Tuesday, February 4, 2014

final paper guidelines (don't panic).

don't panic guys. this can be real fun.


1- animal rights or animal dignity.
2- same sex marriage.
3- women's rights
4- drug prohibition/liberalization

LENGTH: about 1,400 words.



1. pick your topic. something you feel invested in. maybe you've heard about a topic that feels interesting. go ahead! you'll learn as you go.

2. think of a title. a title helps construct the line of arguments. titles change as you write. it's OK.

3. the narrower the topic the better. look for one single argument. you save yourself time and effort.

4. after you've picked your topic, now figure out what you think about the issue. get information: wikipedia, articles, etc. wikipedia is a quick instrument for getting acquainted, not a citation source. try to write jot down an outline of your paper.

5. introduction. this is a good one:

"In this paper, i will show that_______" or "will try to prove that_________"

5. structure. make the structure of your paper clear.

a) divide your paper into sections and state what you will do in each section. b) try to give the reader guideposts along the way. you might say you're going to discuss two objections to a certain argument, and then introduce each objection as you get to it with a phrase like:

"turning to the first objection", or "the final objection against such and such..."

for conclusions, use words like: "therefore," "thus," "because," "since," etc.

6. think about the contribution each paragraph is making toward your overall argument. if a paragraph isn't contributing, it shouldn't be there. don't write superfluously, if you really love a point that doesn't contribute to the thesis make it a footnote.

7. word choice and tone. look at the word choices you've made. have you picked the best words to convey your meaning?

a) be careful about word choices. for example, in a paper concerning the morality of abortion, it would be a mistake to use the words "person" and "human being" interchangeably, at least without saying at the outset that you are going to do so. in philosophy the word "person" refers to beings with some sort of moral standing. "human being" on the other hand is considered a biological term. the claim that persons have rights is much less controversial than the claim that human beings have rights.

b) be sure you understand how philosophy uses certain terms. for example, if you are writing about plato's view on justice, you should not assume he is using the word in the same way it gets used in law and order.

9. quotations use quotations wisely. if you are discussing how to interpret a certain passage of text, you will definitely need to quote that text for the reader. quotations can be used effectively to support points in your paper. however, don't include more quotations than necessary. don't include four quotations where one would do.

10. read your paper out loud. read it to someone else. it's a great way to catch places where you are insufficiently clear and places where your writing is awkward.

here is a step-by-step template paper.
here is a MIT site for papers.
here is one sample paper.
find other good advise here.