Sample thesis statements for first Aristotle paper

Papers are due on Feb. 14, 3-5 pages double-spaced (4-6 in 6020).

Please e-mail me the topic of your paper and your thesis statement by Thurs., Feb. 7. The topic of your paper is the general area or question you'll be exploring, while your thesis is the position you'll be arguing for in that area. I have some suggested topics and sample thesis statements below.

The final paper is a position paper, in which you give arguments for a position; it is not a research paper. If you want to bring in additional material from outside the class readings, you may do so, but only if it contributes to your argument. (However, you might want to check with me to see whether the material is appropriate.) You don't need to bring in additional material, and I don't want this paper to be an exercise in finding out and explaining what other people thought about what we've studied. Instead, this is your chance to give your own arguments about the material we've studied.

I want you to give your opinion. However, you need to give reasons for your opinions, and your discussion should take, as its starting point, the arguments we've studied so far this semester. In addition, it should demonstrate an understanding of these arguments.

You should explain things clearly enough that somebody not already familiar with the class material, like your ignorant but intelligent roommate, would understand what you're saying. Another good technique is to try to think of possible objections to what you're saying and to reply to those objections. What Aristotle (or an opponent of Aristotle, if you'll be siding with him) say against you? Having an actual ignorant roommate (or a classmate) look over your paper to raise objections, and to spot obscure passages, can be very helpful.

Look at the list of reading response papers to get more paper ideas. Many of the topics listed there would be a suitable basis for a longer paper.


In this paper, I will argue that happiness or eudaimonia is not that for the sake of which we do everything else.
In this paper, I will argue that many 'virtues of character' are not means between extremes.
In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle has little reason to think that particular so-called 'primary substances,' such as Socrates and Fido, are ontologically independent, rather than species like human or dog.
In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle was right to argue that 'being' qua substance is the primary or focal meaning of being.
In this paper, I will argue that there is no good way to draw a principled distinction between systems like volcanoes and mountain ranges, on the one hand, and organisms like Aristotle and Fido, on the other hand, such that the former are not primary substances while the latter are.
In this paper, I will argue that we ought to regard whatever turn out to be the fundamental particles in physics (quarks, leptons, etc.) as primary substances, rather than Socrates or Fido, which are mere composites made out of those particles.
In this paper, I will argue that knives and beds have an 'internal principle of change' just as much as organisms do, and thus, on Aristotle's own criteria, ought to be regarded as existing by nature.
In this paper, I will argue that a successful evolutionary account of the developmenet and well-adaptness of species does seriously harm Aristotle's use of final causes in the explanation of biological phenomena.
In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle is right to think that teleological explanations are necessary in order to understand natural phenomena, and that Epicurus' attempt to dispense with them fails.
In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle is right when he says that post-mortem events can have an effect on one's happiness.
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