Solved by verified expert:Write a 4-to-5 page paper (double-spaced, with reasonable margins and font-sizes) in which you
‘REC’ one and only one of the following argumentsmake sure to include all the sections listed on the assignment sheet.
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PHI 001: Introduction to Philosophy
UC Davis: Winter 2019
Paper Assignment #2
Papers are due on Friday, March 22, at the beginning of the exam period.
NOTE: Please read all the instructions before you begin, and please follow the instructions!
Write a 4-to-5 page paper (double-spaced, with reasonable margins and font-sizes) in which you
‘REC’ one and only one of the following arguments, in accordance with the instructions given
1. Patricia Churchland’s argument that premise (2) [in her reconstruction] of Jackson’s
knowledge argument cannot be adequately justified.
2. Lynne Rudder Baker’s argument on p. 127 against the psychological continuity theory
of personal identity.
3. Lynne Rudder Baker’s argument on p. 128 against the non-branching psychological
continuity theory of personal identity.
4. Lynne Rudder Baker’s argument on p. 129 that ‘this weaker relation than identity is
not what we are interested in in ordinary cases of survival’.
5. Lynne Rudder Baker’s argument on pp. 130-131 against the soul theory of personal
identity over time.
6. Derek Parfit’s argument for the conclusion that ‘personal identity is not what matters’.
Be sure to explain what Parfit means by that slogan.
7. An argument of your choice, provided that you write up a very brief proposal, submit
the proposal to your TA by Tuesday, March 12, and receive approval from your TA. (It is
entirely up to your TA to decide whether or not to approve your proposal.) Your proposal
should take the following form:
The argument that I would like to REC is presented in a passage in [name
the reading] that begins with the sentence “[enter first sentence of chosen
passage here]” on page [XX] and ends with the sentence “[enter last
sentence of chosen passage here]” on page [YY]. The conclusion that is
argued for in this passage is that [state conclusion here].
You should cut and paste this text into an email that you send to your TA. But don’t
forget to fill in the blanks! (In addition to the assigned readings, another good source of
arguments to reconstruct are chapters 1 (“God does not exist”), 2 (“You should bet on
God”), 4 (“You know nothing”), 7 (“Taxation is immoral”), 8 (“Abortion is immoral”), 9
(“Eating animals is immoral), 10 (“A defense of utilitarianism”) of the Korman book
linked to above. Don’t choose a passage that has already been reconstructed in the text.)
For each of these topics, it will be almost impossible to write a decent paper if you read just the
sections indicated in the prompt. To understand the issues well enough to write decent paper,
you will need to understand the larger context in which the relevant argument is embedded; and
to do that, you will need to read the entire paper or chapter, probably more than once.
REC-ing an argument:
R: Reconstruct. Put the argument into standard form, so that it fits a valid pattern and captures
as much of the author’s reasoning as is compatible with its being relatively brief and compact.
So, you should try not to leave out important pieces of reasoning, but you should also avoid
making your reconstruction overly long and complicated. These are competing pressures, so
you just have to strike a good balance. Often, a good reconstruction has only two premises.
Display the pattern that it fits, in symbols, to the right of your reconstruction, in words. Here is an
1. Anything that is maximally great exists in reality.
2. God is maximally great.
3. If God exists in reality, then theism is true.
∴ Theism is true.
All P1s are P2s
m is a P1
If m is a P2, then A.
E: Explain. For each premise in your reconstruction, mention it by name (its number) and
devote at least one sentence to explaining why that premise might seem plausible, at least
initially. Also, if there are any unfamiliar terms or phrases in the premise, take this chance to
explain what they mean. If the logical structure of the argument is somewhat complex, you may
wish to explain informally why the intended conclusion really does follow from the given
C: Criticize. After you’ve motivated each of the premises, focus on one particular premise,
mention it by name, and attack it: i.e., present, in detail, what you take to be the most powerful
reason(s) for thinking that the given premise is not true, or for thinking that the premise is less
plausible than the advocate of the argument took it to be.
If space permits, you may (i) discuss a potential response to your criticism that could be given
by an advocate of the argument, (ii) a reply to that response, (ii) attack another premise in the
argument, (iii) suggest a different argument that is immune to the criticisms you’ve raised, or
make other relevant and useful philosophical point. But the bulk of your paper should be
structured around RECing an argument. Avoid free-form, stream-of-consciousness
Use the Cederblom and Paulsen text for more detailed guidelines on the DOs and DON’Ts of
reconstructing arguments. Some highlights:
• Be sure that you’ve correctly identified the main conclusion of the argument in
• Be sure that your reconstruction fits a valid pattern.
• Be sure that your reconstruction (in words) really does match the pattern (in symbols)
that you’ve written out.
• Be sure that none of your arguments contains any idle premises, i.e. premises that are
not needed to make the argument valid. (If a premise is idle in a given argument, then
you could simply delete that premise and the argument would still be valid. Such a
premise is doing no work.)
• Be sure that the premise you attack is not just obviously false – a ‘sitting duck’. It
should have some appeal; it should be the sort of premise that begins to seem doubtful
only after you’vecriticized it.
Hard Copy. The paper should be given a title, printed out, and stapled.
Length. Your paper should be 4 or 5 double-spaced pages long (assuming a reasonable type face
and size and reasonable margins), NOT INCLUDING ANY QUOTATIONS OR NUMBERED
RECONSTRUCTIONS. This means the paper should include 5 pages of ordinary text in
paragraph form written by you. Most of that should be focused on a critical evaluation of an
Grading. You will be graded on the clarity and mechanics of your writing, on how well your
paper is organized, and most importantly, on how well you’ve explained and critically evaluated
an argument. Again, the critical component will be weighted the most heavily of the three: the
more original, insightful, and convincing your criticism of a premise, the better your grade will
be. There is no mechanical recipe for coming up with interesting criticisms: it takes a lot of time,
hard thinking, and creative spark.
Some rough guidelines
A range: excellent mechanics, extremely clear and accurate explanation of an argument,
unusually insightful/creative/original/persuasive critical points – these must go beyond anything
that has been said in lecture, discussion section, or the readings, and must be sufficiently
interesting and non-obvious that it would take some hard-thinking to come up with them
B range: good mechanics, very solid explanation of an argument with few or no mistakes of fact
or terminology, critical points that are on-target, relevant, and persuasive – though maybe not
quite so dazzling as what one would find in an ‘A range’ paper.
C range: some problems with mechanics OR some errors or lack of clarity in explaining an
argument OR an off-target or unconvincing critical evaluation.
D range and below: two or more of the following: serious mechanical problems, major errors or
obscurity in explaining an argument, badly off-target or obviously unconvincing critical
Outside Sources and Citations
You are not expected to consult outside sources in writing your paper. You are permitted to this,
of course, but a better way to spend your time is to get clear on what you think about the issues,
and about how to express your own thoughts as clearly and precisely as possible. Any sources
you do consult must be cited at the end of the paper, and any ideas or terminology that you take
from the outside source must be indicated in footnotes. Failure to appropriately cite outside
sources brings up the issue of . . .
I take plagiarism and other violations of the standards of academic integrity very seriously.
Students are responsible for knowing what constitutes inappropriate behavior in this regard;
university policies on the matter can be found in the Code of Academic Conduct file on the
course Canvas page. Any student who violates these standards on an exam or assignment may
be referred to Student Judicial Affairs.
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