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Explain relevant course terms and key concepts and/or author’s arguments, using both the author’s work(s) and your own words to demonstrate you understand the material.


Description from our syllabus:

Students will be provided with essay topics relating to course materials for their essays, of which they choose one topic to write on. Essays will be 5 pages long, approximately 1250 words in length. They should include a clear thesis statement, a philosophical argument that supports the thesis, and should demonstrate substantial understanding of relevant course materials. They should be double spaced, follow formal structure, and include proper citations and bibliography. These will be graded using a rubric, which will be provided to students ahead of the assignment deadline.

Purpose of the mid-term essay assignment:

  • To develop the author’s argumentative abilities and critical thinking abilities in response to some of the topics we’ve examined in our course.
  • To develop the author’s communication and writing skills.
  • To assess the author’s understanding of course material.

Instructions and Expectations:

  • Students must write on ONE of the topics listed below.
  • This is an argumentative philosophical essay (not a research essay).
    • It should include an argument that supports the author’s thesis. This include premises or logical steps that lead to a conclusion and ultimately support the thesis.
    • Students should include relevant explanation of course content, define and explain key concepts, and summarize arguments of others who they may be agreeing or disagreeing with.
  • To have a clear introduction paragraph where the author explains: the topic of the essay, their thesis, and summarizes their argument.
    • It should be clear what essay topic you have chosen to write on.
    • Thesis statements should clearly indicate the author’s position in relation to the essay topic. Thesis statements can use the first person ‘I’ to clarify their views, i.e., “I will argue that…”.
    • The author might include “roadmaps” in their introductions that summarizes to the body of the paper and the argument, including its steps/premises, I.e., “I argue that… In this essay, I will first describe X. Second, I discuss Y. Third, I discuss Z.”
  • Students are expected to engage with relevant course material when making their arguments. You do not necessarily have to agree with the authors we’ve read, but you do have to engage with them by explaining, charitably, their arguments.
    • Explain relevant course terms and key concepts and/or author’s arguments, using both the author’s work(s) and your own words to demonstrate you understand the material.
    • You can agree or disagree with authors you are engaging with, but you must explain their arguments clearly and charitably and give reasons for why you are agreeing/disagreeing with them.
    • This is not a research paper—you do not have to include extra research or outside articles. If you want to include outside material, it must be made clear in the paper how it is relevant to the topic and how it supports your thesis/argument. It should be explained in detail and should be properly cited.
  • The body of the essay should be the student’s argument. Paragraphs should have singular topics and it should be explained how each paragraph related to the author’s thesis, i.e., it should it explained how each premise supports the thesis.
  • The conclusion should summarize how the argument supports the author’s thesis. No new ideas should be introduced in the conclusion.


  1. Do you agree or disagree with Aristotle that what he calls “friendships of pleasure” and “friendships of utility” are deficient forms of friendship? Why? Compare and contrast to friendships of virtue.
  2. Can we have virtuous friendships online or social media? Do you agree or disagree with McFall’s arguments on this? Why?
  3. Do you think that a conception of sisterhood could be categorized as an Aristotelian friendship of virtue? Why or why not? Draw on bell hooks’ distinction between two kinds of solidarity and sisterhood to clarify.
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