Four 4 page papers will be due over the course of the quarter. You may choose which readings you want to write on but you must write one paper between each of the following dates Sep 17-Oct 1; Oct 3- Oct 22; Oct 24- Nov 5; Nov 7-Nov 19. The paper on a specific set of readings is due at the beginning of the class for which the reading is scheduled. The due dates on the syllabus calendar are the last day you can write a paper on a given set of readings
Papers are to be written double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 with 1-inch margins on each side. They should be a full four pages long…not three pages and a few lines on the top of the fourth. Indeed, length is not an indicator of quality, but some length is often needed to fully develop ideas.
Use your own wording as much as possible. Page numbers must be provided for key points from the readings and for quoted and paraphrased material. You may place numbers at the end of sentences like this (author, page #).
Papers should be structured with:
1) The first half of the paper providing a summary of the reading
A summary provides an overview of the key points. You cannot mention everything the author says within the space you have been provided…don’t try. Provide only the central points of the reading/readings
Summaries, like outlines, should be objective. Make no references to yourself. In a summary your opinion doesn’t matter; later, when you analyze and evaluate an argument, you can state your opinion and support it.
A summary is not an abridged copy of the reading…a summary provides some structure for the reader (ex. The author has three main points; the reading provides various interpretations on the notion of justice)
2) The second half providing analysis of the reading.
This will most likely be an exploration of the key points that you have already mentioned. This can take a variety of forms. You can explain a flaw in the author’s logic. You can apply these key points to a case/situation from another class. Or, you can argue (with support) why you think the authors point is helpful or inadequate.
Writing a philosophy paper involves more than simply stating your opinions. You must support your views by presenting arguments in favor of them. You should also try to defend your views against potential criticisms. In developing your position on an issue, keep in mind what an intelligent opponent would say in response.
3) Finally, two or three discussion questions should complete the paper.
There should be three questions that would lead the class in a good discussion surrounding a key theme from the readings. Yes and no questions are not adequate. It should also be clear how the question relates to the text.
If you email me papers at least 48 hours before they are due, then I will give you constructive feedback on the paper without grading it.
Late papers will be lowered by one full grade (ex. B- becomes a C-).
Some additional notes on writing papers
1) In most cases you should summarize an author’s argument in the present tense. For example: She describes human nature as greedy. NOT: The author described the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.
2) Do not start paragraphs with quotes. This allows the quote to direct the paragraph instead of allowing you to direct the paragraph. Also, do not use a quote without setting up the quote or explaining the quote afterwards.
3) Pay attention to the topic sentence of your paragraph. Please keep the sentences that