Assessment

Be a sure you have read and understood the 'Policies' page for vital information on attendance, on-time submissions etc.

  • Important details and deadlines for assessed work are tabulated below.
  • These details should be read in conjunction with assignment info on the 'Timetable' page.
  • You are encouraged to work collaboratively in all aspects of this class, including assessed work (see assignment details for whether you must submit individually). Joint presentations and final papers are encouraged.

Grading Scheme

Letter Low
Border
Middle
A+ 96.7% 98.5%
A 93.3% 95.0%
A- 90.0% 91.7%
B+ 86.7% 88.4%
B 83.3% 85.0%
B- 80.0% 81.7%
C+ 76.7% 78.4%
C 73.3% 75.0%
C- 70.0% 71.7%
D+ 66.7% 68.4%
D 63.3% 65.0%
D- 60.0% 61.7%
F 0% 55.5%

Table of Assignments

?%

Extra Credit

  • Opportunities for extra credit may arise as the class progresses. Some opportunities may be announced but others will remain secret. I will, however, give you this clue: that my greatest inspiration for giving out extra credit is exemplary class citizenship.

15%

Class Participation

  • Main consideration: Did you help enrich the class experience for everyone?
  • There are two main ways to contribute - the best students will exemplify both:
    • Join the discussion in class:
      • Ask 'silly' questions and speak up when you don't understand.
      • Say what you think and (more importantly) why you think it.
      • Question and challenge class readings, your colleagues, and your professor.
    • Participate in online discussions using the class Topics set up in Sakai@UD Forums:
      • Post brief questions or comments on assigned readings, or respond to someone else's post.
      • Only contributions posted before the start of the corresponding class will count.
  • Mere attendance does not help your grade.

Sep 10

1:45pm

5%

In Class Group Project: Survival Lottery Abstract

  • A good abstract will state the main point of the paper and the core strategy the author uses in defending that point.
    • Pretend you are the author and that you have been asked for a very short overview of your piece for people browsing journal contents.
    • Write in the first person (again, as though you were the author) and do not waste space repeating the title etc. - abstracts always come with title and author information attached.
    • An abstract is pure exegesis: there should be no commentary, critique, or evaluative language - just the facts ma'am.
    • Hint - browse some philosophy journals on the web or in the library - it should not take you long to find some with abstracts.
    • Unlike writing papers, there's no need to cite sources or page numbers in an abstract. But, if you do use language from the text, make sure you put it in quotes.
  • Even if the assignment calls for individual submissions, you are encouraged to collaborate in thinking this through and drafting.
  • Word limits are strictly enforced (just as in real life) - even a word over will affect your grade.
  • Submit via Sakai@UD.

 

Group Project Instructions

  • In-Class Group Assignment
    • The assignment is completed in class, working with your group.
    • Submit in class via Sakai@UD, or by handing in a legible paper version.
    • One submission per group is acceptable. The submitted document should state the group number and the names of all authors who actually contributed.
    • It is the responsiblity of every group member to ensure that all participants are credited and that the submission goes through (make sure you see the confirmation page).
    • You are welcome to hail me if you have any questions during class.
  • If you are not in class, you will need to make an on-time, individual submission via Sakai@UD or by email.
  • Before class
    • Please think about how to make an effective contribution to a group project.
    • Review the relevant instructions for the assignment on the assessment page.
    • Refresh your memory of relevant sources.
    • Do any additional background research that might help with the project.
    • Come prepared to contribute.
  • Peer evaluations
    • Please take note of each group member's contribution and be ready to submit an online peer evaluation as requested.

Sep 17

1:45pm

5%

In Class Group Project: Bad Argument Assignment

  • You know you can make them but can you spot them?
    • Identify a very bad and very short written argument on the internet. (Newspaper editorials, news items, and political blogs are excellent sources).
    • Joke arguments are fine but...
      • DO NOT use an argument that is presented and discussed as an example of a bad argument (such as those in this Book of Bad Arguments).
      • DO NOT target an argument for which the main problem is circularity / begging the question.
    • Give the URL to the original source.
    • Cut and paste the relevant text - ONLY the relevant text.
    • Set out the essential form of the argument, stripped of any rhetoric and padding. You know... list assumptions (don't forget hidden assumptions), logical moves, conclusion(s).
    • Explain, VERY concisely, why it is a bad argument.
    • Limit of 500 words for the whole assignment (including pasted text, your set out of the essence, and your critique).
  • Examples:
  • Some points to consider
    • Your best target will be a simple and clearly stated argument.
    • Make sure it's acutally an argument. (Don't be seduced by mere opinion or heaps of points without logical structure.)
    • Make sure it's really, utterly, indisputably bad. Not all mistakes are stupid mistakes - I'm looking for mindblowingly idiotic, the worse the better.
  • Submit via Sakai@UD.

