The Precipice

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Writing About the Precipice

Background reading for this paper should include:

  • From Capra’s The Web of Life: Chapter 1 and the Epilogue (at the end of the e-text)
  • From Ord’s The Precipice: Part One — The Stake, Chapters 1-2

This will likely be a longer paper that paper one, however as I’ve said quality matters more than quantity. I anticipate you’d need roughly 2 paragraphs to answer each to the questions below and once you add in the introduction and the conclusion of the paper you’ll probably have written 8-9 paragraphs (4-5 pages double spaced) at a minimum.

In terms of planning the essay, I’d suggest taking each of the questions separately as you work towards building your answers and then find relevant support from the text. Examples from the text should support each claim that you make. The third question asks you to relate Capra to Ord, and this might necessitate taking material from The Web of Life as well, in which case you will likely need to make a formal works cited page. Remember, I would prefer you to stick with the primary sources The Precipice and The Web of Life. Any outside sources need to be documented.

The Prompt:

Construct and essay that answers the following questions central to the first part of Toby Ord’s book The Precipice:

    1. Ord begins his book by discussing “the stakes” as he views them. Considering his perspective, how is he asking us to view the possibility of humanity standing at the precipice of our existential demise?
    2. In order to demonstrate “the stakes” to readers, Ord spends time discussing existential risk. Why does Ord feel that understanding existential risk will help humanity back away from the precipice upon which we currently stand?
    3. How does Capra’s concept of the social paradigms of deep and shallow ecology relate to Ord’s concept of existential risk and standing at the precipice of existential catastrophe?


  • Address the questions fully; you must attempt to answer ALL three throughout your essay
  • Follow the MLA or APA style correctly
  • Adhere to grammatical conventions of standard written English
  • Submit by due date to be eligible for revision; no late papers will be revised
  • Outside, secondary sources will be allowed
  • The first essay asked for you to avoid argumentation or opinionating, there is room in this essay for you to branch out. Having said that, maintain balance and above all support claims and opinions with relevant facts and appropriate data from reliable sources.

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