No Plagiarism·         This is a 4-6 page paper.·         Each paper must be at least 1200 words and reach at least the middle of the fourth page (double spaced). If you are going under 1200 words, you are missing some opportunities to improve your work. Try defending your thesis from an objection.·         All papers require proper citations. Pick APA, MLA, or Chicago and use it consistently. Citations should include page numbers for works that have page numbers (including our textbooks and the readings posted to eLearning).·         Citations are required whenever you are using someone else’s words, ideas, arguments, or research. Basically, if someone put work into something, you need to give them credit for that work.·         You must cite at least one of our readings.
No Plagiarism · This is a 4-6 page paper. · Each paper must be at least 1200 words and reach at least the middle of the fourth page (double spaced). If you are going under 1200 words,
Guidelines for Papers for PHL 201 (Western Thought) with Dr. Joseph Anderson Requirements This is a 4-6 page paper. Each paper must be at least 1200 words and reach at least the middle of the fourth page (double spaced). If you are going under 1200 words, you are missing some opportunities to improve your work. Try defending your thesis from an objection. All papers require proper citations. Pick APA, MLA, or Chicago and use it consistently. Citations should include page numbers for works that have page numbers (including our textbooks and the readings posted to eLearning). Citations are required whenever you are using someone else’s words, ideas, arguments, or research. Basically, if someone put work into something, you need to give them credit for that work. You must cite at least one of our readings. Papers are to be turned in online through eLearning. Topics You need to defend a strong, interesting thesis (details below) about some issue we’ve addressed in class. Here are some suggested topics: Describe an argument for the existence of God (or Pascal’s wager) from our reading along with one or more objections. Is this a strong argument? Is this a strong objection? Make your case. In “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mackie argues that God doesn’t exist. He goes even further and tries to argue against any objections that could be raised against his argument (“fallacious solutions,” he calls them). It’d be rather interesting if you could defend one of these so called fallacious solutions against Mackie’s arguments. Make your case. Michele Moody-Adams and W.K. Clifford both argue that people can rightly be judged immoral for holding a belief. Explain some difference between them. Which thinker is right with regard to that difference? Clifford and Moody-Adams both make a strong case. If there’s something you disagree with in their arguments, that would be a very nice paper too. Choose your own and clear it with me by email at least one week before the paper is due. Evaluation Any ‘A’ paper is going to have these five properties: a strong, interesting thesis; sufficient support for that thesis; insight & effectiveness; an accurate understanding of the issues and/or texts that are relevant to its thesis; and a well-structured, clear, and grammatical use of the English language. To the extent that a paper falls short of these things, or to the extent that it falls short of the requirements listed above, its grade will fall short of an A. I will say a few words about each of these properties. A Strong, Interesting Thesis A thesis is simply what your paper is trying to prove. This should be stated clearly early in your paper, usually in the first paragraph. A strong thesis A strong thesis is one that takes a stand on some issue. Your paper needs to have a real conclusion, something that you argued for. The opposite of a strong thesis is a wishy-washy thesis. A wishy-washy thesis, for example, might ‘conclude’ that some people think x and some people think y, we may never know. Don’t do this. Your strong thesis may still be subtle. Example: While Author thinks that x, y, and z are good reasons for holding P, I argue that y and z are really only ways of re-stating x, so Author’s three reasons really turn out to only be one good reason. Here, you are coming to a definite conclusion. Now, you aren’t solving all of the world’s problems, but you are making a definite claim about something. An interesting thesis is one that is surprising or one that accomplishes something substantive. I find that a good way to make sure my thesis is interesting is to begin by indicating why someone might need to be convinced of my thesis. You might start your thesis with a phrase like this: While it might seem like x is the case, I will argue that … Your first paragraph, then, might explain why it seems like x is the case. An even simpler way to make sure your thesis is interesting is to argue against someone else’s position. This will require that you critique there argument. One common way students fail to have an interesting thesis is to simply agree with the author they are commenting on. If you merely agree with someone, then your paper is going to have to add something in order to be interesting. Do you have a different argument that you can add to further support their thesis? Is there some objection that you can defend that author from? In general, I recommend that you give yourself a puzzle to solve. If you have a puzzle that needs to be solved, then the thesis is interesting. If you come up with a solution to the puzzle, then the thesis is strong. That puzzle may be an interpretive difficulty (and so your job will be to explain the text well) or it may be critical (e.g., does this author’s argument really work?). Examples of strong, interesting theses: I will show that Joseph Collins has not adequately supported his position by pointing out that his paper turns out to rely solely on anecdotal evidence. I will further argue that his position rests on a kind of paternalism that undermines patients’ rights to autonomy. Although it seems like Joseph Collins’ argument is subject to some rather obvious criticism, I will argue that his position is more solid than it at first seems. Adequate Support Your paper must give good reasons or present good arguments for your thesis. If your thesis is that a certain author is wrong about something, you should do two things: Look at the reasons/arguments that author gives and critique them. Provide some reasons for thinking that the author’s conclusion is also wrong. Now, your thesis may just be that the author’s arguments don’t work, in this case you’d only have to do the first one. But if you are arguing that their position is wrong, you really should do both. Be generous to your opponents. I often say to my students that if you present the best version of your opponent’s position, then it’s going to make your arguments against him or her all the more impressive. Anyone can misinterpret an opponent to make them easier to argue against (this is called building a straw-man), but a good student-philosopher is going to present her opponent’s arguments and positions as they really are and still prove her thesis. As you can see, what counts as adequate support is going to depend on what your thesis is (i.e., what your paper is trying to accomplish). Whatever that thesis is, make sure you support it by offering good, philosophical reasons for that thesis. I will try my best to model this in my lectures and to point out ways in which our authors model this. Make sure you spend some time thinking through your reasons and arguments in order to see if there are any obvious objections someone could pose. If there are, then you’ll want to respond to them. Insight & Effectiveness You need to add something to the topics we’ve discussed, not just parrot objections we’ve talked and read about. Here are some examples: Adding a new (and good!) objection to a position or argument we’ve discussed Adding a new argument for one of the theories we’ve discussed Pointing out that one position we’ve discussed is surprisingly inconsistent with a different topic we’ve discussed Adding a new defense against an objection we’ve discussed Accurate Understanding of the Relevant Texts and Issues This, I believe, is largely self-explanatory. Please let me know if I’m wrong about that. I will add that you don’t need to just explain everything you know about the topic. The information you give should be the information that is needed to adequately prove your thesis. Well-structured, Clear, and Grammatical Writing with Proper Citations Well Structured: Papers should be well structured. They shouldn’t ramble; they shouldn’t wander from one point to another, then back to the first point. The order of things should be intentional. For example, if you are going to critique an argument, you should first explain what the argument is. If you think there are two problems with the argument, these should be presented one at a time, and you should make it clear when you are moving from the first problem to the second. Another example: If you are going to consider an objection to your position, you should do that after you have explained what your position is. It often helps to write an outline first, but outlines are also helpful as a test to see if your paper is structured well. If, when reading your paper, you can reconstruct an outline that makes sense (in the way described above), then your paper is probably structured very well. It is a good idea to briefly highlight the structure of your paper in your introduction. Example: In this paper I will first explain why it is that Joseph Collins thinks doctors should be encouraged to lie to their patients. I will then argue (1) that his reasons are based on merely anecdotal evidence that should not be convincing and (2) that his position relies on a kind of paternalism that undermines patients’ rights to autonomy. Clear: You are critiquing arguments and providing reasons for your thesis. This does not require any particular eloquence or a large vocabulary. Writing clearly puts the ideas (the arguments, the reasons) at center-stage. This is what (most) philosophy professors are looking for. There is hardly ever a reason to use a thesaurus in this class. Use the right word, not the big one or the pretty one. Grammatical: I expect and hope that this class will make you a better writer. I will do my best to give you excellent feedback, but this takes a lot of time. Please proofread your papers before turning them in so that I can spend our time helping you in areas where you really can improve rather than pointing out areas where you were too rushed or sloppy to apply the knowledge you have. Citation issues that don’t rise to the level of plagiarism may affect this part of your grade. Basic Grading Rubric / 20 Percent Strong, Interesting Thesis / 25 Percent Adequate Support / 20 Percent Insight & Effectiveness / 20 Percent Accurate Understanding of the Relevant Texts and Issues / 15 Percent Grammar, Style, Structure, and Citations Significant points will be subtracted also for failing to cite one of our readings, failing to follow directions, or failing to meet the word count.




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