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Topic “In this paper, I will argue that women are viewed with more respect and honour in Hinduism than in Islam”.

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ADA Format, Times New Roman Size 12, double space

INCLUDE BOTH SCRIPTURE REFERENCES AND ACADEMIC ONES.

 

Research Project

APHI 214 World Religions

 

The last thing you should do – primarily during the final week of the course – is to focus on a research project. Simply put, the idea here is to get you to take some single detail of what you have learned in this course and to delve deeper into that topic. This document will walk you through the requirements for the paper and give you the grading rubric that I will use to address your work. This project is worth 100 points, that’s 1/3 the points required to get the highest grade. That means it should require a great deal of the effort that you put into the course and, by design, should reflect about a week’s worth of dedicated work from the session.

 

What is Required?

  1. Length – The paper should be in the 5–10 page-range. No bonus points for it being longer, but you’ll probably need at least 5 pages to do a good job. But try to say more in less space! (I don’t care if its double spaced or single spaced. Whatever works for you)
  2. Sources/References – You should include BOTH scripture references for the relevant world religions AND reliable outside academic sources. (A good option for this would be the optional readings from the chapters, or else use the UAlbany library resources for research). There is no minimum or maximum, but use enough to show that you’re doing the work!
  3. Content – Your paper must make an argument. Refer to the “How to Write a Philosophy Paper” document on the blackboard for more information about this.
  4. Topic – You MUST get the topic for your research project approved. Good topics are very concise and very specific. Good topics would be things like “In this paper, I will argue that the Buddhist emphasis on religious relics is not comparable to the use of relics in Catholicism”; or “In this paper I will argue that misogynistic claims in the Quran do not need to be taken literally by contemporary followers of Islam.”

 

Grading Rubric:

Below is the rubric I will use to grade your Research projects. The rubric has 110 points available. Each student may earn up to 100 of those points on this project.

 

The project is focused on an approved topic 10 points
Relevant scriptures are used to successfully justify and/or explain claims made in the paper 20 points
External resources are reliable, used responsibly, and reflect careful research 20 points
Significant conclusions are drawn and real-world impacts described 20 points
The format of the presentation is well constructed to aid in understanding (i.e., good grammar, proper argumentative structure, flows well, etc…) 20 points
The main argument is a good argument and is clearly stated at the beginning of the paper 20 points
Total Possible Points 110

 

 

Writing a Good Philosophy Paper

 

A good paper will:

  • Make a single clear argument
  • Be organized by the structure of that argument
  • Support the main argument with sub-arguments and evidence
  • Not include superfluous information
  • Include substantial objections to the main argument and responses to those objections
  • Have proper grammar, spelling, sourcing, etc…

 

The single most important part of a good paper in any discipline, but especially in philosophy, is the quality of the argument. The evaluation of a paper orients around an evaluation of the argument and the ability of the paper to support and defend that argument. This means that in order to write a good paper, you need to know what an argument is – in the technical sense – and you need to know how arguments are structured in order to organize the paper around that argument.

 

What is an Argument?

Most of the time when people say “argument”, what they mean is two people disagreeing about something or maybe someone yelling at someone else. But it is important to understand that this is not what philosophers mean when they use the term argument. In a technical sense, an argument is a set of statements, one of which is mean to be supported by the others.

Consider the following two examples:

 

Example 1: You should never rinse chicken in water before cooking it. The FDA says that chicken is properly prepared to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. The FDA also warns that any bacteria present will be killed in the cooking process, but that rinsing the chicken first is likely to spread that bacteria around the kitchen.

 

Example 2: Rinsing raw chicken spreads bacteria when water splashes against the meat and throws the bacteria around the sink. Often tiny invisible droplets of water carry even further spreading bacteria to the counters around the sink.

 

Example 1 is an argument but Example 2 is not. Example 1 tries to convince you that you should never rinse chicken before cooking it. Example 2, however, is only trying to explain how bacteria spread, but it is not trying to convince you that bacteria are spread. Arguments are things that try to convince you to believe that some claim is true.

Recall the distinction between “believing that” and “believing in”. Arguments are things that try to give you reasons to “believe that” some claim is true. Anything that does not try to convince you to believe that some claim is true, is not an argument. When you are writing a paper, you should always be trying to convince your reader to believe that some statement is true. This is what it means to say that your paper is making an argument. This is the most important feature of your paper.

 

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How are Arguments Structured?

Arguments – sets of statements that try to convince you that some claim is true – rely on a certain kind of structure which will help you to organize your paper in a way that makes it very readable, and more importantly, very convincing for your reader. Remember that arguments are made up of “sets of statements”. Specifically, there are two kinds of statements. There is the statement that you are meant to be convinced is true, this is called the conclusion. Then there are all the statements that are meant to support the conclusion. That is to say, there are all the statements that are meant to convince you that the conclusion is true. These supporting (or convincing) statements are called the premises.

