EVAUATION OF YOUR ESSAY
Your paper will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
• Presentation of your ideas (e.g., writing style, organization, clarity of exposition)
• Strength of your arguments and analyses
• Creativity in dealing with the problems or issues being addressed
• Plausibility of the views or positions you defend
• Overall understanding of the issues you are discussing
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS, INSTRUCTIONS AND ADVICE
One of the keys to writing a good paper is to be clear about what you want to say. You should, therefore, try to get as clear as you can about your topic before you start writing. Your views might evolve as you go along – that is to be expected – but, if you don’t have some objectives in mind before starting to write, you will have nothing to give you direction.
You should definitely make an outline of your essay, and you should plan on writing several drafts. You cannot expect to write a good paper in one draft. You may discuss your topic with other students in the class, as this is often a very helpful and enjoyable way to develop ideas. In the end, of course, you must write your paper yourself.
Points of Style
Remember that you are writing an essay and so, obviously, you must write in complete sentences with appropriate paragraph breaks, and so forth. Other than this, there is no special format that you need to use. It sometimes helps the reader to follow what’s being said if an essay is divided into different sections with appropriate headings and sub-headings. This is up to you, though there shouldn’t be too many headings, otherwise your paper will appear too fragmented.
You may use a somewhat informal writing style if you wish. For example, use of the first person is acceptable, as in “My own view is ..” or “I am inclined to think that …” However, be careful not to overwork such phrases, and avoid being too colloquial. It is best to write in a clear, straightforward style. Don’t try to sound too intellectual or academic, especially if you don’t feel comfortable or natural writing in such a style.
It is probably best to start your essay by stating as clearly as you can what issue you are going to be discussing. You may have to provide some background before you begin to develop your own ideas, and you may also need to clarify the question you are addressing, but you should do this as concisely as you can so that the bulk of the essay consists of your critical discussion of the issue.
Comments about Content
Remember that this is primarily a discussion paper, not a research paper. You may consult library or Internet sources for additional information about your topic, but this is not mainly what we are looking for. In writing your essay your main goal should be to say something interesting about the topic you have selected. To say something interesting about it, you must say something that is original and creative. This is another reason why you must think carefully about your topic before you begin writing, as you must determine whether you have any interesting things to say about it. If you can’t seem to come up with anything, switch to another topic.
Keep in mind that the purpose of writing a term paper, or writing anything for that matter, is to say something original. Your main goal in your paper must therefore be to say something new, or something that, as far as you are aware, is new and interesting about the issue of the meaning of life. You don’t want to merely repeat what others have written about this issue. Saying some new about an issue that is also plausible, whether in philosophy or any other subject is difficult, but do the best you can.
Remember also that this is a philosophical paper, not an exercise in rhetoric. It is not enough merely to express your opinion, regardless of how elegantly you do so. I want you to be as forceful and persuasive as you can be, of course, but you must not engage in overstatement or exaggeration. To be persuasive in writing a philosophical paper means supporting your views by carefully reasoned and detailed arguments.
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