PHL256S Philosophy in the Age of the Internet Paper
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Assignment Three Overview: Construction of an Original Argument
PHL256S / Philosophy in the Age of the Internet
Your task in this assignment is to construct a successful philosophical argument
of your own. Here is the template you should follow in doing this:
(1) They say __________.
(2) I say __________, because __________.
(3) One might object that __________.
(4) I reply that __________.
Your paper should be structured around this rubric. It should thus have four
sections, each beginning with one of the lines from the template. Each should
also be of approximately equal length, i.e., two or three paragraphs each (250-300
words). The idea is that this basic structure gives you an almost foolproof format
for writing your best possible argument.
Your paper should be approximately 1000-1375 words in length as indicated on
the syllabus. It must be typed in a 12-point serif font (Palatino, e.g.; Times is very
dense and best avoided), double-spaced, with 1-inch margins. The weighting of
this paper is 25% of your final grade.
At the top left-hand corner of your first page include (single-spaced) your
NAME, STUDENT NUMBER, and the COURSE CODE (PHL256S). Please ALSO
indicate the TA’s NAME from your first and second assignments (check your
emailed comments if you are uncertain).
Make sure to NUMBER all pages. Please submit your paper via the course
website on Quercus.
NB: It is your responsibility to keep a copy of your paper.
Your paper is due on APRIL 6 by 11:59 pm. As with Assignments One and Two,
grades and comments will be sent to you via direct message from the course
If you have medical issues that prevent you from submitting on time, you must
arrange to submit relevant documents and/or register with Accessibility Services
Assignment Question Specified:
What are you intending to argue, and how will the argument withstand
objection? What has struck you as significant, or bothered you, in our discussions
so far? This four-part structure is mean to help you in devising good
Choose, then, one of the following “they say” starting points (two contraries each
from the three basic chunks of our course):
1. Sentient AIs are likely, even imminent.
2. Sentient AIs are not at all likely: algorithms can’t think.
3. Social media are bad for you, and for the world at large.
4. Social media make the world better in lots of ways.
5. Technological “progress” is a harmful ideology.
6. Technological progress is – yay! – a clear social good.
Constructing an original argument is easy to describe but hard to execute. This is
an advanced skill in philosophical writing, and indeed often regarded as the
pinnacle of the form. So far, you have (1) generated expositions and (3) analyzed
the arguments of other thinkers. Here, you are being asked to strike out on your
own – though with a sense of comfort, I hope, in the context of our course.
For you to do this successfully, you will need to consider the following:
First, think about what might be an argument you want to advance in the general
context of ‘philosophy in the age of the internet’.
Second, begin to sketch the argument, using the template as your guide. As we
saw with Assignment Two, all arguments have an implied logic of entailment,
whereby stated or assumed premises lead to desired conclusions. What are the
relevant ones in play for you?
Third, begin to construct your argument in terms of its logic. The rubric is once
more your friend here. Do the premises support the conclusion? Are the
premises true, debatable, or false? What, then, are the relevant objections and
Fourth, write out your assessment in clear and unfussy language, using complete
sentences, and making sure to define or clarify any concepts specific to the issue.
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