2014-15 PLATO ESSAY CONTEST
Announcement: We have our winners for the 2014/15 essay contest. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated!
Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, MA
“Aristotle’s Theory of Friendship Tested”
Academy of Notre Dame du Namur
“In the Place Beyond Utility and Pleasure”
Radnor High School
“So Tyler, Did Jamie Cheat?”
The PLATO High School Essay Contest awards will be given to the best philosophical essays written by high school students, in response to the year’s contest essay question.
First place – $250
Second place – $150
Third place – $100
All winning essays will be published in PLATO’s journal Questions: Philosophy for Young People.
Eligibility: All high school students in the U.S. are eligible to enter.
Entries – including a one-paragraph bio and a cover sheet with your name, contact information (phone and email), grade and school (none of this information should appear on the essay itself) – should be emailed to: email@example.com
2,000 words maximum
The papers will be read and judged by a panel of high school philosophy teachers and philosophy professors.
Deadline: January 31, 2015
Is friendship a more important value than honesty? To respond to the question, consider this scenario: two high school students, Jamie and Tyler, who have been close friends since elementary school, have been brought before the school disciplinary committee because Jamie cheated on a term paper and Tyler had known about it. Jamie lies to the committee, stating emphatically that he did not cheat on the term paper. Should Tyler lie also or tell the committee the truth?
Directions: Write an essay that provides a reasoned, well-supported argument in response to this ethical dilemma.
Your paper should advance arguments to help support your own conclusion about the dilemma. The best essays will not simply summarize arguments put forth by others or make assertions, but will make claims using evidence and advance your own reasoning.
You may want to reference outside sources – this is optional, not mandatory. Here, for example, is an excerpt about friendship from Book viii of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics:
The kinds of friendship may perhaps be cleared up if we first come to know the object of love. For not everything seems to be loved but only the lovable, and this is good, pleasant, or useful; but it would seem to be that by which some good or pleasure is produced that is useful, so that it is the good and the useful that are lovable as ends. Do men love, then, the good, or what is good for them? These sometimes clash. So too with regard to the pleasant. Now it is thought that each loves what is good for himself, and that the good is without qualification lovable, and what is good for each man is lovable for him; but each man loves not what is good for him but what seems good. This however will make no difference; we shall just have to say that this is ‘that which seems lovable’. Now there are three grounds on which people love; of the love of lifeless objects we do not use the word ‘friendship’; for it is not mutual love, nor is there a wishing of good to the other (for it would surely be ridiculous to wish wine well; if one wishes anything for it, it is that it may keep, so that one may have it oneself); but to a friend we say we ought to wish what is good for his sake. But to those who thus wish good we ascribe only goodwill, if the wish is not reciprocated; goodwill when it is reciprocal being friendship. Or must we add ‘when it is recognized’? For many people have goodwill to those whom they have not seen but judge to be good or useful; and one of these might return this feeling. These people seem to bear goodwill to each other; but how could one call them friends when they do not know their mutual feelings? To be friends, then, they must be mutually recognized as bearing goodwill and wishing well to each other for one of the aforesaid reasons.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book viii, 2
Here are two other friendly edited collections of philosophers on friendship that may prove helpful:
- Pakaluk, Michael (ed.). Other Selves:Philosophers on Friendship. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1991.
- Badhwar, Neera Kapur (ed.). Friendship: A Philosophical Reader. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993.
If you use outside references, list them at the end of the essay using the citation style above (MLA style). For notes within the essay, use author’s name and page, e.g. (Kant, p. 222).
Please do not use Wikipedia or other dictionary definitions of friendship in your essay. The most reputable online philosophy resource is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, particularly, in this case, an article by Bennett Helm: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/friendship/
To download this information as a PDF please follow this link: 2014/15 PLATO Essay Contest
For more information or questions about the PLATO High School Essay Contest, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org