This paper is optional. If you choose to not write it, I will apply the average grade of your first two papers to this score in calculating your grade.
Write a 4 page paper that critically analyzes some argument we have examined in the Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, or Ethics section. This is essentially a rewrite and expansion of one of the two short papers you wrote earlier.
For this paper you are to critically evaluate an argument or philosophical position from our texts.You do not need to evaluate the entire article, just an argument from it.Pick a single objection and develop it in as much detail as space allows. The best papers are clearly focused.It is better to do a very good job on a small topic than a so-so job on a large topic.
Use short sentences and small words whenever possible.Clarity is essential.If you aren’t clear, even a good argument can look bad, and your reader will suspect you of trying to make a bad argument look good.
Be fair.Every argument has strengths and weaknesses, you don’t need to invent strengths or cover up weaknesses.In fact doing so will make your paper worse.Present the argument you will evaluate in the best possible light.Try to anticipate how the author might respond to what you say.In the end, you must make a decision about the argument, but a good decision can only rest on a fair assessment.
Focus on the argument itself, not just on the conclusion.Saying you disagree with the conclusion is not enough, not nearly enough.You must show where the argument goes wrong.Does it have bad premises?Is the reasoning weak?Has the author failed to take other evidence into consideration?It is up to you to show how the argument fails, not merely say that it does.
Avoid rhetorical questions.They are not arguments.
You should begin by presenting a focused summary of the argument you will be objecting to. Give a brief outline of the major points the author makes, but focus especially on that part of the argument to which you will be objecting. In most cases this exposition should take 1 to 1.5 pages, however there is no specific length requirement.
After you have presented the author's argument you will develop your objection to it. This is the most important part of your paper and should receive the greatest amount a space and attention. You should not only state what your objection is, but you should walk the reader through a detailed explanation of just how it affects the argument to which you are objecting. If space allows, consider what the author might say in response to your objection and whethre such a response would be adequate. In most cases the critical section of your paper should be 1.5 to 2 pages, however there is no specific length requirement.
I will not grade explicitly on grammar and spelling. However, should errors be substantial enough to inhibit understanding, they will count against the clarity of the paper and hence affect the grade