- Determine a reasonable “pro” and “con” position for each issue.
- State the pro position in the form of a thesis statement.
- To the best of your ability, develop an argument for the pro position. Note that you personally may disagree with this position; the challenge is to find the best argument possible here.
- Consider at least two possible objections to the pro argument, or a possible counterargument to the pro position. Thus you will be coming up with either a refutation argument, in which you show that there is a flaw in the original argument (false premise(s), failure of premises to support conclusion, etc.) or a counterargument, in which you come up with a new argument that defend a claim that is counter to the conclusion of the original argument.
- Respond to each objection or counterargument in reasserting the pro position.
- Re-state the pro thesis in an expanded form (i.e., in a way that takes account of what has just been argued and considered).
- Now state the con position in the form of a thesis statement.
- To the best of your ability, develop an argument for the con position. Regardless of where you stand personally on the issue, you should be able to present arguments for both sides.
- Consider at least two possible objections to the con argument, or a possible counterargument to the con position.
- Respond to each objection or counterargument in reasserting the con position.
- Re-state the con thesis in an expanded form (i.e., in a way that takes account of what has just been argued and considered).
- Finally, critically analyze and evaluate the arguments for both sides of the issue and determine which side has the better argument and say why. If you think both sides have equally good arguments or equally bad arguments, explain why.
In each issue treatment, you should make at least two references to readings from the text and cite at least two additional outside sources, for a total of at least six references from the course text and at least six outside sources (they may be in electronic or printed format). So, your works cited or references page should have, in addition to the Wolff text, About Philosophy, at least seven different entries (you just need one listing of Wolff on the works cited or references page, but be sure to cite quotes or paraphrases from Wolff at each occurrence in the text of the paper). There is no upper limit on the number of sources you may cite. Please note that Wikipedia will not be accepted as one of these sources. Be sure to follow proper documentation format using MLA, APA, or Chicago style. Remember also that you must cite your sources within the text as well as on a works-cited or references page. Only sources that you actually cite within the paper should appear on the list of sources or references.
Ideally, a formal paper or set of argumentative essays like this should be in the third-person voice [“one, he, her, it, they”] (and never in the second-person voice [“you”]). However, you may use the first-person voice [“I, we”] if what you want to say demands it; for example,
you may want to bring in personal experience as part of your evidence or commentary. But overall, try to maintain a third-person voice.
This assignment is laid out so as to help you understand the particular structure of a philosophy paper. You will be following the structure of an argumentative essay; remember that this is not a report that simply presents information on a topic, nor is it a narrative essay. What you are doing when you write a philosophy paper is, primarily, asserting a claim (which typically states your own position) on an issue or topic, showing why you think the claim is true, and defending this claim against possible opposition. Therefore, each of the three issue treatments for this assignment should have all of the following elements:
- THESIS (this is an original statement that is specific, significant, and presents a clear position on the issue or topic at hand.)
- ANALYSIS and EXPLANATION of the THESIS SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS (This is the “meat” of the paper.)
- OBJECTIONS to the THESIS (This is a good place to use your source material. You may even come up with your own objections.)
- RESPONSE/REPLIES to the OBJECTIONS (Never leave an objection or opposing argument unanswered.)
- SUMMATIVE CRITICAL ANALYSIS and EVALUATION.
There is much more information on all of this in the document “How to Write a Philosophy Paper” located in the Final Paper unit and also in the Appendix of the course text (see below*). Please consult theRUBRIC FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS for the grading criteria that will be used to assign grades to written work in the course. You should also consult the RUBRIC FOR CRITIQUES AND PHILOSOPHY RESEARCH PAPERS for more detailed criteria.As noted above, your essay should make reference to at least six sources outside the course textbook; the sources may be in electronic or printed form. You might search for information that supports the pro and con positions in philosophical articles or books (or writing in other related fields). There are also many websites that publish online articles that would be acceptable. You may want to find a source that helps you explain or illustrate something you refer to (such as a particular religion or cultural practice); you should also look for the opinions of experts on the issues in question. Please note that Websites likeWikipedia or other Web pages such as those containing online encyclopedias or general reference sites are not acceptable sources for fulfilling this requirement. You may, of course, use and cite such general Websites as references, but you must have at least six outside sources that are legitimate published articles or books.*Please note that the course text has an excellent section in the Appendix on how to write a philosophy paper. Each part of the paper (see the bullet points above) is described and explained. The author has also provided a sample student paper that was submitted in a course just like this one: Wolff presents the paper, which has a host of problems but also some interesting ideas, just as it was submitted, then he goes through and shows how the first attempt could be reconstructed into a much better philosophy paper. Even if you feel confident about your writing abilities, it would be well worth your time to review this material (starting on p. 345 of About Philosophy, 11th ed.).There is a research paper, due no later than the final day of the course, which is worth 20 points, or 20% of your course grade. You are asked to write a 1500-2500-word essay in which you choose three issues from a list of ten central philosophical questions. You will be providing arguments on both sides of each of these three issues, then critiquing each of the arguments. Each issue treatment should be at least 500 words, for a total of at least 1500 words. All of the details are fully laid out in the “Three Issues Considered” content item under the Final Paper tab. Your grade will be determined on the basis of the relevance and persuasiveness of each of the six arguments (two for each issue: a “pro” and a “con” side of the debate) as well as the originality and insight of your thinking in crafting the arguments and evaluating them.In each issue treatment, you should make at least two references to readings from the text and cite at least two additional outside sources, for a total of six references from the course text and six outside sources (they may be in electronic or printed format). Please note that Wikipedia will not be accepted as one of these sources. Use proper MLA, Chicago, or APA style and documentation guidelines; choose whichever style you know best. Remember that any words, phrases, or passages that are directl
y copied from another author or source must be in quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing the words, ideas, or arguments of author authors, you do not need quotation marks, but you must still cite the author or source in the body of the text. Simply including a citation at the end of a long passage or at the end of the paper is not sufficient. Please note: Failure to cite sources constitutes plagiarism, the consequences of which are serious. If in doubt, cite!