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Phil. 114 Fall 2000 First Paper

Write a 4-6 page (typed, double-spaced) paper on one of the following topics.  Papers are due October 18, at the start of lecture.  Successful papers will clearly explain the issues involved and the key argumentative moves made in the readings and/or discussed in class and sections, and will also advance the discussion/argument in significant ways with new considerations or lines of argument of the student’s own.

1.  Explain the main line of argument that Edwards advances in Part II, section XII, of Freedom of Will. Explain the position Edwards there seeks to defend and the position he attacks, as well as reasoning that he utilizes.  Then critically assess Edwards’s argument.  What is the most threatening objection to Edwards’s argument and/or position?  (This can be an objection he considers, one discussed in class or section, or one you come up with.)  How might/does Edwards best try to answer the objection?  In the end, how do you think Edwards’s argument/position fares in relation to the objection?

2.  Explain and critically assess the position that we have been calling “Open Theism,” making sure to discuss both the most important advantages and the biggest disadvantages of the view.

3.  What form of the problem of evil is Plantinga trying to solve in sections 1-8 (pp. 83- 106) of “God, Evil, and the Metaphysics of Freedom”?  Explain the main line of argument that Plantinga there advances.  In the course of this explanation, briefly explain what “middle knowledge” is, what position on the issue of middle knowledge is assumed by Plantinga’s treatment of the problem of evil (does God have middle knowledge or not, according to Plantinga?), and how that position affects Plantinga’s Free Will Defense.  Then critically assess Plantinga’s defense.  What is the most threatening objection to Plantinga’s defense?  (This objection can be either to the effect that Plantinga doesn’t succeed at what he sets out to do, or that he doesn’t set out to do enough.)  In the end, does Plantinga’s defense succeed, or not?  Explain and defend your answer.

4.  How might a “Free Will Defense” be best employed to solve the problem of evil on the assumption that God does not have middle knowledge?  Critically assess that Defense in light of at least one the most threatening objections that it faces.  (The objection can be one discussed in the reading (perhaps by Lewis), in class or section, or can be of the student’s own devising.)

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