History of Modern Philosophy

PI216 History of Modern Philosophy
Essay titles
Write an essay on a topic from both sections A and B. Each essay should be 1200-1500
words in length.
Section A
1. “I shall suppose that some malicious, powerful, cunning demon has done all he can to
deceive me—rather than this being done by God, who is supremely good and the source of
truth. I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external
things are merely dreams” (Descartes: First Meditation). Critically discuss what leads
Descartes to make this supposition.
2. “The existence of God is the first and the most eternal of all the truths which there can be
and that one alone from which all the others proceed” (Letter to Mersenne, 27 May, 1630).
Discuss with respect to Descartes’ account of God as “infinite substance” in the Third
3. Discuss Spinoza’s account of endeavour (conatus) in the light of his distinction between
adequate and inadequate causes. Evaluate the extent to which his theory of emotions is
based on the phenomena of endeavour and cause.
4. One of the two “great principles of reason” according to Leibniz is that of sufficient reason.
Give an account of this principle, its significance in Leibniz’s system, and how it relates to
the principle of contradiction.
Section B
1. Critically examine Locke’s arguments for empiricism and assess the implications of these
arguments for his understanding of the scope and limits of human knowledge.
2. Outline and critically examine Berkeley’s arguments for immaterialism.
3. Discuss the role of custom and habit in Hume’s response to the problem of induction and
critically examine its significance for the scientific project of the Enlightenment.
4. Does empirical science need metaphysics? Discuss with reference to Kant.
The Closing Date for Submission of essays is 6th December 2021 at 5pm.
Submission format: Essays must be submitted through Grade Centre in Blackboard and
must be accompanied by an essay submission form (available on Blackboard). Please be
careful to hold onto your receipt for the Blackboard submission.
General guidelines on writing a philosophy essay: http://www.nuigalway.ie/colleges-andschools/arts-social-sciences-and-celtic-studies/history-philosophy/disciplinescentres/philosophy/examinations/
Use Chicago System when referencing: The Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide is at the
following link http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
The rule is to be consistent, whether you use in-text references, endnotes, or footnotes.
Whenever you quote from a book, article, or website make sure that you give its exact source
(whether in the form of in-text references, endnotes, or footnotes).
When you quote from a book, article, or website, always use clearly inverted commas around
the words you quote. There should not be any ambiguity.
Please visit the following link: http://www.nuigalway.ie/colleges-and-schools/arts-socialsciences-and-celticstudies/humanities/disciplines-centres/philosophy/examinations/#tab2
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Cases of plagiarism are immediately and systematically detected on Blackboard, whether they
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