WHY?

This assignment is meant to assess your critical understanding of the contents, your capacity to reflect autonomously on them, and your capacity to formulate and defend a philosophical argument in a written text.

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2021/3/4 Final paper Final paper Submit Assignment Due Mar 15 by 11:59pm Points 30 Submitting a file upload File Types doc, docx, rtf, txt, and and odt Available Feb 14 at 12am – Mar 19 at 11:59pm about 1 month What is due? Please choose one of the prompts and write a paper 1600 to 2000 words long. Upload your paper as a word document (or equivalent; no pdf). Write the prompt (number and/or text) at the top of the first page. Prompts are below. Note that some of them are reformulations of discussion prompts: if you’d like to, you can take inspiration form the conversations you had with your peers in the past weeks. Why? This assignment is meant to assess your critical understanding of the contents, your capacity to reflect autonomously on them, and your capacity to formulate and defend a philosophical argument in a written text. How? A philosophical paper is structured like the defense of a thesis. This means that you must have a definite claim in your mind, state it clearly, and propose an argument in its support; in other words, you must provide reasons for your claim. The steps of your argument and the way they are connected should be clear for the reader, and the conclusion should be easily identifiable and follow logically from the argument. Tips Address the prompt completely. Usually, the prompt includes more than one question: your thesis should include all aspects. Use short sentences and a straightforward style. Do not try to impress with complicated phrases or terms you are unable to explain. Do not take it for granted that your reader already knows the topics that you are dealing with. Although it is your instructor and TAs that will evaluate the paper, you are expected to define explicitly the main concepts that you are using. Make sure your paper shows that you studied and understood the materials. State your thesis at the very beginning of your paper. Make your argumentative steps explicit: announce them in the first paragraph, and then follow them thoroughly. Use your own words and possibly your own examples. This demonstrates autonomy and capacity of reflection. Examples help the reader understand better what you have in mind. It is a good idea to identify a possible objection to your argument and respond to it. https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 1/6 2021/3/4 Final paper Connect the conclusion of the paper to the thesis that you stated at the beginning. Plagiarism (passing off as your own the ideas or words of someone else) is not allowed in any form. Always credit your sources. Be aware that papers are automatically checked for plagiarism. More tips Professor Jim Pryor of New York University has developed and made available more extensive guidelines that you might find useful: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html (http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html) . Very clear, with plenty of examples, they include helpful tips regarding the different stages of writing. I recommend having a look at them. (Do not consider the paragraph on “How you’ll be graded”: you’ll be graded according to the rubric below). Questions How should I format the paper? There are no specific requirements regarding formatting. Just write the prompt number and/or title at the beginning of the paper. The important thing is that the paper is written clearly. Should I add a title? Not required but encouraged. It contributes to the clarity of the paper. Are references required? Are they allowed? References to the course readings are not required, but they are allowed, and actually recommended. Are quotes required? Are they allowed? Quotes are not required, but they are allowed. If you quote, you should acknowledge the author, and add the reference at the end of the paper, in a separate paragraph titled “References”. If I add references, how should I format them? References should include author and title. If you have them, also add: year of publication; book title (for book chapters) or name of the journal (for journal articles); place of publication and publisher (for books or book chapters) or journal issue and pages (for journal articles). If you do not have the full reference it’s ok, just include author and title. Can I add references the the course videos and slides? Yes. You can refer to them as (minilecture #…), or (guest video on…), or the like, and add the reference at the end of the paper, in the “References” paragraph. Can I add references outside the course readings? Yes. However, your paper should not focus mainly on them. Are footnotes allowed? https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 2/6 2021/3/4 Final paper Yes, but keep in mind that footnotes are secondary additions. If you use them, do not use them to explain major points. Does the word count include the prompt, references (if any) and footnotes (if any)? No. Can I send you a draft of my paper for before I submit it? Sorry, no. In the interest of fairness, neither I nor the TAs will provide feedback on drafts. Deadline and late policy The final paper is due by March 15th, 11:59 pm. Respecting the deadline is important! There are 2 points of penalty out of 30 for each day (or fraction of day) of delay. No submission at all is possible after March 19th (not even with late penalties). Good news There is, however, a grace period of one day for this assignment. This means that if you submit it late but within 24h after the deadline, there will be no late penalty. The late penalties will be calculated starting from 24h after the deadline. PROMPTS 1) In front of an unjust verdict, like in the case of Socrates (see the Apology, week 1), is it right to obey the law and accept it, even if it means facing death? If yes, why, and if not, why? 2) What is the most important lesson of the Allegory of the cave in your opinion (see the Allegory, week 2)? Why? Does it apply to the contemporary world? 3) Explain and critically assess Descartes’ argument from skepticism to the Cogito (see the Meditations, week 3). Identify a weak point in his argument, and on this basis, criticize Descartes’ position. 