Please write a 2 page paper on ONE of the following topics. Make sure to write at least TWO FULL double-space pages (not 1.5 pages). Do not use large headings to fill space. It is okay if you exceed 2 pages (do not write more than 3 pages). Make sure to engage with the texts, and use at least one direct quotation from the philosopher(s) who is the focus of the assignment. See syllabus for additional specifications. Due Tuesday, 12/8 by 5 pm.
1. William James is responding to Evidentialists who say that you should only believe something when the evidence points to it. James argues that under certain conditions, it makes sense to form a belief when evidence is inconclusive. What sort of beliefs is he talking about where we should formulate a belief despite an absence of evidence? Discuss a very specific example of a belief that James thinks that it is reasonable to formulate despite the absence of evidence. Why does he say that we should form a belief in that case, contra the evidentialist?
2. Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil.” Use Arendt’s interview with Joachim Fest. What does this phrase mean? Discuss what banal means, and give characteristics of Eichmann and what he did that made his evil banal in Arendt’s sense. What is a misunderstanding of this phrase that Arendt seeks to correct? In your conclusion, discuss the relevance of this phrase today.
3. We have covered several methods of inquiry. Discuss one of the methods from this unit (Pragmatism and social critique) and compare it to one of the methods of inquiry from a previous unit. What has changed between these methods of inquiry, and what does that say about the perspective of the thinker in question? Use a direct quotation from two figures that represent their methodology. This topic is a bit open-ended, so feel free to send me a thesis statement to make sure that you are on the right track.
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