Human Nature: Good or Evil? – Essay Assignment



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Name: _____________________________ European History

Mrs. Wood


Human Nature: Good or Evil? – Essay Assignment
As individuals we have choices about what direction our lives take us. Ultimately, what we choose is our decision: however, are our decisions influenced by what we are deep inside? Is there a common human nature in all of us: if so, is that nature good or evil?
Throughout history philosophers, great thinkers, and “every day” people have discussed human tendencies. From the early dynasties of the Chinese to the Enlightenment thinkers of eighteenth century Europe, this topic has been hotly debated. For this assignment, we focus in particular on the Enlightenment thinkers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, who proposed different opinions regarding human nature. Hobbes believed that humans were naturally selfish, greedy, and cruel, while Locke contended that people were naturally reasonable and moral.

Now it is your turn. You are to decide whether you agree with Hobbes or Locke. Do you believe people to be naturally good or naturally bad, and why? Write a 1-2 page paper that discusses this question and supports your ideas by citing the ideas presented by Hobbes or Locke. You may also discuss other thinkers and events throughout history as well as personal experiences to strengthen your argument. Formulate a thesis that states your beliefs and support your thesis with at least three paragraphs, each arguing a different point. State your thesis in your introductory paragraph and underline it. Questions to consider are listed below:


Focus Question: Are humans naturally good or evil?
Supplemental Questions: You must answer the focus question above. You do not have to answer all questions listed below, but they should help when writing the paper if you need prompting.


  1. Are people naturally cruel, greedy, and selfish or are people basically reasonable and moral? Explain.

  2. If there are not established laws, would people fight, rob, and attack one another without constraint or a guilty conscience?

  3. Do people know “right” from “wrong”? Explain.

  4. Do people generally live in fear? Provide examples.

  5. Are people in constant battle with others, that is, man v. man? Or, do people generally wish to cooperate with one another - that is, man with man?

  6. Do people consider the ramifications of their actions and how those actions will affect others? Why or why not?

  7. What would life and human relations be like in the absence of government?

  8. What view is more realistic? (Hobbes v. Locke, Good v. Evil, Selfish v. Kind)


Human Nature Essay Rubric

Mrs. Wood
Student: ___________________________________
Grading: This will be worth one test grade and will be graded on a 100 point scale.

  • 30 Points: Focus Question answered with at least three supporting ideas and paragraphs

  • 10 Points: Supplement Question #1 answered with justification

  • 10 Points: Thesis statement evident

  • 10 Points: Introductory Paragraph

  • 10 Points: Conclusion Paragraph

  • 10 Points: Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

  • 10 Points: Organized and Logical

  • 10 Points: Minimum Page Number Met

____ / 30 Points: Focus Question answered with at least three supporting ideas and paragraphs

____ / 10 Points: Supplement Question #1 answered with justification

____ / 10 Points: Thesis statement evident

____ / 10 Points: Introductory Paragraph

____ / 10 Points: Conclusion Paragraph

____ / 10 Points: Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

____ / 10 Points: Organized and Logical



____ / 10 Points: Minimum Page Number Met

____ / 100 Points Total


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