Writing to Reason : A Companion for Philosophy Students and Instructors

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-03-17
  • Publisher: Wiley
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Writing to Reasonpresents the principles of writing a clear and well-argued philosophy paper in an easily-referenced numerical format, which facilitates efficient grading and clearer communication between instructors and students. Points out the most common problems students have achieving these objectives Increases efficiencies for instructors in grading papers Presents students with clearer information, objectivity, and transparency about their graded results Facilitates clearer communication between instructors and students

Author Biography

Brian David Mogck is the author of Is Logic Syntax of Language?: Carnap’s Programme, Gödel’s Critique, and Wittgenstein’s Evasion. He earned a PhD in philosophy from Emory University and taught at Emory, Spelman College, and Clayton College and State University. He received a JD from Columbia Law School, and is now an attorney in New York.

Table of Contents

Preface: A Users' Guidep. ix
A Note to Instructorsp. ix
A Note to Studentsp. xii
Acknowledgmentsp. xviii
Glossary of Philosophical Termsp. xix
Writing Philosophyp. 1
Writing a Philosophy Paperp. 3
What is a Philosophy Paper Supposed to Accomplish?p. 3
Choosing a Topicp. 4
Moving through Draftsp. 11
The Only Outline You Need is a Sketch of the Argument You Plan to Makep. 12
The Cardinal Virtues: Logical Rigor and Clarity of Expressionp. 13
A Checklist for Spotting Problems Earlyp. 14
Philosophical Writing Advances a Thesis with an Argumentp. 16
Consuming Argumentsp. 16
What is an argument?p. 16
How is a philosopher's argument to be recognized?p. 21
The principle of charityp. 23
How is an argument to be criticized?p. 25
Producing Argumentsp. 28
A clearly stated, tightly focused thesis is essentialp. 28
The introduction states why you wrote the paper and why your audience should read itp. 29
The body of your paper follows a strategy to demonstrate your thesisp. 30
Consider objections to your viewp. 32
The conclusion of your paper explains the conclusion of your argumentp. 34
On words that indicate conclusions and premisesp. 35
Provide justification for every important claimp. 35
What makes an argument philosophically interesting?p. 36
The Rudiments of Academic Writingp. 40
Elements of Stylep. 40
Use the first-person, active voicep. 40
Avoid using a conversational tonep. 41
The paper should have a titlep. 41
Pages should be numberedp. 42
The correct use of punctuationp. 42
The correct use of Latin abbreviationsp. 43
The correct use of Latin expressionsp. 44
The consistent use of pronounsp. 47
Grammatical errorsp. 47
Using a term vs. mentioning itp. 48
How to edit or add text within a quotationp. 49
Elements of Substancep. 50
Avoid mere rhetoric: philosophy is not forensicsp. 50
Avoid using five-star vocabulary wordsp. 52
The standard of precision in written discoursep. 53
On expressions such as "It is clear that..."p. 53
Use accurate terms having clear referentsp. 54
Always look for the contrast termp. 55
Watch out for mysterious agentsp. 55
Substantive Advicep. 55
Never quote the instructorp. 55
Never quote the dictionaryp. 56
A Few Frequently Misused Termsp. 56
Philosophy vs. view vs. opinionp. 56
Concept vs. conceptionp. 57
Think vs. feelp. 58
Statement vs. argumentp. 59
Sound, valid, and truep. 59
Explaining Philosophical Textsp. 60
Make sense out of the text as a wholep. 60
Make sense out of the main arguments in a textp. 62
Every quotation requires explanationp. 63
Every quotation requires specific attributionp. 64
The consistent and meaningful use of technical terminologyp. 66
The Rudiments of Academic Researchp. 67
Use the library, not the Webp. 67
Primary sources are your primary responsibilityp. 69
What kind of secondary sources should be used and how?p. 70
Doing Philosophyp. 73
Academic Integrityp. 75
Know Your School's Honor Code and its Policies Regarding Plagiarismp. 75
What is Plagiarism?p. 75
How to Avoid Plagiarismp. 76
Proper Attribution Bolsters One's Scholarly Credibilityp. 77
Cheaters are Likely to be Caughtp. 77
How to Succeed in a Philosophy Coursep. 79
Practice the Intellectual Virtuesp. 79
Come to Class Preparedp. 82
Ask Substantive Questionsp. 83
Respect the Arduous Process of Careful Reading and Writingp. 83
Why is Philosophy So Hard to Do?p. 84
Why is Philosophy So Hard to Read?p. 85
On the Critical Nature of Philosophy and a Few Myths it is Useful to Discardp. 87
What Does it Mean to Do Philosophy?p. 93
Philosophers Inquire into Our Concepts and Commitmentsp. 94
Philosophy Explicates What is Implicit in Our Concepts and Commitmentsp. 96
Philosophical Reflection and the Public Use of Reasonp. 104
Keywords Cross-Referenced to Section Numbersp. 117
Referencesp. 119
Indexp. 123
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