- Your essay must contain a thesis statement that is presented preferably in the first paragraph, but most certainly after a few introductory paragraphs. This thesis will state how you intend to answer the question, and outline the organization of the paper.
- Do not begin with introductory remarks about the author such as,“Kant was a great philosopher who lived in the 18th century”, or general remarks about the nature of philosophy such as “Philosophers have wondered about the existence of God for thousands of years.”Your introduction should be concise and clearly present your thesis.
- Be precise and specific.Avoid generalizations like “everyone believes this” or “no one believes that.”
- Fully explain your claims. The claim “Rationality is crucial for Kant’s” doesn’t work unless you also tell me why it’s crucial.
- Be clear in your language. Avoid flowery or abstract language. It is a philosopher’s job to clearly convey her or his thoughts to others rather than to attempt that to impress others with long sentences and big words. Cut out anything superfluous.
- You must introduce, situate, explain, and site all quotations. Quotes do not and cannot replace your own words—they only provide support for your claims.
- In order to present a compelling argument, it is important to anticipate and attempt to respond to possible objections to your position. Think of the view of someone who would disagree with you. Discuss how you might respond to such a person.
- Each paragraph in your essay should cohere internally. In other words, each paragraph addresses only one idea.
- Each paragraph should relate directly to your thesis or question being addressed. Avoid tangents and asides.
- Do not to plagiarize.The use of sources (ideas, quotations, paraphrases) must be properly documented.
According to Diana Hacker in rules for writers,5th ed., plagiarism occurs in three ways:“(1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas,
(2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks,
and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words”(p.402).
All cases of suspected plagiarism will be investigated. In cases where plagiarism has been clearly established, the student will receive an F for the final course grade.Please see me if you have any questions about your use of sources.
- Your essay assignment is a particular kind of exam—your job is to convey to me how much you understand and have thought about the material. All of your ideas should be explicitly stated. I will not speculate about what you might have meant. I will grade you on what you have stated in writing
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