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​     The length of the paper is up to 6 pages, double-spaced.  There are two sections–the first half is an analysis of a passage from one of the texts we’ve discussed in the first two Units of the course (History or Theory): e.g. Hume’s argument that reason is a slave to the passions, Aristotle’s argument for why the life of contemplation is best, etc.  You tell me, in your own words, exactly what the philosopher is saying.  The second half is your own reaction to the passage: Does the claim sound plausible to you?  Are you inclined to agree with it?  Are there any issues that you think are especially relevant to such a claim that might be raised?

     These are roughly the first two parts of almost any philosophy paper.  In a paper that you would write for, say, a higher level course, you would then go on to actually argue against or in support of the claim you are focusing on–e.g. stating why you thought one or more of its premises need not be accepted (or must be), why the conclusion does not necessarily follow (or does), etc., and bringing in secondary sources to support your arguments.  You do not have to do that here.  This is more like a training exercise, albeit a very important one–being able to understand a philosophical argument clearly is a crucial part of writing a good research paper on these difficult questions.