Reading for Thursday: De Botton Consolations 73-113.
Intro to Ethics
Writing Assignment 4
First Draft Due by Email: Sunday, March 22
Final Draft Due by Email: Monday, March 30
Target Length: 750 words
Option 1: Friendship -- Epicurus believes that friendship is very important for a happy life. His exact idea of a happy life isn’t totally clear; he emphases the absence of pain, long term contentment or satisfaction, and occasional bursts of good feeling. Lots of people like to have friends, but others are satisfied with cordial relations with people, neighborliness, that sort of thing. Do you think that close friendships, in general, make it more or less likely that one will live a happy life?
Whichever view you take on this question, start with the other one, in your essay. If you think that having close friendships will – in general -- make it more likely that a person will live a happy life, then start your paper this way: “Some people think that having close friendships makes it less likely that a person will live a happy life.” Then, give the best arguments you can think of for that that position – the one you don’t agree with. Then, answer those arguments, one at a time. When you have done all these things, then give your own arguments about why friendship makes a happy life more likely.
Note: you may need to make some distinctions among sorts of close friendships in the course of writing this paper.
Option 2 – Happiness
Epicurus thinks that philosophers can help people to be happy, that they can know more about a person’s happiness than can that person him or herself. Do you think that you are the ultimate expert on your own happiness, or that it is likely that somebody else knows more about your happiness than you do?
As in the first option, if you believe that you are the ultimate expert on your own happiness, begin your paper with the sentence, “Some people think that others can know more about their happiness than they do.” Then, give the best arguments you can for that position and answer those arguments, one at a time. Only after doing this, go on to give your own arguments that you are the ultimate expert on your own happiness.
Option 3 - Pursuit of Power and Fame
Epicurus believes that one cannot be happy if one spends one’s life pursuing power and fame (as for example in competitive business or competitive politics). Do you think that he is right: is competition for power and fame compatible with happiness?
As in options 1 and 2, if you think that you can be happy pursuing power and fame, begin your paper with the sentence “Some people think you cannot be happy pursuing power and fame.” Give the strongest arguments you can for that position, then answer them, one at a time. Only after doing this, go on to give your own arguments for your own position.