Philosophy – Political Thought

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Answer ONE of the following questions in an 8-page essay (double-spaced, normal font). Please make sure that your paper has a clear thesis and close textual analysis. Remember, a good essay is not a summary of the text, but an argument about it. You will be judged on the strength of your argument, the clarity of your writing, and your fidelity to the text(s). Essays that do not cite the text(s) will not pass. You do not need to use any secondary literature to answer these questions. (But if you do use secondary interpretations, cite properly and consult multiple sources.) You may cite using Chicago or MLA citation style—simply be consistent and give all the necessary bibliographical information. Make sure that you cite the proper page numbers. Failure to cite properly will be considered an academic offense. Can Kant’s categorical imperative provide guidance in real-world moral decisions? In Utilitarianism, Mill criticizes Kant’s categorical imperative. Is Mill correct? Why or why not? (This could be a paper on Kant, in which Mill’s criticism is assessed, or it could be a paper on Mill, in which Mill is assessed according to Kantian criteria.) How similar are Wollstonecraft’s and Kant’s views of moral progress? Would Kant approve of Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman? (Alternately, you may write a paper on the question of whether Wollstonecraft would approve of Kant’s moral and political thought.) Gandhi was critical of capitalism—what would Marx have thought of Gandhi’s response to capitalist exploitation? (Alternately, what would a Gandhian response to Marx entail?) How important are Wollstonecraft’s theological views to her argument? Compare two of the thinkers studied this term on the ideal of independence. Nietzsche clearly disapproves of the categorical imperative. On what grounds does he object to Kant (and Enlightenment rationalism more generally), and is his argument convincing? Compare two thinkers studied this term on the relationship between theory and practice. Mill’s utilitarianism appears to be precisely the sort of moral theory Nietzsche thought risible. Is there anything in Mill a good Nietzschean could admire? Choose one or more of these texts (depending on the question chosen) that MUST be used in the essay: Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, tr. J. Ellington (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993). Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 1996). Karl Marx, Selected Writings, ed. Lawrence H. Simon (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994). John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Other Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals tr. Douglas Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

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