Philosophical Arguments

Answer one of the following questions in one-page, single-space essays. You may not exceed one page, 12-point font per answer. All citations should be parenthetical: e.g. (Marx, 32). A full bibliography is required on a supplemental sheet of paper. You must cite from an actual published book from a real press, not from an internet site (I would prefer that you use the versions assigned, but if you use another published edition, you must cite properly). You may not use websites like ‘’.

Each one of your short essays must have a thesis, and the thesis must appear in the first or second sentence. Since this is a take-home exam, you will be evaluated on criteria similar to those employed in the evaluation of the term paper: the strength of the thesis, the fidelity to the text(s), the thoughtfulness of the analysis, the quality of the writing, and the structure.

This is a highly disciplined form of writing, so you must make every word count. You must answer the question with an argument. In an in-class exam, general knowledge of the texts is tested, so a response that indicates a solid knowledge of the texts’ main claims is often sufficient to get a B. In a take-home, there is much more weight placed on your argument, analysis and the quality and coherence of your writing. Filling a page with a summary of the basic points in the text(s) will not be sufficient. So, for instance, in a question on Marx and Nietzsche if you simply write a half page summarizing the main philosophical claims of the Genealogy and a half page summarizing Marx’s main contributions you will not pass. You must answer the question with an argument and you must defend that argument.

There is no space for numerous lengthy direct quotations and there is no space to touch on every interesting aspect of the books. Every point you raise must be directly related to the argument you are making.

You do not need to do extra research for this exam. You are encouraged simply to work with the texts assigned in this course. If you draw an argument from a secondary source, cite it and include it in the bibliography, but the purpose of this exercise is for you to interpret the primary texts yourself. Responses that do not cite the texts will not pass.

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