Philosophy Paper – Rene Descartes

Length: 500-700 words. Do not exceed 700 words.

The skeptic about the external world claims that you cannot know anything about the external world on the basis of perception. Present the argument for skepticism about the external world that you find most compelling. You may base your discussion upon the dreaming argument, the evil demon scenario, the Matrix movies, or any other relevant skeptical scenario.

Some points to keep in mind:

(1) Be sure to present the argument in your own words. Do not attempt to summarize material from lecture or from the course readings. Do not, under any circumstances, consult other philosophical sources beyond the course readings (including internet resources).

(2) Do not assume that the reader already understands your argument for skepticism. You should try to present the argument from scratch, taking as little for granted as possible. Even if you ultimately conclude that the argument is not convincing, you should try to depict it as convincingly as possible. Think of yourself as explaining the rationale for skepticism to a friend who is completely unfamiliar with any philosophical concepts.

(3) Stay focused on providing a single cohesive argument for skepticism. Do not clutter the exposition with irrelevant asides (such as historical information about Descartes, general remarks about the nature of philosophy, etc.).

(4) In general, the most important qualities in a good philosophy paper are clarity andrigor. You must demonstrate that you have understood the philosophical doctrines that you discuss; you must manifest an ability to explain those doctrines lucidly; and you must support your claims with careful and cogent arguments.

*please do not use any external resources*

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