Writing Philosophy Papers

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If the original argument is long and complex, discuss only the premises that are necessary to your discussion.

Now you add your response (your thesis) to the ongoing conversation.

I do not conclude that the student has plagiarized Author X (although most professors would).

Instead, I give no credit to the passage that was copied (even if it was copied with small changes, just to avoid copying exactly).

Here is an example: "Skepticism is when you don’t really know anything." This is a bad definition of skepticism. They should not be reported as questions (see Danger Sign 1) or events (like "is when.") There’s nothing grammatically wrong with "also said …" (like there is for a theory described as "is when …" or as a question).

However, when I see the above phrase in an exam or paper, I am warned that the student is not really following Hint #1) above.(Note that Steps Two and Three may have multiple parts and you may need to intermix the steps. Be truthful; acknowledge your argument’s limitations. Now you defend your argument against the counterarguments.Be sure to distinguish your ideas from the original ideas.) The next step is to imagine opponents’ responses to your argument. It’s okay if you can’t address every criticism, as long as you have picked an argument you can reasonably defend.It is merely an indication that the author (you) is getting into trouble.If you find them in your paper, make sure that you are not confused in the ways I have described above. For example, if an exam assigns you to describe the views of Author X, some students believe that they can copy what Author X says from the textbook and hand it in. You get no credit for copying the words of another author, even if you think that "he says it so much better than I can, I thought I’d use his words."The problem is this: I need to see how well you understand the material.You set up your argument through the way you present the elements of the original argument to which you are responding.Include only what the reader needs to know in order to follow your argument, and avoid biography and history.Furthermore, writing is the primary medium for the exchange of philosophical ideas. This page contains notes on form and standards for writing in the English language. If this is the case, then you will need to select an aspect of the text that you find particularly interesting, troubling, exciting, confusing, or problematic.I recommend reading this guide and then looking at a If you need help figuring out how to write an essay in general, see my “How to Construct an Essay.” If you want to know how you will be evaluated on a paper assignment, see the “Grading Rubric for Paper Assignments” page. By an aspect of the article, I do not mean a particular section of words or bits of language; I mean a claim or set of claims to which the author is committed, either by explicitly arguing for them, or presupposing them.In philosophy, you will write a range of assignments, from short examinations of a single philosopher’s argument to longer papers where you develop an extended argument in defense of your central claim.When writing an argumentative paper, keep in mind that you are entering a discussion about a philosophical claim that has likely been going on for decades, if not centuries.

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