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Term Paper Topics For Philosophy

List of Topic Ideas for the Psychology Research Paper

Psychology is a very vast subject and can be defined as the study of the human mind or mental health. With the changing times, many students are now looking at psychology as a serious career option. Submission of a research paper is part of the curriculum for psychology students in most of the universities. It becomes important to choose a right topic for the research paper in order to make the paper look effective. Psychology being a very broad topic, you may have to check which sub topic within psychology interests you the most and then explore and research more on that topic, before you start writing the research paper. Below are few research paper topics that you might find interesting to work upon:

Effects of advertisements on children

Children of this generation are exposed to many advertisements at much early ages and this has several effects on them. Advertisements influence young children to a large extent and have both positive and negative effects on them. Statistics reveal that an average child usually is exposed to nearly 40,000 advertisements in a year and the advertising industry spends a huge amount of money on the advertisements that are targeted to children. Advantages with children being exposed to advertisements include, awareness and knowledge about latest technologies and innovations, healthy food and diet options to choose from, inculcating few good habits shown in the advertisements etc. However, there are more disadvantages and negative effects of advertisements on children: Children become more impulsive to buy the flashy products shown in the advertisements; Children also tend to imitate or perform the stunts shown in the advertisements, their eating habits change and inclination towards junk food increases affecting their health, Children might sometimes misinterpret the information that is being conveyed in the advertisements etc. You can write about many other effects of advertisements on children by providing few examples and also statistical data and related facts.

Psychological factors that cause depression

There are many factors and reasons that cause depression. Though it is very difficult to ascertain the exact cause of depression in an individual, we can try to understand the factors or reasons possibly causing the depression and further help the individual to overcome the depression. There are many psychological factors that often cause depression such as thinking patterns, bereavement or loss, sense of failure, and stress. One of the common thinking patterns that cause depression is to think that others are talking and thinking bad about you and get helpless and depressed. Many people also think that they are responsible for anything bad that is happening with them or around them; this kind of thinking pattern also leads to depression. In the event of separation or bereavement of their loved ones, many people get into depression. Loss of support, loss of job, loss of huge savings, also disturbs people pushing them into depression. Ambitious individuals sometimes cannot bear failure and often get depressed if they fail or sense any failure in terms of achieving their goals. You can write about how a stressful event in life depresses and affects the mindset or thinking ability of the person. You can also talk about useful techniques to overcome depression.

Role of social environment in personality development

Factors associated with social environment have a very significant role in the personality development of an individual from a very early stage. It has been studied and proved that children try to imitate their parents to a large extent and get influenced by the factors surrounding them. Individuals will have a large influence of the factors at home, which include the practices of the family at home, culture followed, habits encouraged by parents etc. Similarly, there are many other social factors at school and the society that influence and affect the personality development of an individual. You can discuss about factors like, behavior of teachers, manners of classmates, traditions and norms of the society, religious customs and practices that affect the personality development of an individual. You can also talk about how an individual after certain age or time can explore on the possibility to work on the personality development without much influence of the social factors. You can include some real life examples explaining how social factors affect the decisions of individuals and thereby affect their personality.

Symptoms and causes of stress

Stress is a topic that most of us talk about quite often. Stress can be any feeling of pressure, tension or strain. People get stressed out while they deal with situations that are challenging or demanding. Stress affects us emotionally and physically. While there could be many reasons causing stress, each person responds differently to stress. Most common symptoms of stress are, frequent headaches, sweating, increased heart rate, trembling or shaking, feeling irritated or anxious, back pains etc. Similarly, there are many factors which cause stress to an individual like, a new born in the family, loss of job, additional responsibilities at work, financial problems, conflicts with family members or friends, under pressure to perform etc. Based upon the environmental conditions there can be several other factors that can cause stress. There can be no stress-free life, and all of us have to deal with stress at one or other point in time. Sometimes positive stress is required to accomplish new goals and achieve better results. We have to be able to cope with the stressful situations in order to reduce the effects of stress on us. You can write about the other factors and symptoms of stress and how it affects the mental health of a person. Or, you can further narrow down the topic by choosing to discuss on a particular type of stress like, acute stress, chronic stress, work related stress etc. You can also discuss stress reduction techniques that are effective.

Those with questioning minds take philosophy courses because they want to learn about the problems that people have pondered throughout time. Others take philosophy courses because it's required as part of the curriculum. Both are valid reasons. Either way, you'll likely be required to complete a research paper during the course, and it's crucial to pick a topic that interests you. Below you will find some ideas that should serve to get you thinking philosophically.

Show that something exists beyond the realm of ideas.

Most philosophers agree that thinking actually occurs, but beyond thinking about an object, how do we know that something really exists? What properties must it exhibit to be real? For this topic, you should consider epistemology, the nature of knowledge and the relationship between what is real and how we think about it. When we claim to know something, how do we know that we know it? Who judges that knowledge? Consider also the relationship of language and knowledge. Using language in our internal thoughts results in our being able to determine an idea as being either true or false. You should investigate and present your findings while keeping issues like reliability, extent, kinds, and sources of knowledge in mind.