 

Group Project Instructions

  • In-Class Group Assignment
    • The assignment is completed in class, working with your group.
    • Submit in class via Sakai@UD, or by handing in a legible paper version.
    • One submission per group is acceptable. The submitted document should state the group number and the names of all authors who actually contributed.
    • It is the responsiblity of every group member to ensure that all participants are credited and that the submission goes through (make sure you see the confirmation page).
    • You are welcome to hail me if you have any questions during class.
  • If you are not in class, you will need to make an on-time, individual submission via Sakai@UD or by email.
  • Before class
    • Please think about how to make an effective contribution to a group project.
    • Review the relevant instructions for the assignment on the assessment page.
    • Refresh your memory of relevant sources.
    • Do any additional background research that might help with the project.
    • Come prepared to contribute.
  • Peer evaluations
    • Please take note of each group member's contribution and be ready to submit an online peer evaluation as requested.

Sep 28

11:55pm

5%

'Turning the Trolley' Abstract
Individual submission required

  • A good abstract will state the main point of the paper and the core strategy the author uses in defending that point.
    • Pretend you are the author and that you have been asked for a very short overview of your piece for people browsing journal contents.
    • Write in the first person (again, as though you were the author) and do not waste space repeating the title etc. - abstracts always come with title and author information attached.
    • An abstract is pure exegesis: there should be no commentary, critique, or evaluative language - just the facts ma'am.
    • Hint - browse some philosophy journals on the web or in the library - it should not take you long to find some with abstracts.
    • Unlike writing papers, there's no need to cite sources or page numbers in an abstract. But, if you do use language from the text, make sure you put it in quotes.
  • Even if the assignment calls for individual submissions, you are encouraged to collaborate in thinking this through and drafting.
  • Word limits are strictly enforced (just as in real life) - even a word over will affect your grade.
  • Submit via Sakai@UD.

Nov 3

11:55pm

10%

Preliminary Abstract & Focused Exegesis

  • Back story
    • You have been invited to give a presentation as part of the undergraduate section of a professional conference. The papers we've read in class have been presented and you have first dibs to pick the one you want to respond to. Your audience will be mainly smart undergrads, like you, but they cannot be assumed to be specialists in the field and may well have missed the presentation of the paper to which you are responding. Also, you only have ten minutes or thereabouts. So, you only have a short time to bring your audience up to speed on the conversation in the target paper and to make one focused point of your own.
  • General Considerations
    As this is the first step in developing your final paper, it will help to consider the overall aims of the project here. Careful thought at this stage will save you a lot of suffering later on.
    • Topic selection.
      • Pick a paper we have covered in class and write a response to it.
        • In general, it is easiest to respond strongly to an argument you find challenging, but that you disagree with.
        • Another option is to give additional argument in support of a specific point.
        • It is very difficult to respond strongly to an argument that does not challenge you at all (either because you agree completely, or because you find it idiotic, or because you don't really understand it).
        • Be prepared to adjust your aims as your research progresses.
      • If you want to respond to a paper we have not discussed in class, you must clear a specific, written proposal with me well in advance. Your proposal will specify the paper to which you will respond and will give a 150 word abstract of that paper. It will also state the specific argument that you plan to address within that paper.
        • Email your proposal to me at least two weeks before this deadline.
        • Include an e-copy of the paper you have picked, or hand in a paper copy in advance.
    • Do remember.
      • The point of your response is not to have the last word to to cover everything in the target paper, but to help get a productive conversation going.
      • You should be able to state, in one sentence, the problem or question you seek to address.
      • You should be able to state, in one sentence, the point you will try to persuade your audience to take seriously.
      • Proper citations and acknowledgements are essential at this and at all stages of your project.
        • See 'Policies' for details.
  • What you need to submit...
    • Focused exegesis
      • What to do
        • Do the exegesis of the specific argument you have chosen as your target.
          This will require that you do your own additional research and reading beyond the class readings and the paper you have picked. You will need to explain:
          • What that target argument aims to show (briefly)
          • What its significance is in the wider debate (briefly)
          • The argument itself, presenting it as strongly as you can. (with care, and giving the benefit of the doubt when you can)
    • Preliminary abstract of your planned paper
      • This will not be your final word, but it will set out your current plan for your final paper.
    • Submit via Sakai@UD.
      • If you are coauthoring your exegesis...
        • All coauthors must submit identical copies of the exegesis (to avoid the inevitable "someone else was supposed to submit it" excuses).
        • Each submitted copy must list all authors.
      • If you plan to work with a group on the final paper...
        • All collaborators must submit identical copies of the abstract.
        • Each copy must list all collaborators.

