For your midterm paper, I would like you to write a concise, precise, and well-organized argumentative essay on one of the topics we have covered in this class thus far. It should be 1000-1200 words. Philosophy teaches and requires effective communication on challenging issues, so skills gained in writing and communicating about philosophy transfer to any other area of life.
(a) pick one of the topics we’ve covered in the class so far–an “applied” or “practical” topic is likely better, although you may also discuss a moral theory and an argument about that theory also–and
(b) present and explain an argument on the topic: that is, you present a conclusion on the topic (e.g., “Doing X is wrong” or “Doing X is not wrong” or some more specific conclusion) and you give reasons to support that conclusion. You may present just one argument, but you may also present a number of arguments: what’s important is that however many arguments you present, you present them in adequate detail and that you fully explain the arguments.
Your task is to do this all in a way that any reader or audience could understand and learn from.
This is not a “research paper”: you should not seek any resources beyond the class. The goal is to explain an issue and give arguments on that issue: the focus is on presenting reasoning, not presenting “information” that you might find from research.
What’s key is organization, so you will want clear, labeled sections like these:
You need a brief introduction that says what your paper will be about and gives your thesis, or the main point you will argue.
2. The Issue
Here you will want to give whatever background information and explanation readers need to know about the topic of your paper.
3. The Argument
Here you want to very explicitly make your argument: clearly state your conclusion and clearly give the reasons you are giving in support of that conclusion. Explain why you think these reasons support that conclusion and why you think people should accept those reasons.
4. Objections and Questions
You must raise and respond to at least one objection–that is a reason that might be given to think that your argument is unsound–or respond to a critical question someone might have.
You need a conclusion that reviews what you have done and, perhaps, is suggestive of what else needs to be discussed or how your discussion might be applied to other things.