This course guide contains all the information you need about PAW: Philosophy & Argumentative Writing.
PAW is a 5-week course running alongside PH103. It is compulsory for all first year undergraduates taking BSc Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method, BSc Philosophy & Economics or BSc Politics & Philosophy. These students will be automatically allocated to a seminar group.
The course is optional for:
- Students outside the Philosophy department taking PH103 as an outside option.
- Philosophy students in their second or third year who have not previously taken PAW.
Students wishing to opt into PAW should contact Chris Blunt (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible, as space is limited.
You will learn philosophical skills and hone your philosophical essay-writing and research techniques.
There are eight seminar groups. Each seminar series runs for 5 weeks. You will only need to attend one series. Students for whom the course is compulsory should check their Personal Timetable to see to which group they have been allocated.
The eight groups are currently timetabled as follows:
- MT Weeks 2-6, Tuesday 12-1pm
- MT Weeks 2-6, Tuesday 1-2pm
- MT Weeks 7-11, Tuesday 12-1pm
- MT Weeks 7-11, Tuesday 1-2pm
- LT Weeks 2-6, Tuesday 12-1pm
- LT Weeks 2-6, Tuesday 1-2pm
- LT Weeks 7-11, Tuesday 12-1pm
- LT Weeks 7-11, Tuesday 1-2pm
Timetables may be subject to change. Check the LSE Timetable for the most up-to-date information.
Students who believe they should be taking PH103 PAW but have not been timetabled should contact the timetables office (email@example.com)
Essay surgeries are held as office hours each week during term with Chris, on Tuesdays, 11pm-12pm in LAK.102. Students are welcome to bring essays or questions relating to any of their courses for advice.
In addition to course materials, WritePhilosophy.com will host the assignments for the course, and a number of additional exercises and resources.
Attendance at all 5 seminars is compulsory for all students enrolled in philosophy undergraduate degrees, including joint honours programmes. Attendance will be recorded on LSEforYou. Non-attendance will be automatically reported to your academic advisor.
Each week, there will be a very short example reading. These readings will be made available on WritePhilosophy.com. You are required to read these papers in advance of the class.
In addition, in weeks 2-5, there will be a short guide to the weekly content available on WritePhilosophy.com. For more information, see the reading list at WritePhilosophy.com/PAW/Reading-List
The core of Research and Writing is individual feedback on written work.
You will complete three short assignments during the course.
In Week 1, you will be asked to produce a 200-300 word abstract for your next PH103 essay (or another Philosophy course for students not taking PH103).
In Week 3, you will complete an exercise evaluating your understanding of the concepts of necessary and sufficient conditions, proper distinctions, and logical analysis of arguments. This must be submitted prior to the Week 4 seminar.
In Week 5, you will rewrite a 500-word section from your latest PH103 essay, drawing upon your class teacher’s comments and the skills you have developed in the course. This must be submitted within 1 week of your 5th seminar.
You will receive extensive feedback on all work submitted. You will not be graded on your work, but completion of the assignments will be recorded on LSEforYou.
The course has a 5-week structure:
1. Philosophy as a Discipline
- What do philosophers do?
- What are the conventions of philosophy as a discipline?
- What expectations do your teachers have of you and your work?
- What kinds of thesis can your philosophy papers defend?
- How do you write an abstract for a strong paper?
- How do you get started researching and writing a philosophy paper?
2. Exposing an Argument
- How can we understand the arguments of other philosophers?
- How do you extract an argument from a difficult text?
- How should philosophers treat each others’ work?
- How do you present other peoples’ arguments in your own work?
- How do we present arguments as premises and conclusions?
- What terminology do philosophers use in analysing arguments?
3. Presenting your Argument
- What different kinds of argument are used in philosophy?
- How does the kind of argument we use affect the way we structure essays?
- What are the issues with different argumentative styles?
- What is the role of definitions and distinctions in philosophical papers?
- How do we perform conceptual analyses with necessary & sufficient conditions?
- How do we write good thought experiments and examples?
4. Criticising and Evaluating Arguments
- What different approaches are there to criticising and evaluating arguments?
- What are reductio ad absurdum and logical dilemmas and when are they used?
- What are argumentative fallacies?
- How can we identify and use fallacies to criticise arguments?
- What is a counterexample, and how do we formulate good counterexamples?
- How can we anticipate criticism and avoid fallacies in our own work?
5. Improving your Work
- How do we make sure our writing is clear and unambiguous?
- What is good philosophical style?
- How can we plan a philosophy essay?
- How do we edit our own work and make improvements?
- How do we reference the works of others and produce a bibliography?
- How are philosophy papers assessed?