Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to Philosophy

Writing Assignment 3

You should consider the following question as a point of departure. The assignment is intentionally broad; in order to be successful you will have to develop your own focus and argument. You are encouraged to think about the issues raised in class and your own reading, and develop a coherent, well-argued paper.

Discuss how an political issue is related to an ethical issue.

or

What does the existence of evil tell us about the nature of God?

Your paper should be three to five pages long, typed, and double-spaced. I will grade it based on demonstration of understanding of course material, logic and persuasiveness of the argument, insight, and originality. I will penalize papers for poor or careless grammar and spelling. You must include at least two assigned readings in your discussion.

Grading guide

The following criteria will be used to evaluate your paper. The purpose here is to give students a guide regarding their evaluation. Students should not focus on one criteria to the exclusion of the others. Good papers will show satisfactory levels in all five areas of evaluation. Neglect none of them.

1.    Clear statement of argument or hypothesis (25%): The foundation of any paper is its argument. This argument is expressed in a thesis statement. While this rubric considers the argument worth 25 percent of your grade, in reality, the entire paper depends on strong thesis statement—your scores in the other areas will suffer if you lack this basic component. The thesis statement in a shorter essay should almost never be more than one sentence. Even longer essays and books often express the argument in a sentence or two. For our purposes, the statement should usually come in the introduction to your paper. The purpose of the introduction is to set up the argument, provide context for it. However, it is possible that you will only be able to articulate your argument after you have done a considerable amount of work on the rest of the paper.

2.    Organization (25%): Use of paragraphs is critical to writing well. Each paragraph should express one idea. All the paragraphs of a paper should be arranged in a logical fashion. The relevance of the paragraph and every word it contains to the argument should be evident to any careful reader.

3.    Content (25%): Your paper must reflect engagement with course material, including reading assignments and class discussion. The use of quotations, for instance, is required for many assignments. The ideas you express, thorough coverage of your topic, and knowledge of the subject are all important elements of content.

4.    Mechanics (15%): While we cannot all write masterful prose, there is no excuse for sloppiness and poor editing. Readers are unlikely to take anything you say seriously if it contains spelling and grammatical errors. Use punctuation properly—the basic rules are simple and there is no reason for not knowing them.

5.    Style (10%): Good papers are not always the most fun to read, but one should endeavor to write as well as possible. The main objective here should be clarity. Use clear, declarative sentences. Let nouns and verbs do the work of a sentence, do not use long Latinate words when a short Anglo-Saxon one will do as well. For most undergraduate writers, a thesaurus is useless. However, a good dictionary is indispensable.

Other Requirements

1.    Use a standard method of citation consistently. Cite all works consulted, including Internet and other electronic sources. Papers not properly cited will receive an automatic 0. Be cautious with your use of Internet resources, as anyone can put anything on the web—there is no quality control. Review the definition of plagiarism, which includes representing someone else’s ideas, as well his or her words, as your own. If I believe you have committed a violation of academic integrity, I will spare no effort in seeing justice is done. I believe cheating is worse than stealing.

2.    Use a standard font size and margins. Do not add an extra space between paragraphs. Staple your paper in the upper-left hand corner. Make sure that your staple is not protruding in way that the professor may injure himself, as a bleeding professor is a cranky professor. Paper clips, plastic binders, or other methods of binding your paper are unacceptable.

3.    Your paper needs a focused hypothesis. Do not make the instructor guess what you are arguing. Do not have texts support ideas they do not support. Phrases such as “I will argue…” are acceptable. Of course, the remainder of your paper should provide evidence and reasons supporting your argument. The conclusion should tie up the paper—it is not a good place to introduce new ideas. Often, in the process of writing the paper, we learn things, or have new ideas. This is a good thing—the purpose of the assignment. However, if the best idea in the paper comes at the end, it is an indication that you should re-write the paper, and put the good idea in the beginning of the paper.

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