Philosophy Paper Assignment
Philosophy Paper Assignment
Are mental states identical to physical processes? Explain the disagreement between two philosophers while arguing for your thesis; one who says yes, one who says no. Philosophers who say yes are Smart and Churchland, philosophers who say no are Gertler and Nagel.
Format: Papers must be 4-6 pages, have 1 inch margins, and be in 12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, with no extra spaces between paragraphs. Please insert page numbers into your document. You may choose either: APA, Chicago, or MLA style for citations. Turn in an MS Word document through the Moodle site (this uses the software Turnitin, which automatically checks for plagiarism) and bring a paper copy to class.
Organization: The paper should have three parts, listed below (no need for headings though). THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT !!!!
Introduction: This is typically the first paragraph. Longer papers (10 pages and over) may have an introductory section made up of a few paragraphs.
· In this section, you present to the reader the issue or debate your paper will address. You will also state explicitly the position you will defend and how you will defend it.
· Even though this is the first paragraph the reader reads, it is often the last paragraph the writer writes or rewrites. The reason for this is simple: the introduction is supposed to present the reader with a bird’s eye view of the whole paper, but sometimes you will not have a clear picture of the whole paper until after you have finished it.
Development: This is the main body of your paper, and it consists of all the paragraphs after the “Introduction” and before the “Conclusion.”
· Part 1: To start off the development section of your paper, you will explain the background or context of the issue or debate of your paper. To do this, you need to describe two different philosopher’s views.
· Part 2: After initiating the development, you will actually work on the development. This consists of presenting your own argument about the issues.
· Part 3: In this section you will defend your argument by considering possible counterarguments and offering a reply.
Conclusion: In this section, you explain to the reader what your paper accomplished. You may want to hint at some future questions for research that your paper did not answer or draw a larger moral from the discussion.
Here is what our professor expects from a typical paper :
1. Start your paper with a fact or a story, not a generalization.
e.g. “Descartes believes that the mind and body are separate.” Or “In 2011 a computer system named Watson beat both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on the game show Jeopardy!” NOT “People have argued about the mind since the beginning of time.” Avoid talking about the past like this, it is too general.
2. Show why an argument is bad; don’t just say that it is bad.
e.g. “Turing holds that thinking is simply a matter of acting as if you are thinking. But usually we make a distinction between acting as if you are in some mental state and actually being in that mental state.” NOT simply “Turing’s argument is hard to believe.”
3. Do not argue from authority.
e.g. “Thinking is a matter of neural networks connecting, according to Science magazine.” It doesn’t matter who said this, in your paper you must give reasons for the claims you are making, so if you want to quote an outside source in this manner you must tell us the reasons that Science magazine says that thinking is a matter of neural networks connecting. The fact that someone said this is not reason enough to believe it, even if that someone is a famous philosopher.
4. Do not rely entirely on empirical claims.
e.g. “Studies show that depressed people have low levels of serotonin, therefore depression is identical to the physical state of low seratonin.” This claim, if properly cited, can be used in a paper. But a scientific study cannot be your only argument for your thesis. You must say something more.
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