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Unformatted text preview: W RITING A P HILOSOPHY P APER S TEP O NE : I DENTIFY THE THESIS The first step in writing your paper is to identify your thesis. Your thesis is the point you are trying to prove. Suppose, for instance, that the assignment is this: In three to six pages answer these questions: Are we morally responsible for our actions? Why or why not? There are two possible theses you could defend: We are morally responsible for our actions , or We are not morally responsible for our actions . You have to decide which thesis to defend, and must then present an argument defending it. The paper’s thesis should be stated in the first paragraph of the paper. Hence, you could begin the paper as follows (the thesis statement appears in italics): We are not morally responsible for our actions . The reason, I shall argue, is that moral responsibility requires free will or choice, the ability to bring about one possible state of affairs among many. But choice, it seems, does not exist. The reason is that… You would then present the rest of the argument. Likewise, suppose the assignment is this: Explain the problem of free will and determinism? Is the argument sound? Why or why not? Again, there are only two possible theses you could defend: The problem of free will and determinism is a sound argument , or The problem of free will and determinism is not a sound argument . You could then begin as follows (again, the thesis appears in italics): The problem of free will and determinism is an argument that claims to show we are not morally responsible for our actions. I will argue that it is not sound . The reason is that one of its premises is false, in particular, the claim that determinism and moral responsibility are incompatible. You would then proceed to present the argument. Likewise, suppose the assignment is this: In five to eight pages answer the following questions: Is substance dualism true? Why or why not? There are only two possible theses: Substance dualism is true or Substance dualism is not true . Your task is to decide which thesis to defend, and to present an argument on behalf of it as follows (the thesis is in italics): Substance Dualism is the claim that persons are distinct from bodies. I will argue that substance dualism is not true because it cannot explain mental-physical interaction. You would then proceed to present the argument. In short, the entire paper is an argument: the thesis is the conclusion of that argument. S TEP T WO : S TATE THE ARGUMENT As soon as you have identified your thesis, you need to decide how to argue for it; that is, you need to decide why you think the thesis is true , and present those reasons to the reader. An argument is a series of statements that are supposed to prove a point. The point they are supposed to be prove is called the conclusion , and the statements that are supposed to prove the conclusion are called premises . In other words, the premises provide reasons for thinking that the point is true. The following, for instance, is an argument: ....
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- Fall '07
- Philosophy, Meaning of life, William Jaworski