Miami Dade College Skepticism

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.

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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