In this 2-3 page, 12 point font, double spaced final essay, I want you to compare two arguments from Hume’s Dialogues. Demea, Cleanthes, and Philo constantly disagree with each other whenever one of them takes a stance. Engage with one of these disagreements. Make sure you engage with arguments that are in conflict with one another, and touching on the same topic (e.g., the nature of the deity, intelligent design, the problem of evil, etc.). I want you to present both arguments, in the fairest, most charitable, and most reasonable way you can. Then take a stance. Explain to me why you prefer one position to another, or why you think they’re both wrong, or why they’re both right, etc. Please note, take whatever side you think you can argue the best, and do not worry at all about what side you think your Professor prefers.

The introduction, thesis, and road map, should all appear in the first paragraph. Your introduction should introduce the problem, e.g., the anthropomorphic problem, the problem of evil, the problem of design, etc. Next, you need to provide a thesis that lets me know where you stand regarding the problem. For example (I’m going to use non-Humean examples): “I am going to argue that Jane’s argument regarding abortion is superior to John’s because Jane’s argument preserves the right to life”; or “I am going to argue that John’s argument regarding abortion is superior to Janes’s because Jane’s argument is logically inconsistent unlike John’s”. All thesis statements have the general format: “I am going to argue X, because Y”. X = the stance you’re taking, and Y = why you’re taking that stance. (Please note that your last paragraph, which corresponds the “YOUR OWN ANALYSIS” rubric above, is the point where you argue for Y). After your thesis, in the same opening paragraph, you should write your road map. A road map is like a table of contents in a book. It allows the reader to know the order and narrative of the forthcoming essay. So, here’s an example of a thesis, followed by a roadmap:

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“I am going to argue that Jane’s view regarding abortion is superior to John’s because Jane’s argument preserves the right to life. In order to justify my claim, I’m first going to discuss John’s views regarding abortion, as presented in his essay On Abortion. Next, I’m going to discuss Jane’s views on abortion, as presented in her book Abortion Stuff. Then I will defend why Jane’s view is superior to John’s view, due to Jane’s cogent argument in favor of the right to life”

From here, you should go on to write two, and no more than four, summary paragraphs, explaining the views of “Jane” and “John”. Or in your case, the views of Cleanthes, Demea, or Philo. You’ll really only need to pick 2 of the 3 dialoguers.

Summaries which present the argument will earn full points. Summaries which just state the authors’ position will earn less points. Here’s what I mean, summarzing Singer’s ‘Famine’ essay.

“In this essay Singer argues that our response to third world famine and poverty is unjustified. In order to defend this claim, Singer first points out that suffering to death, when preventable is bad. This is a premise nearly everyone accepts. Next, he points out that we are obligated to do good up until the point we would suffer an equal or greater harm; this too is a premise everyone accepts. If suffering to death when preventable is bad, and I’m obligated to help up until the point I suffer an equal or greater harm, than it follows that much of my frivolous spending on throw-away items would be better spent assisting those in the third world, since the harm I would suffer from spending my money on those suffering, instead of own my own momentary satisfaction, is substantially less than the harm I would prevent, and so according to both premises I’m obligated to help.”


“Singer thinks we ought to give more to charity. He thinks suffering to death is bad. He also thinks people ought to do good things. Bad things that harm us too much shouldn’t be done. Giving to charity helps a lot of people, and spending money on myself does not. Singer prefers charity to mindless spending”.

The second summary does not present Singer’s argument, it is not a rational account of Singer’s views. Instead it’s a list of true claims about Singer beliefs, without explaining why he believes these things, or how these beliefs interact.

The final part of the essay is your own analysis. It’s here that you’ll take a side defending your thesis claim, and showing which of the two positions you prefer, or why the two positions are both wrong, or maybe why they’re both right (e.g., they’re talking past each other). As long as you attempt to provide your own argument – again, not a list of beliefs, but an actual chain of reasoning – you’ll earn ample points. Again, don’t worry about what argument you think I prefer, just make the best argument you can.

A conclusion paragraph is not required, especially if you’re at the page count. However, if you feel inclined to write one, and you should if you’re not at the page count, it’s basically your intro paragraph in the past tense. E.g., “In this essay I summarized the views of John and Jane, and then I argued why abortion is…” etc.

As far as citations go, we all read the same text, so I honestly don’t care what format or method you use, just make sure to cite whenever you’re using the text directly. A format like this is fine, (Hume, Part I). Or even (Part I). As long as I can find whatever you’re referring to, don’t spend too much time worrying about citations.

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