PAPER ASSIGNMENT (Weight: 25%)
DUE DATE: Beginning of class, Friday, April 15 (only hard copies and papers at least 3 pages
long will be accepted).
Late Papers: Papers submitted after the beginning of class on Friday, April 15 are late. Late
papers will be penalized 0.2 grade points for each 24 hour period that the paper is late (including
weekends). Students may email late papers to their TAs to stop the clock. However, those
students must still turn in hard copies of their papers to be graded.
Resubmitting Papers: Students may resubmit their papers by the beginning of class on Friday,
May 20 to be re-graded. Papers turned in after the beginning of class on May 20 will not be regraded.
If you choose to resubmit your paper, whatever grade you receive on your rewritten
paper will be the grade that is used to calculate your final grade (for better or worse). (Note that
any late penalty that was applied to a paper originally turned in will also be applied to a
resubmitted paper.) Although you have a chance to resubmit your paper, your first submission is
not a “rough draft.” You should submit your best work. Resubmitted papers will be returned on
the day of the final exam. Students that resubmit papers must do the following (or their papers
will not be re-graded):
• Highlight the changes you made in your revised paper (e.g., make the new text red or
track changes in MS Word and print ‘Final Showing Markup’).
• Attach your original paper with your TA’s comments.
Reading Drafts: Due to the large number of students, your TA and I will not read drafts of your
papers. However, we will gladly discuss your work with you and offer suggestions. (You may
even want to have your draft in hand as we discuss it.)
ASSIGNMENT: In Greg Egan’s story, “Learning to be Me,” the narrator’s wife, Daphne, has
reservations about switching over to the jewel. She worries that she will die at the switch, but
she decides to switch anyway. Was she right? Did she die at the switch? In answering this
question you should address the following:
(1) What do you believe is the best way to complete the following statement?
(PI) Persons S1 and S2 are numerically identical over time if and only if…
You should explain the framework and set-up over the issue of personal identity (i.e.,
explain the difference between being qualitatively identical and being numerically
identical, what the question of personal identity is asking, what the general structure of
the answer will be, etc.). Explain the relevant features of Egan’s story for answering the
question (i.e., what the jewel is, what it does, how it works, etc.).
(2) Present and explain your view of what constitutes personal identity, and state your
reasons for why you hold it (give arguments!).
(3) Present at least one objection to your view, and provide a response.
Requirements for the paper:
• 4-5 pages, double spaced, 12 point font Times New Roman
• Cite the text book like this: (Nichols, et al., 64-5)
• Only include a bibliography if you use outside sources
GRADING: Your paper will primarily be graded for content, clarity, and understanding:
• Content. Does your paper cover the issues and include all of the content it should? Did
you define key terms and explain key ideas? Are the details and examples well-chosen?
Do they arouse the reader’s interest and provide relevant, concrete, specific and insightful
evidence in support of the claims made in the paper?
• Clarity. Did you present the main ideas clearly and concisely? How well structured is
your paper? Do all of the sentences in each paragraph work together to illuminate your
meaning, or do some of them confuse or obfuscate the main point? Does each paragraph
have a clear purpose? Is your writing style readable and rhetorically effective? Are there
errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Does your paper read as though it were put
together at the last minute?
• Understanding. How well do you demonstrate your understanding of the material? You
should go out of your way to show me how well you understand the ideas you are
working with. The most common comment that I write on student’s papers is, “Needs
more explanation.” You might have an excellent understanding of the material, but you
need to demonstrate that in your writing. One way of doing this is by providing your
own original examples to illustrate your points.
ADVICE: Read my “Advice for Writing a Philosophy Paper” on GauchoSpace. Write a rough
draft of your paper at least one week before it is due and then discuss it with your TA and/or me.
Plan to finish your paper at least two days before it is due. Set it aside and don’t look at it again
for at least 24 hours. Then come back to it, read it, and make your final changes. When writing,
Jim Pryor advises students to pretend that the person reading their papers is lazy, stupid, and
He’s lazy in that he doesn’t want to figure out what your convoluted sentences are
supposed to mean, and he doesn’t want to figure out what your argument is, if it’s not
already obvious. He’s stupid, so you have to explain everything you say to him in
simple, bite-sized pieces. And he’s mean, so he’s not going to read your paper
charitably. (For example, if something you say admits of more than one interpretation,
he’s going to assume you meant the less plausible thing.) If you understand the material
you’re writing about, and if you aim your paper at such a reader, you’ll probably get an
Robert Louis Stevenson also gives good advice for writers: “Don’t write merely to be
understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood
In Greg Egan’s story, “Learning to be Me,” the narrator’s wife, Daphne, has reservations about switching over to the jewel.
PAPER ASSIGNMENT (Weight: 25%)
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