Paper 3

Paper 3 Instructions and Prompts

Due: Wednesday, December 16th (by 11:59PM) Worth 15 points

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Paper 2 required you to explain a debate – i.e. to explain an argument as well as an objection to a weak point of the argument. Paper 3 will now require you to not only explain a debate, but requires you to also take your own stance on the debate (supporting either the objection or the argument it’s objecting to) and to argue for it with your own reasons and argument. You will basically be asked to

So while Paper 2 required you to complete two tasks, Paper 3 will require you to do three – one new task as well as the two exact same tasks from Paper 2. The 3 tasks are as follows:

First, choose one of the 5 prompts to write on and explain the main argument specified in that prompt. That is, explain the author’s argument for their specific conclusion – the reasons they give in support of their conclusion. (This is what you were required to do in Paper 1.)

Second, brainstorm one objection to a controversial and major assumption of the argument that is specified in the prompt and explain how the objection could undermine the author’s main argument. That is, think of your own reason for objecting to the potential weak point of the author’s argument and explain the reasoning behind thinking it could undermine the argument’s weak point. (This was not required in Paper 1, but it is required for this paper and Paper 3.)

Third, take your own stance – stating whether you side with the objection or the argument it’s objecting to – and then argue for your stance with your own reason. In effect, your stance should be an answer to the question, “In your opinion, does the objection succeed in undermining the target argument or is the target argument immune to the objection?”

Read all of the prompts and the rest of these instructions before beginning.

As with all of your Papers, I will be using the VALUE Rubric to determine your grades. With the third task above, however, I will be using all 5 of the criteria on that rubric.

Formatting and Submission Requirements:

Your paper must use a readable 12-point font (e.g. Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria), be double-spaced, and have 1-inch margins. It should be formatted in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style (or some similar format); the most important part of formatting is that you cite the original source whenever you mention an idea that’s not yours, cite any page numbers that are relevant, and always use quotations marks for direct quotations.

The paper should be 900-1200 words in length (approximately 2-3 pages long).

You must turn in the paper as a Word document via Blackboard. To turn it in, click on “Paper 3 (Submit Here)” in “Assignments” > “Papers” > “Paper 3 Materials”. (Make sure you click anywhere other than the blue link that says, “Paper 3 Instructions and Prompts.pdf”. Clicking on that link will download the instructions document.) Then attach your Word document and hit “Submit”.


Atencio LEH355 (Fall 2020)


You must choose to write Paper 3 on one of the following 5 prompts: PROMPT A: DESCARTES AND DREAMS

At the end of “Meditation 1”, Descartes uses the example of dreams to argue that the senses cannot give us certain knowledge of the world around us, since the senses cannot distinguish between dreaming and being awake. This last claim is based on one major premise, the claim that any experience we can have while awake can happen while we’re asleep (and vice versa). This premise is one of the most controversial points of the argument, since many have the intuition that there in fact are certain kinds of sensory experiences that are unique to dreams or unique to waking life and which therefore can be used to determine with certainty whether one is awake or dreaming.

Your tasks:

First, explain Descartes’ argument based on dreams (which is given mainly on page 16, lines 34 to 62; the exact conclusion that follows from the argument is discussed roughly in lines 3 to 34 of page 17); that is, explain why Descartes takes the example of dreams to show that we cannot have certain knowledge of the world around us on the basis of our senses.

Second, brainstorm one kind of sensory experience that you think could potentially be unique to either dreaming or waking life and explain how such an experience could provide reason for rejecting the major premise mentioned above. Start by describing what kind of experience you have in mind; then go on to explain why you might think that experience is unique to dreams or waking life and how that could undermine Descartes’ argument by giving counterevidence against the major premise mentioned above.

Third, take your own stance (do you think the objection from the second task undermines the dream argument from the first task or not?), and then go on to argue for your stance with your own reasons. (Your arguments should take up roughly half of the paper.)

Recommended Outline:

Although there are various good ways of structuring your papers, I highly recommend the following way of organizing your Paper 3:

Introduction Paragraph: In 3-5 sentences, state the author’s conclusion that they’re arguing for and the general way in which they argue for it. All prompts for Paper 1 involve arguments based on specific examples introduced by a philosopher, which they use as evidence to support their conclusion. (Do NOT start by giving a history of the philosopher’s life or the debate or any of that. Just go straight into introducing the argument.)

First Body Paragraph: Describe in detail the example that the philosopher uses in support of their argument. Focus only on describing to the reader the important details of the main example(s) the philosopher’s argument is based on and do not yet explain the reasons that the philosopher gives for thinking their examples support their conclusion. This should be a medium to large paragraph, roughly 5 to 8 sentences. (Do NOT give your own opinions/reasons here.)

Second Body Paragraph: Explain the author’s reasons for thinking that the main example(s) they use supports their conclusion. In the author’s mind, how exactly does the example(s) provide support for their conclusion? This should be at least a medium to large paragraph (roughly 5 to 8 sentences). (Do NOT give your own opinions/reasons here.)

Third Body Paragraph: Explain the objection (from Task 2) to the argument you just finished explaining, being clear to explain how the objection could undermine that argument.

Evaluation Paragraph(s): Here you should begin by stating your own stance clearly and explicitly. Then you should spend a good amount of space, probably around 2-3 paragraphs, giving your own argument for why you think your stance is correct.

Concluding Paragraph: In 3-5 sentences, explain briefly what you did in the paper: what example the author used to support their conclusion (in the First Body Paragraph) and the reason the author thought it supported their conclusion (in the Second Body Paragraph). (Do NOT add new things into the paper here.)

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