University of St Martin - Fall, 2006 - PHIL232

Midterm Essay
Midterm Essay
Monday, Sept. 4 - What is philosophy?
Wednesday, Sept. 6 - Aristotle (1)
Monday, Sept. 11 - Aristotle (2)
Wednesday, Sept. 13 - Aristotle (3)
Monday, Sept. 18 - Nietzsche (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 20 - Nietzsche (2)
Monday, Sept. 26 - Abortion (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 28 - Abortion (2)
Excursus 1: Historical overview
Excursus 2: Abortion in Judaism and Christianity
Excursus 3: Abortion in Islam
Excursus 4: Pro-choice argument
Monday, Oct. 2 - Suicide (1)
Wednesday, Oct 4 - Revision
Monday, Oct 16 - Suicide (2)
Wednesday, Oct 18 - Paradigm shifts
Monday, Oct 23 - Brave New World (1)
Wednesday, Oct 25 - Philosophical Anthropology (1)
Monday, Oct 30 - Sexual History of the USA
Wednesday, Nov 1 - Philosophical Anthropology (2)
Monday, Nov 6 - Race, death, tragedy, and bad faith
Wednesday, Nov 8 - Race, Biology, and Culture
Monday, Nov 13 - Racism and culture
Wednesday, Nov 15 - Existentialism
Monday, Nov 20 - Political Obligation, Moral Duty, and Punishment
Wednesday, Nov 22 - Kant and Moral Obligation
Monday, Nov 27 - War and Peace
Wednesday, Nov 29 - Non-Western Philosophies (1)
Monday, Dec 4 - Non-Western Philosophies (2)
Wednesday, Dec 6 - The End
Final Paper

What are you expected to do? 

The midterm essay must be typed, double spaced, printed on one side of 8 x 11 inch paper (letter settings), with no more than one inch margin on all sides. The maximum font size will be 12 points, preferably 11 points using the font type called “Georgia”.

The midterm essay must be written in keeping with the grammar of Standard English.

In all things pertaining to punctuation and spelling, it must consistently follow one writing style (e.g. Strunk’s The Elements of Style, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, APA Style, Chicago Style, The Times Guide to English Style and Usage, etc. You can find some of these at

Essays or papers not meeting these specifications and essays judged to contain excessive errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling, as well as lacking due references to the works alluded to or cited, will be returned without a grade.

The midterm essay must be submitted by 9th October 2006.



To write a good essay and/or paper, do the following:

1. Explain in the introduction what your central question is, what you are going to do in your essay, and how. For instance, In this essay I will investigate the question WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REASON AND FAITH? In order to answer this question, I shall look into the work of two philosophers: Thomas Aquinas and Locke. I shall present and compare their views; after which I shall make my own suggestions.

2. Read some relevant writings by the philosophers you will be comparing. For instance,


3. Make a short summary of the main points, insights and/or arguments of the material consulted. In doing this, bear the following questions in mind:

  • What were the writing’s strong and weak points? 
  •  Which points were interesting, relevant, and connected to other readings, and why? 
  •  What assumptions seemed explicit and/or implicit in the reading, and why?
  • Did the author state the purpose of his or her writing? Was it achieved, according to you?
  • In which respects do the authors used agree and/or disagree?

4. Explain which points you (do not) agree with, and why.

5. Explain all additional insights and information that you gained during class discussions and have helped you to better interpret the assigned reading.




You are encouraged to write on issues from a Caribbean perspective; they may also be ethical questions. For instance, you could take as your central question:

  • Would it be ethically right to perform an abortion in rape cases in St Martin? (do not forget to define "rape"). 
  • Is it always wrong for a mother to tell a lie to her out-of-wedlock daughter who wants to know who her biological father is? (do not forget to define "lie") 
  • Does "bling bling" give more meaning or more value to life? (what is "bling bling"? What is meaning and what is value? Does life have a meaning? Can we give meaning to life? Can we increase the value of our life? Value in whose eyes? What determines the meaning of life? Is meaning of life the same as its value?...)
  • What are the philosophical presupposition of speaking about "bad and good hair" among the Black, Creole and Dogla population? (how can you judge hair? Is good/bad hair something that "exists" in itself or a value judgment? What are the criteria for this evaluation of the qualities of hair?...)

Let me tell you once again:

You will have to find one or two writings (it could be two "solid and thought-out" interviews you have conducted) on the issue, analyze them as indicated above, compare and contrast them, and finally make your own suggestions.

What I am interested in is to see whether you can actually ask a philosophical question and answer it philosophically, with well-construed arguments and not just "off the top of your head." It is not important that I actually agree with your opinions: I am interested in the process, in whether and how you can think philosophically (i.e. taking nothing for granted and plucking as many feathers as you can, so to speak, out of the body of what people say or what people take for granted).


To think about       

"Any society that values creativity also needs to enable criticism. If we cannot question the way we are doing things and thinking about things at present, it will not occur to us that they could be thought of or done differently. (...) So philosophy is important partly because cultural criticism is so important."

CHRISTENSON, Tom (2001). Wonder and Critical Reflection. An invitation to Philosophy, p. 37. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.


This page was updated on Nov 21, 2006
at 10.00 PM St Martin Time (-4 UT)