Philosophy-Argument Analysis Paper (Reading Required)
UCOR 2500/Philosophy of the Human Person Summer 2019
Argument Analysis Paper Assignment #2
Overview: Choose one prompt as a guideline for the topic of your paper. These prompts are meant to initiate your thinking. The goal of the assignment is a coherent and cohesive paper that develops a thesis. This means that, depending on your thinking, you may emphasize certain parts of the prompt more than others. That is up to you.
1. Kwame Anthony Appiah explains that identity labels have four functions that are both descriptive and prescriptive (normative). However, identity labels also tempt us to generalize when we assume that they name something with a common essence. Write an essay that considers the positives and negatives of identity labels, focusing on a specific label of your choice. After describing the ways that the four functions apply to the identity, include critical reflection. What are the positive and negative effects of this identity label?
2. René Descartes argues that all of our knowledge can be doubted except for the foundational truth that ‘if I am thinking, I exist.’ He thus argues that our minds are better known to us than our bodies, and explains that ultimately we know with our minds, not our bodies. Write a paper that carefully considers his reasons for this. Why does he make these claims? Do you generally agree, or are you unconvinced? Why?
3. Write a paper that reflects on the concept of posthumanism. First explain carefully how you understand the concept, being specific, since Smart and Smart provide several different ways of thinking about it. Then, reflect on whether you are generally optimistic or pessimistic about the possibility of a posthumanist future. Why? Draw on details from any of the readings or videos to support your claims.
Format: In responding to this prompt, your paper will need to accomplish three tasks.
(1) Explain in your own words what a text is saying about a specific issue. This includes explaining how the claim is supported. What reasons does the author give?;
(2) Evaluate this claim using your own critical thinking. Is its logic sound? Why or why not? Has the author left out relevant information or considerations? Do you find the argument convincing? Why or why not?
(3) Reflect on the implications your evaluation. What questions does it raise? How does it make you feel? What lesson do you draw from your analysis? How might someone disagree with you?
It may be helpful to organize your paper in separate sections following these three tasks, or you may choose to mix them together. What is essential is that the paper has a thesis that ties all three sections and tasks together. The thesis of your paper should condense and summarize the main point of your analysis and order your entire paper. Everything you say in the paper should be in support of its thesis.
Mechanics: Papers should be from 4-5 pages (1500 words maximum). They should be 12 pt. font, and double-spaced with standard 1 inch margins. For citation, include the author name and page number in parentheses. Full bibliographical information following MLA style should be included in a Works Cited section at the end. (For information about MLA style, see: https://style.mla.org/.)
Title pages are not necessary. The assignment is not a research paper. No additional sources beyond the assigned text are required. I don’t recommend using additional sources, but if you do, be sure to appropriately cite them in the bibliography.
Assessment Rubric: Papers will receive a letter grade based on the following rubric (roughly 20 points per category):
Thesis: Is there a clearly presented thesis that effectively organizes the argument of the paper?
Clarity and Writing Mechanics: Are sentences clear and grammatically correct? Is the paper well organized? Do you build effective transitions between ideas in a way that develops a coherent over-all thesis? Does the paper follow an appropriate and consistent citation style?
Accuracy: Have you adequately and accurately explained the text’s argument? Do you use citations in an effective and accurate way to support your description?
Coherence: Does your argument make sense as a reasonable response to the topic in question? Does it follow a logical form in providing support and evidence? Is the argument plausible?
Depth of reflection: Do you consider possible criticisms or counter-arguments? How well do you develop the implications of the view you are responding to?
1. Be careful about being overly broad. Philosophical thought improves if we are able to be as precise and specific as possible. For this reason, stay grounded in the text.
2. Budget your time. Do not wait to write your paper in one sitting at the last minute. Ideally, you should complete a draft, spend some time away from it, and come back to re-read, revise, and polish.
3. Proofread! Excessive typographical, spelling, or grammatical errors will detract from your grade.
4. Put things in your own words. Do not use lengthy citations to present a complicated idea; rather, summarize the idea in your own language and use brief citations as support and evidence.
5. Make sure that your paper has a thesis. It can sometimes be helpful to wait until near the end of the writing process before finalizing the exact wording of your thesis. Ask yourself what your paper says as a whole, and include that in some form as a thesis at the beginning of your paper.
6. Be self-critical. Consider what someone might say who does not agree with you. Try to anticipate objections and include them in your paper, and then respond to them.
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