Sample thesis statements for second Aristotle paper

Papers are due on April 24, 7-10 pages double-spaced.

Please e-mail me the topic of your paper and your thesis statement by Thurs., April 17. 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 Aristotle's 'pragmatic' defense of the Principle of Non-Contradiction fails, because action need not exhibit beliefs about what is better or what is the case.
Aristotle claims that (i) theoretical knowledge is 'useless,' and (ii) for this reason (in part) it is the highest sort of knowledge. In this paper, I will argue that (i) theoretical knowledge has practical applications, and (ii) having practical applications does not degrade, but instead enhances, the value of such knowledge.
Aristotle claims that human happiness must be based on our 'particular nature.' In this paper, I will argue that, on this basis, human flourishing must be primarily consituted by social and political activity rather than contemplation.
In this paper, I will argue that there cannot be the sort of intuitive grasp of first principles ('nous') that Aristotle thinks is the foundation for scientific understanding ('episteme'), and becasue of this, his conception of scientific understanding is untenable.
In this paper, I will argue that one cannot possess the intellectual virtues without also possessing the virtues of character, even for the so-called 'theoretical' intellectual virtues.
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 Aristotle's conception of pleasure successfully disproves ethical hedonism generally speaking, and Mill's utilitarianism in particular.
In this paper, I will argue that Annas' construal of the sense in which the virtuous person acts from sefl-love is incorrect, because there is nothing problematic in the virtuous person being motivated by considerations of self-interest when he helps his friend.
In this paper, I will argue that the state should not be involved in improving the character of its citizens.

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