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Why is it a good idea to think of justice or piety or virtue in the way the author or character does? Why is it a bad idea?

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Why Aristotle Considered Human Beings as Political Animals


Midterm Paper Assignment and Writing Guide Handout 6 PHI 3404.02 Political Philosophy (Shoppa) 1 General Information The midterm paper is due in class on October 27. No late work will be accepted. It should be about 4 pages long, double-spaced with 1” margins and a 12-point font that looks sharp and smart. Times New Roman is a fine choice; Comic Sans is a poor choice. Consult the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook, both of which are in the library, for guidance about consistent citation style and general mechanics. The philosophical substance and argumentative content of your paper are its most important features, but effective, clear and college-level writing are factors in your grade too. Optionally, you can submit an outline or first draft in class on October 20. 2 The Assignment In general, your job is to show me how well you understand one of our excerpts. Each paper should engage in a detailed way with one or more of the readings assigned. This means the readings from Plato and Aristotle are fair game. No secondary scholarship is required though it may be helpful. The topic is in principle open, but your paper will answer three distinct but related questions. 1. What is it? This is the part of your paper where you focus on exegesis. This means you should find a passage where the author or character is working to answer a what-question about a key term, a problem or another character’s argument about one of these. You should be very specific in your answer and work to contextualize it in the broader plot of the dialogue, in the case of Plato, or argument, in the case of Aristotle. The clearer you are at this initial stage, the easier the remaining sections will be to compose. 2. Is it so? This is the part of your paper where you show off your critical judgment. Draw out the implications of the answer to the first question to show why it succeeds or fails as an answer, that is, as it is set within its broader context. How do the other characters, for example, respond to a proposed definition of justice, and should they respond that way? Why or why not? The point here is to challenge the text with an original appraisal of it. 3. Is it good? Finally, this is the part of your paper where you assess the value of the judgment made in response to the second question. It’s your chance to congratulate the author or condemn him for some reason or another. Why is it a good idea to think of justice or piety or virtue in the way the author or character does? Why is it a bad idea? Use examples, arguments and images from the text—for example, Thrasymachus’ definition of justice is wrong because it remains stuck at the bottom of the divided line drawn later in the Republic—but also feel free to advance original arguments or ideas. You can get away from the text a bit here to consider its implications for yourself, others, other influential philosophers and the wider world. Academic integrity is an important feature of philosophy. Give credit to your sources. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating may result in an F for the entire course. 3 Writing Tips Writing is very difficult. Even the most experienced academic writers may find it helpful to visit SFC’s Academic Enhancement Center. Start planning right away. The midterm paper, as the syllabus says, is worth 30% of your final grade. 3.1 Title Your paper should begin with a title, so make it artful and informative. Do not title your paper something vague, like “Aristotle’s Virtue of Courage,” or “Plato’s Ideal City.” A better title says something specific and tells your reader what will be discussed: “Getting What You Want: Thrasymachus and the Virtue of Self-Interest,” or “Exiting the Cave via Virtue and Socratic SelfDevelopment.” 3.2 Introduction The introduction should be one or two paragraphs. By the end of the first paragraph it should be absolutely clear to your reader what your focused topic is. Make sure it is stated early. Give the reader a sense of its importance. Why 2 should the reader care about the issue you address? What are the stakes? The best papers will make clear what the paper will say and why it is important to say such a thing. 3.3 Thesis Your thesis statement is a one-sentence formulation of your claim. It is the answer to the question you are raising. The thesis statement usually occurs at the end of the introduction. It should be very clear to the reader which sentence is your thesis, and it is perfectly fine to make it obvious, for example, by writing, “In this paper, I will argue...” Remember, the thesis statement is not just a statement of your topic but of your specific claim with respect to that topic, one that you will defend at length over the next pages. This is not a thesis statement: “In this paper I will investigate Socrates’ notion of justice in the Republic.” This is a thesis statement: “In this paper, I will argue that Socrates’ notion of justice in the Republic is the capacity to bring the desirous and spirited parts of the soul under the rule of the rational part without repressing either.” Optionally, you can follow the thesis statement with a brief plan. Some writers like to let the reader know exactly how they will substantiate their thesis. 