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SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY


Online Distance Learning Program

Encountering the Real: Faith and Philosophical Enquiry (3 credit hours)

A. Critical Writing Assignment Two

I want to provide a little extra guidance to help you complete Critical Writing Assignment Two.
There are some guidelines that come up in the Module for Week 6 regarding this assignment
(and which are reproduced at the end of this document). However, I want to provide a little extra
guidance to help you.

For this assignment, you need to recall Clifford’s evidentialist argument from Module 2 and
contrast Clifford’s position with one of the nonevidentialist positions encountered in either
Module 5 or Module 6. Then you need to decide which position, evidentialism or
nonevidentialism, more closely aligns with your own point of view and argue for that position.

There are some general guidelines that you have to follow in this assignment as well. These are:

- Defend a thesis and should proceed according to the following format: Thesis, Argument,
Objection(s), Response(s), Conclusion

- Include citations to the primary required class readings. These and any additional sources
must be properly cited using MLA format.

- Fall within the following length requirements: 1200-1500 words.

- Use a standard 10-12 pt. font and be double spaced.

Here is some further guidance for how you might approach this paper.

Begin by narrowing your topic. One thing you have to do is discuss Clifford’s views from
Module 2. But then you also have to pick one of the positions from Module 5 or 6 and discuss
that. In Modules 5 and 6 we discussed the views of a number of philosophers: Pascal, James,
Bergmann, Kierkegaard, and Alston. You need to pick one of these philosophers covered in
Modules 5 and 6 and discuss their views too (you can only pick one).

After you pick your topic, start off writing your introductory paragraph. In this paragraph, you
should provide an overview of what you are going to do in your paper. For instance, if you are
going to talk about Clifford and Pascal’s arguments, then tell your reader that you will be
looking at Clifford and Pascal’s arguments in this essay. Also, you should state your thesis in
this paragraph. Your thesis is going to be which of the two philosophers you are looking at that
you agree with. For instance, if you are going to talk about Pascal and agree with Pascal over
Clifford, you might say, “My thesis will be that Pascal’s line of reasoning is more persuasive
than Clifford’s.” Also, it’s OK in philosophy if you actually tell your reader straight out “My
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thesis in this paper will be. . . .” In philosophy, you always want to as direct and clear as
possible.

After you write your introductory paragraph, next you might want to write one or two paragraphs
with a little biographical information on your two philosophers. For instance, if you are writing
on Clifford and Pascal, write one or two paragraphs telling your reader about who these thinkers
were. To do this, you will have to do some research on the Internet from a reliable source.
Some good sites are these:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/

Note that you don’t want to do too much of this biographical information in your paper. One or
two paragraphs is enough. More than that would be too much.

After this, then you will want to spend some time explaining to your reader the arguments you
will be analyzing in your paper. For instance, if you are looking at Clifford and Pascal, then
explain their positions. Here you want to explain the arguments you are analyzing as clearly as
you can. Also, you want to explain the lines of reasoning as clearly as you can in your own
words. Don’t just give your reader a long list of quotes. That doesn’t show you really
understand the arguments for yourself. It’s OK to use some quotes in your explanation of the
arguments, but, again, just do not do too much of this. Overall, your goal is to explain the lines
of reasoning as clearly as you can in your own words. Here you can use the readings for the
course, including the reviews that I send out each week, to help you (obviously, though, you
cannot just copy any explanations in these materials; again, your goal is to explain things in your
own words). Explaining the arguments you are analyzing to your reader thoroughly and clearly
and carefully and in your own words will take a few paragraphs.

After you explain the arguments you are analyzing to your reader, restate the thesis of your
essay. For instance, if you are going to say that Pascal has a better line of reasoning than
Clifford, you might say, “Now that I have explained Clifford and Pascal’s arguments, now I will
defend the thesis that Pascal’s line of reasoning is more persuasive than Clifford’s.”

