The purpose of this assignment is three fold: (1) to demonstrate college level writing skills (Gordon Rule); (2) to demonstrate critical thinking skills (analysis/deductive reasoning), and (3) to demonstrate philosophical reasoning. The first goal is achieved through writing a grammatically sound essay that has a thesis, good sentences, and well developed paragraphs. And, the second goal is achieved through a critical analysis of an assigned topic. This involves presenting theory, explaining new concepts, using original illustrations, and finding interesting implications of the view under discussion. Students must apply critical thinking skills to successfully complete this component of this assignment. The word ‘analysis’ means a process of breaking something down to its smallest components. In an analytical essay, the aim is to explain the main issue/problem and the supporting or opposing arguments using original illustrations. And third, the last goal is achieved by assuming a first person position on one or some of the major issues raised during the analysis and then supporting this position with good reasons or arguments. Doing philosophy requires the philosopher to directly accept responsibility for the defense of his or her positions.
This assignment is a special writing project with specific requirements. It is not simply a summary essay nor is it simply an opinion paper. Students are asked to engage in philosophical reasoning. To be successful, they must follow this guideline.
Analyze Thomas Nagel’s views as presented in his work, “What does it all mean?”
More specifically, analyze Chapters 2, 6, and 10. For each chapter, you should present the major issue or problem and the main arguments or ideas that Nagel uses in his discussion.
Nagel must be included in your essay by name and as the source of the issues and the different concepts that he introduces.
Each chapter requires its own section heading and within that section you must only discuss that one chapter. Do not mix other chapter information other than for transitional purposes when going from one section to another.
Each section must be two full pages or more in order to receive full credit for that section. A good section is usually three or four pages long. Sections may be longer than four pages.
This essay is one, continuous essay, with no additional spacing to make it longer than it needs to be. That is, do not attempt to begin each chapter on a separate page or points will be deducted.
An Introduction and a Conclusion must be part of this essay. The Introduction establishes your thesis and the Conclusion presents what is to be inferred from the three chapters.
This book is available in print through the bookstore and on Amazon.com. Use any version for this assignment.
Several sites offer a version of this book for free. Search. Also, Google: Thomas Nagel What does it all mean? pdf and might find a copy online of an older version of this text.
For a version of Nagel’s book in Spanish, Google: “Que significa todo esto?” Note: Your essay must be written in English. This Spanish translation is provide for Spanish speaking students, if they need the extra assistance.
Always consider your audience. While writing, assume that you are writing to a critical thinking audience.
You should use original examples to illustrate theories and concepts. These examples should come from sources familiar to you. For example, they may come from your personal experiences, a friend’s experience, or even a movie that you may have personally watched. In explaining an idea that Nagel has introduced you must define it as Nagel does, with or without a quote. Afterwards, you should illustrate this idea using different examples than the ones that Nagel used. In order to demonstrate critical thinking, you MUST USE YOUR OWN EXAMPLES. Thirty percent of the grade for this assignment is based on demonstrating critical thinking skills. If you merely repeat Nagel’s examples, then your grade will be reduced accordingly: the more you use, the lower your grade becomes.
You may compare and contrast different claims, theories, or issues in order to shed light on the main idea of a section. But, do not compare one section to another section, unless it is in the Conclusion.
In this assignment, you are entitled to have your own point of view. Please feel free to share them. In fact, you must present and defend some of your own views in order to receive the highest possible grade.
You should read the sample student essays before beginning to write. These essays give you a fantastic view of successful student essays. They show how previous students were able to successfully complete all three aspects of this assignment: (1) Gordon Rule Grammar ; (2) critical thinking; and (3) philosophical reasoning. Each essay demonstrates a different path to achieving an “A” on this assignment. However, there are hundreds of paths to an “A,” so, do not attempt to plagiarize these sample essays. Some of the chapters discussed in the sample essays may not be the same as the ones that you are assigned. The purpose of these essays is to illustrate successful approaches and acceptable grammar.
Your essay must be original in order to receive Gordon Rule credit. For it to be original, you must write 80% of the essay that you submit. This means that 80% of the total number of words submitted must be your own sentences and paragraphs. In other words, only 20% of the total number of words submitted may be quotes.
There is a minimum number of pages that must be submitted in order to receive full credit. The reason for this is that writing is intellectual work: the more you write, the more you use your intelligence. And, the more you use your intelligence, the more developed it becomes. This course is designed to develop your critical thinking skills and this can only occur if you use your intelligence. The minimum number of pages for this assignment is eight pages: Introduction (1/2 page), Chapter 2 (2 pages), Chapter 6 (2 pages), Chapter 10 (2 pages), and the Conclusion (1/2 page), and the Reference Page (On a separate page). Note: Most essays that earn an “A” are more than eight pages because analyzing the chapters usually takes more than two pages. Yes, you may submit more than eight pages without any penalty.
Each chapter represents a new section and requires a unique title inspired by the original chapter title. Italicize or bold section titles. Center section titles.
Do not compare material from one section with material from another section. In other words, when writing on a Chapter, focus only on that chapter. However, one may and should use appropriate transition sentences between sections. Why this prohibition? Well this essay is a writing project that is being graded for Gordon Rule credit. You must write on all three chapters or you will fail this assignment because Gordon Rule requires that you submit three independent writing samples. This means that each section must have its own Section Title and must contain a discussion about only one chapter at a time. You should use the Introduction and/or Conclusion to compare and contrast ideas between chapters.
