For your Final Paper assignment, you will be writing a “position paper” (word count of 1800-2300 words): this is a research paper in which you will address a particular issue introduced in the topic of the paper (see below for the list of topic choices). It should be written in a formal style, in the third-person voice, and it will present your original, considered solution or unique approach to solving the problem or settling the issue in question. It will be your opinion, but the main point of writing a position paper is to let others know not just your opinion or point of view on an issue, but also to know the reasons why you hold this point of view. The presentation of your “reasons why,” in other words, the sum of evidence you find to support your position, plus a statement of the position itself, comprises what philosophers call an “argument.” This kind of paper is also known as an “argumentative essay.” A philosophical argument is simply giving reasons (the premises of the argument) for why a particular claim (the conclusion of the argument) should be taken as true.
The introductory paragraph should present the issue in question and include a clear and precise statement of your thesis, which is your position on the issue. Another essential element of the position paper or argumentative essay is a consideration of at least one alternative position on the same issue, and this is typically an opposing view. So in this paper, you will assert and defend your own position, and you will also consider an opposing or alternative position on the issue and the argument(s) in support of that view. Finally, you will show why you reject that opposing or alternative position and instead hold the one you do. There are several different ways of organizing the paper, but, after you have stated your thesis in the introduction, often the opposing viewed is fairly presented first, then your understanding of the issue follows, with your position then asserted and shown to be superior to the opposing view. This can be done in “block” or “point-by-point” fashion: use the organization style that best suits your purposes. Your conclusion will re-state your “expanded” thesis, setting it back into its more general framework with a look forward toward related concerns. Your conclusion should be brief, but it should leave the reader with the belief that your position satisfactorily settles the issue, solves the problem, and leads to a better state of affairs. You may also want to use descriptive headings for each of the major sections of the paper. But don’t use the section heading, “Introduction” above your introductory paragraph: the title of your paper serves that purpose. And for the conclusion, don’t just use the word, “Conclusion” by itself: it should be “Conclusion: ……” where the “…..” describes or gives a snapshot of your final position.
Note that this is quite different from an informational report or even a commentary on a subject. You will be writing about at least two sides of an issue (usually the “pro” and the “con” positions), developing supporting evidence for both sides, analyzing, evaluating, and refuting competing arguments, and showing and explaining why your argument and the conclusion it supports (your thesis) is superior. For an excellent and detailed explanation (with illustrative examples) of how to write a position paper or argumentative essay (the document uses the term “argument essay”), please read the following document:
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