reading - Guidelines on Reading Philosophy It will be...

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It will be difficult for you to make sense of some of the articles we'll be reading. This is partly because they discuss abstract ideas that you're not accustomed to thinking about. They may also use technical vocabulary which is new to you. Sometimes it won't be obvious what the overall argument of the paper is supposed to be. The prose may be complicated, and you may need to pick the article apart sentence by sentence. Here are some tips to make the process easier and more effective. Contents Skim the Article to Find its Conclusion and Get a Sense of its Structure Go Back and Read the Article Carefully Evaluate the Author's Arguments Skim the Article to Find its Conclusion and Get a Sense of its Structure A good way to begin when you're trying to read a difficult article is to first skim the article to identify what the author's main conclusion is. Pay special attention to the opening and closing paragraphs, since authors will often tell you there what they intend to be arguing for. When you do figure out what the author's main conclusion is, try to restate it in your own words. This will help you to be sure that you really understand what the author is arguing for. When you're skimming the article, try also to get a general sense of what's going on in each part of the discussion. What is the structure of the article? Sometimes authors will tell you, early in the paper, what their argument will look like. This makes your job easier. The articles we read won't always have a straightforward structure. They won't always be of the form: This is the conclusion I want you to accept. Here is my argument for that conclusion. .. Philosophers often provide auxiliary arguments, arguments for important premises they appeal to in support of their main conclusion. For instance, the author's discussion may have the form: The conclusion I want you to accept is A. My argument for this conclusion is as follows: B and C are true, and if B and C are true, then A must also be true. It is generally accepted that B is true. However, it is controversial whether C is true. I think you ought to accept C for the following reasons. .. Here the author's main argument is for the conclusion A, and in the process of arguing for A he advances an auxiliary argument in support of C. Try to identify these auxiliary arguments, and the claims they're intended to support; and try to avoid mistaking one of these auxiliary arguments for the author's main argument. Articles can be complex in other ways, too. Not everything the author says will be a positive conclusion or a
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reading - Guidelines on Reading Philosophy It will be...

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