Term Paper Assignment
Select an argument that we have either discussed in class or covered in the reading
assignments. In the first section of the paper you will present the argument. This
includes a statement of the conclusion (what is the philosopher trying to prove), an
explanation of the reasons supporting this conclusion (why should we believe this
conclusion), and why this point is important. You will then offer your analysis,
pointing out some part, either an assumption, implication, or other aspect, that you
think is overlooked and yet is important. Finally, make your argument based upon
the analysis you have provided (If X is the case, then the theory is incorrect because
Y. As shown above, X is the case. Therefore, the theory is incorrect.) Do not merely
rehearse arguments found either in the readings or your notes from class. This
argument should be original, and developed from your analysis. It is permissible
to build upon criticism offered by others, however you will have to make sure you
emphasis what is your contribution as opposed to someone else’s.
• I suggest you select an argument that you find interesting, but it does not have to
reflect your personal position on the topic.
• You do not need to defend or criticize a philosopher’s entire theory.
• This is not meant to be a research paper. Do not go to the library to read up on
your topic. Your text should contain enough material. You may wish to do a
small amount of additional reading, but again this is not a research paper.
• You need to show me two things: you understand the argument you are
presenting and that you have some reasons why I should believe your position
• Build upon the methods we have been developing in class through the writing
assignments: Describe the lay of the land: identify philosophical assumptions,
clearly explain the issue, and make a philosophical argument.
• A good format to follow includes an introduction telling the reader what you
are going to discuss, the presentation of the argument, your argument about that
argument, and some conclusion to tie it all together.
• Do not spend pages discussing all the other theories surrounding your topic, or
providing biographical information about a philosopher. If your paper seems
short, perhaps you have not described it as completely as you ought to, or perhaps
you selected a topic upon which you don’t have anything to say. If this is the
case, change your topic.
Grading will primarily be based on the following considerations:
• Accurate presentation of the argument you are discussing 10 pts
• A reasoned argument of your own including a clear 10 pts
conclusion and relevant reasons supporting it (typically supported in the analysis).
Points may be lost for grammar, spelling, or format errors. Format includes 1
inch margins all around, 12 point font, and no spaces between paragraphs. This
paper is expected to be 5-7 pages long.