Essay Topics for CPHL 550 – Knowledge, Truth and Belief
“Plan your work, work your plan”. – Vince Lombardi
Make sure to consult the Basic Style Guidelines Document and the Tips for Writing an Effective
CPHL550 Essay Document in order to confirm the details for each assignment (both the minor and the
major essay) especially with respect to the minimal length requirement. The Course Statement on
Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct is also required reading “before” starting any assignment in this
Since there is no final exam in this course, your essay assignments need to be treated with the same (if
not more) attention and effort that you would give to an ...view middle of the document...
you work to understand what an author is saying (or attempting to argue for) the better prepared you
are to explain this material to your reader (for their benefit).
A. For the minor essay, one of the following topics below must be chosen as the subject of your essay.
B. For the major essay, one of the topics below can be chosen provided that you have not written on
this subject for your minor essay, or you can choose your own topic provided that the following
conditions are satisfied:
1. You clear the topic with your instructor in advance (absolutely no later than 10 days before the major
essay assignment deadline) in writing and receive written approval (by email) for your chosen topic.
Appeals that begin with “I’ve already started researching/writing my essay” will not change my
evaluation of your topic proposal so “jumping the gun on this issue” comes with a risk.
2. The subject matter of your essay must be, to a reasonable extent, scholarly in nature,related to the
material covered in this course, and focused on a particular concept or idea covered in this course. If an
essay topic (or your essay question – see below) sounds too casual, chances are it is. For example, please
don’t ask me to approve an essay topic such as whether Spiderman’s “spidey sense” (a fictitious example
of precognitive awareness) qualifies as a form of knowledge.
3. Your topic proposal must be sufficiently detailed (see the essay questions below) in such a way as to
concisely indicate what the structure of your essay will look like. To be sure that your proposal
conveys this information, send me your own essay question (again, see the examples below) and I’ll
use this as my guide to evaluate your proposal.
4. If your proposed essay question is not topically relevant (see point 2 above), or sufficiently detailed
(see point 3 above), you may get a brief explanation from me suggesting what is at issue here or even a
quick suggestion on how your topic could be improved, but please don’t expect a detailed multi-page
response to this kind of inquiry. Better still, if you give your choice considerable thought in advance, this
is unlikely to become an issue.
5. If you have decided to pick one of the topics below for your major essay you do not have to get
this topic approved by me. The exception to this is if you decide to change or modify the examples
presented here; if this is the case, then your topic choice needs to be approved as if it were a new topic
choice (see above).
Note - Possible scenario: “I forgot to check my essay topic with my instructor and the deadline is a week
away – what do I do now?”
Answer: since you only need to send one proposal for your major essay (minor topics are assigned) and
since the deadline for this assignment is about 10 weeks away from the start of this course, this should be
an extremely rare occurrence, but if this is your predicament then you have two options, a risky option
and a safe...