Include your full name ONLY at the top of the first page of the essay. No other labeling, such as course name, date and time of submission, is required nor should be used.
Essays should use a limited amount of quotes. Quotes should not be splices, but presented only if they are to be analyzed and discussed within the context of the paper. Essays are penalized for using quotes to expand their length unnecessarily. In any case, essays are limited to the use of up to 20% quotes. This number will be determined by Turnitin.com.
Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Recommended font: “Times” with a font size of 12. Do not use all caps, all cursive, all italic, or all bold as the general format of this project.
This essay requires a reference page that lists your sources. Points will be deducted if it is missing (-15).
In order to create a sense of objectivity, you need to research how other philosophers define and explain some of the central ideas that Nagel introduces. For example, if the chapter that you are discussing is dealing with the idea of whether or not we have freewill, then you could do some additional research on how other philosophers define freewill and also how the try to resolve the central problems. You do not need to quote these people, but you should list them as something that you read that helped formed your understanding of Nagel.
One of your references must be the Nagel text, “What does it all mean?” If it is missing, then you will have points deducted (-5). However, you do not need to quote Nagel in your writing project.
Each chapter must have one additional reference source. However, you may have more than one additional source for each chapter.
Essays should use MLA style guidelines for documentation of material, quotes, and presenting its references.
Essays are graded for grammar in accordance with the College’s Gordon Rule Rubric, which is provided as a separate file for students to review prior to writing their essay.
Failing to use quotation marks when necessary: -5% per incident
Completely failing to include a list of references: -15% (If some references are missing, then this penalty will be adjusted accordingly.)
Using only Nagel as the reference: -10% (Remember, four sources are required and Nagel is only of these sources.)
Paragraphs not properly marked off with indentation (one paragraph essays): -100%, because this violates the fundamental idea of an essay. An essay must contain more than one paragraph. The smallest essay is three paragraphs and a college level essay should be five paragraphs. A five paragraph essay has an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each Chapter in this writing project is to be presented as an independent essay. This means that if one of the Sections is written with only one paragraph, then the entire project will receive a grade of 0%.
Single spaced essays: -10%
Triple spaced essays: -10%
Essays that use all capital letters, italics, or boldface type setting: -10%
Essays are submitted through Blackboard. Then, Blackboard submits them through Turnitin.com. This site determines if an essay is unoriginal, which means it checks to see if it is plagiarized or if it uses too many quotes. For the sake of this course, an essay is judged as original if it contains 80% of a student’s own words, which means essays may contain up to 20% quotes. Essays containing more than 20% quotes maybe rejected and penalized 100% of its possible grade.
Essays are evaluated for the logical manner in which they are written: their rational structure.
Essays are evaluated for the way they introduce the topic of analysis: Nagel’s three views. A clearly stated or implied thesis should be used.
Essays are evaluated for the number and type of original examples that are used to illustrate and clarify concepts and theories.
Essays are evaluated for the objective, rational approach that is used to present Nagel’s views.
Essays are evaluated for their length. Writing requires the use of one’s brain and so is a good way to demonstrate critical thinking skills. Seven content pages are required and one reference page is required. However, essays may contain much more than seven content pages.
Failing to write to a general introduction to the project: -5%
Failing to write to a general conclusion to the project: -5%
Submitting only six content pages: -15%
Submitting only five content pages: -30%
Submitting four or less content pages: submission not graded, -100%
Failing to submit a reference page: -15%
Essays are evaluated for coherence. They must be legible. This evaluation is based on the view that if an average college educated reader cannot understand an essay then it is to be judged as incoherent. Essays are penalized if they are difficult to read or follow (for whatever reason). (-5% to -100%)
Essays are graded for their originality. This means that they should contain as few quotes as possible. It is perfectly fine to not use any quotes in writing this essay. In addition, “being original” means that the essay must not be plagiarized. If Turnitin.com identifies an essay as containing 30% or more matching material it will be treated as plagiarized and not graded. Rewriting and resubmitting an essay that was designated as plagiarized is penalized -30%. And and an essay that has an Originality Report from Turnitin.com that is between 21% and 29% will be graded; however, it will be penalized -5% or -10% depending on the amount of matching material.
Writing in this course is mandatory. If you refuse to write, then you fail. It does not matter if you are passing the other sections of this course. This rule is mandated by the State of Florida and Miami Dade College. Therefore, both instructors and students must comply.
Students who earn a grade of 70% or higher on this writing project have fulfilled the Gordon Rule requirement.
Students who earn a grade of less than 70% will be given an opportunity to rewrite their essay in order to earn at least 70%. Students should not expect to earn an “A” or “B” on a rewrite. If you want an “A” or “B” then follow this guideline, read the sample essays, and submit your essay on time.
Students who submit an essay, but submits only two chapters will receive a failing grade because Gordon Rule requires that all three chapters be submitted.
Students who do not include section titles for each chapter will receive a failing grade because Gordon Rule requires the completion of three separate writings. So, if your essay does not contain clearly written section headings, then it would read like one long essay. But, this is a writing project in which three independent writing assignments are combined to together in such a way that they remain independent. Section headings for each chapter are mandatory in order to receive Gordon Rule credit.