SHORT PAPER ASSIGNMENT
As Paul Collins, the author of the reading for this assignment, notes in his opening, the years just either side of the start of twentieth century were good years for radiation. Scientists seemed to be discovering new forms of radiation wherever they turned: X-rays, alpha rays, beta rays, radio waves, gamma rays; there was one startling electro-magnetic discovery after another. But our interest in this paper assignment deals with Professor René Blondlot’s announcement of N-rays in 1903.
The goal of this assignment is to have you demonstrate that you have learned how to collect, sort, and assess available evidence to determine what it is rational for you to believe. Recall the important Rational Belief Principle introduced in class:
If the balance of a person’s total evidence concerning a statement, P, supports P, then it is rational for that person, S, to believe P. If the balance of S’s total evidence goes against P, then it is rational for S to disbelieve P. And, if the balance of S’s total evidence is neutral, then it is rational for S to suspend judgment on P.
For this paper assignment, let the statement P be as follows:
“N-rays exist as a form of electro-magnetic radiation.”
Let person S be an informed member of the scientific community in 1903, one of those who follows with interest all the information and activity surrounding the fevered discussion and investigation of electro-magnetic radiation at the turn of the last century. In a short three-page paper, put yourself in the place of one of these members of the scientific community at the time of Blondlot’s revelations concerning N-rays in 1903, and ask yourself this question:
“Given the evidence I have right now, is it rational for me to believe that N-rays exist as another distinct form of electro-magnetic radiation?”
To answer this question, you must work with only that evidence presented in the assigned reading from Paul Collins’ text. You may draw on any of the evidence presented by Collins, whether as testimonial or empirical evidence, or evidence of further rational analysis (i.e., evidence of reason as you think about the evidence presented in Collins’ chapter). You should be guided in your management and assessment of the evidence by the work we have done over the past weeks in our INT 284 seminar meetings, including attention to how we might fall into error without recognizing that fact (epistemic anosognosia), how we might scrupulously question ourselves to avoid such errors (the Sokratic elenchus), and how we might appeal to and carefully evaluate testimonial and other types of evidence.
Type of service: Academic paper writing
Type of assignment: Essay
Number of sources: 5
Academic level: Undergraduate
Paper format: MLA
Line spacing: Double
Language style: US English