Sample questions for the writing sample:
1. Are there any conditions under which certain scientific or historical results should not be told to the public?
2. Are there metaphysically necessary connections between causes and their effects?
3. Can a person question whether the laws of reason are reasonable? (It would be good to apply your thinking on this issue to specific laws of reason.)
4. Can I know what it is like to be you?
5. Can something wholly occupy each of two locations?
6. Can two material things be at the same place at the same time?
7. Discuss the sentence, "poetry is more philosophical than history" (from Aristotle).
8. Discuss the statement, "relativism makes everything uncertain" (made by Cardinal Ratzinger, who is currently Pope).
9. For a feminist, or an advocate of homosexual rights, should it make a difference whether gender differences, or homosexuality, is natural or socially constructed?
10. Is an object (e.g. a beach ball or planet) anything over and above the properties that the object has? Critically discuss the pros and cons of both the 'yes' and 'no' answers, and defend one of them.
11. Is criminal justice possible in a just society?
12. It is said both that there may be life after death and that by definition death is the end of life. Try to resolve this apparent inconsistency.
13. It seems that -- other things being equal -- it is always better for there to be pleasure than for there to be pain. Two people torture two innocent victims. The first torturer gets pleasure out of it, but the second torturer is miserable. Is the first situation better than the second?
14. Philosophically evaluate the positions taken in the following dialogue.
A. To be free is to do what you desire to do. The more you satisfy your desires, the more free you are.
B. Wrong, my friend. Desires are what enslave us. To be free, you must get rid of your desires.
15. Sometimes I know what’s the best thing for me to do, and I still decide not to do it. How can this be explained?
16. Should all the people or the best educated (or some other elite) have the power to make a country’s laws? (It would be good to apply your thoughts about this question to your own country of origin.)
17. Suppose that (as a Nazi sympathizer) I sincerely accept the principle that certain groups of people should be killed. In a moment of pity, I protect one of these people and she does not die. I have knowingly and intentionally violated my own principles. Have I acted immorally?
18. What are some requirements for a view about the universe to be a scientific theory? Explain whether astrology meets these requirements.
19. What is the best way to tell if you really love someone? What is the best way to tell if someone really loves you?
20. What is the difference (if any) between (apparently) conceiving that something is impossible and not being able to conceive that something is possible? Does being unable to conceive of something's possibility give one evidence that it is in fact impossible? (For example, compare the possibility of a round square with the possibility that there are four spatial dimensions.)