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PHIL 2290: How to Write

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Dan Lowe

on 23 April 2018

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Transcript of PHIL 2290: How to Write

I. Resources for How to Write in this Class
II. The Prompt
IV. How I Will Grade Your Papers
The Rubric
As indicated, there are minimum standards that your paper has to meet.
Correct Citation
Clarity
Accurate and Full Explanation
What A Citation Is
When to Cite
When to Quote, When to Paraphrase
What to Cite
Academic Honesty
A
citation
is a reference to a source of a claim, which directs the reader toward the specific place in the source where that claim is made.
Cite your source in-text whenever:

(a)
you quote from an author,

or

(b)
you paraphrase an author (so long as the claim is not common sense or common knowledge)
When to quote
:

quote whenever
(a)
there is a controversy as to what the author actually said, or
(b)
the author said it really well.

The general rule:

Cite so that if someone wanted to find the claim in the original text, they could do so easily.
How to Cite
Don’t cite a secondary source (e.g., a website on John Stuart Mill) when you have the same information from a primary source (John Stuart Mill himself).
What Plagiarism Is
Consequences of Plagiarism
How to Avoid Plagiarism
Plagiarism
is using someone else’s ideas without acknowledging where they come from.
1. You fail the course.
This is because it's your responsibility as a CU student to know the plagiarism policy.
Avoiding plagiarism is totally easy.
Some Actual Sentences from Students
Minimal Distractions
Commas
Spaces Between Words
Choosing The Right Word
What Have We Learned?
Spelling Words Correctly
1. Little things make a big difference
. Small errors can really change the meaning of what you say.
What they meant to say: “Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog.”
What they actually said:

What they meant to say: “Toilet ONLY for disabled, elderly, pregnant, children, [etc.].”
What they actually said:
"Become a partner in public education with the Red Lion area school district.”
“Really! The next door neighbor has a dog that will not stop barking!”

Cologne
: A kind of fragrance, usually for men.
Colon
: A mark of punctuation, or literally a butt hole.
Examples:
When you put your name at the top of your paper, you’re saying that – unless you say otherwise – the ideas are your own.
2. You have to go before the Honor Council.
He argues that if he thinks, he must exist, since if he didn’t exist he would not be able to think (Descartes, 45). Or, as he famously put it, “Cogito ergo sum” (Descartes, 45).

Citation
Paraphrase
Quotation

When to paraphrase
:

paraphrase whenever you don’t quote.
So, in general you will paraphrase way more than you quote!
This means including page numbers!
What about MLA, APA, etc?
I truly don't care.
Writing
Instruction

There might be weird cases (paragraph numbers but no page numbers?). What do you do?
What they
meant to say
What they
actually said
What they meant to say
What they actually said
What they meant to say
What they actually said
Using Quotation Marks Correctly
Don't use quotation marks for emphasis, or just randomly put them in.
This is especially true of
lecture
. Only cite lecture if the information I’m talking about is not available in your text.
What to aim for:
The structure of your paper is clear and it helps the reader understand the argument.
Organization
Persuasiveness
Ways of explaining something:
Restate
the same idea in different terms.
"In other words..."
Provide
examples
. "
For instance...
" Not the same as a definition!
Recap
what's been said.
"So far the author has argued..."
Address possible
misconceptions
.
"It may seem like the author is saying x, but ..."
Use paragraphs to break up arguments into parts.
Don't try to get the whole argument into one paragraph (unless you're recapping).
Avoid beginning a paragraph by saying:
"Another thing Mill brings up is..."
Define
important terms: "Essentialism
is...
"
If you cite when you should, then you are more likely to get the author's view right.
Not an Explanation
Giving the play-by-play of the article:
First Mill talked about
x
.
Then Mill talked about
y
.
Then Mill talked about
z
.
I'm not saying that you can't mention the order of ideas.
The prompt:

Explain
an argument that we've gone over in class.
Explain it in such a way that someone who is intelligent, but who is not in the class and who hasn't done the reading, can understand it well.
Do's and Don'ts of Writing Arguments
The Most Common Mistake Students Make
It's much better to have
one
good argument, which is thoroughly and persuasively made, than a ton of OK arguments made more briefly and less thoroughly.
In order to critique an argument or defeat an objection, you just have to
make one argument really well
.
“The argument’s premises, when taken together, conjoin to establish the conclusion that God has existence.”
“That this evil exists makes it hard for philosophers to determine the existence of a God.”
What it means:
"Evil implies that God doesn't exist."
What it means:
"The argument shows that God exists."
Reminders:
Quotations aren't the only things which need to be cited. You also need to cite paraphrases (if the ideas aren't common sense).
Cite your source in-text so that it's
easy
to find the claim you're talking about -- this means page numbers!
Don't cite lecture or a secondary source when you could cite a primary source.
Just make sure your citation obeys the rule:

Cite so that if someone wanted to find the claim in the original text, they could do so easily.
Here's the good news:
How to Explain an Argument
How To Evaluate an Argument
Writing Philosophy Papers:
A Guide and Reference For Students
Introduction, Chapters 1-3, 19-20, Appendix 1

Writing Philosophy Papers:
A Guide and Reference For Students
Chapters 22-24, Appendix 4

Guidance on a bunch of topics, including the writing process.
Two days on how to write, with Prezis.
Sample Papers (in the Appendices)
Writing Philosophy Papers: A Guide and Reference for Students
I will refer to the Guidelines in my feedback on your papers. (A #7 written on your paper means: look at Writing Suggestion #7, etc.)
Go to the first assignment prompt
(page 12 of your syllabus)

Copying some text from a website and putting it into your paper, without referencing the website.
Taking an idea from a website and putting it into your paper, without referring to the website.
Taking an argument or idea from a classmate or friend and putting it into your paper, without saying that they're from the classmate or friend.
Copying and pasting information from the text with only minor adjustments, without referencing the text.
These will happen even if you didn't
mean
to plagiarize.
In other words: unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.
Just make sure it's always clear when you're discussing your ideas, and when you're discussing someone else's ideas.
The best strategy:
When in doubt, cite it!
This is on page 12 of your syllabus.
What to aim for:
Everything that needs to be cited in-text is cited, and cited correctly.
What to aim for:
The paper fully explains the arguments of the philosopher(s), and does so accurately.
Even if you cite it wrong
,
you've still avoided plagiarism
because you've made it clear it's not your idea.
I. The Prompt
Note that none of this is about the
bibliography
. We are talking about
in-text citations
.
A quotation, a citation, and a paraphrase are
not
the same thing.
III. A Sample Paper
So what should a paper like this look like?
Go to Appendix 1 of
Writing Philosophy Papers
(page 88 of the writing guide)

I'm saying that it's not a substitute for connecting the ideas to one another.
That doesn't tell the reader anything about how the ideas of the previous paragraph and the current paragraph are related.
Make each paragraph about one thing.
What to aim for:
The reader always knows what is being said and why it is being said.
Why it's difficult to be clear:
Your writing is putting forward your own ideas as you like to express them. So your writing will always seem clearer to you than it is to other people.
What not to do:
Don't write in a fancy style, using big words and complicated sentences.
Don't use a thesaurus to replace your plain words with fancier ones.
Please just use plain words.
Please.
No really, please.
What to aim for:
There are no (or very few) technical errors like grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting mistakes.
These mistakes may just distract the reader, but little things can make a big difference.
2. Spellcheck isn't enough.
3.
To catch these errors, you have to actually
proofread
your paper.
Go to the second assignment prompt
(page 13 of your syllabus)

III. A Sample Paper
So what should a paper like this look like?
Go to Appendix 4 of
Writing Philosophy Papers
(page 84 of the writing guide)

II. The Parts of Your Paper
Critiquing an Argument: Four Parts
1.
Introduction.
2.
The author's argument.
3.
Your critique of that argument.
(Why it is unsound.)
4.
Conclusion
This

has to be original
.
Defending an Argument: Five Parts
1.
Introduction.
2.
The author's argument.
3.
An objection to that argument.
5.
Conclusion
4.
Why the objection is not successful.
This has to be original
.
Depending on which version of the prompt you do, your paper will be organized slightly differently.
Can be original, but doesn't have to be.
Tip:
When it’s time to write this paper, look over your first paper again -- especially any numbered suggestions -- so that your final paper can get the highest grade possible.
The Rubric
Correct Citation
Clarity
Accurate and Full Explanation
Minimal Distractions
What to aim for:
The structure of your paper is clear and it helps the reader understand the argument.
Organization
Ways of explaining something:
Restate
the same idea in different terms.
"In other words..."
Provide
examples
. "
For instance...
" Don't make philosophy more abstract than it has to be!
Use paragraphs to break up arguments into parts.
Don't try to get the whole argument into one paragraph (unless you're recapping).
Avoid beginning a paragraph by saying:
"Another thing Fricker brings up is..."
Define
important terms: "
Social construction is...
"
Not an Explanation
Giving the play-by-play of the article:
First Manne talked about
x
.
Then Manne talked about
y
.
Then Manne talked about
z
.
I'm not saying that you can't mention the order of ideas.
The prompt asks you to "explain it in such a way that someone who is intelligent, but who is not in the class and who hasn't done the reading, can understand it well."
The rubric is on page 13 of your syllabus
What to aim for:
Everything that needs to be cited in-text is cited, and cited correctly.
What to aim for:
The paper fully explains the arguments of the philosopher, and does so accurately.
I'm saying that it's not a substitute for connecting the ideas to one another.
That doesn't tell the reader anything about how the ideas of the previous paragraph and the current paragraph are related.
Make each paragraph about one thing.
What to aim for:
The reader always knows what is being said and why it is being said.
Don't write in a fancy style, using big words.
What to aim for:
There are no (or very few) technical errors like grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting mistakes.
Don't quote a lot: Quote when the author said it really well, but otherwise paraphrase.
Reminders:
Eliminating technical errors requires
proofreading
your paper -- spellcheck doesn't catch everything!
Reminders:
Reminders:
Use section titles to break the paper into parts.
Reminders:
This Requires a Thesis
e.g.,: “I will examine Marilyn Frye's argument about oppression."
1. A thesis should be stated in the very first paragraph.
2. A thesis should be
italicized
.
3. A thesis should be one sentence.
4. A thesis should
not
be a description of your
plan
for the paper.
No need for a big introduction. Just long enough to make your thesis intelligible.
This is not the thing you're trying to prove.
What to aim for:
The paper has an argument which starts with plausible assumptions and moves logically to an interesting conclusion.
Students often try to make a large number of arguments.
Be as precise as you can about how the argument and objection are related.
Be precise about what part of the argument the critique disagrees with.
Be precise about which part of the objection you disagree with.
Don't respond to an objection by just restating what the original author says.
That won't be persuasive (if it wasn't the first time, it won't be the second time!) or original.
Writing Assignments 1 and 2
General policies:
Go to page 11 of your syllabus.

Doing what the prompt asks.
Meeting a level of basic readability.
Being academically honest.
IV. How I Will Grade Your Papers
As indicated, there are minimum standards that your paper has to meet.
Doing what the prompt asks.
Meeting a level of basic readability.
Being academically honest.
Contains an original argument
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