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Response paper


Follow the instructions given below carefully.



Essay should follow this format:


  1. Begin with an introductory paragraph that a) presents your thesis, b) identifies which text you will discuss, and c) prepares the reader for the organization of your paper. Your THESIS is a clear and exact statement of the claim you will support in your essay.


  1. The body of the paper should consist in a focused discussion on your chosen reading. Your paper should provide a clear exposition of one of the arguments in the text you focus on. Following the exposition, give one or two objections to the author’s claims. Discuss your objection(s) carefully. Provide the strongest possible counter-argument or counterexample. Be sure that your objection(s) are specifically linked to the arguments given by the author whose work you have exposited.


  1. The conclusion should not simply repeat what you have already said in the body of the paper. The concluding remarks may reiterate briefly the structure of your foregoing argument and the conclusion(s) you have reached. But, crucially, concluding remarks should say something more than this. Are there still further, related questions that you have not addressed? Does your discussion have an important implication for the topic, for philosophical theory, for life in general? In other words, try to show how your work in this particular essay reaches out to other topics of interest or paves the way for further argument or analysis. Remember that philosophy papers rarely solve problems once and for all time, so resist the temptation to overstate or exaggerate your conclusions. It is reasonable, even admirable, to acknowledge the limitations of your discussion in your concluding remarks.


In a nutshell:


            1. Tell the reader what text you will discuss, offer a thesis statement.

            2. Explicate the argument from the text you have chosen.

            3. Offer objections to the argument.

            4. Offer possible responses (counter-arguments)

            5. Conclusion (see above)





Note: Make sure you offer arguments! Do not simply give mere opinions. You need to offer rational justification for the claims you make. Do not simply say, I think James is wrong because I don’t agree or I don’t like what he says etc.. Offer a rational argument in defense of your claims. Review the notes on Arguments and Good Arguments if you have forgotten.



·         You need not do additional research. Focus on any of the essays we have read, or any of the others on Angel in course documents.

·         Your work must be your own, original writing. There are severe penalties for plagiarism and cheating. See the syllabus for details.

·         Your paper should be double-spaced in 10 or 12-point font. Use standard margins. Do not use a cover page.

·         Spell-check your paper. Proofread and edit your work to check for mistakes that computer programs cannot catch.

·         At the top of the first page provide the following information single spaced:


                  Student Name

                  PHI 1103: Critical/Creative Thinking



·         Give your paper a title. DO NOY USE A COVER PAGE!

·         Quote and cite the text to support your discussion. (footnotes or parenthetical citations) All verbatim quotation must use quotation marks. Citations are also required for paraphrases of the text. The goal is to point the reader to the appropriate passages of text where the claims are made. Use quotations selectively; most of the paper should be written in your own words.

·         The exposition should provide a clear, accurate, precise, and selective account of the author’s position.


      CLEAR: Write in complete, grammatical sentences. Organize your thoughts.


ACCURATE: Give a fair and reasonable representation of the author’s position.


PRECISE: Avoid offering vague claims and mere generalities. Make your discussion detailed, specific, and focused on the exact claims the author gives in support of the particular arguments you will examine.


SELECTIVE: In a short paper you cannot cover all of the arguments or claims the author gives. Select only those ideas, reasons, arguments that are directly relevant to your discussion

·         As a guideline, your first, introductory paragraph should not be more than ½ a page. The exposition should take about 1 page and the presentation of your objection(s) and response(s) should take about 1 page.




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