Friday, October 14, 2005

Paper topic and instructions

Your first analytic essay, due 10/27. Here is a paper topic for you:

1) "Locke and Mill both provide a foundation for a set of liberal individual rights. However, they use entirely different methods for establishing the foundations of those rights. In this paper, compare and contrast the foundations for liberal individual rights of Locke and Mill. Which foundation provides the most compelling justification? Why? In the course of giving your answer, address the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches."

Here's another one:

2) Liberal political philosophy, at its outset, had a strong connection to capitalism as a practice and a social system. As we entered the 20th century, however, the connections between the principles of liberal theory have capitalism in practice have seen increased tensions. Capitalism and liberal philosophy must now be understood as uneasy allies, at best,

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why or why not? Your paper should be a defense, criticism, or reformulation of the above statement, drawing on your analysis of the liberal philosophical texts discussed in this class.

Now, for the rules.

1) Choose one. Don't do both.

2) You should have a clear thesis statement, somewhere in the introductory paragraph, that indicates specifically what your argument is, and how you go about demonstrating it.

3) One of the silly rules students are sometimes taught is that you are not allowed to use the word "I" in your writing at all. I don't buy it. However, you don't need to constantly preface sentences with "I think." It's implied. Furthermore, I'm not terribly interested in what you think (in this paper) unless what you think is a) relevent to the argument you are making, and b) you can demonstrate you have good reasons for thinking it. I want your arguments, not your opinions.

4) As a policy, I don't read and give feedback on drafts. I do, however, read and give feedbacks on thesis statements, introductory paragraphs, outlines, plans for the paper, or any combination thereof.

5) This paper should be about 4 pages. Double spaced, normal margins, 10-12 point fonts. I know all the lengthening and shortening tricks, and besides it's the content that matters. Going over is OK, as long as you're not too wordy, going under might be OK if you have a very high content to word ratio.

6) Grammar and spelling count; organization and content count more. Do your best to write a clear, well organized paper, and proofread. That last word is not synonymous with spellcheck.

7) I'll gladly answer your questions as best I can. Just ask. Office hours are immediately following class. If you can't make it, the best alternative time would be at 8:00 AM or shortly thereafter. If you're unable to meet that early, or allergic to getting up that early, I might be able to meet with you after an 11-1:05 class, but do try and arrange a later meeting in advance if that is your wish. I may not be able to make that meeting if you suggest it that day.


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