- Requirements Structure
The paper must have the following four parts, and each part must comply with a specific word limit:
- No more than 50 words.
- Around 550 words. Summarize philosopher S’s argument for the claim that P (the target argument). Use textual evidence when appropriate (but see below regarding the use of quo- tation). You may include materials relevant to the target argument (for example, the consequence of accepting or rejecting it), as long as these materials help your reader better understand the target argument and are confined to that role—the focus should always be on the target argument itself.
- Argument and reply/replies. Around 1100 words. In this part you should, first, present ONE argument of your own which either (1) shows that the target argument is unsound or not cogent, or (2) reinforces the target argument. Then, anticipate ONE or TWO objections to the argument you just presented, and reply to each objection with further argument(s). In no event should you simply repeat the target argument. That does not qualify as “reinforcing” the target argument. All of the followings are good ways to reinforce the target argument:
- – presenting a novel argument for a controversial premise in the target argument;
- – pointing out a weakness in the target argument (e.g., that it is invalid in a subtle way), and presenting a modified version which fixes the problem;
- – addressing an objection to the target argument which the original author (philosopher S) does not address, or does not address adequately. A reply to an objection should be developed as an argument in its own right, with clearly stated, well-defended premises. As a rule of thumb, if a reply is shorter than 200 words, then either it has not been developed properly as it should, or you have chosen too easy an objection to reply to.
- Conclusion. No more than 100 words.
- Other requirements
- For each of the four parts you should clearly mark its beginning and include a word count.
- The entire paper should not exceed 1900 words. 1800 is about right. Anything below 1600 is likely to be unacceptable. The word limit on each part will be strictly enforced, in this way: I will ignore the portion that goes beyond the limit, and grade the paper as if it didn’t exist. (Thus, if the introduction is more than 50 words, I will read the first 50 and move on to the next part.)
- Footnotes are allowed and are not included in the word count. But you should only use them (if at all) for providing citations and quotations. The main text should be readable without reading any footnote. No quotation Except for one case (specified in the next paragraph), direct quotation is prohibited in the body of the text. Whenever you are stating someone else’s view, you must paraphrase. You can put quotations in the footnotes when appropriate (e.g., if you think the accuracy of your paraphrase may be in doubt, and you want to use the original text to back it up) but the main text should be quotation-free. The only situation where direct quotation is permitted (and often necessary) is when you want to discuss a crucial term or phrase used by a philosopher. For example, you may write It is not clear what Cohen means by “caused in the appropriate way” . . . [You then go on to discuss several possibilities, and each of them affects Cohen’t argument.] But in cases like this you should not be quoting more than a few words. Due date, format, draft The paper is due at 11:59 PM, December 10 (Thursday). Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .rtf. No .pdf or sharing through Google Doc. It’s best to avoid .pages, too. You can send drafts to me for comments. I will usually respond the same day or at least the next day. Better do it early, to allow me time for a thoughtful response and to allow yourself time for revision.
Late papers are penalized by one sub-grade per day. An A- paper becomes B+ if it’s late by one day; becomes B if late by two days, and so on, until it fails.
“No access to the Internet” is not an acceptable excuse. Do it early when you have access.
If a paper is late because of an email system failure, I regard it as excusable, rare as it may be. But in order not to be penalized you must provide me with the delivery failure notice generated by your email system.
Extensions are normally not granted, but an exception may be made for an emergency.
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