A, B, and C, for which he or she is arguing.


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