I. Topic: Paul M. Churchland’s “Eliminative Materialism”
(a) Explain Churchland’s view about mental states such as beliefs and desires.
(b) Explain one of Churchland’s arguments for his view.
(c) Critically evaluate the argument:
(i) Do you agree or disagree with the argument? Explain why or why not by giving
reasons to support your position.
(ii) If you agree with Churchland’s argument, then you should consider potential
objections to the argument and how you might respond.
(iii) If you disagree with Churchland’s argument, then you should offer objections to
the argument by appealing to at least one other reading and showing exactly
what you find problematic with the argument. You should then consider how the
proponent of Eliminative Materialism might object to your objection and consider
ways to respond.
(iv) Either way, you must engage in a meaningful way with at minimum two of the
assigned readings for the “Mind and Consciousness” unit (e.g., you must use the
Churchland reading and at least one other reading).
II. Your paper must be:
(a) At least 5 double-spaced pages (approximately 1250 words).
(b) 12 point font, Times New Roman.
(c) Free of typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors.
(d) Submitted as a Word or PDF document via Safe Assign on Canvas by 11:59 on April 11th
(e) Properly cite all your sources
(f) Your own work
III. No Outside Research!
(a) The goal of this particular paper is for you to demonstrate skills and knowledge acquired in
this class (e.g., critical thinking, argument extraction, argument evaluations, etc.).
(b) Attempts to incorporate outside sources tends to detract and distract from these goals.
IV. Be sure to do the following:
(a) Introduce the topic in a clear and organized way, without supposing that your reader has any
specialized knowledge on the topic. This way you demonstrate you understand the topic.
(b) State your thesis—the main point that you will be arguing for, which should be your
assessment of the Chruchland argument for Eliminative Materialism.
(c) Your thesis should have the following form:
(i) “Churchland’s argument for his view (EM) is unsound because…”
(ii) “Churchland’s argument for his view (EM) is plausible because…”
(d) Clearly state what the argument is by laying out the premises and the support for them.
(e) Clearly explain the premises and conclusion.
(f) Define any key philosophical terms and concepts that are needed for your evaluation of the
argument (e.g., what exactly is meant by the terms ‘functionalism’, ‘folk-psychology’, etc.).
(g) MOST IMPORTANTLY—Critique the argument! To do so, consider the following questions:
(i) Do you think all of the premises are true? Why or why not?
(ii) Do the premises give adequate support for the conclusion? Why or why not?
(iii) Does the argument commit any fallacies? If so, which one(s)? How? Explain.
V. Some further advice:
(a) Restrict your discussion to explaining and evaluating the argument under consideration.
Discussion of irrelevant issues will not enhance your grade, and might actually hurt your grade.
(b) You might not think this, but 5 pages is actually not a lot of space in which to do everything
that is asked of you. So, if your rough draft is too short, it is unlikely that you will have adequately
explained and critiqued Churchland’s argument.
(c) If you need help properly citing your sources, then you should either talk to Dan, myself, or go
to the writing center. I take plagiarism very seriously—just don’t do it!
(d) Make sure that your paper is well organized and well structured. You can do this by clearly
stating a road map on the first page of the paper.
VI. Be advised of UNL’s academic honesty policy:
VII. All of the quotations and paraphrases of all sources that you use must be cited by using the
authors’ name and page number, and you must provide a work cited.
VIII. I don’t care what style of citations you use (e.g., MLA, Chicago, etc.), as long as it is consistent.
IX. Where can you go to get help?
(a) Your T.A. Dan is an excellent resource and he will be grading your papers.
(b) I am happy to talk to you about your paper either during office hours, via email, or by
appointment. Additionally, if you have a rough draft, I am happy to talk to you about it in person.
(c) The writing center.
X. Additional help writing a philosophy paper:
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