Directed Studies: Philosophy
Please write a double-spaced, 4-6 page paper on one of the following topics. The paper is due in your instructor’s mailbox (in 108 Connecticut Hall) by 11am on Friday, February 25.
(1) In the Monadology, section 81, Leibniz says that, according to his system of pre-established harmony, “bodies act as if there were no souls (though this is impossible); and souls act as if there were no bodies; and both act as if each influenced the other.” Explain the meaning of each part of this claim and give Leibniz’s reasons for it.
(2) Leibniz holds that there are other possible worlds that God might have created instead of this one. But what features of Leibniz’s system might be thought to commit him to the view that, on the contrary, this world is the only possible world? How does Leibniz try to avoid this commitment? Does he succeed?
(3) Explain and evaluate one of Berkeley’s arguments for his version of idealism. How does Berkeley attempt to employ idealism in order to avoid skepticism? Is this attempt successful?
(4) Does Berkeley deny the existence of bodies? Does Berkeley try to reconcile his views with common sense? How far does he succeed?
(5) Betty has in the past found Vegemite, a well-known Australian food, to be quite disgusting. Betty now attends a dinner party at which the eccentric Australian host is serving a main course that consists solely of Vegemite sandwiches. Not wishing to offend her host, Betty resolves to at least taste one of the sandwiches. Betty, of course, believes that the sandwich will taste horrible. Another dinner guest, who knows of Betty’s hatred of Vegemite and who happens to have read Hume’s Enquiry, whispers to Betty, “You know, Betty, you have no reason to believe that the sandwich will taste horrible.” Does this guest agree with Hume? What reasons does Hume give the guest for saying such a thing? Are these reasons good ones?
(6) “The rock caused the window to break.” With regard to two of the following three philosophers, Leibniz, Berkeley and Hume, explain whether the above claim can ever be true. Do the two philosophers you chose have good reasons for their views on this matter?