To show how arguments are organized into premises and conclusions, philosophers use what is called “standard form” or “premise-conclusion form”. This involves taking all of the statements in an argument and putting them into a numbered list. The premises are listed first and then the conclusion is listed last, usually alongside the word ‘Therefore’ in order to indicate that you should now think that “THEREFORE, the conclusion is true”. Understanding how these organization works is very important to understand how you should structure your paper. Let’s use the argument about rinsing chicken to see how this works.

In normal paragraph form, like you’d write in a paper, the argument looks like this:

 

You should never rinse chicken in water before cooking it. The FDA says that chicken is properly prepared to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. The FDA also warns that any bacteria present will be killed in the cooking process, but that rinsing the chicken first is likely to spread that bacteria around the kitchen.

 

To put that same argument in premise-conclusion form, we need to make a numbered list of each of the statements in the argument. That would look like this:

 

  • You should never rinse chicken in water before cooking it.
  • The FDA says that chicken is properly prepared to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • The FDA also warns that any bacteria present will be killed in the cooking process
  • The FDA says that rinsing chicken first is likely to spread that bacteria around the kitchen.

 

We should notice that the third sentence of the paragraph actually contains two separate statements. The first is about bacteria being killed in the cooking process. The second is about bacteria being spread around the kitchen. Even though it appears as a single sentence in the paragraph, when putting the argument in premise-conclusion form, we should separate them. This gives us a complete numbered list of all of the statements in the argument.

The next step, is to identify which of the statements in the conclusion. That is to say, which of the statements are supposed to be convinced is true because of what the other statements say. In this argument, the conclusion appears first. It is statement 1 in the list above. Because the FDA tells us the information in statements 2, 3, and 4, we are meant to be convinced that statement 1 is true. Now that we know which statement is the conclusion, we know that all of the other statements are premises. Now we can reorder the list so the premises come first and the conclusion comes last. The complete argument in premise-conclusion form looks like this:

 

  • The FDA says that chicken is properly prepared to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • The FDA also warns that any bacteria present will be killed in the cooking process
  • The FDA says that rinsing chicken first is likely to spread that bacteria around the kitchen. x
  • Therefore, you should never rinse chicken in water before cooking it.

 

 

How Should You Organize Your Paper?

Now that we see how arguments are structured, we can understand how we should organize our paper. Normally a paper is organized into three major parts – the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Often your English professors will ask for a paper outline which demonstrates this structure for your paper. We’ll use that same outline, but we’ll use the argument to tell us what goes in each section of the paper. Let’s start with a basic paper outline like this:

 

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

 

In philosophy, like in many other disciplines, the introduction to the paper just tells us what the subject matter of the paper is and what the main argument is that you are making about that subject matter. The conclusion of the paper just gives a summary of the main argument and sometimes tries to draw important real-world implications. So, we could start filling out the structure of our paper by filling in our outline like this:

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Rinsing chicken is important because we are concerned about the spread of bacteria
    2. Statement of the main argument
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of the main argument
    2. Application to home cooking – more dangerous to rinse chicken than to not rinse it

 

Our outline is already well on its way to giving us a good organizational structure for our paper.

Of course, the most interesting work in a paper is done in the body. But now that we have an argument clearly outlined, the body of our paper is very easy to organize. We need a section of the paper for each premise and the conclusion. So, our paper will be outlined a bit like this:

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Rinsing chicken is important because we are concerned about the spread of bacteria
    2. Statement of the main argument
  2. Body
    1. Premise 1 – FDA says chicken is properly prepared to prevent bacteria growth
    2. Premise 2 – FDA says any bacteria will be killed in the cooking process
  • Premise 3 – FDA says rinsing chicken could spread bacteria around the kitchen
  1. Conclusion – You should not rinse chicken before cooking it
  1. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of the main argument
    2. Application to home cooking – more dangerous to rinse chicken than to not rinse it

 

At this point, we just need to know what should be said in each section of the body. That part is actually pretty simple. Remember the goal of an argument is to convince your reader that the conclusion is true. You do that, by giving them reasons in the form of premises. So, you just need to convince your reader that your premises are true and then explain to them why that means that your conclusion is true. But, how do you convince your reader that your premises are true?

To convince your reader that your premises are true, you need to use sub-arguments. That is, smaller arguments which convince your reader that the premises are true. This could be done by providing evidence from outside sources or by constructing argument just like we did above, but which have the premise as the conclusion. In our paper on rinsing chicken before cooking it, we might include evidence from the FDA’s website, or perhaps from scientific research on the spread of bacteria, etc… So, our outline might look something like this:

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Rinsing chicken is important because we are concerned about the spread of bacteria
    2. Statement of the main argument
  2. Body
    1. Premise 1 – FDA says chicken is properly prepared to prevent bacteria growth
      1. FDA monitors standards of meat production
      2. FDA reported research on the presence of bacteria in raw meat
    2. Premise 2 – FDA says any bacteria will be killed in cooking process
      1. FDA pamphlet on poultry preparation explain why it should be cooked to a certain internal temperature
      2. FDA reports research on temperatures at which bacteria can survive
  • Premise 3 – FDA says rinsing chicken could spread bacteria around the kitchen
    1. Research in the UK demonstrates bacteria is spread when raw meat is rinsed
    2. FDA pamphlets report supporting research with the same results
  1. Conclusion – You should not rinse chicken before cooking it
  1. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of the main argument
    2. Application to home cooking – more dangerous to rinse chicken than to not rinse it

