Critical Analysis Paper (CAP)

Writing Tips • Think of the CAP as a well-researched, persuasive/argumentative paper. Imagine that you are trying to persuade an intelligent, but uninformed reader of your conclusion, which is encapsulated in your thesis statement. The last sentence of your introductory paragraph should be your thesis statement. A common problem that I see is that the thesis statement is way too broad. Be sure to narrow it down sufficiently to write a well-written paper in 4-6 pages.

• The paper should consist of the reasoned defense of some claim, which is stated in your thesis statement. • A good paper is modest and makes a small point; but it makes that point clearly and straightforwardly, and it offers good reasons in support of it. • Make the structure of your paper obvious. Include a short outline of the main points of your paper. • Be concise, but explain yourself fully. Some Possible Writing Strategies • The paper has to do substantive work, not merely regurgitate an author’s main points (although, of course, it is important for you to restate an author’s position before criticizing it). Some possibilities are: o Criticize an argument; or show that certain arguments for the thesis are no good. o Defend the argument or thesis against someone else’s criticism. o Offer reasons to believe the thesis. o Offer counterexamples to the thesis. Requirements of the Paper • You must cite at least two reliable sources, preferably academic in nature. Since web addresses change constantly, you can find the website by googling its name. Be careful of satire websites or fake news. Some good websites include the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Philosopher’s Imprint, and the numerous electronic databases that the school library carries. Possible sources include books, journal articles, magazines, databases, Websites, videos, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and almanacs. Electronic databases such as JSTOR also contain numerous academic articles and are usually accessible through the college website. When possible, try to cite from recent sources. Make sure you evaluate your online sources for trustworthiness and credibility. • Papers should either be in Microsoft Word format (.doc) or Adobe PDF. • Four-to-six pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 12-point, one-inch margins. • MLA or Chicago system of citation. • Include a cover page that contains the title of the paper, your name, my name, the date, and the class (e.g., PHIL 1301.710 or MW 10:10 AM). • Include a short outline of the main points of your paper and include it after the title page. • You are allowed to write in the first person (use the word “I.”).

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