PHIL 4150: Analytic Philosophy

Dr. Robert Lane, University of West Georgia

Fall 2014

 

 

Term Paper Instructions

 

These instructions supplement the more general instructions found in my online document, "Writing a Philosophy Paper": http://www.westga.edu/~rlane/paperResources.html . I expect you to follow instructions in BOTH documents.

 

Before starting work on this project, read this document by James Pryor:  http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html

 

Your term paper must be an argumentative essay about the philosophy of one or more of the figures covered in this class:

·         Gottlob Frege

·         Bertrand Russell

·         Ludwig Wittgenstein

·         A. J. Ayer

·         C. L. Stevenson

·         W. V. O. Quine

 

 

The final version of your term paper is worth 30% of your total course grade.

 

 

Mandatory Term Paper Draft: due Monday November 3

 

Your draft must be turned in at the beginning of class on Monday November 3.

 

·         It must be a solid draft, something that you have already spent a good deal of time on.

·         It must contain an opening that explains to the reader what you’ll be doing; a solid, detailed, clearly structured body; and a conclusion that summarizes your results.

·         You should proofread it for grammatical mistakes and other technical problems, and include a bibliography, just as you would a final draft.

·         This draft must be at least 1,500 words.

 

I will not assign a grade to your draft. However, if it is clear that you have not much thought and effort into it, I will deduct 10% or more from the grade I assign to the final draft.

 

In response to your draft, I will give you written comments and suggestions as to how you can improve your paper. If the draft you turn in is of sufficient length (2,500 words minimum) and quality to qualify as an “A” paper as it stands, then I will accept it as the final draft.

 

Technical Requirements

·         Include a word-count at the beginning or end of your essay. Failure to include a word count may result in a reduction in the grade you receive for the final version of your term paper.

·         Include page numbers at the top or bottom of each page.

·         Your essay must be typed and double-spaced. This will give me plenty of room to write comments on your papers. No handwritten essays will be accepted.

·         Do not put your name anywhere on your essay. Rather, identify your paper with your student number (NOT your social security number). This will help me grade your papers anonymously.

·         You MUST include a bibliography, even if there is only a single source that you cite. See “Writing a Philosophy Paper” for details. Failure to include a bibliography may result in a reduction in grade you receive for the final version of your term paper.

 

 

Final Version of Term Paper (due Wednesday December 3).

 

Your final paper must be turned in at the beginning of class on Wednesday December 3.

 

Technical Requirements

·         Include a word-count at the beginning or end of your essay. Failure to include a word count will result in a reduction in your grade.

·         Include page numbers at the top or bottom of each page.

·         Your essay must be typed and double-spaced. This will give me plenty of room to write comments on your papers. No handwritten essays will be accepted.

·         Do not put your name anywhere on your essay. Rather, identify your paper with your student number (NOT your social security number). This will help me grade your papers anonymously.

·         Do not hand in your paper in a binder, folder, etc. Simply staple the pages together in the upper left corner.

·         You MUST include a bibliography, even if there is only a single source that you cite. See “Writing a Philosophy Paper” for details. Failure to include a bibliography will result in a reduction in your grade.

 

Printed copies of your papers must be turned in at the very beginning of class. No late papers will be accepted without penalty unless I have given you prior permission.

·         I will accept your paper at any time before the deadline (i.e., you do not have to wait until December 3 to turn it in).

·         If I receive your paper later than one hour after the beginning of class, you will lose one letter grade; if I receive it later than two hours after the beginning of class, you will lose two letter grades; if I receive it later than three hours after the beginning of class, you will lose three letter grades; I will not accept any papers later than four hours after the beginning of class on the due date.

·         I recommend that you have a copy of your paper printed out the evening before it is due. If you wait until that morning to print it out and you run into problems (lost disk, printer failure, etc.) which prevent you from turning your paper in at the beginning of class, you will be penalized.

 

Length: 2500 words minimum. DO NOT GO UNDER THE MINIMUM LENGTH OF 2500 words. If you do so, your grade will be significantly reduced. You may go over 2500 words, but remember that part of your grade will be based on conciseness, so in presenting your argument(s) you should be as concise as possible and avoid extraneous material.

 

 

A Reminder About Plagiarism

 

If you use another person's words or ideas without giving him or her credit, you have committed plagiarism and thereby violated the Honor Code of the University of West Georgia.

 

When you quote from someone else’s work, including from your textbook(s) or from my lecture notes, you must indicate that you are quoting, and you must cite the source, including the page number [this should be done in a footnote or an endnote]. Quoting without indicating that you are doing so constitutes presenting someone else’s words as your own. This is plagiarism.

 

When you use someone else’s ideas without indicating that those ideas are not your own, you have committed plagiarism. This is true, even if you are not quoting their exact words. If you employ someone else’s ideas in your paper, you must cite the source of those ideas [this should be done in a footnote or an endnote]. If you put their ideas into your own words but do not say that those ideas are someone else’s, you have committed plagiarism.

 

If you commit plagiarism in this class, you will receive an "F" for the entire course. You will also be reported the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and recommended for disciplinary action, which may include expulsion from this institution.

 

 

Use of Class Lecture Notes

 

One of the most common errors in term papers for my courses is that students rely too heavily on my online lecture notes in writing their papers. One of the points of the paper is that you show me that you can read and critically respond to philosophical writing. You will do this only if your paper demonstrates that you are dealing with the source material about which you are writing. You will not do this if your paper explains my own lecture notes back to me. For this reason, you are not permitted to refer to my lecture notes in writing your paper.

 

 

 

Suggested Topics

 

You may choose to write on a topic other than those listed below. However, if you choose to do so, you must discuss your topic with me and get my permission first. I encourage you to speak with me about your paper, in any case.

 

·         Critically evaluate Gottlob Frege’s claim in “On Sense and Reference” that there is a distinction between a word’s meaning and its reference and/or his claim that that distinction can help explain why some identity statements are informative and others are not.

·         Critically evaluate Gottlob Frege’s criticism of the correspondence theory of truth in his article “Thought”.

·         Critically evaluate Bertrand Russell’s theory of descriptions and/or his view that that theory solves one or more philosophical puzzles, as presented in his article “On Denoting.”

·         Critically evaluate the view of language and its connection to the world that Ludwig Wittgenstein presents in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

·         Critically evaluate A. J. Ayer’s logical positivism and/or his view of metaphysics in “The Elimination of Metaphysics”.

·         Critically evaluate C. L. Stevenson’s account of moral language in “The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms”.

·         Critically evaluate Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later account of language and/or his anti-essentialism in his Blue and Brown Books.

·         Critically evaluate W. V. O. Quine’s attack on the analytic/synthetic distinction and/or reductionism in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”.

·         Critically evaluate W. V. O. Quine’s nominalism as defended in “On What There Is”.

 

In the topics listed above, “critically evaluate” means: make evaluative claims (“this theory is wrong”; “this account of meaning is good, but it is incomplete;”  “Ayer’s argument is valid but relies on a false assumption”; “Wittgenstein is wrong for the following reasons”; etc.) and support those claims with your own original thoughts.