Topic: Your topic should summarize two philosophical theories (for example: Locke and Descartes’ respective views on knowledge), and further give a critical comparison of the two and give your own argument for which view is more correct (or an alternate correct view) and why. Note that you must utilize at least two required course readings; you should not cover more than two theories.
1) Metaphysics and Epistemology: Compare Plato and Aristotle on knowledge and reality. First, summarize each thinker’s view on knowledge and reality; be sure to include how we gain knowledge, and what is the most real. Further, compare and contrast the two viewpoints and give your own argument for which is better and why.
2) Philosophy of Self: Choose any two of the following three views on the self: Descartes, Locke, Hume. First, summarize each of the two views on the self; be sure to include what the self is and why. Further, compare and contrast the two viewpoints and give your own argument for which is better and why.
3) Philosophy of Religion: Compare Anselm’s ontological argument to Aquinas’ cosmological argument for God’s existence. First, summarize each argument; include exactly how this shows that God must exist. Further, compare and contrast the arguments and give your own reasoning for which is better.
(These are optional topics that you may use if you wish; you are still allowed to come up with your own topic in accordance with the specifications above. Note that the above are three separate potential topics).
Essay Setup: Your paper will have two parts to it: first, a relevant summary of the theories you are discussing. Secondly, your own critical response or argument regarding those theories. You must have both parts, and they should be roughly equal in length.
Summary: You should summarize each of the two theories you are discussing, in about a paragraph each (or two, if necessary). For this assignment, your summary should be free of any evaluation or judgment of each theory (save that for the analysis). Your summary should be mostly in your own words (you can and should use key terms, and limited use of direct quotes is helpful, but you cannot just copy the text, notes or other sources).
Analysis: You should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each theory, and give your own argument for which theory is better and why. This portion should not just repeat the analysis given in the text and notes, but should focus mainly on your own clearly given views and your own rationally supported argument about these theories.
In addition to those two mains parts, the paper should further begin with a one-paragraph introduction (including a thesis statement) and end with a one-paragraph conclusion. Again, this must be a new paper written specifically for this course; you cannot reuse any work from other courses.
Your essay will be run through SafeAssign, software designed to help identify potential cases of plagiarism.
Class will not meet in-person on the day the essay is due; you are just turning your essay in. Late essays will only be accepted under special circumstances and with a point deduction.
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PHIL 1301 Essay Criteria, pg. 1 PHIL 1301 Essay Criteria (continued)
Format and Length: Your essay paper must be no less than 1000 and should not be more than 1500 words. It should be 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double spaced with 1” margins on all sides. Any paper written below the minimum length will receive a lower grade as a result. Keep in mind that heading, footnotes, bibliography, etc. do NOT count towards the required length.
Sources and Citation: You must use at least two sources from the assigned reading list for the course (use of outside sources may be helpful but is not required). All sources must be properly cited according to MLA, APA, or Chicago formatting. All of the assigned readings provide a link to the original source. The original source should be cited, unless you are referencing information that was only in the lecture and not in the reading.
Remember, anything that is not your own thinking or ideas must be properly referenced! Proper citation always includes two things: in-text citation (parenthetical references or footnotes) and full information for each source at the end of the text (a works cited list). Also be sure to use quotation marks when directly copying another’s words or writing. Feel free to ask me if you have questions over source citation.
Grading: The assignment as a whole will account for 25% of your final course grade. The following is an approximate breakdown of how the essay is graded.
Summary (25 points): Give a clear and cohesive summary of two philosophical theories, clearly covering the most important aspects and overall main idea of each one.
Analysis (25 points): Compare the strengths and weakness of each philosophical theory, and give your own argument for which is better (or what a better view on that topic is) and why.
Critical Thinking (25 points): Be sure to show careful and consistent reasoning throughout your essay, clearly explain your ideas, and give reasoning behind your judgments and conclusion.
Writing (25 points): Be sure to write clearly, properly cite your sources, and make sure that your essay is mostly free of spelling and grammar errors.