The rough draft will be 2.5 pages (within 12 hours). The final draft will be 4 full pages.

The rough draft will be 2.5 pages. The final draft will be 4 full pages.

Write an intro with three sentences or less. One sentence must be your thesis. A thesis is “a specific point that you are trying to establish – something that you are trying to convince the reader to accept”. The thesis is your conclusion, and your job will be to defend the thesis. The entire point of the intro paragraph in a philosophical paper is simply to present your thesis. You honestly want as short of an intro as possible since it is the meat and potatoes of the paper are in the argument. For this paper, you have two options, Innate Ideas are true or they’re not. Your thesis statement also needs to state the fundamental reason(s) that make(s) you correct. For example, if I want to argue that cereal is a better breakfast food than eggs, I need to say, “Cereal is a better breakfast food than eggs because cereal is faster to prepare and I’m a horrible cook.” In that thesis, the entire paper is already given away. It gives two reasons, and that will be my argument. That’s what you want. A good thesis awards 20 points. Do not “fence-sit”. And for the record, eggs are great.

After stating your thesis, you will need to immediately define your terms. This is absolutely the most fundamental problem in most arguments: no one knows what people are really talking about. In my cereal vs eggs example, I actually imply that cereal is not “cooked” even though they are both “prepared”. Little things like that matter A LOT when we talk about more important topics. You will describe Descartes/Socrates’ philosophy as they describe it, then explain it in your own words. Include examples. Good description awards 40 points.

Now that your topic has been well described, you can argue. You will be evaluating the claims of Socrates and Descartes, and supporting whatever reasons you’ve given for your claim. Support can be all sorts of things, but in general, the supports should be more obviously true to help walk the reader to the truth of your thesis. Do not use a shotgun approach to argument, where you take a thousand little reasons and hope they are strongest. The simple argument is the strongest, and you should build up to your conclusion from a strong foundation. In my cereal vs eggs example, I would cite that cooking eggs takes longer, I would tell you why time is so important (maybe because we’re all rushing to start our day), I would need to say why my poor cooking skills matter, etc. Good argumentative form awards 20 points.

The next step is done for integrity and logic both. You’ll need to respond to objections and offer concessions. In my cereal vs. eggs example, I would need to expect a reader to think “What if I have lots of time? What if it’s a Saturday? Why does your bad cooking mean I shouldn’t cook eggs for me?”. At the end of a good philosophical paper, these kinds of things are addressed. Sometimes, this is actually the longest section. Concessions are valuable because, if you identify the limits of your logic, it helps people understand your claim. Moreso, it might help you realize that you need to beef up your reasons or change your claim entirely. Specifically, in this section, I want you to focus on objections. Say why someone might disagree with you, and why their reason is mistaken. This means you have to anticipate a point of disagreement and address it immediately. This strengthens your reasons for your position. In a full book, you would address any and all possible objections, but I really only need you to pick one or two that you think are most common. Good objection anticipation awards 20 points.