Essay 1

First Essay:
Argument Analysis Assignment

Please write a 1000-word essay on the topic below. Your essay should be double-spaced with 1″ margins.

Due Saturday, September 25 (any time): please submit as a Google Docs document and upload here.

Formatting instructions

Please include your full name in the title for your file, together with your section number – e.g., “Pat Smith Section 1”.

Quotations or other references to the text can be cited by putting the Stephanus number in parentheses into your text, like this: “Plato says that medicine is aimed at removing disease (477e).”


In the Gorgias, Plato has Socrates argue for the views that virtue consists in knowledge of what’s good for oneself and that no one does what’s bad for themselves willingly.  The second of these, at least, is a claim that many would find surprising, and hence it is important that Socrates does not merely state the claim, but argues for it.

Explain the argument for these two theses, identifying the starting points (premises) on which it is based and the line of reasoning leading from these to the conclusions. (Remember that this line of reasoning, during the Polus section of the Gorgias, begins with the distinction that Socrates draws at 466e-468e between “doing what you want” and “doing what you see fit to do”.)

Describe one way of objecting to this argument.  (This can be (a) an argument that the conclusion is false in its own right, (b) an argument that one of the premises is false, or (c) a demonstration that the conclusion does not follow from the premises.)


See the following pieces of advice in reading philosophical arguments and writing a philosophy essay: