Theories of Knowledge and Reality Heller

PHI 107 Theories of Knowledge and Reality
Heller
TERM PAPER
Assignment:
·         Write a paper engaging with some material that we have discussed in class this semester.
·         The term paper will be 5 pages and written in two stages—a draft and a final submission. (If you need to go beyond 5 pages, that is acceptable, within reason.)
·         The draft is due on Thursday, April 17th. (This is a change from the original syllabus.) You will turn in a hard copy in class and also email a copy to your TA.
·         Write the draft as if it were a final paper. So, it may well be your second or third draft. Make it as good as you can. It will then receive comments and be returned to you within a week.
·         You will then rewrite the paper in light of the comments. I expect significant changes and not just minor grammatical repairs. The final submission will be held to higher standards than the draft was.
·         The final draft will be due on the day of the final exam–Friday, May 2nd. (This is also a change from the original syllabus.)
Goal: This is your opportunity to make an original philosophical point. It should also give you some practice writing clearly about abstract ideas.
Topics: You should pick a small but interesting point that is connected to the topics we have discussed in class. Your job is to make a claim and defend it. Here are some places you might want to look for topics:
·         Develop something said in class.
o   Example: On such-and-such date Heller said …. I will argue that he is wrong about that.
o   OR: On such-and-such date Heller said …. I will add further support to his claim.
·         I have posted two articles on Blackboard that we did not discuss in class, one by Jackson and one by Hobart. You can read either of those articles and pick a point in that article to either disagree with or to add further support to that.
·         Here are three specific examples of topics, so that you can see the sorts of things I have in mind:
o   One might think that in order to know something we only have to rule out all of all of the relevant ways we might be wrong (e.g. misreading something, being lied to, etc) and not the crazy ones (e.g. being deceived by an evil demon). You might want to suggest criteria for distinguishing between relevant possibilities and crazy ones and argue that those are good criteria.
o   The following is an argument for the identity theory:
1. Whenever you report being in pain, we observe that c-fibers in your brain are firing.
2. The simplest explanation for why this is is that pain and c-fibers are the same thing.
3. We should believe the simplest explanation for what we observe.              
THEREFORE: We should believe that pain and c-fibers are identical.
You might want to try to respond to the argument by challenging one of the premises
o   The mad scientist objection against compatibilism relies upon the claim that the case of a mad scientist’s controlling your character is in all relevant respects like the case of the past and the laws of nature determining your character. You might want to argue that there are relevant respects in which the two cases differ and that this undermines the objection.
How to write a philosophy paper
(mostly written by Ted Towner)
Overview: The paper you will be writing for this class is an argumentative essay.  That is, in it, you must give reasons in support of some claim.  Your paper ought to begin with an introduction that culminates in a thesis sentence.  In the body of the paper, you must outline any views that you discuss and clearly articulate your reasons for or against those views.  After you have given your arguments, you ought to consider how someone might object to your arguments, and then you must respond to these objections.  Finally, you should conclude with a summation of your paper.  Your paper should not contain anything extraneous to the thesis. Your paper should contain citations where appropriate.
The thesis sentence should be the final sentence of your introductory paragraph. The thesis sentence is a one sentence statement of what you will argue for in your paper, for example:
“In this paper, I will argue that it is sometimes permissible to break one’s promises when doing so would allow us to avoid great harms to ourselves and others.”
Do not argue for something too broad or overly ambitious, such as:
“In this paper, I will argue that dualism is true.”
Restrict your paper to addressing one or two arguments for a position or view.  Don’t attempt to address all of them.  Do a few things well rather than a lot of things poorly. 
Do not argue for something uncontroversial or uninteresting:
“In this paper, I will argue that slavery is evil.”
Your introduction should be lean.  Don’t waste time on writing fluff:
“Since the dawn of time, mankind has wondered about knowledge”
Your introduction should provide background to the reader that will show the reader why your thesis is important or interesting. For instance, if you were going to argue for the thesis above that says that lying is sometimes permissible, you would want your introductory paragraph to provide a brief description of why some people  might think that lying is never permissible. (As an example, the influential philosopher Immanuel Kant is often interpreted as claiming that lying is never permissible.)
A useful short second paragraph would provide a roadmap in which you outline when you will talk about what.  Make it so your reader has a good idea of what to expect while going through the paper. For example,
“First, I will outline x’s view that…”  “I will then discuss an important claim that this view relies on…”  “I will then discuss two reasons to doubt this claim. First….and second….” “I will then discuss an objection to my argument that says that…”
You may have been told in your other courses that that these sorts of “framework” sentences telling the reader what you are about to do are stylistically weak. But in philosophy clarity is more important that elegance. We love the framework sentences. In fact, it is often useful to include them as the first sentence of the more confusing paragraphs. For example: “I will now present my opponent’s objection.” Remember how much easier it would have been to read Descartes if he had used sentences like that.
The body of the paper should contain an accurate description of the view you are criticizing or defending from a criticism.  If there are any technical terms that the reader needs to understand in order to understand the view, make sure you clarify what you mean. 
When giving your argument, clearly state your own reasons and why someone who disagrees with you ought to be convinced.  It’s not sufficient to just point out there is some other view that someone (namely you!) has.  You need to try to convince the person in the other camp.  If you’re defending a view, it’s not sufficient to just say that you agree.  You need to contribute something to the debate in answering a potential criticism or providing additional reasons to think some view or argument is correct.
For example you might try to argue against some view by demonstrating how it leads
to unintuitive or unacceptable consequences.  The strategy involves teasing out what is implied by your opponents’ view and showing them that there are convincing counterexamples. For instance:
“Some people claim that lying is always wrong.  But this would imply that, if a known serial killer approached me and asked me to reveal the location of a dear friend of mine with the intent to kill, it would be wrong of me to lie about my friend’s location.  But, surely, it’s not wrong for me lie about my friend’s location.” (Kant discusses a case like this in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785.)
Or you might argue by way of offering an analogy:
“Some people claim that, if fetuses have a right to life, then abortion is never permissible.  But consider the following analogy.  In the case of rape, the situation is like one in which a person is kidnapped by a group of people and bodily hooked up to you in such a way that that person will die if she or he does not remain hooked up to you for the next 9 months. Since this person is hooked up to you, your bodily freedom would be greatly constrained for the duration of this arrangement.  Is it the case that you are obligated to remain attached to this person for 9 months?  It seems not.  It seems that it is permissible for you to reject the arrangement and remove yourself, thus freeing your body.  This situation is analogous to what happens when a woman is raped.  So, at least in the case of rape, the fact that the fetus has a right to life does not mean that is impermissible to abort it.” (This example is borrowed from Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy and Public Affairs (1971), pp. 47–66.)
In these cases, the person posing the argument is not merely registering their disagreement.  They are offering reasons they expect their opponents to find convincing.
The conclusion of the paper should summarize what you have done in your paper; for example:
“I have argued that ….”  “I supported this thesis by ….”  “I considered the objection …, and responded by showing that ….”
This sort of summary seems silly in such a short paper, but it is good practice for longer papers. Also, it is surprising how often a reader will misunderstand what you were trying to do until after you explicitly tell them what you thought you did.
Plagiarism: It is always important to properly credit the originator of an idea. If you represent someone else’s idea as your own, you are plagiarizing. Plagiarism will be dealt with harshly, resulting in an F for the course and a report to the university authorities, typically accompanied by a transcript notation indicating that the course failure resulted from a violation of Academic Integrity Policy. (See the academic integrity policy at http://coursecatalog.syr.edu/2013/rules/3383_academic_integrity)
Any resource you use, including websites, needs to be cited. Furthermore the citation you use needs to be detailed enough so that the reader of your paper can find the information that you are referring to. If you directly use someone else’s words, those words should appear within quotation marks and be accompanied by a citation. If you paraphrase someone else’s ideas, restating them in your own words, you still need to acknowledge the source of the ideas with an appropriate citation.
If you go through your entire paper appropriately citing all of your sources and discover that there is nothing left that is not cited, then you are not guilty of plagiarism but you are guilty of a lack of originality. For example, if you were to copy someone else’s paper, and put the whole thing within quotation marks and cite the source, you would not be guilty of plagiarism, but you would still fail the assignment for lack of originality.

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Theories of Knowledge and Reality Heller

PHI 107 Theories of Knowledge and Reality
Heller
TERM PAPER
Assignment:
·         Write a paper engaging with some material that we have discussed in class this semester.
·         The term paper will be 5 pages and written in two stages—a draft and a final submission. (If you need to go beyond 5 pages, that is acceptable, within reason.)
·         The draft is due on Thursday, April 17th. (This is a change from the original syllabus.) You will turn in a hard copy in class and also email a copy to your TA.
·         Write the draft as if it were a final paper. So, it may well be your second or third draft. Make it as good as you can. It will then receive comments and be returned to you within a week.
·         You will then rewrite the paper in light of the comments. I expect significant changes and not just minor grammatical repairs. The final submission will be held to higher standards than the draft was.
·         The final draft will be due on the day of the final exam–Friday, May 2nd. (This is also a change from the original syllabus.)
Goal: This is your opportunity to make an original philosophical point. It should also give you some practice writing clearly about abstract ideas.
Topics: You should pick a small but interesting point that is connected to the topics we have discussed in class. Your job is to make a claim and defend it. Here are some places you might want to look for topics:
·         Develop something said in class.
o   Example: On such-and-such date Heller said …. I will argue that he is wrong about that.
o   OR: On such-and-such date Heller said …. I will add further support to his claim.
·         I have posted two articles on Blackboard that we did not discuss in class, one by Jackson and one by Hobart. You can read either of those articles and pick a point in that article to either disagree with or to add further support to that.
·         Here are three specific examples of topics, so that you can see the sorts of things I have in mind:
o   One might think that in order to know something we only have to rule out all of all of the relevant ways we might be wrong (e.g. misreading something, being lied to, etc) and not the crazy ones (e.g. being deceived by an evil demon). You might want to suggest criteria for distinguishing between relevant possibilities and crazy ones and argue that those are good criteria.
o   The following is an argument for the identity theory:
1. Whenever you report being in pain, we observe that c-fibers in your brain are firing.
2. The simplest explanation for why this is is that pain and c-fibers are the same thing.
3. We should believe the simplest explanation for what we observe.              
THEREFORE: We should believe that pain and c-fibers are identical.
You might want to try to respond to the argument by challenging one of the premises
o   The mad scientist objection against compatibilism relies upon the claim that the case of a mad scientist’s controlling your character is in all relevant respects like the case of the past and the laws of nature determining your character. You might want to argue that there are relevant respects in which the two cases differ and that this undermines the objection.
How to write a philosophy paper
(mostly written by Ted Towner)
Overview: The paper you will be writing for this class is an argumentative essay.  That is, in it, you must give reasons in support of some claim.  Your paper ought to begin with an introduction that culminates in a thesis sentence.  In the body of the paper, you must outline any views that you discuss and clearly articulate your reasons for or against those views.  After you have given your arguments, you ought to consider how someone might object to your arguments, and then you must respond to these objections.  Finally, you should conclude with a summation of your paper.  Your paper should not contain anything extraneous to the thesis. Your paper should contain citations where appropriate.
The thesis sentence should be the final sentence of your introductory paragraph. The thesis sentence is a one sentence statement of what you will argue for in your paper, for example:
“In this paper, I will argue that it is sometimes permissible to break one’s promises when doing so would allow us to avoid great harms to ourselves and others.”
Do not argue for something too broad or overly ambitious, such as:
“In this paper, I will argue that dualism is true.”
Restrict your paper to addressing one or two arguments for a position or view.  Don’t attempt to address all of them.  Do a few things well rather than a lot of things poorly. 
Do not argue for something uncontroversial or uninteresting:
“In this paper, I will argue that slavery is evil.”
Your introduction should be lean.  Don’t waste time on writing fluff:
“Since the dawn of time, mankind has wondered about knowledge”
Your introduction should provide background to the reader that will show the reader why your thesis is important or interesting. For instance, if you were going to argue for the thesis above that says that lying is sometimes permissible, you would want your introductory paragraph to provide a brief description of why some people  might think that lying is never permissible. (As an example, the influential philosopher Immanuel Kant is often interpreted as claiming that lying is never permissible.)
A useful short second paragraph would provide a roadmap in which you outline when you will talk about what.  Make it so your reader has a good idea of what to expect while going through the paper. For example,
“First, I will outline x’s view that…”  “I will then discuss an important claim that this view relies on…”  “I will then discuss two reasons to doubt this claim. First….and second….” “I will then discuss an objection to my argument that says that…”
You may have been told in your other courses that that these sorts of “framework” sentences telling the reader what you are about to do are stylistically weak. But in philosophy clarity is more important that elegance. We love the framework sentences. In fact, it is often useful to include them as the first sentence of the more confusing paragraphs. For example: “I will now present my opponent’s objection.” Remember how much easier it would have been to read Descartes if he had used sentences like that.
The body of the paper should contain an accurate description of the view you are criticizing or defending from a criticism.  If there are any technical terms that the reader needs to understand in order to understand the view, make sure you clarify what you mean. 
When giving your argument, clearly state your own reasons and why someone who disagrees with you ought to be convinced.  It’s not sufficient to just point out there is some other view that someone (namely you!) has.  You need to try to convince the person in the other camp.  If you’re defending a view, it’s not sufficient to just say that you agree.  You need to contribute something to the debate in answering a potential criticism or providing additional reasons to think some view or argument is correct.
For example you might try to argue against some view by demonstrating how it leads
to unintuitive or unacceptable consequences.  The strategy involves teasing out what is implied by your opponents’ view and showing them that there are convincing counterexamples. For instance:
“Some people claim that lying is always wrong.  But this would imply that, if a known serial killer approached me and asked me to reveal the location of a dear friend of mine with the intent to kill, it would be wrong of me to lie about my friend’s location.  But, surely, it’s not wrong for me lie about my friend’s location.” (Kant discusses a case like this in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785.)
Or you might argue by way of offering an analogy:
“Some people claim that, if fetuses have a right to life, then abortion is never permissible.  But consider the following analogy.  In the case of rape, the situation is like one in which a person is kidnapped by a group of people and bodily hooked up to you in such a way that that person will die if she or he does not remain hooked up to you for the next 9 months. Since this person is hooked up to you, your bodily freedom would be greatly constrained for the duration of this arrangement.  Is it the case that you are obligated to remain attached to this person for 9 months?  It seems not.  It seems that it is permissible for you to reject the arrangement and remove yourself, thus freeing your body.  This situation is analogous to what happens when a woman is raped.  So, at least in the case of rape, the fact that the fetus has a right to life does not mean that is impermissible to abort it.” (This example is borrowed from Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy and Public Affairs (1971), pp. 47–66.)
In these cases, the person posing the argument is not merely registering their disagreement.  They are offering reasons they expect their opponents to find convincing.
The conclusion of the paper should summarize what you have done in your paper; for example:
“I have argued that ….”  “I supported this thesis by ….”  “I considered the objection …, and responded by showing that ….”
This sort of summary seems silly in such a short paper, but it is good practice for longer papers. Also, it is surprising how often a reader will misunderstand what you were trying to do until after you explicitly tell them what you thought you did.
Plagiarism: It is always important to properly credit the originator of an idea. If you represent someone else’s idea as your own, you are plagiarizing. Plagiarism will be dealt with harshly, resulting in an F for the course and a report to the university authorities, typically accompanied by a transcript notation indicating that the course failure resulted from a violation of Academic Integrity Policy. (See the academic integrity policy at http://coursecatalog.syr.edu/2013/rules/3383_academic_integrity)
Any resource you use, including websites, needs to be cited. Furthermore the citation you use needs to be detailed enough so that the reader of your paper can find the information that you are referring to. If you directly use someone else’s words, those words should appear within quotation marks and be accompanied by a citation. If you paraphrase someone else’s ideas, restating them in your own words, you still need to acknowledge the source of the ideas with an appropriate citation.
If you go through your entire paper appropriately citing all of your sources and discover that there is nothing left that is not cited, then you are not guilty of plagiarism but you are guilty of a lack of originality. For example, if you were to copy someone else’s paper, and put the whole thing within quotation marks and cite the source, you would not be guilty of plagiarism, but you would still fail the assignment for lack of originality.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *