Write an essay in which you:
- Present and explain an argument or position that is defended by an author we have covered after Descartes. Authors include: Spinoza, Locke, Reid, Berkeley, Leibniz, and Hume.
- Present and explain one and only one strong and plausible objection to the argument or position you selected in part (a). This objection should be your own. Your goal with this objection is to convince someone who initially agrees with the argument or position in (a) to change their mind and reject it. If you are objecting to an argument, you need to focus the objection on a particular premise in that argument.
For part (a) of the prompt you choose, present and explain, as clearly and persuasively as possible, the argument mentioned in that prompt. The task in part (a) requires not just rephrasing and reiterating the premises of the argument, but also defending these premises to show that they are plausible. Be sure that you fully explain not only what each premise of the argument means, but also why each premise might be thought plausible. You should present the argument as sympathetically as possible. If you choose a position be sure to explain not only what the position is, but also the reasons the author has for holding that position. Regardless of whether you think the argument or position is successful, explain it as clearly, charitably, and persuasively as possible.
Avoid the straw man fallacy. You should work to interpret the argument accurately, and to present the argument in the strongest and clearest way possible.
For part (b) of the prompt you choose, present and explain, as clearly and persuasively as possible, one and only one strong and plausible objection to the argument mentioned in that prompt. The objection you offer should be at least partly your own. Show what impact that objection, if effective, would have on the chosen argument or position. Notice that a rhetorical question is not an objection, nor is an argument for a different conclusion. Instead, try to show that some premise in the argument is or might be false by offering a counterexample or another explanation as to why the argument fails.
The objection you offer should be at least partly your own. You can use ideas from class and the readings for this course. But the objection you offer should be at least partly your own. You should develop the objection in your own way, using your own ideas in addition to any ideas taken from class or readings. Also, if you do use ideas from the readings for this course, you must cite your sources properly, using both a bibliography and in-text citations. For your bibliography and in-text citations, you may use either MLA or APA formatting.
Use examples whenever you can. Examples make your writing much more illuminating. Do not use rhetorical questions, however. Rhetorical questions are often lazy devices that do not require any substantial argumentation on your part. Instead of using a rhetorical question, use a statement. If necessary (and it will most likely be necessary), you should then defend that statement.
Do not simply quote an author or the slides without explaining what is being said. Directly quoting from the text, even when it is properly cited, does not demonstrate an understanding of the material. Instead, you should quote or paraphrase what the author says and then explain what this quote paraphrase means and why it is plausible.
Your writing assignment should be between 900 and 1100 words. If you are below the word count you will automatically lose 5 points. Roughly half of these words should be used to write part (a), and the other half should be used for part (b). You will need to be concise and economical with your words. Put the word count at the beginning of your paper.
You don’t need an introduction or conclusion. Begin your paper with a brief statement of what you are going to do (i.e. your thesis) and a short outline, and then immediately start explaining the argument. Because the paper is short, there is no need to reiterate what you’ve done in an entire paragraph as a conclusion.
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