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Assignment guidelines

by | Nov 2, 2022 | Philosophy

 

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Only Read Chapter Five about Zhuangzi.
Basic assignment:
The 10-sentence paper follows the structure of a standard short undergraduate philosophy paper in a highly compact form, in order to build core philosophical skills:
1. Close reading: identifying the most important aspects of a reading
2. Concision: getting directly to the point, without going off on tangents
3. Paper construction: constructing the basic skeleton of a full paper
Assignment guidelines
Based on the readings from the Analects, write a paper with the following structure. All sentence numbers are exact. Please number your sections:
1. Author thesis (1 sentence): What is one thesis the author defends? What is one thesis the author defends?
Pick one discussed in multiple sections of the text.
2. Author argument (2 sentences): What is the author’s core argument for their thesis?
Give the premises of a single argument, not two distinct partial arguments.
Focus on concision: you are presenting the frame of an argument, not trying to persuade me. You are presenting the premises that would need to be defended in a full paper; you are not defending them yourself. Strip it down to the bare essentials.
3. Your thesis (1 sentence): Develop a thesis of your own, either (1) a novel implication of the author’s thesis (such as an application to a contemporary issue) or (2) a rejection of the author’s thesis.
If you choose option (2), make sure your thesis is more than just a negation of the author’s thesis—make sure it targets a premise of their argument.
4. Your argument (2 sentences): Present your core argument for your thesis.
Same guidelines as §2, plus:
If you chose (1) in §3, don’t include the author’s thesis as a premise of your argument.
5. Objection (2 sentences): Present the strongest objection to your thesis that you can think of.
If you object to the author’s thesis, respond from the author’s perspective—how would they defend themselves?
Make sure you challenge a particular premise of your argument in §4.
Note that a paper with a strong objection and weak reply is going to score better than a paper with a weak objection and strong reply. If you have an objection you find it difficult to reply to, that’s good.
6. Reply (2 sentences): Defend your thesis against the objection given in §5.
Your reply must add something new; do not merely restate your argument from §4.
Make sure your reply defends the same thesis as in §§3-4; do not concede any ground.
Grading criteria
1. Accuracy: Do you represent the author’s position accurately (§§1-2; §5 if relevant)? Do you identify the most important parts of the author’s argument (§2)?
2. Citations: Provide in-text citations to relevant passages (§§1-2; §5 if relevant). Parentheticals are fine; for example, a citation to book seven, passage thirty can be indicated: (7.30). Any sufficiently important thesis will appear in multiple passages; make sure you cite at least two that are relevant.
You are welcome to rely on class discussion and presented slides, where relevant, but must put all theses & arguments into your own words.
3. Concision: Focus on the key points, avoid irrelevant details. No Henry James sentences (see below). If your assignment goes over a page, you’ve written way too much.
4. Clarity: Even though you don’t have space to explain yourself at length, your ideas need to clearly hang together. 5. Cogency: Make sure your arguments and objections are relevant to one another. Thus, for instance, §§3-4 must clearly relate to the argument in §1-2 as you presented it. §5 must present a relevant and strong objection to your thesis and argument in §§3-4. §6 must respond to that objection (and not, for instance, just restate your thesis), and must do so in a way that does not change your position.

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