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1 GUIDELINES FOR WRITING PAPERS IN PHILOSOPHY [Used in Tom Leddy's classes, SJSU. Spring 2001 version.] (Adapted from Morris Keeton and Earl Harrison, Antioch College, and Steve Voss, SJSU. Also thanks to Carolyn Black, SJSU for comments.) Note: Some papers and assignments may not call for using all of the following criteria. In such cases the applicable criteria should be followed. NO RULE OF WRITING IS ABSOLUTE. 1. FORM 1.1 Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and on only one side of the page. I will accept hand-written papers, but I strongly prefer typed ones. 1.2 Papers should not have covers. Simply staple them in the upper left-hand corner. 1.3 Format, footnoting, and bibliography should be in accord with some standard manual of style. See E. B. White, The Elements of Style or Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations . Robert Graves gives several good hints on writing style in A Reader Over Your Shoulder . For footnoting, see the separate sheet on footnoting in the course reader. In philosophy, footnotes generally appear on the last page and are sometimes called endnotes. A bibliography is not necessary if the material is already in footnotes. There are also books devoted specifically to writing philosophy papers: e.g. A. P. Martinich Philosophical Writing: An Introduction (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1989). All quotes must be footnoted. 1.3 Spelling and grammar should be correct. If you have a spell-check program, use it. But do not assume that it will catch all of your errors. Good proofreading is essential to good writing. Common spelling errors that cannot be captured by a spell-check include "can not" for "cannot" and "there" for "their." Beware of depending too much on your spellchecker. One student of mine recently wrote "disunion" for "decision," "out weight" for "outweigh," and "law suite" for "lawsuit": none
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of these errors could have been caught by a spellchecker. In addition, students who use spellchecker often forget to put in hyphens in hyphenated words, for example "long term" instead of "long-term." 1.3.1 You are not allowed to use sentence fragments. Although many journalists and novelists use sentence fragments, they are not acceptable in scholarly papers. Here are some examples of sentence fragments: "Also, that humans cannot possibly have free will in a civilized society." [The sentence is not finished.] Usually sentence fragments are really just parts of a larger sentence. For example, one student wrote: "Without free thought, people don the manifestations of machines themselves. Creating waste with abilities." What the student meant to say was "Without free thought people take on the character of machines, thus wasting their own abilities." Here is another example: "This mass devastation would most likely come in the form of nuclear warfare. Nuclear warfare born from the womb of capitalism." The second passage is a sentence fragment. What the student meant was: "This mass devastation would most likely come in the form of nuclear warfare born in the womb of capitalism." 1.3.2 "They" and "their" should not be used to refer to
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