Philosophy Paper Essay Dissertation Help

Philosophy Paper

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The paper has several parts.
* It will have a thesis. The thesis must have a very specific format. Either it must be from the list below, or I must approve it in writing.
* It will give an argument that your thesis is true.
* It will respond to all the obvious objections to your argument or thesis; these are all the objections that come directly from what we covered in class.
* It will explain a non-obvious objection to your thesis. This is an objection we have not covered in class. You must do your best to make this look like a good objection (even though you don’t believe it is a good objection, since you believe your thesis).
* Finally, it will explain why the non-obvious objection does not work, and so why your thesis really is true.
Pre-approved theses:

You may not change any aspect of these theses (except to fill in the brackets in each) without my written approval. These theses contain two conditionals; you must argue for both, but only have to give a counterexample to one.

* If [condition(s)] then A’s belief that p is true is justified; if [those conditions] are not met, then A’s belief that p is true is not justified.

* If [condition(s)] then A can form justified beliefs by trusting B more than C; if [those conditions] are not met, then when A trusts B more than C, A’s beliefs are not justified.

* If [conditions] then A can have justified beliefs about a disputed religious claim X; if [those conditions] are not met, then A cannot have justified beliefs about a disputed religious claim X. By “Specific religious claim,” I mean claims that are unique to just certain religions, so that they are the subject of disagreement (e.g. that Jesus was the messiah, or that humans will be reincarnated after death). You aren’t supposed to pick a particular religious claim as X; instead, your paper is about justification and religious disagreement in general.

* If [conditions] then A can form justified beliefs by trusting their self more than others; if [those conditions] are not met, then A cannot form justified beliefs by trusting their self more than others.

* If [conditions] then A can have justified beliefs about transformative experience E; if [those conditions] are not met, then A cannot have justified beliefs about transformative experience E.
* If A’s belief that p is true is due to a testimonial injustice [and conditions], then A’s belief that p is justified; if those conditions are not met, then A’s belief that p is not justified. (Note: if you want, your thesis can be “If A’s belief that p is true is due to a testimonial injustice, then A’s belief that p is not justified.”)
Possible other topics
Theses on these topics must be approved by me; that is, if you write on one of these, I have to have approved, in writing, the exact thesis your paper is about. Your proposed thesis should have the same structure as those above; that is, it should tell me “Under these conditions, such-and-such is wrong, and in all other conditions it is permissible.”

* Pick a topic other than religion about which there is extensive disagreement, and write about when beliefs on this topic are or are not justified. Or pick a topic where some people claim that beliefs on that topic are systematically biased, or the product of untrustworthy cognitive processes; when are beliefs on this topic justified and why (this is like Clark & Barrett’s discussion of the cognitive science of religion).

* Imagine that A goes through some transformative experience at time T; after time T, should A trust the beliefs they formed before the experience? If A knows, before T, that A will have different beliefs after the experience, should A trust their future self’s beliefs?

* Who should we trust when we are not experts on a subject, and we know that experts disagree?

* How does it affect the justification of our beliefs when we have cognitive biases that we are not aware of (and maybe cannot be aware of)?

* I’m open to you writing on other topics; send me your ideas. I suggest doing so before your paper outlines are due, so you don’t put too much time into a topic that won’t be approved.

A note on trivial theses (this applies to both pre-approved and novel theses) Here’s an example of a trivial thesis: “If A cannot form justified beliefs by trusting B, then it is not reasonable for A to trust B.” That’s not worth writing about: the antecedent and consequent mean basically the same thing. Trivial theses are no good because there are really not informative. You are not allowed to write about trivial theses.

Paper grading standards

Part 1
Part 1 will be read and graded independently from part 2 and 3. Ideas and arguments in part 2 or 3 will not contribute to your grade for part 1.

Audience: The audience for Part 1 is a reasonable person who has taken this class, understood everything we have covered, and starts off disagreeing with your thesis.

Part 1 gets an A if it could convince the audience that your thesis is true. This means that Part 1 must do all of the following:

Part 1 must explain what your thesis means. Any unclear or ambiguous terms should be explained. Given this explanation, a person should be able to think of example situations and determine if they fit the antecedent(s) of the conditional(s) in your thesis. If not, then no one can tell whether or not Part 1 could convince your audience, since we don’t know what it is trying to convince the audience.

Part 1 must contain an argument for your thesis. The argument must give evidence that your thesis is false, evidence which could convince the audience. The argument should address every aspect of your thesis: if your thesis has multiple conditionals, or multiple conditions in the antecedent(s), you must argue for all of these.