What is the best way to live? Is there an answer to this question? Can we prove it?

This topic is a concern of ethics, or moral philosophy. Consider the nature of our thoughts, especially our perception of words like "good" or "bad." Can one person's definition of such words differ significantly from that of another person, and how do we know who is right? Such thinking is in the realm of meta-ethics. Normative ethics is another consideration, dealing with how we "should" act if we want to be good. Of course, you should go beyond the realm of theory and try to give real-world, concrete examples. You'll also want to consider how we evaluate the morality of our actions; that is, we can judge them by their consequences in terms of how they affect people. More specific questions related to this topic might include the following: If a person lived outside of society, is there such a thing as being immoral? What if there were no civil laws? Why should we care about being moral?

Argue that the state (or some other government agency) should or should not be responsible for determining the distribution of goods and services within a society.

For this topic, your research should delve into the realm of social and political philosophy; that is, the nature of individuals in relation to the state. Consider concepts like law and justice as well as citizens' rights. What makes a state a legitimate entity? And what is the justification of that government? Discussing political philosophy will cross into the realm of ethics, too; that is, both are involved with what is good. Who is best able to determine what is good for the individual and for society? You may investigate Plato's ideas about philosopher-kings being the best representatives. You might also study Aristotle's point of view that a person could not be complete or virtuous without serving civic duty. If humans are equal in terms of how nature made us, why should anyone consent to being ruled by a government entity?

Defend the position that God does, or does not, exist.

The philosophy of religion is one of the earliest disciplines, yet it still makes for a valid discussion, and it relates to various branches within philosophical thought. While theologians accept the existence of God as self-evident, as a philosopher, how can you propose a foundation proving the existence (or non-existence) of God? Consider the concept of a miracle. What makes a miracle? Consider the difference between those who believe in on God, versus those who are polytheistic. Is God dependent on the observer, and what is the relationship of faith to that belief? You may also discuss the problem of evil, and discuss whether or not you think evil could coexist with a god that is all-powerful. Try to present your findings in a logical way, avoiding subjectivity when possible. For example, you may present your argument is a similar way to Greek philosopher Epicurus: 1. If an all-powerful, perfectly good god exists, then evil does not. 2. There is evil in the world. 3. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

Prove that there is (or is not) free will, or that we consciously create our own values and meaning.

Consider what makes an individual - what the true essence of being human is? Is it determined by a particular set of experiences and subjective ideas? Or do things like labels, stereotypes, and other people's preconceived notions determine who we will ultimately become? Take under consideration the ideas of existentialist philosophers like Kierkegaard, Sartre and Nietzsche. For example, Kierkegaard was concerned with religious faith and the individual's subjective perception of that faith; that is, the way we view truth depends upon our own relationship with existence. On the other hand, is there such a thing as fate? Are certain things predetermined by the universe? Give examples of what you think are people "making" their own reality.

What is art? What constitutes art, and what is its function?

Since this topic deals with aesthetics, the philosophy of art, you'll need to discuss the sensory appeal of something considered to be beautiful, but go beyond that. Why do our opinions of what is beautiful differ from person to person? You might also consider how subjectivity relates to aesthetics. That is, how do our own personal experiences and point of view determine what we find aesthetically pleasing? What "standards" exist? That is, on an objective level, certain characteristics may be considered at least somewhat universally pleasing. You should also investigate the function of art. Art may serve as "art for the sake of art," or it may be to educate, or it may be to teach some moral belief or truth. Consider the emotions that art conjures up. Is an object only art if it is perceived that way by an observer?

Below are some more topics that you can check:

  • Short and long term memory
  • TV violence and its effects on children
  • Social networking
  • Music therapy and its effects
  • Multiple intelligences
  • Psychological effects of pain

Great Questions of Philosophy, Spring 2009, Sample Final Paper Topics

Papers are due on April 21, 4-7 pages double-spaced.

I'll be asking you to e-mail me the topic of your paper and your thesis statement by April 14. The topic of your paper is the general area or question you'll be exploring, while your thesis is the position you'll be arguing for in that area. I have some suggested topics and sample thesis statements below.

The final paper is a position paper, in which you give arguments for a position; it is not a research paper. If you want to bring in additional material from outside the class readings, you may do so, but only if it contributes to your argument. (However, you might want to check with me to see whether the material is appropriate.) You don't need to bring in additional material, and I don't want this paper to be an exercise in finding out and explaining what other people thought about the philosophers and topics we've studied. Instead, this is your chance to give your own arguments about the material we've studied.

I want you to give your opinion. However, you need to give reasons for your opinions, and your discussion should take, as its starting point, the arguments of the philosophers we've studied this semester. In addition, it should demonstrate an understanding of these arguments.

