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authorSean Whitton <>2020-09-15 15:30:05 -0700
committerSean Whitton <>2020-09-15 15:30:05 -0700
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+[[!meta title="First paper assignment"]]
+# PHIL 150A1 Fall 2020 first paper assignment
+## Guide
+In this writing assignment, you are to address the following prompt:
+> By the end of the fourth meditation, Descartes thinks he has established
+> that we can have knowledge of everything that we perceive clearly and
+> distinctly, and also how and why we can have false beliefs. Explain as
+> clearly and in as much detail as you can Descartes' arguments, over the
+> course of the first four meditations, that bring him to this conclusion.
+> Your explanation should include what a clear and distinct perception is, how
+> the existence of a benevolent god ensures that clear and distinct
+> perceptions bring knowledge, how Descartes argues that such a god exists in
+> the third meditation, and how he explains how we come to have false beliefs
+> in the fourth meditation. You will also need to outline how and why
+> Descartes' project begins with the three waves of doubt.
+You are essentially being asked to produce a summary and explanation of the
+first four meditations in your own words, focusing on the arguments of
+meditations III and IV in particular, with less time spent on meditations I
+and II.
+1. Explain *arguments* step-by-step.
+2. Use simple language.
+3. Ask yourself "why?" for every sentence you write, and make sure the
+ reason is clear to your reader.
+1. State different reasons without explaining them.
+2. Use fancy language.
+Remember that your task is to explain things in your own words. You
+may use quotations, but you must explain what they say too. Most of
+the paper should be your own writing, not long blocks of quoted text.
+If this is the first time you have written a philosophy paper, you may
+benefit from
+[this guidance](
+## Rules, formatting etc.
+1. Late work will not be accepted, except where mandated by university policy,
+ or where we have agreed, several days in advance, to extend your deadline.
+ It is your responsibility to contact me early enough, not my responsibility
+ to arrange an extension at the last minute.
+2. The paper draft and the paper must be submitted in PDF format, on D2L. No
+ Word documents, no Pages documents. **If you submit in the wrong format,
+ you will get a zero.** If you have any doubt about your ability to convert
+ to PDF, talk to me well in advance.
+ If you have D2L issues close to a deadline you may e-mail me the PDF
+ as proof you did it in time, but it cannot be graded until it has been
+ uploaded to D2L.
+3. You may go 10% above or below 1500 words. Beyond that, you will get a
+ zero.
+4. Please double-space, use one inch margins, and a size 12 font. Other than
+ that I do not care about your formatting choices, so long as you satisfy
+ the requirements of academic integrity.
+## Grading
+The purpose of this assignment is for you to focus on carefully explaining
+Descartes' ideas within a limited word count. You are not being asked for
+your own assessment of Descartes' work and will get no points for providing
+Your paper will be graded out of 20 points, broken down as follows:
+* 3 points for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Proofread your
+ paper carefully!
+* 3 points for sentence, paragraph and overall essay structure.
+ Carefully plan your essay before you write it.
+* 3 points for the quality of your explanation of Descartes' project
+ in the /Meditations/.
+* 3 points for the quality of your explanation of the role of C&D ideas.
+* 4 points for the quality of your explanation of the arguments of
+ meditation III.
+* 4 points for the quality of your explanation of the arguments of
+ meditation IV.
+## Suggested structure
+This is just to get you started. Don't feel bound by it.
+1. First paragraph -- introduce Descartes' project and the method of doubt.
+ What's the point of the book? Why start with the three waves of doubt?
+2. Second paragraph -- how the /cogito/ points the way towards the idea of
+ clear and distinct ideas. What clear and distinct ideas are, and how they
+ are vulnerable to an evil demon.
+3. Third and fourth paragraphs -- how Descartes argues for the existence of god.
+4. Fifth paragraph -- how a benevolent god ensures that clear and distinct
+ ideas bring knowledge.
+5. Sixth and seventh paragraphs --- Descartes' three explanations for how we
+ might make mistakes.
+6. Eighth paragraph -- conclude by summarising the point Descartes has reached
+ by the end of the fourth meditation.