The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual (2nd Edition)

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9780130991669: The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual (2nd Edition)

This manual provides the user with the necessary skills to successfully write argumentatively. While focusing on instruction of the basics of grammar and style and on research techniques, it also includes a concise history of philosophy. The topics covered in this manual include writing to communicate, grammar and style, organizing the research process, formats for writing papers, citing sources, the principles of argument and writing sound arguments, and writing ethics papers and personal ethics statements. For business communication writers who need instruction on argumentative and/or persuasive writing.

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From the Back Cover:

The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual is an ideal complement to any philosophy textbook or as a primary source for teaching philosophy through writing. This manual clearly presents three essential elements of philosophic writing:

  • A manual of style for researching and writing philosophy papers, including a guide to `Philosophy and Cyberspace' and other sources of information.
  • An introduction to the basic concepts and approaches of the discipline of philosophy, including: principles of argument, fallacies, and applied ethics.
  • A resource of specific, detailed instructions for writing papers usually required in college philosophy classes, including: position papers, historical essays, and applied ethics papers.
New to this Second Edition!
  • Samples of good student writing—Gives students good concrete models of the style of argumentative writing.
  • Revised chapter on Web resources—Includes the most up-to-date resources as well as on-line research strategies.
  • Rewritten sections on writing ethics papers—Emphasizes continuity between ethics and other argumentative writing.
  • Shorter length—More focused and concise in presentation.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

TO THE STUDENT

One of the most frustrating tasks students face is mastering the requirements of the different disciplines they encounter in their college careers. Philosophy presents a particularly difficult challenge, since most students do not study philosophy in a formal manner until they reach college. I know I find myself sitting all by my lonesome self in the auditorium during summer orientation for incoming students who have declared interest in particular majors. My colleagues in other disciplines are swamped, but I have time for reading. So before I describe how this book is going to benefit you, let me make the following unpaid commercial announcement: Philosophy majors score significantly higher than all other humanities and social science majors on standardized tests for admission to graduate and professional study. This includes tests for business, medical, and law school. Majoring in philosophy is one of the wisest investments you can make in your education.

Philosophy is an un-American discipline. As Americans, we are entitled to believe anything we want to believe. But philosophy actually challenges your entitlement to a view. It is impolite. It asks for reasons for even our most cherished and "private" beliefs, such as those about religion. Perhaps this is because philosophers do not believe that there are any views that are truly private. Or perhaps the philosopher you encounter in your first class is devoted more to the validity of the process by which you arrive at a belief than to the truth of the belief itself. I wish philosophy were taught at an earlier age, in elementary school and high school. But there is significant opposition to including religion in public schools, let alone the critics of religion. In any case, beginning philosophy students are puzzled at being asked to express a view on a controversial topic. And then further dismay is occasioned when simply stating an opinion is not enough. The instructor expects not only a personal view but a reasoned defense in addition!

Many students take courses in college that encourage them to describe their feelings. In one of the first undergraduate courses I taught, a student wrote in the first person about the morality of abortion. She told me that she had been impregnated by a man who was not her boyfriend, that it was difficult for her current boyfriend to accept her pregnancy, and that she had considered abortion and rejected the option as not right for her. However, she was concerned that other women have a right to abort. Her paper went on for several pages. I kept reading, looking for an argument that never appeared, and ended up feeling that I had inadvertently invaded her privacy. And any grade I would be tempted to put on her papers could be a negative evaluation of her life.

In philosophy, we are not really interested in people, but in arguments. I did not want to validate or condemn the author of the abortion paper. I was interested, and left uninformed, as to why she felt her boyfriend had a right to an opinion on her abortion, what reasons had played a significant part in her decision, and why the reasons that were not good enough for her might be good enough for those other women whose choice she was inclined to protect. In other words, I would never want to tell her that her decision was wrong; but perhaps I would say that she had no right to her decision.