As always, you should explain things clearly enough that somebody not already familiar with the class material, like your ignorant but intelligent roommate, would understand what you're saying. Another good technique is to try to think of possible objections to what you're saying and to reply to those objections. What would Plato, or Epicurus, or Descartes say against you? Having an actual ignorant roommate (or a classmate) look over your paper to raise objections, and to spot obscure passages, can be very helpful.

I've also posted additional paper writing guidelines; please look them over.

Note: These are only suggestions for possible paper topics, to get you thinking, plus some of the questions it might be helpful to address during the course of your paper. However, these aren't binding; feel free to adapt these to your own needs.

  1. Morality and the Desire for Happiness. Kant would say that the actions of somebody who acts 'justly' because of a desire for happiness or pleasure have 'no moral worth.' In fact, even if that person acts justly because of a desire for the happiness of others, Kant would still say that person's actions have no moral worth. Why does he think this? How do you think Epicurus would respond to Kant? Evaluate what both Kant and Epicurus would say. With whom do you agree (if either), and why? What do you think is the proper place of desire in one's motivations to act morally? (For this question, you can bring in Mill if you wish.)
  2. The Nature of Mind. What sort of thing does Epicurus believe the mind is, and why? Evaluate his position. In formulating your answer, try to think of the strongest objection against the position that you'll be advocating, and respond to it.
  3. Material Goods and Happiness. Epicurus says that he can be as happy as Zeus if he has bread and water, and he thinks that the pursuit of luxury is incompatible with attaining happiness. Epicurus is down on 'materialism' (in the ethical, not the metaphysical sense). Why is that? Give his argument. Do you believe that the pursuit of material goods, wealth, etc., is an impediment to achieving happiness? Why or why not? If you disagree with Epicurus, make sure that you say why. What is the proper place of material goods (and the pursuit of material goods) in the happy life? Consider (and reply to) the strongest objections to your position that you can think of.
  4. The Possibility of Knowledge. Do Descartes' Dreaming Hypothesis and Evil Deceiver Hypothesis successfully show that it is impossible to know whether one has a body and whether the external world exists? If they do, can belief that there is an external world and that one has a body be justified? (Along these lines, you could explore the motivation for Descartes' program of radical doubt, and give an argument for whether his program is justified or not.) Along these lines, looking at what Hume has to say might be relevant.
  5. Epicurus' ethics. Look at some area of Epicurus' ethics in particular, and evaluate what he says. Some possible topics include:
    • Is one's own pleasure the only thing with intrinsic value to oneself? Evaluate Epicurus' arguments for this.
    • The nature of pleasure, and its connection with desire-satisfaction, according to Epicurus. Is he right? (tranquillity and lack of pain themselves being pleasures, the superiority of mental to bodily pleasures, the relationship between mental and bodily pleasures, etc.)
    • Epicurus' account of the value (instrumental) and necessity of the virtues for obtaining a pleasant life. Are all of the virtues really just forms of prudence? Are they necessary for achieving a pleasant life? If Epicurus were consistent, should he recommend a vicious/'bad' life?
    • Friendship. Does Epicurus correctly describe the necessity and nature of friendship? Is one truly a friend if one treats one's friends well for self-serving reasons? Etc.
    • Justice.
    • Death.
    • The gods. Is believing that there are no gods/no God that take an interest in our affairs, that human existence has no purpose beyond what we give it via our desires, and that we are result of 'blind' forces, really conducive to having a tranquil life, as Epicurus believes?
  6. Other possible topics: Is death an evil, and should it be feared? Does the evil in the world show that there is not an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God? What difference, if any, does God's existence make to ethics (you can relate this to divine command theory, the Euthyphro, Epicurus, and Kant...)? Are freedom and foreknowledge comaptible? Are free will and determinism compatible? Should one trust one's senses as a reliable source of information about the world? I haven't filled these out, but the questions above should give you some idea of how to approach these topics in a way that grapples sufficiently with the course material. If you'd like to write on something else that came up over the course of the semester, please be my guest! However, please also come and discuss your paper topic with me beforehand.
Some sample thesis statements:
  • Epicurus is wrong when he argues that there cannot be justice with regard to non-human animals. Certain ways of treating animals are unjust, even if we have no agreements with them.
  • If death is annihilation, then it can indeed be a great evil, because an early death can cause one to accomplish much less in life than one would have otherwise.
  • If one does the morally right thing only because doing so in is one's self-interest, then one's actions have no moral worth.
  • In his ethics, Epicurus cannot account for the way that we should treat our friends. True friends do not treat their friends well just because doing so helps them to get pleasure for themselves.
  • There is an immaterial soul, that exists separately from the body and survives its death.
  • The Divine Command Theory of Ethics is not refuted by the type of question that Socrates asks Euthyphro. Actions can be right or wrong becauseGod commands or prohibits them. In fact, without God's commands, there can be no basis for ethics.
  • The Free Will Defense does not succeed in showing that God's goodness can be reconciled with the evil in the world.

Return to the Great Questions of Philosophy page.

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