Philosophy 407    Theory of Knowledge

 Spring 2010 -- Paper & Class Presentation

Due dates:

Thesis proposal is due, in writing, March 11.

Completed paper is due no later than May 4.

You are to write a paper on a topic of your choice relating to this course. The finished paper should be typed/word-processed and is likely to be 6-10 pages in length, not counting the bibliography.

Your topic requires my approval. A written statement of your thesis (what you are trying to prove in your paper) is to be given to me no later than March 11. As instructor, I reserve the right to reject topics that seem marginally relevant. 

Objective/goal of the paper: The paper must take a clear position on a topic that we have discussed, and it must provide reasons to adopt that position. If we have reviewed reasons against that position, you must review and respond to those reasons. 

You will PRESENT your research paper to the class. You will have 12 minutes for the presentation, followed by 15 minutes of class discussion. The grade that you receive for this presentation is independent of the grade assigned to the paper itself. The presentation grade is based on six criteria:

  • (A) Topic of paper is orally deliverable and appropriate in scope (neither too broad nor too narrow).

  • (B) Paper is organized well and documents sources correctly.

  • (C) Paper articulates content clearly (including anticipating and responding to counter-argument).

  • (D) Student presents with appropriate volume, enunciation and pacing.

  • (E) Student engages audience and maintains their attention through effective speaking style.

  • (F) Student listens and responds after presentation to all questions and comments appropriately and respectfully.

Sample topics: 

  • What makes a belief justified? 
  • Can epistemology be naturalized? 
  • Is the evil demon argument really a problem for epistemology? 
  • Are there any basic beliefs? 
  • Which version of foundationalism is superior? 

This paper requires reference to sources. (Minimally, to our 2 textbooks.) So your paper will need a bibliography page. You may use other sources if you so wish, but of course you must properly cite any and all sources that you use. Remember that a failure to adequately credit any source for ideas that are not their own is a violation of academic integrity

If you do not know how to cite sources, see the department's "Guide to Writing Research Papers"

If you would like to see some sample "A" papers in epistemology, sample "Blue Ribbon Papers" can be viewed in the Philosophy Department Office. (These papers cannot be photocopied or removed from the office.)


Revised December 2, 2009


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