Philosophy final Module 05/M5_AssignmentInstructions.html Module 5 Assignment: Teleological and Cosmological Argument Essay Overview In the words of

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Philosophy final Module 05/M5_AssignmentInstructions.html

Module 5 Assignment: Teleological and Cosmological Argument Essay


In the words of Peter Kreeft, “The idea of God is either a fact, like sand, or a fantasy, like Santa.” This is the fundamental question raised in Module 5. Namely, what are we rationally entitled to conclude about God’s potential existence? And if God does exist, what type of God is supported by empirical evidence? Said differently, is it rational to believe in a God that is omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent (call these the three O’s), or does this characterization fail to hold up to scrutiny?

In support of the claim that God exists, there are two options to consider during this module. First, is the cosmological argument, which generates the conclusion God exists based on fundamental considerations about the cause of the world and/or why there is something rather than nothing. Second, is the teleological argument, which posits the existence of God based on the appearance of design. Both arguments rest on empirical (or a posteriori) reasoning. Both have deep roots in the history of philosophy. Both have particular versions that are important to consider for your essay.

In support of the claim that God does not exist, is the problem of evil. According to it, based on a careful examination of moral and natural evils in relation to the three O’s, God simply cannot exist. Said differently, pairing together the fact of evil with the concept of God is like postulating the existence of a round-square. A round-square is a contradictory object, whose actual existence is not rationally justified. So, too, (goes the argument) is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God that allows for moral and natural evil.

Essay Question: Critically evaluate ONE of the above three arguments (i.e., the cosmological, teleological or problem of evil) for or against God’s existence. Do NOT write on all three topics. The idea here is go into depth on a single one. Please note that there are different versions of these arguments, and it may be wise to distinguish between the different versions in your essay.


Download and view the Essay Writing Guide.

Write and submit a thoughtful, clear and succinct thesis writing assignment of 1000-1500 words, in direct response to the Module 4 assignment above.

Draw directly upon our assigned textbook readings for this Module in carefully crafting your detailed response.

In answering the essay question provided, carefully review, reflect upon, and attempt to integrate the textbook material covered in Chapter 4: Section 4.0-4.2 and 4.4-4.5.

Please double-space your submission, include your name at the top of its first page, and be sure to cite all sources quoted or paraphrased from (even if it’s only our textbook). Please take careful note of the above formatting instructions.

Don’t forget to include a bibliography or “works cited” page at the end!

Submit it to the Module 5 Essay Assignment Submission Folder no later than the last day of this Module.

See the Schedule in the Syllabus Module for due dates. Review the Rubric attached to the Assignment Submission Folder for grading information.

Module 02/EssayWritingGuide.pdf

Essay Writing Guide
Essay Essential Elements

These are the essential elements that I will be looking for in your essay. Please note that this is
just a brief summary. For a more detailed account of each of these elements, please carefully
read the Guide to Writing a Philosophy Essay found just below. In order to have a greater
understanding of what I will be looking for in your essay, it is necessary that you carefully
read the complete Essay Writing Guide.

 Introduction – Here you will briefly but accurately explain one or more of the
main concepts that are essential for stating your thesis statement.

 Thesis statement contained within the intro – Your thesis should be found in

your introduction and should state your conclusion/fundamental answer to the
question, along with supporting reasons.

 Definitions of central concepts, along with original examples – Definitions

and examples should be clear and should speak to the educated but
uninformed reader.

 Body of the essay 4-6 paragraphs long, not including the introduction or

conclusion – The body is where you will defend your thesis, define key terms
and consider counterarguments.

 Paragraphs of the essay 4-8 sentences long – This is a general guideline.

Avoid paragraphs that are too short or too long.

 Two to three arguments that support your thesis – An argument can be
defined as a set of premises that provide evidence and support for a definite
conclusion. Arguments need to be clear and directly connected to your thesis.

 One counterargument to your thesis – The counterargument that you explain

should represent a charitable interpretation of your hypothetical critic’s
response to one or more aspects of your thesis.

 One response to the counterargument to you thesis – Your task here is to

carefully respond to the prior counterargument that you laid out.

 Two brief quotations properly cited from primary sources – Primary sources
can come from our text or from an outside source.

