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Final Research Paper Assignment: Detailed Guidelines

For your final research paper, you are asked to write a paper of 1700-words (minimum word count—any paper more than 150 words short of this minimum will not be accepted as a complete paper) to 2000-words (maximum word count—you may exceed this without penalty only if it essential to attaining the purpose of your paper). Your paper must cite the work of at least four philosophers studied during the course; there is no upper limit on the number of sources you may use. You have the option of writing a position paper or a comparison essay, depending on whether your plan is to argue in favor of an original position regarding the work and thought of at least four philosophers covered in the course or to comparatively evaluate the work of four or more philosophers. The topics below may be approached using either strategy; you may find that some will better lend themselves to a position paper (also known as an argumentative essay) and some will work better as a comparison essay. Choose the topic that most interests you and the strategy that works best for you. Topic Areas 1) Plato, Hume, Kant, and Russell: What is human knowledge? 2) Kant, Mill, Aristotle, and Kierkegaard: What is the ethical life? 3) Sartre, James, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche: What is an authentic, autonomous individual? 4) Descartes, Hume, Searle, and James: What is consciousness? 5) Plato, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche: What is truth? 6) Plato, Descartes, Hume, and Nietzsche: What is the soul or self (conceived as an entity that is purely mental, spiritual, or nonphysical)? 7) Sartre, James, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche: What is the role and value of religious faith? 8) Descartes, Kant, Sartre, and Nietzsche: What is free will and why does it matter? 9) Socrates/Plato, Russell, Sartre, and Nietzsche: What is the role and value of philosophy? This assignment is broken into two parts: Part I includes the following elements:  Title of the paper (please do not create separate title page). Special note: DO NOT title your paper, “Final Paper.” Your title is important; it should give the reader an immediate snapshot of what the paper will say and attempt to draw the reader in.


 Introductory paragraph (including your thesis). This is a very important part of the paper–it should not be too short or too long (but probably at least five sentences). Begin by introducing the general topic and providing the reader with some rationale for why this topic, and what you will say about it, is worth thinking and reading about. Good writers usually begin with a “hook” in the first line to draw the reader in. You might pose an interesting or intriguing question, bring in an apposite quote, or make a controversial or surprising claim—even one that seems to go against your thesis. You will soon bring the reader around to what your position is when you state your thesis, which is usually very near the end of the first paragraph. The introductory paragraph should also provide some background on the topic in question that leads into the purpose of the paper. Make sure that the issue that your paper calls into question is crystal clear. Your thesis statement (your position on the issue) may be simple and straightforward, with all development following in body of the paper, or you may choose to forecast in the thesis itself the claims your will bring forward in support of the thesis in the argumentation sections.  An informal list of possible sources. Don’t worry too much about precise formatting here; this will be expected in the final draft, but here, the point is just for the instructor to see if you are headed in the right direction and possibly recommend additional resources that will be useful to you. Part