Washington and Lee University, Fall 2001

Philosophy 395: Advanced Seminar

TTh, HI hours (Newcomb 28A)

Ben Eggleston—EgglestonB@wlu.edu

office hours: M&F, 2–4, and T&Th, 9–11 (Newcomb 25)


Paper Assignment no. 2


Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia is rich in contentious claims—some of them directly relevant to Nozick’s overall aims, others confessedly tangential. Your assignment is to focus on one of Nozick’s claims and to develop the most effective objection to it that you can. Your paper should be about seven pages long, double-spaced, and will be due in class on November 8.

Following is a detailed account of the criteria according to which you will be graded. Note that you will be graded not only on the effectiveness of your objection, but also on the significance of the claim to which you offer your objection. In choosing a topic, then, you must strike a balance between (1) choosing a claim that is easy to refute, but that is also quite trivial, and (2) choosing a claim that is undeniably significant, but that is also very hard to refute.



points possible:

points earned:

1.      Your paper accurately explains some claim that Nozick makes:



2.      That claim is significant, either because of its importance to Nozick’s theory or because of its intrinsic philosophical interest:



3.      Your paper offers an effective objection to that claim:



4.      Your paper is well organized and clearly written, with good spelling and grammar:



5.      Your paper is not more than seven pages in length and is double-spaced, and this sheet (with this side up) is stapled or paper-clipped to the front of your paper:



6.      lateness penalty (if applicable):

(3 points off per unexcused day late, excluding weekends)



total score




Finally, a word about the honor system. As you know, all work turned in for credit at Washington and Lee is presumed to have been done without the giving or receiving of unacknowledged aid. This paper shall be no exception. But this does not mean that you cannot get help on this paper; on the contrary, you can get all sorts of help, but you must acknowledge it. That is, you must indicate—with footnotes, ideally—all of the ways in which you have gotten help, whether from other people (such as the staff of the Writing Center, which you are encouraged to take advantage of), or from books other than the Rawls text itself, or Web sites, and so on. Where possible, help that you have received should be noted in connection with the part of your paper to which it pertains. (For example, if someone helps you find a more persuasive way of expressing some thought of yours, then that should be noted with a footnote in that part of your paper.) But help whose effects extend throughout the paper (such as when someone reads your whole paper and gives you comments on many parts of it) can be noted as such in a single footnote at the beginning or end. In acknowledging aid, there is a balance to be struck between thoroughness and manageability; the key is to be as thorough as you need to be in order for the reader not to mistakenly attribute to you anything that you owe to someone or something else. So when in doubt, err on the side of thoroughness in acknowledging aid.