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Paper 1 Instructions
Due 11/17/2015
To be submitted through e-mail: cjgibilisco@gmail.com
1 General Instructions
Paper 2 will require you to present a philosophical argument and defend it from a criticism. That
is, you’re going to present an argument you like, and then consider an objection against your
view. Then you write why you think that criticism fails.
• Goal: Write a paper in defense of a philosophical argument.
• Topics: You may write a paper defending any argument we’ve discussed in class other than
arguments about the existence of God. I give detailed instructions on two possible topics.
You can write on these topics if you’re unsure what to write on, or use them as a guide if
you decide to write on another topic. For example, you may:
– present and defend Principle of Alternative Possibilities as the correct view about
moral responsibility
– or present and defend Frankfurt’s view that moral responsibility does not require the
ability to do otherwise
– or write present and defend another view (modeling your paper’s structure on the
two example papers given below)
• If you choose to defend the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Paper 2 will (roughly)
consist of the following parts:
1. Introduction: Explain the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists (what
are the two dierent dentions of free choice?), dene key terms (especially the Principle
of Alternative Possibilities and other terms related to moral responsibility)
2. Thesis statement: thesis statements are like a road map for your reader: it tells your
reader where you plan on going and how you plan on getting there. In your thesis
statement, you will state the goal of your paper (give an argument and defend it from
a criticism), and how you will prove it.
– “In this paper, I will argue that the principle of alternative possibilities is the
correct view of moral responsibility, because [list the reasons you think it’s true].
I also consider an objection to this argument, and argue that it fails.”
1
Paper 2 Instructions 2
3. Reconstruction: fully state van Inwagen’s argument for the principle alternative
possibilities (p. 254 of van Inwagen, and class notes)
4. Criticism: give the strongest criticism against the argument you can think of, either
using an argument from class or of your own making
– The objection we considered in class was Frankfurt’s Smith and Jones case, which
apparently shows that someone can be morally responsible without having the
ability to do otherwise (pp. 835–6 of Frankfurt, and class notes), making the
Principle of Alternative Possibilities false
5. Response to Criticism: Explain why that criticism fails. You may use an argument
from class or of your own making to respond to the criticism
6. Bibliography/Works Cited Page: You must fully cite every source that you use
for this paper
– You may use a bibliography generator online, but double-check your entry against
the guidelines given on Purdue’s OWL page.
– If you use the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there are instructions for
citations here: plato.stanford.edu/cite.html
– Here is the bibliographical information for Peter van Inwagen:
* Author: van Inwagen, Peter
* Book title: Metaphysics
* Edition: 3rd Edition
* Publisher: Westview
* City of Publication: Boulder, CO
* Year: 2009
– Here is the bibliographical information for Frankfurt:
* Author: Frankfurt, Harry G.
* Article Title: Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility
* Journal Title: Journal of Philosophy
* Volume: 66
* Issue: 23
* Year: 1969
* Pages: 829–839
• If you choose to defend Frankfurt’s viewthat moral responsibility does not require
the ability to do otherwise, Paper 2 will (roughly) consist of the following parts:
1. Introduction: Explain the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists (what
are the two dierent dentions of free choice? determinism? And so on), dene key
terms (especially the Principle of Alternative Possibilities and other terms related to
moral responsibility)
2. Thesis statement: thesis statements are like a road map for your reader: it tells your
reader where you plan on going and how you plan on getting there. In your thesis
Paper 2 Instructions 3
statement, you will state the goal of your paper (give an argument and defend it from
a criticism), and how you will prove it.
– “In this paper, I will argue that Frankfurt’s compatibilist viewabout moral responsibility
is correct, because [list the reasons you think it’s true]. I also consider an
objection to this argument, and argue that it fails.”
3. Reconstruction: fully state Frankfurt’s Smith and Jones case, and explain why it
shows that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism (p. 835–6 of Frankfurt,
class notes)
4. Criticism: give the strongest criticism against the argument you can think of, either
using an argument from class or of your own making
– The objection we considered in class was Inwagen’s argument that moral responsibility
requires the existence of alternative possibilities (that is, that moral
responsibility is incompatible with determinism) (p. 254 of van Inwagen, and
class notes)
5. Response to Criticism: Explain why that criticism fails. You may use an argument
from class or of your own making to respond to the criticism
6. Bibliography/Works Cited Page: You must fully cite every source that you use
for this paper
– You may use a bibliography generator online, but double-check your entry against
the guidelines given on Purdue’s OWL page.
– If you use the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there are instructions for
citations here: plato.stanford.edu/cite.html
– Here is the bibliographical information for Peter van Inwagen:
* Author: van Inwagen, Peter
* Book title: Metaphysics
* Edition: 3rd Edition
* Publisher: Westview
* City of Publication: Boulder, CO
* Year: 2009
– Here is the bibliographical information for Frankfurt:
* Author: Frankfurt, Harry G.
* Article Title: Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility
* Journal Title: Journal of Philosophy
* Volume: 66
* Issue: 23
* Year: 1969
* Pages: 829–839
Paper 2 Instructions 4
2 Grading
You will be graded on the following rubric:
• General
– The paper has. . .
* has a clear and accurate thesis statement
* has proper citations
* has a bibliography/works cited page that properly cites every source the paper
uses
* is clearly written
* is accurate
• Comprehensiveness
– The paper’s introduction. . .
* denes all key terms used in the paper
* has a clear and accurate thesis statement
– The paper’s reconstruction. . .
* is clearly presented
* is accurate and fully reconstructed
* explains what the argument is meant to show about moral responsibility
– The criticism of the paper is. . .
* is clearly presented
* actually applies to the view presented in the reconstruction
* is plausible
* is fully explained
– The response to the criticism. . .
* is clearly presented
* actually applies to the criticism presented in the criticism
* is plausible
* fully explains why the objection fails
3 Plagiarism
You absolutely may not collaborate with classmates when it comes to writing this paper.
You may discuss this paper with classmates, research together, and share ideas1, but you
1If you use a classmate’s idea, you must credit them in a footnote: “I owe this idea to [insert his or her name here].”
If you use someone else’s idea without crediting them, even a friend, that counts as plagiarism. Just remember to
give credit where credit is due.
Paper 2 Instructions 5
absolutely may not write any part of the paper together, or base your writing on a classmate’s.
Any sign of collaboration will be treated as plagiarism.

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