Paper%20Writing%20Guidelines - Philosophy 1050 Matthew...

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Unformatted text preview: Philosophy 1050 Matthew Bower Paper Writing Guidelines What is a philosophy paper? A philosophy paper can serve various purposes. I have provided three options for writing your term paper. You may choose a format other than these three, but you must get it approved by me first. A.) An Argumentative Paper: Most commonly, the purpose of a philosophy paper is to make an argument. An argument consists of premises and a conclusion. In the case of writing a paper, this takes the form of a thesis supported by reasoning. Your thesis can be nearly anything, but the idea is to give serious thought to a philosophical question/idea and to offer your own insights into the issue. This might take the form of arguing in favor of a certain author, forming a counterargument against an author, arguing that an author is partially correct given certain conditions, arguing that a position is untenable, arguing that two authors have something in common—the possibilities are endless. The main goal, however, is to take a position on a certain issue and demonstrate why somebody would want to hold that position. B.) A Comparative Paper: Another possibility for writing a philosophy paper is to compare/contrast philosophical ideas, schools of thought, or individual positions. For example, you might compare/contrast Descartes’ rationalism with Plato’s theory of the Forms. Using this format you want to highlight major points of similarity/difference and explain how they relate. In this way, your thesis will be less argumentative and more exploratory. C.) An Expository Paper: Alternately, the purpose of your paper may simply be to explicate or elucidate a certain idea or argument presented by an author. An expository paper is one in which you expose the meaning of a text. That is, you may choose a particularly difficult idea or concept discussed in a specific text and attempt to explain in clearly and intelligently in your own words what the author is trying to say. This may involve a bit of interpretative work. What does the author mean by her/his idea? What are the philosophical or practical implications? While I’m open to any potential thesis for your term paper, these guidelines are meant to familiarize you with my expectations and to help you prepare a thesis and organize your ideas. I am always available to discuss possible paper topics either after class or during office hours. The easiest way to contact me if you have specific questions, however, is via e ­mail: You are required to choose at least one of the following philosophers. You may certainly write about philosophers or figures that we have not discussed, but you should relate them to one of these discussed in this class. Plato Descartes Kant James Beauvoir Confucius Aristotle Locke Rousseau Nietzsche Abram Lao Tzu Tolstoy Hume Marx Sartre Buddha Possible themes/topics that you may focus on in formulating your paper might include: Epistemology Aesthetics The Examined Life Empiricism Death of God Virtue Metaphysics Nature Pragmatism Phenomenology Human Nature Skepticism Morality Reality Rationalism Social ­Political Phil Feminism Justice What a philosophy paper is not: You want to avoid writing a book report or presenting irrelevant biographical information. The purpose of a philosophy paper is to thoughtfully engage and reflect upon ideas and concepts—not to present mere historical facts. Additionally, I have already read these books, so I do not need you to summarize them for me. A philosophy paper is not “your own personal philosophy of life.” While I’m sure one day you will be remembered as a wise sage and perhaps the greatest thinker of our era, for an introduction to philosophy course it will be necessary for you to first prove that you can engage our shared intellectual history. A philosophy paper is not simply a list of your beliefs and opinions. While forming a thesis necessarily requires your own particular perspective and position on an issue, the purpose is to convince others by providing reasons. Frankly, I do not care whether you agree or disagree with Descartes. I DO care that you can intelligently defend your position and challenge your own beliefs as well as those of others in a philosophical manner. Formatting Rules: • All assignments must be submitted to the instructor in hardcopy. • All writing should adhere to standard formatting guidelines: Times New Roman, 12 ­point font (10 ­point in any footnotes or endnotes). • You are not required to include a cover page, but the following information should be listed at the top left or right corner of your paper: your name, course number and title, instructor, and date. • The title of your paper should be centered at the top of the page, bolded, and in 12pt font. Do NOT put more than two spaces between the title and the first paragraph. • All text should be double ­spaced. Do NOT add extra spaces between