“Metaphysics” or “epistemology” section of the book.

“Metaphysics” or “epistemology” section of the book.

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All essays should be in Times New Roman 12-point font, all margins should be 1-inch, and the paper should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between paragraphs. All

essays must be stapled. Any deviation from the above format restrictions will result in a 15% reduction in points. Any citations should be in MLA format.


1) Choose a topic, from the “Metaphysics” or “epistemology” section of the book. If the text does not provide an adequate discussion of your topic you may consult

outside sources. However, the sources should be academic sources. (Note: surfing the web is not research and Wikipedia is not an academic source. Take the opportunity

to visit our library and the wonderful world of books.)

2) You can use a variety of strategies in your paper. You may agree or disagree with the author. In this case you will need to support your claim that the author is

wrong or that the author is right. Consider which of the author’s claims lead to the problem. You may also agree with the author’s position and want to demonstrate

that the author is correct. A paper that compares two positions that are in disagreement is also a good strategy. In this kind of paper you will normally take a side

in the argument and show why one author’s position is stronger than the other. These are not the only possible strategies, but this should give you a good idea.

3) Before you begin writing your paper, you should write down your thesis on a piece of paper. If you cannot do this in one or two sentences, then you need to rethink

what you are trying to say. A thesis should be a clear statement of the position you are taking. It should answer the question, “What is this paper about?” Do not

begin writing your paper until you have a concise theses statement.

4) Write down the primary evidence that you will present in support of your thesis. Consider whether this evidence supports your thesis. In some cases you will need

secondary evidence to support your primary evidence. For example, you may take a position and make a claim that supports your thesis. This claim may also need to be


5) Organize the presentation of your paper. Do not underestimate the value of outlines.


1) A good paper has a good introduction and conclusion. The introduction should state your thesis and outline the problem(s) which the paper is concerned with. The

conclusion should sum up the arguments offered in the body of the paper and explain how they deal with the problem(s) discussed in the introduction. In short, how did

the paper support your thesis?

2) Within the body of the paper, arguments should be presented in a concise, coherent, and orderly fashion. It is important to ensure that each argument fits well

within the overall structure of the paper. Insofar as information is irrelevant to your thesis, do not bother to present it.

3) The arguments presented in the body of the paper should be supported with evidence. When a premise or point requires substantiation, references should be given, or

examples should be cited. Remember, however, there is a finite limit to the amount of justification that can be offered for each point or premise. Use common sense to

determine what is sufficient in a particular context. Generally speaking, the greater the importance of a premise to the overall argument of a paper, the greater the

requirement for its justification.

4) Possible objections to the point of view that you are arguing for must be considered. These should be well thought out objections to your thesis or the arguments

that you use in support of your thesis. It is important to make the objections against your position as plausible as possible.

5) You should show why these objections are not fatal to your position. Demonstrate why your position holds up in the face of these objections. (Note that you should

avoid committing a “Straw man fallacy.” This occurs when the arguments that you defend against are either not plausible or misrepresent the position you are arguing


6) Make sure that everything in your paper is relevant to your argument. Try to be as concise as possible. Again, irrelevant points only serve to weaken your paper.

7) Make sure that all material quoted or paraphrased, either directly or indirectly, is accurately referenced. In extreme cases, not following this guideline can

amount to plagiarism. Plagiarism can result in failure of the course.


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