Introduction to Philosophy, Honors (section 1)Spring 1998


An important part of this course is the writing assignments. There are two papers, each worth 20% of the grade. The first paper will be on a topic I will assign later. The second paper will be a topic of your own choosing, subject to the advice and consent of the instructor.

Any use of sources should be footnoted adequately. If you got an idea from somewhere, indicate that. If you refer me to a book or an article be sure to give me enough information (title, author, edition, page number) for me to find the reference. If you think I may not have access to the article, you should consider providing a photocopy of it. Failure to provide adequate citations may hurt your grade.

For each paper I have required that you submit a draft of the paper well before the paper is due. I will read the draft and comment on it (preferably face to face in conference), and indicate how it can be improved. The draft should lay out a position, arguments for a position, anticipate objections, etc. Don't let the word "draft" fool you. While your draft may not be polished or even complete, neither should it simply be a couple of pages of notes or an outline. Indeed, what you submit as a "draft" should be as good a paper as you can write. When you submit the draft you can make an appointment to meet with me to discuss it.

There is no specific length requirement for these papers, but before you hand in a five-page paper, recall that twenty percent of your grade is determined by each paper. You should type (or have a computer print out) your papers. Electronic submissions to are welcome. These may be sent as inline text or as attachments. Please see instructions sending e-mail attachements.

The topic of the second paper, as I indicated, is to be chosen by the student with the advice and consent of the instructor. The topic should, of course, be something relevant to the course. It should not be a rehash of something we have done in class, although it could take significantly further some issue that arose in class. The assignment for the first paper should give you some idea of what counts as a good topic. From time to time during the semester I may suggest possible paper topics.

Second paper proposals: Besides the second paper being due on a specific date, a "proposal" is due much earlier. In the proposal I would like you to offer a description of the problem or topic you will be addressing. You should give me some idea of what your thesis will be and what arguments you will be presenting for it. Requiring such a proposal is designed in part to encourage you to get to work on the paper much earlier in the semester than you otherwise might. A paper of this sort (counting 20% of your grade) should not be written in a single weekend. The proposal also serves to give the instructor a chance to offer feedback. I can provide suggestions for how to develop the topic, where to look for related reading material, and can help you to avoid mistakes and inappropriate topics. I expect this proposal to be at least a page in length and to be written after you have done some preliminary exploratory work. You will not be graded on the proposal itself. However, I will accept no second paper from a student until I have had a chance to review that student's proposal. Since the grade on the paper may be adversely affected by lateness, it is in your best interest to get the proposal to me without delay. Of course quite apart from the threat of refusal to accept the paper itself, it is to your advantage to have early feedback on your ideas for a paper.

Richard Lee,, last modified: 24 April 1998