If you have just come from a class in which expression of feelings and exposition of life history and your inner voice were emphasized, then you may be frustrated by different expectations. Expectations in philosophy are different than they are in some other disciplines. But rest assured, if you learn how to write good argumentative essays, this skill will assist you in many other courses, your professional career, and your life as a citizen. You will not be an easy mark for the various hucksters whom we face in our daily life.

The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual contains all the material you need to write successful philosophy papers. The introduction is a brief discussion of skepticism meant to illustrate the nature of philosophy for those taking their first philosophy course. Chapters 1 through 9 focus on the basics of good writing, research, and philosophical argument. The lists of sources in Chapter 4 provide descriptions of major reference works, such as the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as well as specialized reference encyclopedias such as those devoted to bioethics and philosophy of religion. Chapter 5 presents sources available through the Internet, such as discussion lines, and the American Philosophical Association's home page on the World Wide Web. Chapter 6 discusses the format expected by philosophy journals, and so should be of particular interest to those preparing for a career in philosophy. Chapter 7 offers a comprehensive description of source citation and bibliographical formatting procedures for research papers.

Chapters 10 through 13 are, for the most part, devoted to specific types of philosophy papers. Philosophy is such a broad field that it is impossible to include chapters on every philosophy course you might encounter. Some attention has been paid to writing for the most popular undergraduate courses. But the chapters on philosophical argument and ethics should provide guidance even if your particular course is missing. New to this edition, Chapter 14 includes samples of student writing from introductory courses to use as models for your writing.

A glossary is also provided, and I recommend that you scan it for the occurrence of terms you feel you already understand. One difficulty philosophy presents is that it uses terms from ordinary language and other disciplines in a technical manner. It is not uncommon for terms like idealism, pragmatism, and utilitarian to be bandied back and forth between class participants without any communication going on at all. I have included a section in Chapter 2 on the most common equivocal terms.

TO THE TEACHER

I dread correcting the first writing assignment of the semester. There are always a few students who have shown interest in philosophy and have made good contributions to class discussion who demonstrate that they have serious trouble with the written word. Perhaps your students are consistently better prepared than mine. But you probably find it difficult to justify the class time it takes to explain the different expectations they face in philosophical writing from the more exegetical approaches of other disciplines. Or you may teach courses in professional and applied ethics that have no prerequisites. I do. I teach ethics and criminal justice. Students come in ready to discuss questions like police use of deadly force, corruption, discretion, and undercover work. But it is quite likely that they have little or no background in ethical theory or argumentative writing. If any real philosophical thinking is going to occur in the course, we must first spend considerable time on the basics of ethical theory. And the expectation that a paper or essay go beyond regurgitation leads many students to feel frustrated.

In The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual your students will find the necessary tools—background in philosophy, helpful writing strategies, research tips, and format instructions—for philosophical writing. This text should allow you to spend more time on content and also allow you greater flexibility in selecting course readings. With the writer's manual, you can construct a reader tailored to your course with exactly the material you desire instead of adopting an anthology that will always be an imperfect fit. This manual will also be helpful in distance learning courses, again allowing you to spend more time answering content questions than answering questions about format or research.

If you are teaching business ethics, you can direct your students to material that explains basic ethical theories, references to business ethics journals, explanations of common logical fallacies, suggestions on drawing up an outline, basic guidance on using electronic research tools, and a glossary of philosophical terms. This manual allows you to spend more class time on your subject and less time giving instruction on the basics of writing or philosophy.

Your comments and corrections are most welcome. I hope that you will place models of good student writing on your own homepage to supplement the few I have included in the manual. And I would certainly like to include links to such items on my homepage. My email address currently is agraybosch@csuchico.edu, and the homepage is http://www.csuchico.edu/~graybosc .

Thanks to the editorial staff at Prentice Hall, especially Ross Miller and Carla Worner for their interest and advice on this edition and to Bruce Hobart, the production editor at Pine Tree Composition. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Prentice Hall reviewers, especially Charles L. Reid, Youngstown State University, for their invaluable comments and suggestions. And thanks to my colleagues at Chico-Marcel Daguerre, Ron Hirschbein, and Becky White-for the samples of student work they suggested for this edition.

Anthony J Graybosch

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