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.
You will be constructing these three sections for each of the three issues you have selected. Each three-section issue treatment (pro argument/con argument/critical analysis & evaluation) should be a minimum of around 500 words, for a word-count minimum of 1500 words for the entire assignment. You may exceed the minimum by up to 1000 words, for a word-count maximum of 2500 words.
In each issue treatment, you should cite at least two outside sources and have at least two citations from material in the course text, for a total of at least six internal citations from the course text and at least six internal citations from outside sources (they may be in electronic or printed format). The number of sources listed in your works cited will vary, depending on which material from the course text you use (read below). In your works cited or list of references, list each different author/source you cite in alphabetical order. Note that in addition to Wolff’s commentary, our course text includes excerpts from original works of various authors (mostly from the philosophers we are studying) as well as short articles by various authors in the “Contemporary Application” sections at the end of each chapter. So for your internal citations from the course text, if you are using material from Wolff’s commentary, you will cite Wolff as the author. If you are using material from one of the original excerpts, for example, from Hume, then you will cite Hume in the internal citation in the following way: “That idea of red, which we form in the dark, and that impression, which strikes our eyes in sunshine, differ only in degree, not in nature” (Hume, qtd. in Wolff 63). If you are citing an author of one of the Contemporary Application articles, just cite that author in the internal citation and include the author as a separate listing in your works cited. Let’s say you included the following quote from Richard Feigen’s article, appended to Chapter 7, “The Art Factory and the Death of the Connoisseur.” Your internal citation should appear as follows: “Once we accept that the artist’s hand is no longer necessary, only his idea, it’s a short leap to market the concept that beauty is not only no longer essential, it can even be turned into a dirty, ‘elitist’ word” (Feigen 299). And then,in your works cited, include the author in a separate listing as follows: Feigen, Richard. “The Art Factory and the Death of the Connoisseur.” About Philosophy. 11th ed. Robert Paul Wolff. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. 2012. 299. You should list the Wolff text in the works cited only once for all other uses of that text. So, there will be at least twelve internal citations, but the number of sources listed in your works cited will vary depending on how you use the course text. 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 to cite all of your sources within the text as well listing them in your works cited or references page, whether you mention them in your text or include their names in parenthetical citations. Only sources that you actually cite within the paper should appear on the list of sources or references. Don’t include other sources that you read or consulted in preparation for writing the paper unless you actually used them in the paper.
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 the RUBRIC 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 like Wikipedia 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.).
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