 

But what about the conclusion? What should we say about that? Well, again, remember that the goal of the main argument is to convince us that the conclusion is true. So what we need to do is to explain why the premises being true should convince us that the conclusion is true. We answer the question, “Why does premise 1 being true mean that the conclusion is true?” and we repeat that for each premise. For our paper, we would ask, “Why does the FDA saying chicken is prepared to prevent bacteria growth mean that we should not rinse chicken before cooking it?” Well, the answer is, rinsing it would be a waste of time if there is nothing that needs to be rinsed off. We repeat that process for each premise and add it to our outline like this:

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Rinsing chicken is important because we are concerned about the spread of bacteria
    2. Statement of the main argument
  2. Body
    1. Premise 1 – FDA says chicken is properly prepared to prevent bacteria growth
      1. FDA monitors standards of meat production
      2. FDA reported research on the presence of bacteria in raw meat
    2. Premise 2 – FDA says any bacteria will be killed in cooking process
      1. FDA pamphlet on poultry preparation explain why it should be cooked to a certain internal temperature
      2. FDA reports research on temperatures at which bacteria can survive
  • Premise 3 – FDA says rinsing chicken could spread bacteria around the kitchen
    1. Research in the UK demonstrates bacteria is spread when raw meat is rinsed
    2. FDA pamphlets report supporting research with the same results
  1. Conclusion – You should not rinse chicken before cooking it
    1. Rinsing chicken is a waste of time if chicken is prepared to prevent bacteria growth
    2. Rinsing chicken is pointless if cooking it would kill any bacteria anyway
    3. Rinsing chicken would be unhealthy if it meant spreading bacteria around the kitchen
  2. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of the main argument
    2. Application to home cooking – more dangerous to rinse chicken than to not rinse it

 

Okay, we are nearly finished with the organization of our paper. There is just one part that is missing. Good philosophy papers always include potential objections and responses to those objections. A good objection takes a particular premise in the argument and tries to convince us that that premise is false and why that premises’ being false should make us less confident that the conclusion is true. A good response to an objection explains why the objection is problematic and why the premise, and therefore the conclusion, remains true. In our paper on rinsing chicken, we might have an objection to premise 3 which says that chicken could be rinsed in a safe way so as to avoid the spread of bacteria while still removing it from the meat. This would be a good objection because if its right, then rinsing the chicken is no longer more dangerous than just cooking it. A good response to that objection would be that the research on rinsing raw poultry has shown that the spread of bacteria through rinsing is far wider than can be seen with the naked eye. So there is no way to verify that the chicken was safely rinsed. So, we add this to our outline like this:

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Rinsing chicken is important because we are concerned about the spread of bacteria
    2. Statement of the main argument
  2. Body
    1. Premise 1 – FDA says chicken is properly prepared to prevent bacteria growth
      1. FDA monitors standards of meat production
      2. FDA reported research on the presence of bacteria in raw meat
    2. Premise 2 – FDA says any bacteria will be killed in cooking process
      1. FDA pamphlet on poultry preparation explain why it should be cooked to a certain internal temperature
      2. FDA reports research on temperatures at which bacteria can survive
  • Premise 3 – FDA says rinsing chicken could spread bacteria around the kitchen
    1. Research in the UK demonstrates bacteria is spread when raw meat is rinsed
    2. FDA pamphlets report supporting research with the same results
  1. Conclusion – You should not rinse chicken before cooking it
    1. Rinsing chicken is a waste of time if chicken is prepared to prevent bacteria growth
    2. Rinsing chicken is pointless if cooking it would kill any bacteria anyway
    3. Rinsing chicken would be unhealthy if it meant spreading bacteria around the kitchen
  2. Potential Objection to Premise 3
    1. Objection – Using a deep sink or bucket and low running water, chicken washing could be made safe
    2. Response – Research shows that the spread is not visible to the naked eye, so this is not verifiable
  3. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of the main argument
    2. Application to home cooking – more dangerous to rinse chicken than to not rinse it

 

Now we have a completely organized paper that relies on the structure of a single main argument. You don’t necessarily have to go through this process step by step (i.e., outlining the paper and such), but the more of it you follow, the better your grade will be.  The key is to make sure that you make an argument and that you allow that argument’s structure to guide the way you outline your paper.

 

Other Stuff…

The other elements of writing a paper, providing good sources, providing proper citations, using good grammar, and proper spelling are all vitally important. However, you have been practicing those things since grade school. And frankly, even if you perfected all of them, you wouldn’t be a good writer if you couldn’t organize your papers in the way described above. So make sure you do them, but make sure your priority is structuring your paper around an argument.

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