Essay topics typically for students enrolled in IAS121 (but students from LWA133 can choose one of these topics):
1.Is critical thinking helpful to develop a successful professional career?
2.Should critical thinking guide our decisions and actions during a pandemic?
3.Should one use critical thinking skills when communicating with a lover?
4.Does critical thinking help people experience more happiness during major crises, such as personal breakdowns or disasters (for example, pandemics and wars)?
5.Are there artists – including literary authors and filmmakers – who have systematically nurtured a concern with truth and truth telling in their creative practice?
6.Choose and perform a particular action that you consider to be of great ethical value because it provides support to a vulnerable person or a vulnerable community. Once this ethical action of yours is in progress or completed, respond to this question: is (or was) your action ethically justified? Make sure that your argument in support of the action includes a description of the action itself and is followed by the rebuttal of an objection to the action performed.
7.Is moral relativism coherent?
8.Can abortion be justified?
9.Does one need to deploy critical thinking skills for adequately responding to a work of art?
10.Is it defensible to use fallacious arguments – that is, either formal fallacies or informal fallacies – in art criticism?
11.Is violence typically motivated by moral views such as codes of honour—a view defended by Alan P. Fiske and Tage S. Rai in Virtuous Violence (2015)?
12.Does the representation of violence in the media cause an increase in violent behaviour?
13.Does political liberalism conflict with the rights of cultural minorities and Indigenous people?
14.In his book The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous (2020), the social scientist Joseph Henrich argues that populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) have a different psychology from other human populations. Unlike much of the world today and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, guilt-ridden and analytical in their thinking style. They focus on themselves – their attributes, accomplishments and aspirations – rather than on compulsory norms and relationships derived from kinship systems. When reasoning, WEIRD people tend to look for abstract categories and simplify complex phenomena by breaking them down into discrete elements. Is it true, as argued by Henrich, that the psychology of WEIRD people fundamentally differs from the psychology of other human populations?
15.Are critical thinking and cogent rational arguments the best tools to persuade a loved one to leave a destructive authoritarian cult?