Part 1 must address all obvious objections. Your thesis, and/or your arguments, will seemingly disagree with arguments we covered in class, or ideas in the readings. Or, there may be problems with your arguments, or counterexamples to your thesis, that your audience would very easily think of. These are “obvious” objections – objections that your audience will know of, which must be addressed in order to convince your audience.
Your paper must state all the obvious objections. For each, it must explain why this objection would seem relevant to your thesis or arguments.
Your paper must respond to each objection (showing that your thesis is still true) in a way that could satisfy your audience. This will require giving evidence that your audience would find compelling.

Your overall grade for Part 1 will be determined by the quality of your argument for your thesis and your responses to each obvious objection. So, for example, you could give a B quality argument for your thesis, an B quality response to one obvious objection, and forget to respond to the other possible obvious objection. This would be about a C-level Part 1, since part is A quality, part B quality, and part F quality.

Part 2
In Part 2, you must give a reasonable counterexample to your thesis.

This must be a specific example, which is significantly different from any we have covered in class, or anything that was in the reading. You must clearly explain the specific situation that is your counterexample. And you must clearly explain why someone would think that this is a strong counterexample to your thesis.

To get an A, you must both give a counterexample to your thesis that could convince a reasonable person that your thesis is false, and also clearly explain why a reasonable person could be convinced by it, in a way that shows that you understand (some of) those who disagree with you.

Part 3
In Part 3, you must respond to the counterexample given in Part 2. You may not change your thesis, nor change any part of the objection from Part 2.

Your response should be able to convince a person who was originally compelled by the example in Part 2.

If your response shows that there is a better counterexample to your thesis than the one in Part 2 (e.g. it focuses on a detail of Part 2 that could easily be changed to make Part 2 a better counterexample), that is bad for your grade.

If Part 2 is a weak or bad counterexample to your thesis, then you cannot get a good grade for Part 3; this is because Part 3 does not demonstrate your ability to really engage with people who disagree with you.
I am going to send you suggestions/feedback. You want the thesis and counterexample you turn in to be as good as possible, so that the suggestions/feedback are actually helpful. What you actually turn in will be very short. But it requires a lot of work to produce. First, look at the paper assignment and pick a general topic. It will make your life easier if you pick one that you have strong views about. Think hard about what you believe about this topic. Try to put this into words – try to pick a thesis that reflects your beliefs. You definitely want to pick a thesis that you think is true, because anything else will be too hard to write about. If you can articulate your views on this topic, and put them into conditionals, then you have a tentative thesis already. Students often misrepresent their views because they try to put their thesis into overly simple conditionals. But there is no reason why your conditionals have to be simple or short. Instead, they might look something like this: If x, y, and z are true, then a belief is justified; if either x, y, or z is false, then a belief is not justified. If a long, complicated thesis better expresses what you think, then use a long, complicated thesis. What should you do if you aren’t sure exactly what you believe? Pick some examples (relevant to your topic) where something is clearly true (e.g. a belief is clearly justified) and examples where this is clearly not true (e.g. beliefs are not justified). Once you have a few examples on either side of the issue, ask yourself what all the examples on one side have in common that differentiates them from the other side. For example, what do all the cases where beliefs are justified have in common, that separates them from the cases in which they are not justified? This will give you a tentative thesis. Once you think you have a tentative thesis, look back at the paper assignment and check to make sure your proposed thesis is in the right format. It has to look exactly like one of the approved theses on the list. If it does not, then you have to get it approved by me in writing. Your job is not done once you have a tentative thesis in mind. This is because, in most cases, you do not actually believe that this thesis is true. To check this, see if you can easily think of any counterexamples to your thesis that you are convinced by. If you can, then you should change your thesis. Try to slightly revise the one you’ve already given so that it doesn’t say the thing you think is false. If you can’t do so, pick a new thesis and start over. Once you have a thesis that avoids this counterexample, try to find a new counterexample to your new thesis. Again, you are looking for a counterexample that you find convincing. If you can find one, then you have to modify your thesis again. Do this over and over until you have a thesis that you can’t easily show is false. This is vital: if you can see a clear problem with your thesis, the person grading your paper can see it too. If you catch the obvious problems with your ideas now, then writing the actual paper is going to be much easier. When you have a thesis you are happy with, go on to the next step. Counterexample Now you have a thesis. As you have probably noticed in class, whatever your thesis says, someone is going to disagree with it, even if you think you are correct. Ask yourself, what would someone else think is a good counterexample to your thesis? Pick a specific counterexample to your thesis, that we didn’t talk about in class, and write that down. You are not going to be convinced by this counterexample, since you believe your thesis is true, but you should give a counterexample that someone else might be convinced by.

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