Style and Layout General Guidelines for Writing a Philosophy Assignment The Elements of Making a Philosophical Argument 1. Use a standard typeface (e.g. Times New Roman or Garamond) 2. Use 12-point font size. 3. Use double spacing. 4. Use pagination (header or footer with name and page number). 5. If you submit an assignment as a hard copy, use a staple to bind the pages of your essay together. I will not accept an assignment that is not stapled. 6. DO NOT USE plastic covers or bindings. Language and Mechanics The most important thing about college writing is proofreading and revision!! It is a rational assumption that college students know how to read and write at the college level, therefore you should read and proofread your writing before you submit it. This means that there should be no grammatical, syntactic, spelling or punctuation errors. Writing assignments that contain five or more grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors will be given a failing grade. There should be no excessively long sentences and no undefined, vague or ambiguous terms. You should show that you understand the meanings of the words that youre using and how theyre used. Your writing should be almost entirely original. If you use them, quotations should support your claims and they should be kept to a minimum. Your thoughts should not support the quotations! The research and style of the essay should be scholarly and interesting. You should base your research on primary and secondary resources, not on Wikipedia. If you cite a resource, then the documentation should follow MLA or APA Guidelines. Logic – Organization The most important thing about writing philosophy assignments is logic and argumentation!! The basic claim of an assignment should be clearly stated in an introductory paragraph that should also briefly state the supporting reasons (evidence, explanations etc) for the thesis in a prcis. The introductory paragraph should briefly articulate the basic argument of the paper to the reader. The rest of the assignment should follow the plan outlined in the introductory paragraph. The reader should be able to recognize how each part fits logically into the whole plan and how it supports the papers thesis. Concision and Precision The essay should not be wordy; it should be tight and compact. Your sentence formulations should almost always be exact. Your writing should give the reader the impression that you have thought through every word of every sentence youve written, in multiple drafts. The essay should not include any unnecessary repetition. You should try to make your point(s) without having to repeat yourself unnecessarily. There should be almost no tangents or back-tracking. Ideally, the reader should be unable to misinterpret your meaning; your explanations and arguments should be coherent and move directly toward persuading the reader of the claim stated in your introductory paragraph. Clarity Your arguments should be written for a reader new to the topic; they should be clear and to the point that youre trying to argue. Your explanations or reasons supporting your arguments should be simple, clear, and thorough. Your arguments or explanations should strive to leave little room for questions. Your reasoning should be explicit; you should try to clearly explain your reasoning, or clearly relate the reasoning that youre trying to explain. The reader should not have to guess at the meaning of your terms nor should s/he have to make your thinking coherent. Explain, explain and explain. Almost every logical move in your essay should be introduced by a transition phrase or argument marker that tells the reader what move is being made within the plan described in the introductory paragraph. It should be clear what point is being made and why its being made so as to lead the reader directly to your conclusion.
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