Philosophy Question


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This assignment presents an issue that relates to the different concepts of free will you read about in Unit 3.

People encounter issues that relate to whether or not they are free on a daily basis, but one that can affect people’s lives dramatically is addiction. This assignment clarifies the importance of how we understand addiction and whether or not we can see addiction as a free will choice or as a predetermined condition, depending on how we use the different theories on free will from our readings.


Read this article from the Arizona Addiction Recovery Center of how addiction is described by psychologists.

Then write an essay that answers these questions:

  1. What would d’Holbach say about the passage above?
  2. How would a determinist address the issue of “changes in the brain”?
  3. What would a compatibilist or soft-determinist say about the work required in overcoming addiction:
    o Which philosopher would make a distinction between internal and external causes of addiction? (You might also think of this as “nature vs. nurture”)
    o Does having will power relate to free will? Do some people have a “character” or “will” that helps them overcome addiction while others do not?
  4. Can you relate the issue of free will to the earlier discussions of the self from Unit 2? Does the issue of addiction relate to the mind, or to the senses, or to memories? Be specific and provide reasons for your position.


  • The body of the essay must be a minimum of 5-6 pages in length
  • Use 1 inch margins
  • Use 12 point, Times New Roman font
  • Use double spacing throughout, except where style guides dictate single spacing on the Works Cited page
  • Use page numbers on all pages but for the cover sheet and start the page numbering on the first page of the main body of the paper.
  • Include a separate Title Page
  • Include a Works Cited Page
  • Properly use MLA in-text citations for paraphrasing and direct quoting (Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide)
  • Here is an example essay with MLA citations

Writing Tips

In Philosophy papers, it is very important to include a thesis statement in your first paragraph. A thesis is a statement of the view you will take on the paper topic. For example, do you believe that the d’Holbach view is correct, and becoming addicted is something that is predetermined? Or, do you believe that Richard Taylor is correct and we have total free will? Or is your view in the middle, agreeing with one of the compatibilists like Hospers or Stace?

Philosophy papers often use first person, with “I will argue that…” in the thesis statement. If you are concerned about using first person, use language like “One can conclude that…” or “We will prove that…”

In terms of sources for philosophy papers, you will notice that each unit in our course includes readings by the philosophers in their own words, as well as a set of links to online encyclopedias to help you study. In papers, it is always much better to cite the philosophers’ own words, not the encyclopedias written as guides. Cite the readings in the unit, try not to cite online encyclopedias.

If you are not sure how to cite the readings in the unit, most of the readings have full bibliographic information on the page that opens when you click on them. For example, at the top of the d’Holbach reading, you will see the following that has all the information you need for your citations:

Baron d’Holbach

Excerpts from D’Holbach’s “The System of Nature”, Volumn I of III, Chapter XI: Of the System of Man’s free agency. Released in 2013 in The Project Gutenberg. First published in French in 1770 under the pseudonym of Mirabaud. This e-book based on a facsimile reprint of an English translation originally published 1820-21. This e-text covers the first of the original two volumes. The full book can be downloaded from

John C. Bean, in his book Engaging Ideas (2011) cites three ways that students tend to avoid a thesis or write in spite of the ones they have developed. Take care not to commit any of the following mistakes in your writing of this paper.

  • “And Then” Writing – “And Then” writing is essentially chronological, narrating a person’s life or series of events. Students often do this when they are asked to analyze text(s). They, instead, just tell you what happened, event by event. Or, you might see this in a literature review in which a student just summarizes the articles in the order in which they are read.
  • “All About” Writing – “All About” writing strives to say EVERYTHING about a topic or issue. The paper may be somewhat organized because the student has addressed things topically but s/he has also failed to produce a thesis or position that guides the paper. The topics are, then, not reasons for the thesis. The structure is inappropriate and ineffective in a thesis-governed paper.
  • “Data Dump” Writing – “Data Dumps” on the other hand have no apparent structure. There is little transition or cohesion between the things that are stated and discussed. The student has no guiding thesis, no guiding idea, and so s/he goes to Google and grabs it all. These are often the most likely to be plagiarized because the student is just cutting and pasting from websites (and occasionally books or journals). It is incomprehensible and unoriginal.
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