Wednesday, October 10, 2012


1. Quiz on Friday covering
- Ch 1 & 2 of Vaughn (on basic concepts of of arguments: what arguments are, what logically valid
arguments are, what sound arguments are)
- Ch 1 and 10 of Stairs, on Concepts of God and God and Morality.

The quiz will NOT cover the Cosmological Argument, unlike what was previously mentioned. So will discuss an argument for God's existence like this next week:
1. Either the universe had a beginning or it did not have a beginning.
2. If it didn't have a beginning, then it wouldn't have started.
3. If it wouldn't have started, then it wouldn't exist.
4. But it does exist.
5. So it started.
6. So it had a beginning.
7. So God exists. 
There are other cosmological arguments as well.
You have a paper on Harris due Monday, in class at class time and via Turnitin: if it is not submitted via Turnitin, it will not be graded.

The change is this. While I asked you to find some criticism(s) of Harris's claims, this perhaps was too ambitious at this time, and we will revisit this after we have met with the librarian. So, the assignment is now to write an essay where you clearly present and explain three of Harris's main claims or arguments in his Letter to a Christian Nation and you then explain whether at least one of those claims are true or his argument(s) sound or unsound. While you can use an outside source (as you were asked to find in an earlier assignment), you are not required to do so.

Here are some concerns to keep in mind for your paper:
1. You should follow all of Vaughn's advice on writing, as well as all advice given in class and here. You have been asked to read that book and really learn from it.
2. Your paper should be outline-able: that is, an outline could be made to show its structure.
3. You should write simply and straightforwardly. You should always try to write in the clearest possible manner: so no unusual or big words, unless an ordinary word wouldn't work.
4. Someone who hasn't read Harris should be able to read your paper and understand it.
5. Your paper should be carefully proofread: sentences should be grammatical, there should be no random capitalized words, quotes should be done correctly and so forth.
6. You should use a proper citation method.

Please also add a paragraph -- that is not park of the paper -- where you reflect on how your paper has changed over the various drafts.

Your job is to to show that you are able to read a short book, find three main claims or arguments and offer some criticism(s) of those arguments, and explain this all in a clear, well organized, concise, and understandable manner. Do a great job and show that you are a strong reader, thinker, writer and communicator!

I encourage you to read these "Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper" by Jim Pryor: 

Note to these students: I will have comments on your drafts by this afternoon if you can stop by around 2 or 2:30 or so. Or I can email them to you, if you gave me your email:

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