 Conclusion – Your conclusion will represent a summary of the key points of your


Formatting and Mechanics

 MLA or APA Formatting. See Start Here pages for more detail.
 Spelling/Punctuation/Grammar. See Start Here pages for more detail.

Total Points Possible: 50 pts

Word Count: 1000-1500 words

Guide to Writing a Philosophy Essay

Why Writing a Philosophy Essay is Hard Work

George Walker Bush once said about being the President of the United States, “It’s hard
work.” Such is also the case with writing a philosophy essay. What makes it hard work?

1. It’s abstract, and abstract thinking isn’t easy.

2. It’s technical, and technical writing requires considerable brain power.

3. It’s systematic, and being systematic requires being organized, which we all know is

4. It’s explicit, and being explicit entails knowing exactly what your point is and it
requires the ability to find the correct language to convey this point, which can be a
real pain.

5. It employs critical thinking skills, and critical thinking skills do not necessarily come

6. It’s foreign to many of us, and tasks that are foreign often require more time and
effort to complete than tasks that aren’t foreign.

7. It can be emotionally challenging, and doing things that are emotionally challenging
can be, well, difficult.

What a Philosophy Essay Isn’t

While there is considerable overlap between writing philosophy essays and writing of other
sorts, a philosophy essay is unique in many respects. For example, being explicit, systematic
and technical are characteristics of a good philosophy essay, yet if a short story was too
explicit, systematic and technical it may end up being quite poor. For this reason, it is worth
expanding on what a philosophy essay isn’t.

1. Creative writing—with creative writing, it can be quite important to be aesthetically

pleasing and to show, as opposed to tell, your reader what your point is. However, in
a philosophy essay being aesthetically pleasing is by no means a requirement, and
explicitly revealing your point is critical to the task at hand.

2. Poetry—while there can be philosophical ideas contained in poetry, a philosophy
essay is distinct from this. Vagueness, ambiguity and the like can be virtues of a
poem; not so when it comes to a philosophy essay.

3. Editorials—editorialized writing is often written with emotionally charged
language and consists of a series of loosely connected opinions. In philosophy essays,
this is not the case. Opinions need to be backed by arguments and bound by a distinct
and well defined goal.

4. Purely descriptive writing—being properly descriptive is very important in a variety
of settings. For example, if your boss emails you and asks you to describe the
expenditures for a particular month, accurate descriptions are essential. Likewise, if
you are telling an adventure story for magazine, a clear and true account of the
adventure can be just what pulls the reader in. Yet, while correct descriptions of

events are important in a philosophy essay, they are not enough. An evaluative
component is central. In essence, the task of a philosophy essay will be to not only
describe a particular theory or position, but also to explain why it is a good one.

What a Philosophy Essay Is

In general, a philosophy essay is a carefully articulated defense of a thesis statement. A
philosophy essay will have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Each part of it will hang
together in a clear and coherent manner.

1. Introduction—the introduction is where you will “set the stage” for what will
follow. More specifically, you will briefly explain one or more of the main concepts
you will be discussing in your essay that are essential for stating your thesis
statement. Your introduction should be concise and dedicated to giving the reader
just enough information for conveying the meaning and relevance of your thesis

2. Thesis—your thesis should be expressed in one or more sentences. For this
class, I would say no more than three. Here, you will state your position on a
particular topic and give a basic sketch of why this is your position. That is, you will
state the reasons that support your conclusion on the topic in question, i.e., you will
state your basic philosophical argument.

For a more detailed account of the characteristics of an argument, please visit this

 As you read it, carefully note
the critical difference between an argument’s premises and conclusion, and
the logical relationship that premises share with the conclusion.

3. Here are a few examples of theses that are problematic and why they are problematic.
The last one is a good thesis.

a. “In this essay, I will answer the assigned essay question by giving my view of
active euthanasia and whether or not it should be legal.” Don’t tell the reader
that you will answer the essay question. State your answer to the essay

b. “I will argue that passive euthanasia is legal.” Uninteresting and merely
descriptive. Passive euthanasia IS legal in all states.

c. “I will argue that euthanasia should be legal.” Too general. Which type of

d. “I will argue that active euthanasia should be legal.” This is better, although
the thesis is not informative enough. Why should it be legal? State your

e. “I will argue that active voluntary euthanasia should be legal because it is
supported by the principle of beneficence and principle of
autonomy. Moreover, I will argue that the most common slippery slope
arguments that are used against active euthanasia are not decisive.” Eureka!