Then, after you restate your thesis, go on to explain to your reader your reasons for adopting
that thesis. Here you are explaining why you accept the thesis you have stated. This is
important, and it will require you to think. You don’t want to simply say “I agree with Pascal’s
argument” or “I disagree with Clifford’s argument” and just leave it at that. You want to go on
to explain why you have adopted the position you did. Here there will need to be two parts. You
want to explain why you reject the one view you are looking at and why you accept the other
view. For instance, if you reject Clifford’s view, then explain to your reader your criticisms of it.
Also, if you accept Pascal’s view, then explain to your reader your reasons for accepting it. As
you do this, think about the individual assumptions and premises that undergird the positions you
are looking at. If you think that Clifford’s view is bad because it hinges on certain bad
assumptions or premises, then explain that to your reader. Likewise, if you think that Pascal’s
view is good because it hinges on certain assumptions or premises that you find acceptable, then
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explain to your reader why you find these assumptions and premises convincing. Again, you
want to go on to explain why you have adopted the position you did. And, again, here there will
need to be two parts. You want to explain why you reject the one view you are looking at and
why you accept the other view.

After this, you want to think of some objections to your thesis. Here the objections should be
objections to the position you accept. For instance, if you accept Pascal’s position, then think
two or three objections someone might have to Pascal’s position. Doing this will require you to
think hard, and it will require you to consider alternative points of view to the thesis you are
considering.

Next you want to think of responses to the very objections that you just raised and then write
them out and explain them. For instance, if you accept Pascal’s position, and if you just raised
two or three objections to it, then go through and explain how you would reply to each of the
objections that you raised.

After this, wrap up your paper with a concluding paragraph providing an overview of what you
argued in your essay.

B. MLA Documentation

One thing you need to do in your paper is use proper MLA documentation. There are two parts
to this. First, you need to use proper in-text MLA documentation. Second, you need to include a
proper MLA works cited page.

You can get detailed information on MLA documentation here:

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

However, let me talk briefly about these two parts.

First, there is in-text MLA documentation. As you write your essay, you need to document the
sources that the information in your essay comes from. For instance, if you are talking about
Pascal and his views on certain issues, then, as you write about him in your essay, you need to
document where in our readings this information comes from. To do that, after you finish
providing your reader with that information, you will cite the author’s last name followed by the
page number from the text that this information comes from -- and all of this should be in
parentheses. Here’s an example.

Pascal thinks that believing in God is the best way to hedge our bets (Pascal 5).

If you follow my suggestion and provide a little biographical information on the philosophers
you look at, you will need to do the same thing in that part of your paper. If the websites you
used to get this information has an author, then your citation will look similar to the one above.
If your websites don’t have an author, and there is just a title of the site, you can just list the title
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of that site in parentheses at the end of the sentence that contains information from that site.
Here’s an example.

Pascal was a mathematician in addition to a philosopher (Internet Encyclopedia of


Philosophy).

Second, in addition to using in-text citations in MLA format, at the very end of your paper, you
will need to develop a works-cited page that follows MLA format. Since you will be discussing
material that comes from readings in our class textbook, you should definitely have a citation to
our class text in your works cited. That will look just like this:

Saint Leo University, eds. Encountering the Real. New York: Cengage Custom Print:
2013.

If you use a website to get information regarding your philosophers’ biographies, then you want
to gather the author’s name of the site (if there is one), the title of the site, the URL of the site,
and the date you accessed it. Here’s an example:

Saka, Paul. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/. August, 5,


2013.

If there is no author of the site you used listed, you can just leave that out.

C. Grading Rubric

I will be following a rubric to grade your essay. I have reproduced it for you on the pages below
for you to look at.
PHI 110RS
Critical Writing Assignment Guidelines & Rubric

There will be two (2) critical writing assignments. Topics for each writing assignment are in Module 3
(Assignment 1) and Module 6 (Assignment 2).

Some generic requirements to be observed for all Writing Assignments include that all papers must:
 Defend a thesis and should proceed according to the following format: Thesis, Argument,
Objection(s), Response(s), Conclusion
 Include citations to the primary required class readings. These and any additional sources must
be properly cited using MLA format.
 Fall within the following length requirements: 1200-1500 words.
 Use a standard 10-12 pt. font and be double spaced.

