Philosophical Inquiry: Research Paper

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Philosophical Inquiry: Research Paper

Philosophical Inquiry: Research Paper #1



You are being asked to write a non-argumentative research paper in which you present an issue in Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. You will select a specific issue and explain it in sufficient depth. You can point out problems related to the issue if they are apparent – and you should offer some thought or insight of your own about the issue – but you should not offer an argument for or against Descartes.


This is also a research paper, meaning you need to perform research and reference secondary sources. You are required to cite a minimum of 3 sources:


  1. The primary source (the Meditations)
  2. A secondary scholarly source (a journal article or book chapter about the Meditations)
  3. A secondary source (scholarly or non-scholarly)



There are many topics you can choose to address. I have provided some below, but think about the following two questions as well: what from the reading have you best understood and what have you found most interesting? If you find a topic that answers both of those questions, that could be a good thing to write on.


Cartesian skepticism/doubt; the cogito argument (i.e. the mind as a thinking thing), Cartesian dualism; one of Descartes’ arguments for God’s existence, argument for the body, argument for the external world; the essence-existence-perception methodology; the idea of the self, the idea of God, Descartes’ epistemology (i.e. clear and distinct knowledge), substance & properties, the idea of the wax, the rationalism vs. empiricism debate …



The paper must be 1400-1700 words (roughly 4-6 pages). You should use Times New Roman or Arial 12 point font and 1” margins. Make sure you include the course, professor name, date, your name, paper title, and word count; page numbers are helpful but not required. Double-spaced and double-sided printing are recommended but not required. Do make sure you staple your paper.


Sources must be cited in accordance with MLA and a Works Cited page is required. And remember, it is imperative that you cite your sources properly: improper source citation can constitute plagiarism.




  1. Content: 10 points (Is all included content relevant? Is all relevant content included?)
  2. Accuracy: 10 points (Is the summary accurate?)
  3. Insight: 10 points (To what extent is the student’s voice – in part via the thought/insight – present?)
  4. Sources: 10 points (Are the source requirements fulfilled? How well are the sources used?)
  5.  Mechanics: 10 points (Formatting, organization, grammar, spelling)
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