3.4 Body In the main body of your paper, everything should relate back to your thesis. The main body comprises the largest part of your paper and is dedicated to substantiating your thesis. It is how you make your case. Each section, paragraph, sentence and word should help that project along. Do not go off topic. A large part of your assignment is called reconstruction, which means presenting someone else’s ideas from a primary text in your own words. Reconstruction in this way helps the reader make sense of your understanding and assessment of that primary source material. It is also your chance to raise doubts and objections and to identify difficulties in the original work. You can help the reader see how well the reconstructed argument works, or how it fails to work. Feel free to use numbered steps to make it abundantly clear how your reconstruction proceeds. Remember that this is a philosophy paper. Avoid history and biography. In the main body, quote directly from the primary source but do not over-quote. At only four pages long, this is particularly important. To make your case and prove your thesis, you will sometimes quote from the text and provide citations accordingly. This is essential, but be sure not to depend on the primary source to do the work of your argument and your reconstruction. This is your midterm paper, not Aristotle’s and not mine. If half or more of a paragraph is someone else’s words, you are quoting too much. In almost every case you should precede and follow a quotation with a sentence of your own that restates the meaning of the quote and sets it in relation 3 to your argumentative thesis and broader purpose. In other words, do not quote and run. The main body of your paper should follow a logical order. Each paragraph should follow from the previous one as naturally and smoothly as possible. Outlining your paper in the prospectus will give you a bird’s eye view of your argument and help you avoid unnecessary or abrupt transitions. 3.5 Conclusion In your conclusion of one or two paragraphs, your argument and interpretation of the text has been completed. Your job in the conclusion is to make clear just how you accomplished that. You can make clear how all the work you did pays off. It may be helpful to remind your reader of the high stakes of this issue and their wider implications. 3.6 Editing Write tight sentences. Avoid jargon. Once you have an initial draft, ask a friend to read your paper out loud back to you. It is awkward, embarrassing and helpful. Verify the structure of your paper by creating a reverse outline. Make sure its components connect instead of just concatenate. “Another argument is...” is just adding to a list. The best papers will fit portions together in a unity. Avoid arguments from authority. Just because Socrates says something does not mean it is settled fact. Everything is an argument; nothing is beyond dispute. 3.7 Helpful Resources Besides a dictionary and a thesaurus, there are three other exceptional writing references that I recommend. You may know when to use an instead of a, accept instead of except, but do you know the difference between critique and criticism? How to avoid the passive voice? Alongside your coffee, these can sit right beside you as you compose your paper. 1. Gerald Graff’s They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, 3rd edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014), can be a big help as you structure your paper’s argument and select the most relevant quotes to support it. 2. Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage is a very helpful reference for all kinds of usage, diction and style issues. 3. Joseph M. William’s Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (New York: Pearson, 2013) can help you as you edit for clarity. All three are especially helpful since they use real examples taken from academic writing.


Why Aristotle Considered Human Beings as Political Animals Insert Name: Institutional Affiliation: Due Date: Was Aristotle right with his argument that human beings are political animals? Although his statement is reasonable, it can be considered inadequate since humans are unpredictable and complex beings and in this regard such a rigid definition cannot appropriately define human beings. Whereas people can be seen as self-interested creatures, they can be considered as social creatures having instincts for social interaction (Lewin and Vedung, 2012, p.2). Human instincts are natural impulses that enable people to survive and live in the world. Throughout history, humans continue surviving through conflict or cooperation in pursuit for limited resources in the world. For many centuries, Aristotle’s statement attracted many arguments and debates. Aristotle’s statement has been debated for many years and endured the test of time (Lewin and Vedung, 2012, p.2). As a result, many debates have been put across about collectivism and individualism, which have attracted mixed reactions to people who believe in collectivism and those who believe in individualism. In this paper, arguments are made to justify that though Aristotle statement is reasonable, arguing that all human beings are political animals, his argument is na


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