paragraphs—this does not make your paper appear longer than it is, trust me. • Format your page to have 1 ­inch margins on all sides. • Include a page number in the header of each page. • Failure to adhere to any of these guidelines will count against you. Citations: • Footnotes, endnotes, or other forms of citations, etc., are required when you are employing or paraphrasing somebody else’s ideas or quoting them directly. The formatting of citations is up to you. I encourage you to use a format that you are most comfortable with or that is standard for your discipline. If you have any doubts, please see me or use library resources to make sure you’re citing correctly. • Be sure that all secondary sources are scholarly and peer ­reviewed. This excludes the use of most websites, popular magazines, popular authors, Wikipedia, etc. Being peer ­reviewed implies that the text has undergone the scrutiny of various experts in the field. Look for scholarly periodicals in the library, books put out by academic publishers, and articles written by respected scholars. • I have zero tolerance for plagiarism. • Please refer to UNT’s policies on academic dishonesty: UNT_Policy/volume3/18_1_11.html. Common Mistakes: • Spelling and grammar count. You will be held responsible for any errors. • Proofread everything. Have a friend proofread your papers. If you do not feel confident about your spelling/grammar skills, I encourage you to visit the University Writing Center. • Make sure you spell the author’s name correctly. Misspelling the author’s name doesn’t do much to convince me you’ve spent much time with the text. • Use the correct pronouns. Referring to Simone de Beauvoir as a “he” doesn’t do much to convince me you’ve done the reading. • Avoid unnecessary jargon. Although philosophy concerns highly abstract concepts and ideas, and therefore necessarily entails difficult language, you ought to strive for writing in an articulate, clear, and to ­the ­point manner. Being able to write with clarity is a primary way of thinking through the difficult material presented by our authors. • Avoid fragments, run ­ons, idioms, clichés, and colloquialisms/slang. Academic papers are categorically different from IMs and text messages. Keep your sentences neat, clear, and on ­point. If you are in doubt about spelling, how to phrase something, or the meaning of a certain term, simply look it up. • Unlike students of past generations who had to toil in dusty libraries, you have the vast resources of the Internet at your fingertips. Use it. There is no excuse for being misinformed or ignorant of things you can easily look up. • Do not address your professor in the term paper. Although I am the one who will be reading it, you should write for a general intellectual audience, not for your professor specifically. Phrases to avoid when writing a paper: • “I think”, “I feel” – While it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to express your unique and individual perspective or opinion, the goal of philosophy is not simply to express yourself, but to do so in a reasoned, critical, and reflective way. If you are stating an opinion, you should explain why one might be inclined to hold that position. Additionally, prefacing a statement with “I think” or “I feel” can tend to weaken the force of the claim. If you are making a claim that you honestly believe in, simply state it and explain your reasoning. • “We as humans” – What else would we be? Avoid redundancies. • “Thinking outside of the box” – Avoid clichés, especially this one. This makes philosophers cringe. Strive for clarity. Hiding behind clichés tends to serve as a substitute for articulate writing. Instead, explain what, precisely, it means to “think outside of the box.” • “Let us examine this quote by Plato on page 55 of The Republic” – Authors do not quote themselves. You are the one who is quoting. • “Philosophy is an age ­old question that has puzzled people since the dawn of history.” – Avoid making grandiose remarks and hollow claims that do not really do much to elucidate your thesis. • “This passage by Plato reminds me of the time my roommate and I went to Cancun for Spring Break last year” – Avoid personal anecdotes, especially when they do not contribute to your thesis. As interesting as they are to you, they may not be so interesting to your reader. • “Merriam ­Webster Dictionary defines philosophy as…” – Avoid citing the dictionary. Dictionary definitions are, by their nature, unphilosophical. Additionally, you should just assume that your reader has a fairly sophisticated vocabulary (unless you’re using a technical term or jargon, in which case you should explain the meaning in your own words). Chances are, Plato is a better philosophical authority than the authors of the dictionary. ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/12/2011 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Mikson during the Spring '08 term at Aarhus Universitet.

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