Assignment 1 — Socrates

Introductory Unit Essay:
Argument Analysis Assignment

Please write a 1000-word essay on the topic below. Your essay should be double-spaced with 1″ margins.

Due Saturday, September 19 (any time): please upload here.

Formatting instructions:

Please include your last name in the file title – e.g., “Smith LAGL Paper 1”.  (It may make sense for the files on your computer to have names like “Philosophy paper 1”, but if we get 50-some papers with that title, it’s hard to sort out whose is whose!)

Quotations or other references to the text can be cited by putting the Stephanus number in parentheses into your text, like this: “Plato says that medicine is aimed at removing disease (477e).”

Special Instructions by Section/Instructor:

Section 1 (Horst): Please do not submit in PDF format. (It is difficult to make comments, and they are more difficult to read than Word or Pages.)

Section 2 (Irani): Please submit as a Google Docs document.

Section 3 (Angle): Please submit as a Google Docs document.

Section 4 (Horst): Please do not submit in PDF format. (It is difficult to make comments, and they are more difficult to read than Word or Pages.)

Topic:

In the Gorgias, Plato has Socrates argue for the views that virtue consists in knowledge of the good and that no one does evil willingly.  The second of these, at least, is a claim that many would find surprising, and hence it is important that Socrates does not merely state the claim, but argues for it.  Explain the argument for these two theses, identifying the starting points (premises) on which it is based and the line of reasoning leading from these to the conclusions.  (Remember that this line of reasoning, in the Polus section of the dialogue, begins with the distinction between “doing what you want” and “doing what you see fit to do”.)  Describe one way of objecting to this argument.  (This can be (a) an argument that the conclusion is false in its own right, (b) an argument that one of the premises is false, or (c) a demonstration that the conclusion does not follow from the premises.)

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