Length: 1300-1600 words (However, the length of this paper matters much less than the quality of your argument and your understanding of the course material.)
For your final paper in this course, you will present your position on a question and defend your view with reasoning. Then, you will present an opposing view and reasons in favor of it, then respond to that opposing view. These elements form a complete philosophy paper.
Please note that this essay will be submitted through SafeAssign, which automatically checks for plagiarism. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will automatically fail the course. This assignment does not require, or allow, consultation of outside sources, such as websites. You are being graded on your own understanding of the assigned readings, lectures, etc. If you have questions and do not understand the material, you should consult your Instructional Associate and/or discuss your questions within your discussion section
For this essay, we provide you with three options to choose from. Select ONE of the following prompts to write your final paper. If you have questions about the prompts, please ask your instructor, since understanding the prompts is key to success on this assignment. Before you begin writing, look over the rubric categories and what to aim for, since that will help you know what an “A” paper looks like.
For this essay, first (1) state your own position on the issue you chose, (for example, if you are writing about the third topic choice above, you must choose one of the philosophers’ positions (Peirce, Bacon, Kuhn, or Polkinghorne) on the question of whether or not the scientific method is universal and objective) then, (2) generously present an opposing view or potential critique of your own position (i.e. without making the opposing view look weak or silly; it should be something that an intelligent person could believe). In this presentation, provide some of the reasons an opposing view would make sense, and finally (3) respond to the opposing argument with reasoning and evidence (perhaps by showing why your own position is still right or better, or by modifying your position based on your opponents’ argument). That is, this assignment asks you to thoughtfully and respectfully present a position you do not agree with, provide some of the logical reasons why an intelligent person might hold such a view, and then thoughtfully engage with those logical reasons. In the third section of the paper (responding to the opposing argument), you may conclude that your own position was too simplistic or was mistaken in some way and adopt a new, revised position, or you may continue to hold your original position and defend it against the objections of your opponent.
In this essay you must use rational argumentation and support your claims with evidence and logic. It is not enough to say that your position is correct because you want it to be, or that’s your experience of the world, or it’s how you see things, or it just seems right to you. In academic work those are not sufficient reasons to take a position. You must draw on things like logic (does ‘b’ follow from ‘a’ as the author claims it does?), textual evidence (what does Hume say on page 34 and is it right, logical, and consistent with his other claims?) and external evidence. This last category (external evidence) is the most dangerous category. Certain kinds of things might seem like appropriate evidence to you but they will not meet the standards of academic work in this context. In a literature class, a novel might be sufficient evidence for a particular type of claim, but if you are making an argument about how knowledge works in a philosophy paper I will not find literary sources (even the Bible) particularly convincing. The same goes for websites and blogs, political commentary, your personal experiences and anecdotal evidence, folk wisdom, etc. The distinguishing factor is whether a source has authority that can be widely recognized by educated and intelligent people. If a person does not have authority to speak on a particular topic (if they do not back up their claims with evidence, if they have not studied the matter carefully, if they just make pronouncements and radical claims, if the source is primarily intended to do other things than provide argumentation (such as inspirational, religious and literary texts)), then they should not be cited as authoritative evidence in your paper. The source or author may have authority in other contexts, but what matters is whether or not they can be widely accepted as having authority in this particular context. Be sure to consult the “reasoning” section of the Belmont guide to writing an argument, which I have made available on Blackboard. Also consult the list of logical fallacies to evaluate your own reasoning and to check for logical fallacies