Why is critical thinking so important in the 21st century?

Read the following instructions carefully. Write a paper totaling 2000 words, answering questions from Section A (1000 words total) and questions from Section B (1000 words total).

Please include little to no quoted material in your paper. The point is to get you to describe and characterize the material, not to just import the words of others. If you must quote, just include a parenthetical citation at the end of the quote, like this: “(Author Name, Book Title, Page Number).” There is no need to provide a bibliography.

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Do not go significantly over or under the word limit. The word “significantly” here is a judgment call on my part, but in order to be on the safe side, keep it to no more than 100 words over or under the limit.

Refer to Class Schedule for due date. An assignment link will be created on Blackboard and you will be able to upload it closer to the deadline. A late penalty will be applied to any paper turned in after this time. The penalty is: one third of a letter grade deduction for each day the paper is late. So, for example, if a paper is turned in at 8:15 AM the following morning, and if the paper without the late penalty is given the grade of B, it will become a B- due to its being turned in one day late.

Answer one question from Section A and one question from Section B. 

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Section A — Answer one from the following options: 

  1. Why is critical thinking so important in the 21st century? Give a rundown of the four characteristics of a philosophical question. What is a thought experiment? How can thought experiments be useful? Construct your own brief thought experiment, as an example, to show that you understand what this device is. Describe deductive and inductive arguments, as well as the properties of validity, soundness, strength, and cogency. What is modus ponens? What is modus tollens? List the 5 fallacies that you think are most problematic. Define and give an example of each of them.
  2. Give a detailed rundown of Plato’s allegory of the cave. What did Plato intend to communicate through this allegory? What were some of the themes he explored? What is his Theory of Forms? Is it necessarily true that pursuing truth with great intensity will result in fractured relationships (with society, with one’s family, with one’s peers)? John Locke made a distinction between the thinker who has the philosophical spirit (the philosopher) and the thinker who doesn’t (the enthusiast). How are these two types of people different? Also describe what Bertrand Russell meant when he said that philosophy brings about the enlargement of the self. Which of these do you think most powerfully communicates the value of philosophy—and why?


Section B — Answer one from the following options: 

  1. In the Apology, Socrates gives two arguments concerning death. List, explain, and then attack each argument, making sure to criticize the arguments at various points and in various ways. What is the overall message each of the two poems we briefly looked at in class? How do the poets differ on this topic? Cite specific lines to make your case.
  2. There are two ways to answer the question, “Does right and wrong really exist?” The two ways are: “Yes” or “No.” This question explores the “No” answer. Specifically, I’d like you to tell me what the three options are for believing that ethics doesn’t exist. List, describe, and then attack each of the three views.
  3. Pick two of the four ethical theories we’ve looked at—Ethical Egoism, Divine Command Theory, Utilitarianism, and Deontology—and list the reasons for accepting those views and then the reasons for rejecting those views. Do a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of each of the two views you select.

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