10%

Presentation

  • Topic selection
    • See details of first paper writing assignment.
    • You are presenting your work in progress for your paper.
  • Presentation format
    • Keep your presentation very concise to leave time for discussion.
    • Briefly introduce relevant background reading to highlight the important theme. Give some critical comment and raise questions to get conversation started. Lead class discussion.
    • The extent of your critical comment will depend on where you are in paper writing. It may be setting out a canditade thesis idea or two and seeking comments on how to narrow it down, it may be a more detailed exposition of your argument. Do what is useful to you at the time of your presentation.
  • PowerPoint etc
    • Try to manage without PowerPoint - it slows down the changeover between presentations and seldom helps all that much.
    • If you think that PowerPoint will really help
      • Have it ready to roll on your booted-up computer at the time of your presentation.
      • Don't forget fresh batteries / power cord.
      • Don't forget your VGA dongle if it is not built in to your computer.
  • Assessment criteria
    • Basics, such as audiability
    • Ability to clearly and concisely explain the core of the reading that is important for your purposes.
    • Clear statement of the feedback you are looking for (e.g. help picking a specific topic, feedback on which of two argument ideas sounds more promising, we're not sure about this bit of the argument - what do you think?, etc...)
    • Keep discussion focused / relevant to your ideas (i.e. saying "That's an interesting question but it's not the issue we're focusing on." when appropriate.
    • Thoughtful responses to comments and questions.

Nov 22

11:55pm

15%

Abstract & Paper: First Version

  • Abstract
    • The abstract conveys the essential point of your paper at a glance
    • Having read your abstract, your reader will know:
      • Thesis: the one focused point you are trying to get your audience to take seriously
      • Argument: your basic strategy for defending your thesis
  • Paper
    • Format
      • This is not a rough draft, but your first attempt at a finished, polished paper
      • The word limit is a maximum, not a target you must reach - shorter papers are fine, usually preferable
    • Assessment criteria:
      Based on the four philosophical skills
      • Accurate exegesis
      • A clear and focused thesis -
        • The point you are making
      • Clear argument in defense of your thesis
        • Why is your position reasonable?
      • Clear writing style
        • Always remember your audience - what does a reader need to know and when does she need to know it?
        • Don't just think about what to say - think about the how you want to affect your reader
  • STOP! Before you submit, check all word limits and make sure you review and comply with class policies, especially paper submission requirements.
    Even things that seem silly to you can greatly help me to get comments back to you quickly at busy grading times... And grade penalties apply for non-compliance.
  • Submit via Sakai@UD'Assignments'
    • Submit both abstract and paper in a single document
    • If you are working in a group...
      • all authors must be listed in the submission
      • all authors must submit an identical copy of the final document (to avoid the inevitable "someone else was supposed to submit it" excuses)

Dec 11

11:55pm

35%

Abstract & Paper: Final Version

  • Abstract
    • Don't forget to update your abstract to reflect changes in your final paper.
  • Paper: final version
    • Your final paper will build on your first draft, responding to comments (a good faith effort ensures at least the grade you got on the first draft).
    • STOP! Before you submit, make sure you check all word limits and review and comply with class policies, especially paper submission requirements.
      Even things that seem silly to you can greatly help me to get comments back to you quickly at busy grading times... And grade penalties apply for non-compliance.
  • Submit via Sakai@UD'Assignments'.
    • Submit both abstract and paper in a single document
    • If you are working in a group...
      • all authors must be listed in the submission
      • all authors must submit an identical copy of the final document (to avoid the inevitable "someone else was supposed to submit it" excuses)