For more information on writing thesis statements and to help you formulate your
own thesis, please consult the following two webpages:


4. Body—The body of your essay is where you will defend your thesis. Here, you will

carefully explain and provide original examples for key
concepts/theories/substantive points. Each concept/theory/substantive point that
you make needs its own distinct paragraph. Moreover, it should be clear to the reader
just what point each paragraph is making and how each paragraph relates to the
thesis. So, if your thesis was that ethical egoism is an implausible moral theory
because it suffers from three significant weaknesses (you would state the weaknesses
in your thesis), the body of your essay would involve, among other things, carefully
stating and explaining ethical egoism, as well as dedicating at least one paragraph to
each of the three weaknesses. Finally, it is important to explain and address at least
one of your opponent’s best arguments. For the purposes of this class, your
opponent’s arguments, which in some manner oppose your thesis, are called

For a more information on counterarguments, please read the following page:


5. Conclusion—in the last paragraph or two of your essay, you will give a brief summary
of the key points. In addition, a statement of your view is needed. It is a nice touch to
frame your view in manner that also addresses your opponent’s perspective and the
basic shortcomings or your opponent’s perspective. Your conclusion should be as
brief as possible. For our purposes, one paragraph should suffice.

Final Thoughts

So, it should now be clear that being President of the United States AND writing a philosophy
essay are both hard work and, perhaps, even for some of the same reasons. At the same
time, it is also important to note that this guide is very incomplete. The intention here is not
to give an exhaustive account of what constitutes a quality philosophy essay, but rather to
give you some of the basics of a good philosophy essay.[1] With this in mind, let me leave
you with a few things to avoid in writing your philosophy paper:

1. Relying on quotations—quotations are good, but use them sparingly to highlight key
passages that you will also explain in your own words.

2. Being informal—avoid all slang in your essay. Your audience is intelligent and desires
an intelligently written essay.

3. Historical pieces—don’t attempt to give a history lesson in your essay or write the
ideas off as “a product of the time.”

4. Psychological profiles—don’t attempt to reduce a philosopher’s views to his/her
personal psychology. Freud may have been spanked as a child, but this is not relevant
to whether or not his theory of the mind is plausible.

5. Begging the question—if you said that God exists because everything written in the
Bible is true, you have essentially assumed what you are trying to prove. In order for

the Bible to be true, God must exist in the first place, so appealing to it is unhelpful.

6. Trying to accomplish too much—be very careful of trying to address every single
argument on a particular topic. Usually the best approach is to pick two or three
arguments that support your position and explain them well.

7. Not giving print to one or more opposing viewpoints—in general, you should explain
one or two counterarguments that oppose your position and why they are not

8. Straw man characterizations of one or more opposing viewpoints—always
characterize counterarguments in a charitable manner. Failing to do so is a bad

9. Attacking the character of someone—Clinton may have been adulterer, but this
feature of his character is not a relevant criticism of his views on War in Iraq.

10. Using a dictionary as a source—rarely do dictionaries solve philosophical
disputes. Dictionaries report the common usage of a term, which is usually
inadequate for philosophical purposes.

11. Using a religious text as a source—Religious texts are profoundly important in many
contexts, but they don’t carry much weight in a philosophy essay. See begging the

12. Using Wikipedia as a source—Wikipedia is a great source of information, but
sometimes it is incorrect and misleading.

13. Saying “I believe” or “I feel” too much.

14. Being too wordy.

15. Asserting things without support.

16. Using emotionally charged language.

17. Using a word that you aren’t sure what it means.

18. Having a thesis that you aren’t sure what it means.

19. Hyperboles and silly or clicheish metaphors.

20. Telling the reader that “this topic has been debated since the beginning of time.”

[1] For an exhaustive account of writing a philosophy essay, see Lewis Vaughn, Writing
Philosophy: A Student’s Guide to Philosophy Essays (Oxford University Press, 2006).

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