4) Explain and critically assess Gilbert Ryle’s criticism of Descartes (see Ryle’s “Descartes’ Myth”, week 4). Do you think that this criticism is convincing? Why? 5) Do you find Susanne Langer’s theory of art convincing? Why yes, or why not? (see Langer’s “Expressiveness”, week 6). 6) Are you a universalist or a utilitarian in moral philosophy? Take a stand and defend your position. 7) Do you think the feminist criticism of Rawls’ theory of justice is convincing? Why? (see Baier’s “The Need for more than Justice”, week 8) 8) What does Arendt mean with the expression “the banality of evil”? Is this lesson still valid today? Why? 9) Wolf affirms that if a person is actively engaged in a project that has positive value, but this project fails, the person’s life loses its meaning. Do you find her claim convincing? Why? (See Wolf’s “The Meanings of Lives”, week 10) https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 3/6 2021/3/4 Final paper 10) Free prompt. What is the most important thing you learned in this class? Put it in the form of a thesis and defend it. If you choose this prompt, please add a title to your paper (1 line is fine; you can add a subtitle). Note: You can choose to focus on any topic, but your final paper cannot be a re-elaboration of your midterm paper. Final paper https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 4/6 2021/3/4 Final paper Criteria Thesis Argument Ratings Pts 8 to >7.5 pts Abov e e xpe ctations 7.5 to >6.5 pts Fully me e ts e xpe ctations 6.5 to >5.5 pts Partially me e ts e xpe ctations 5.5 to >5.0 pts M inimum be nchmark 5 to >0 pts Unde r be nchmark The thesis correctly addresses the prompt, it is stated very clearly, it is specific and original. The thesis correctly addresses the prompt, it is specific and it is stated clearly. The thesis is stated and it roughly addresses the prompt, but it is too general and/or the description leaves some aspects unclear. It is possible to identify a thesis, although it is not clear and/or it is not explicitly stated and/or it does not address the prompt. There is no thesis. 8 pts 8 to >7.5 pts Abov e e xpe ctations 7.5 to >6.5 pts Fully me e ts e xpe ctations 6.5 to >5.5 pts Partially me e ts e xpe ctations 5.5 to >5.0 pts M inimum be nchmark 5 to >0 pts Unde r be nchmark The paper has a very clear structure; all steps in the reasoning are identified and properly connected in a logical way. Transitions between the different sections are smooth, with no gaps in reasoning. The author offers compelling reasons in support of the thesis and makes use of original examples. The conclusion is logically tied to the argument in a compelling and fully convincing way. The paper is organized in an easy-to-follow structure. Transitions between the different sections are smooth, with no gaps in reasoning. The author offers good reasons in support of the thesis and makes use of examples. The conclusion is logically tied to the argument. The paper follows a structure, but introduction and/or conclusion are not clearly identifiable. There are some gaps in reasoning. The author offers some reasons in support of the thesis, but the content chosen and the examples, if present, are not always appropriate or relevant. The conclusion is identifiable, but it is only partially tied to the argument. The paper has a structure, but it is partially unclear and not explicit. The reasoning lacks some logical connections between parts. The author offers limited reasons in support of some aspects of the thesis. There is a conclusion, although it does not appear to be logically tied to the argument. The paper lacks a proper structure; the argument is inconsistent; the author does not offer reasons, evidence, and in general the appropriate content to develop the argument. The conclusion is either not present or totally unrelated to the information discussed. https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 8 pts 5/6 2021/3/4 Final paper Criteria Understanding Writing Ratings 8 to >7.5 pts Abov e e xpe ctations The paper shows The paper your complete shows your and critical correct understanding of understanding the issues of the issues involved. The involved. The main concepts main concepts are defined are defined and clearly and clarified so that comprehensively, understanding delivering all is not seriously relevant impeded by information. 3 pts 3 omissions. to >2.5 pts Abov e Fully me e ts e xpe ctations e xpe ctations The paper skillfully communicates meaning with clarity and fluency, and it is virtually error-free in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Word limits 7.5 to >6.5 pts Fully me e ts e xpe ctations 3 pts Exce lle nt The length respects the word limits. The paper uses straightforward language that conveys meaning with clarity. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct, although there might be few minor errors. 6.5 to >5.5 pts Partially me e ts e xpe ctations The paper shows a satisfactory, though not complete, understanding of the issues involved. The description of the main concepts leaves 2.5 tosome >1.5 pts aspects Partially undefined me e ts or ambiguous. e xpe ctations 2.5 pts Almost the re 2 pts Could be be tte r 1 to 25 words below or above the word limits. 25-100 words above or below word limits. The paper uses appropriate language that generally conveys meaning, although it may include some errors. 1.5 pts You ne e d to work on this 100-200 words above or below the word limits. Pts 5.5 to >5.0 pts M inimum be nchmark 5 to >0 pts Unde r be nchmark The paper shows a partial understanding of the issues involved; the main concepts are not explicitly discussed. The paper shows that you did not understand the issues involved. 1.5 pts Be nchmark The paper is readable but it uses language that sometimes impedes meaning because of errors. 8 pts 1.5 to >0 pts Unde r be nchmark The paper uses language that often impedes meaning because of errors. 1 pts Synthe sis is a v irtue ! 0 pts Unde r be nchmark More than 200 words above the word limit. More than 200 words below the word minimum. 3 pts 3 pts Total Points: 30 https://ucirvine.instructure.com/courses/32723/assignments/641083 6/6 Plato, The Allegory of the Cave From The Republic, Book VII (source for the text: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html; comments AB) Socrates – Glaucon And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: -Behold! Human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. I see. And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent. You have shown me a strange image,

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