This is just a reminder that you will need to turn in a single page on stating which topic you are choosing and outlining what you plan to say about it.

So, two items:

[1] State the thesis for which you will be arguing and sum up what you want to say about it in a couple sentences. So, thesis sentence + 2-3 sentences of explanation = your abstract.

[2] Provide an outline of how you plan to organize your essay. Bullet points and phrases are fine. The outline does not have to be formal or in complete sentences.

The outline should make reference to your thesis, which authors and texts you plan to use, how they will fit into your argument, and the relevance of your thesis to our lives and experiences.


The Final Essay . Please upload the paper to Canvas. Write around 5-6 pages on the topic of your choice.

The focus of this essay will be to state, explain, develop and defend a particular thesis based upon some theme in philosophy related to the texts we’ve been reading. The thesis needs to make some specific claim (or closely interrelated set of claims) about some topic or theme that we’ve touched on this term (see list of possible topics below).

This claim needs to be stated clearly, explained carefully, fully developed, and explicitly related to the kinds of arguments we’ve encountered in texts by at least two different authors, drawing upon and quoting their texts. One of those texts must be either Rene Descartes or Josef Pieper and the other must be an earlier author: Plato, Aristotle, or Boethius. (If you use more than two texts, the additional texts can be any of the ones we read.)

You will need to support and defend your thesis with philosophical arguments and reasons drawing upon texts we’ve read, ideas of your own, and your own experiences and beliefs. Be sure to relate the theme of your essay to our lives. Why does this claim matter? What difference does it make if you’re right about thesis?

Topics might include:
  • the value of the liberal arts & their relation to the contemplative life
  • the nature of genuine human happiness and well-being
  • how human beings are distinctive, unique and the implications of this for a good life
  • what it means to die well and the meaning of death (and what, if anything, lies beyond)
  • the existence of God or human openness to transcendence & its value in life
  • finding meaning and value in life, even in suffering
  • the nature of intellectual virtue & importance of moral imagination
  • inordinate desire & incontinence and how we master or overcome them
  • the intellectual & moral effects of wrongdoing upon human well-being
  • virtues and vices of character, either in general or more specifically
  • the freedom of true knowledge, the place of certainty and doubt, & education
  • the value and meaning and kinds of friendship
  • intrinsic goods, leisure & work/career

You will need to turn in an abstract & outline on. Your abstract should articulate a specific, focused thesis with regard to one of these topics, followed by several sentences of explanation, summarizing where you intend to go with the thesis.


Your paper outline should set out how you plan to structure your paper, making reference to your thesis, which authors and texts you expect to incorporate, how you will use them, how they will fit into your overall argument, and what connections you will draw with our lives and experiences.