Writing and Assessing Term Paper Assignment
Writing, Assessing, Term, Paper, Assignment
See the syllabus for my policy on plagiarism. You do not get another chance if you cheat. You get a zero and I enter your name into our institutional tracking system. Period.
Select just one topic.
- Present one of the following two interactions: Kant and Anselm, or Descartes and Hobbes. This requires you to present both the argument from Anselm or Descartes and the criticism from Kant or Hobbes. Evaluate the interaction. Is the critic’s objection a good philosophical objection? (You should have a rough idea what that means by now.
If you do not, you’re in trouble.) Given your evaluation, should Anselm/Descartes have believed in God’s existence? Justify your answer. What does your answer mean for the rest of us? May anyone be justified in believing in God’s existence? This is a 4 to 5 page paper, though you may certainly write more than that.
Cite the text to support your claims. Write the paper is if it were a college paper. See the rubric for guidance. 2. Suppose someone argues for skepticism like this: People have different beliefs. People disagree about how old the world is; whether there is life on other planets; and even whether Bigfoot exists.
So there’s really no truth about how old the world is; whether there’s life on other planets; or even whether Bigfoot exists. Use the relevant course readings to evaluate the force of this argument. (You should be able to determine which are relevant.) Is this argument for skepticism a good one?
What does your judgment with respect to that last question mean for belief in skepticism based on arguments like the one I just presented? Should we form beliefs based on arguments like this? This is a 4 to 5 page paper, though you may certainly write more than that. Cite the text to support your claims. Write the paper is if it were a college paper.
See the rubric for guidance. 3.Suppose someone tries to show that we should believe God exists like this: Any proposition is either true or false. Thus, there is a 50% chance that any proposition is true. Since “God exists” is a proposition, there is at least a 50% chance that God exists. If there’s a 50% chance that God exists, it makes sense to believe that he does.
Thus, we should believe that God exists.
Put this argument in your paper. Then, explain whether it lives up to the standards of philosophy. If you say it does, explain why. If you say it does not, explain why.
This is a 4 to 5 page paper, though you may certainly write more than that. Cite the text to support your claims. Write the paper is if it were a college paper. See the rubric for guidance
Rubric Grading Rubric
- Does this paper identify have a clear thesis? (5%) 2. Does this paper contain only relevant information? Are the citations completed properly? (5%)
- Does the paper attribute the correct view to the philosophers in question? (10%)
- Is/are the philosopher’s view presented with the appropriate level of detail? (For example, does the author explain concepts and arguments in a tight manner, or are the arguments and concepts merely sketched?) (25%)
- Does the author present a clear argument in his/her discussion? (15%)
- Does the paper cohere? Or, is the paper a hodgepodge of disparate ideas? (10%)
- Does the conclusion tie together the different phases of the paper? Or, is the conclusion a non-sequitur? (5%)
- Are the spelling, grammar and syntax on the college level? (5%)
- Does the author make appropriate and accurate use of course concepts in constructing his or her discussion? (20%) Intangibles: Is the paper on the assigned topic? Is it the author’s own work?
Sample Term Paper
THIS IS ONLY A SAMPLE PAPER. DO NOT SUBMIT A PAPER ON THIS TOPIC. DOING SO WILL RESULT IN A ZERO.
Topic: Present Ruth Benedict’s primary argument. Then present James Rachels’s criticism. Whose argument would Justin Macbrayer find to be superior? Justify your answer. Cite all the relevant texts to support your claims.
This paper will present Ruth Benedict’s argument for cultural relativism. Then it will construct James Rachels’s criticism. I conclude by arguing that Justin Macbrayer would think that James Rachels has the better philosophical argument.
In the article “Morality is Relative” Ruth Benedict argues that there are no universal values. She gets to this conclusion by way of anthropological evidence. She points out that people in different cultures behave very.
Specifically, they have different views of what is normal. Some groups think it is normal to let others cook for them while some do not. (448) Some groups see homosexuality as abnormal while others do not. (447) This anthropological evidence is evidence in her argument, so it counts as a premise.
Here is her argument:
1 – What a group sees as normal tells us what the group sees as good. (450)
2 – Different groups see different things as normal. (447-448)
3 – So, different groups see different things as good.
Number 3 is the conclusion. It is supposed to follow from the premises before it. The argument is thus meant to be valid. The premises are synthetic. They are not true by definition, but if they are true it is because they correspond to reality.
James Rachels thinks that arguments like the one above are invalid. If the argument is supposed to prove that there really are no universal values, then the conclusion does not follow from the premises.
Rachels gives us an argument kind of like Benedict’s. The version he did is related to burial rituals. The Greeks burned their dead. The Callatians ate their dead. Thus, there is no proper way to deal with the dead. (454)
Rachel says that all arguments like this are roughly of the following form:
1 – Different cultures have different moral codes.
2 – thus, there is no objective truth and morality. Right and wrong are only matters of opinion, and opinions vary from culture to culture. (454)
Number 1 is the premise. It is supposed to support the conclusion. (2) is the conclusion. It is supposed to follow from the premise.
Rachels argues that arguments on this form are invalid. (455) The premise can be true while the conclusion is false. This is how we test an argument to see if it is valid. The example Rachels uses is about the shape of the earth. Even if different groups have different opinions about the shape of the earth, that does not mean that there is no real truth about the shape of the earth. (455)
Rachels says more than this. He argues that all cultures share some beliefs about ethics. Groups have to, and in fact do, care for their young and avoid murder. (458) If they do not, there will be no group. He thinks that Benedict ignores this agreement. This is a problem because it shows that her premise might be false.
If Rachels is right, the argument is unsound. If the argument is invalid, it is unsound. Also, if the argument has a false premise it is unsound. Sound arguments must be valid and have all to premises. (Reading 1)
As for the argument, Justin Macbrayer would agree with James Rachels. I think he would agree for two reasons. First, Macbrayer is clearly not a relativist. He implies that there are very few relativists in philosophy. (Reading 12) He also seems to complain that his students are relativists. I take this to mean that he thinks we should not be relativists. And since Benedict wrote before Macbrayer I assume he is not convinced by her argument.
Second, I think Macbrayer would say that Benedict forgets that opinions can be true or false. Macbrayer says that he believes George Washington was the first president. George Washington was the first president. So his belief is true. If George Washington were not the first president, Macbrayer’s belief would be false.
For Benedict’s argument to be sound, it has to be the case that groups cannot be wrong. But she does not try to show that groups cannot be wrong. For all we know, there might be. In fact, she argues that anthropologists are wrong to expect everyone to develop Western values. (446) Thus, I think her argument would not convince Macbrayer.
In this paper, I presented Ruth Benedict’s argument for cultural relativism. Then I presented a criticism from James Rachels. I concluded that Benedict’s argument would not convince Macbrayer. I argued, instead, that Macbrayer would take James Rachels to have the philosophically superior argument.