How do arguments from Descartes (in the Discourse of Method) raise the spectre of ra

Discourse discourse on method by rene descartes

.Answer the question: How do arguments from Descartes raise the spectre of radical skepticism? Is such skepticism ultimately plausible?

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Compose a proper philosophical essay on it, of approximately 1000 words, with an introduction, arguments, potential rebuttals, etc. (See the Grading Rubric for more. Another great resource may be found here:


In answering the question, you should draw on the texts we’ve read, your own thinking, tutorial discussions, and in-class lectures. You may also pursue additional research, but that isn’t required; and it shouldn’t be the main focus. (If you do the latter, be sure to give credit to your sources. Any standard method of citation is fine.)


The essay will have (at least) two theses. There will be an exegetical one, about how to interpret Descartes. Then there will be substantive one, about the plausibility of the view at issue. It would say something like: “Speaking now for myself, I do/do not find it plausible that…”



Submit, along with the paper, a carefully structured outline of the essay. It will be the roadmap for your paper. Include as much detail as you find helpful. The outline should not consist merely of a list of paragraphs, with a few sentences describing what each will contain. Instead, it should be arranged thematically, e.g., along the lines of:


I. Introduction

II. Interpretive Thesis

A. Thesis statement

B. Defense of this interpretation

C. Replies to potential objections

III. Substantive Thesis

A. Thesis statement

B. Defense of thesis

C. Replies to potential objections

IV. Conclusion


The above is merely an example of the structure of an outline. Yours will include much more detail and be specific to your selected topic. (For the purposes of this essay, you may need to forget what you learned in high school about outlines!)


Additional tips for success:

· Answer the question asked, not some other one in the general neighborhood. Stay on topic.

· Be sure to state both the interpretive and the substantive theses clearly, and to provide clearly relevant defenses of each.

· Include, where appropriate, quotations from the texts; and explicate them.

· Engage charitably with at least one potential objection. Beware of constructing a “straw man”.

· Avoid rhetoric in favour of clear argument, even if the result sounds boring.

· Chose your words carefully. Be concise. If you are unsure about what exactly a “fancy-sounding” word means, either look it up or omit it. Precise and exact wording is far more important than sophisticated-seeming style.

· Proof read carefully.

· Non-native speakers are encouraged to have their grammar and spelling corrected by peers.

· Consult the Grading Rubric before submitting your paper, to make sure you have “checked off all the boxes”.

· Take an extended break (e.g., an entire day) between your last draft and actual submission of the paper. That will give you a clear mind and a refreshed pair of eyes with which to finalize your essay.

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