Critical Writing Assignments 1 and 2 are due no later than Sunday 11:59 PM EST/EDT of Modules 3
and 6 respectively. (These Dropbox baskets are linked to Turnitin.)

Information on MLA Citation style can be found here: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

Criteria
Not Attempted Novice Basic Proficient Exemplary
(Criterion is (does not meet (works towards (meets expectations; (exceeds expectations;
Elements missing or not in expectations; meeting expectations; performance is performance is Score
evidence) performance is performance needs satisfactory) outstanding)
substandard) improvement)
0-11.99% 12-13.99% 14-15.99% 16-17.99% 18-20%
Thesis is discernible, Thesis statement is Thesis statement is
Paper contains Thesis is difficult but not explicitly present in introductory present in introductory
no thesis and/or to discern and/or stated in introductory paragraph, but it is wordy, paragraph. It is concise,
Paper Topic
does not fails to address paragraph and/or generic or unclear and/or articulate, and narrowly
16.66%
address the multiple parts of addresses most, but paper addresses all parts focused. Paper
__/20
essay prompt. the essay prompt. not all, of parts of the of the essay prompt, but adequately addresses all
essay prompt. not adequately. parts of the essay prompt.
Paper contains a
There was little Paper is on the short side Paper falls within the
Length Paper is entirely great deal of “fluff”
or no evidence or meets requirements required length
Requirements too short. and still doesn’t meet __/20
of a complete only because it contains requirements without
16.66% the length
assignment. “fluff.” going off topic.
requirements
The grammar of Paper needs a good
Paper is mostly free of
Little to no the paper greatly deal of improvement Paper is nearly perfect
errors with respect to
evidence of impedes with respect to with respect to grammar,
Mechanics of grammar, spelling, and/or
proper writing understanding of grammar, spelling, spelling, and style.
Writing style, but needs some __/20
mechanics. content. and/or style. Organizational structure
16.66% improvement.
Organizational Organization and/or is clear and the paper
Organizational structure
structure is flow of ideas need flows nicely.
is adequate.
unclear. improvement.
Paper exhibits a
complete lack of Paper exhibits Paper does an excellent
Paper exhibits basic
thoughtful very little Paper exhibits thoughtful job demonstrating an
engagement with text,
Conceptual engagement with thoughtful understanding of the text, accurate understanding of
but needs
Analysis & the text. engagement with but some improvement the text and goes beyond
improvement. Some
Thoughtful Concepts are the text. Few needed. Most concepts mere summary.
concepts are clearly __/20
Engagement identified, but not concepts are are clearly defined using All relevant concepts are
defined using
16.66% clearly defined. clearly defined elaboration/ clearly defined using
elaboration/
No attempt to using elaboration/ exemplification. elaboration/
exemplification,
elaborate/ exemplification. exemplification.
exemplify.
Paper does not Acknowledges
Acknowledges Acknowledges existence
acknowledge the existence of more Acknowledges existence
existence of more of more than point of
Points of View/ existence of than point of view, but of more than point of
than point of view, view. Clearly and
Consideration alternative points considers only one. view. States at least one
but does not clear articulately states at least __/20
of Objections of view. Does States a specific objection to thesis and
articulate a one objection to thesis
16.66% not state objection to thesis, responds, but needs
specific objection and then adequately
objections to but makes no clear some improvement.
and respond. responds to the objection.
thesis. attempt to respond.
Paper lacks either Paper contains in-text
Paper lacks both Paper contains in-text Paper contains proper in-
MLA in-text citations or citations and a works
in-text citations citations and a works text citations and a works
Style/Citations a proper works cited list, but several __/20
and a proper cited list, but does not cited list. Few stylistic
16.66% cited list, but not stylistic errors are
works cited list. follow MLA style. errors are present.
both. present.

TOTAL: ___ / 120