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I. What is a Philosophy Paper?

A philosophy paper is an original, extended argument for some claim.

For an excellent and far more detailed answer to the question "what is a philosophy paper?" please read James Pryor's "What Does One Do in a Philosophy Paper?": http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html

II. How You'll Be Graded

In grading your philosophical writing, your professor will take all of the following into consideration.

  1. Understanding of course material. How well do you understand the topic (issue, argument, etc.) on which you are writing? How well do you understand the philosophical texts about which you are writing or to which you are responding?
  2. Strength of your arguments. Is your reasoning logically strong or weak? In other words, do your arguments work? Are the premises on which you rely true, or at least plausible? Do you anticipate and respond to potential objections to your view?
  3. Originality. Does your essay contain your own original thinking, e.g., an argument of your own, or a unique way of interpreting or extrapolating from something another philosopher has written?
  4. Clarity and precision. Is it clear to the reader (i.e., to your professor) what you are trying to say? Is your wording precise, or does it leave unclear the point you are trying to make?
  5. Conciseness. Have you argued your claim concisely, in as few words as necessary? Do you avoid extraneous material?
  6. Grammar, punctuation and spelling. Your essay should be free from any grammar, punctuation or spelling errors. Errors that render your meaning unclear, and thus make it difficult for a reader to understand what you mean, will especially count against you.

Different philosophy professors may weight these criteria in different ways when assigning your grade. But every professor will take all six criteria into account when determining your grade on a given assignment.

III. General Points About Your Paper.

IV. Plagiarism and Citation

If you use another person's ideas without giving him or her credit, you have committed plagiarism and thereby violated the Honor Code of the University of West Georgia. In this situation your professor may give you a grade of "F" for the entire course.

When you quote from someone else's work, including from the philosophical texts about which you are writing, you must indicate that you are quoting, and you must cite the source, including the page number. Quoting without indicating that you are doing so constitutes presenting someone else's words as your own. This is plagiarism and is grounds for course grade of "F."