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- Second Paper Assignment.
- Due via upload on ICON site for your discussion question
- Friday, November 17, 11:59pm
- Write a paper on abortion
- Your paper must engage with at least one of the assigned readings. You could focus on a particular argument that Thomson, Warren, or Marquis give, and defend it or criticize it. You can discuss more than one philosopher (e.g., raise an objection from Warren or Foot against Thomson), but remember that you should have a thesis of your own and your discussion should go beyond reviewing or explaining what others have said or argued.
- Your paper should be no longer than 700 words! That is not a lot of room -- many of you will end up writing more than that as a first draft, and then have to edit it down, cutting out what is unnecessary, being succinct and clear, making choices about what claims, examples, objections, etc., to focus on. Do not try to tackle too much, e.g., discussing multiple arguments in the article(s) you pick – you don’t have the space to do that. Focus on a particular, interesting, central argument. More detailed guidelines are provided below. (These are just the same guidelines from before.)
- FURTHER GUIDELINES
- • You must have a thesis and argue for it. The thesis you will end up defending should be made clear early in the paper, in the introductory paragraph. “I will discuss Singer’s argument” is not a thesis statement. “I will argue with Singer that we have demanding duties towards victims of famine,” or “I will show that Singer’s central argument is flawed” is a thesis statement.
- • Depending on your thesis, you may have to carefully explain the relevant background before giving your own argument. For example, if you are criticizing Singer’s argument, you should explain it carefully first.
- • Arguing for your thesis requires giving reasons that together support your thesis. You will have to use your own judgment in determining which of your premises require more clarification or support than others.
- • You must consider at least one objection to your argument for your thesis, and respond to it. Note: an objection to your argument should target the argument, showing, e.g., that one of the premises or reasons given is false, or that the conclusion of the argument does not follow from these premises or reasons) and not directly target the conclusion.
- o Consider a strongest objection to your argument or position that you can come up with. It’s better to have one interesting, difficult objection, explain it carefully, and respond to it, than to consider briefly a number of different objections (which you don’t have space to do anyway). Be as explicit as you can about what part of your argument (what premise or step in reasoning) the objection attacks.
- o In your response, be careful not to just repeat your argument for your thesis. Address the objection itself; make clear why, initial appearances to the contrary, the objection is mistaken, confused, turns on misunderstanding the original argument, or can be avoided by an appropriate or reasonable qualification or amendment in your argument.
- • Last but not least, keep in mind that a large part of the evaluation depends on the clarity of your writing. It may help to assume that you are trying to write a paper that a high school student with no background in philosophy can understand. Because philosophical ideas are inherently abstract and at least somewhat vague, the most essential virtue of good philosophical writing is clarity, at several different levels:
- o Clarity of large-scale organization or structure: It should be clear to the reader what position or thesis you are defending, and how all the paragraphs hang together and contribute to your overall goal. Transitions in the dialectical structure of the paper should be obvious (e.g., from presenting someone’s argument to criticizing it, to considering an objection to your criticism, to responding to it). See the related outline template on the next page.
- o Clarity of paragraph structure: Each paragraph should be centered around one main theme, task, or point. It should be clear what the main point of each paragraph is, and how its sentences contribute to that paragraph’s main point.
- o Clarity of sentence structure: Make sure your sentences are grammatical, and that your use of punctuation is apt.
- o Clarity with respect to choice of words and phrases: Write so as not to be misunderstood. Avoid words and phrases that are vague, ambiguous, or say something other than what you are trying to say. Make sure to clearly define any technical philosophical vocabulary to the reader (don’t just assume they know what you mean by “negative right,” “prima facie duty,” “supererogatory,” etc.).
- o The best way to avoid a lot of these problems in clarity is to make sure you give yourself time to edit your work. It also might help to read your draft out loud; that can help you catch mistakes and awkward phrases that you might otherwise miss. Having someone else read your paper can also help to spot typos and awkward language.
- You will be evaluated on the basis of:
- 1. Clarity of your explanation of the topic, and of your thesis.
- 2. The strength of your argument for your thesis.
- 3. Your consideration of an objection, and response to it.
- 4. The general clarity of the paper structure and writing.
- 5. Originality.
- You may find it useful to fill in the following outline template of the “dialectical” or argumentative structure of your paper.
- My thesis is:
- The main premises of my argument for my thesis (reasons in support of my thesis) are:
- The central objection I will consider to my argument is:
- This objection attacks which part, or step in reasoning, in my argument?
- My response to the objection is:
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