Spring 2002

Professor Arisaka

Final Position Paper Guidelines

(4-6 pages.  Due Wed. May 15, 5pm)

The purpose of the position paper is for you to develop an argument, either in favor of or against an issue.  It is not primarily a research paper, nor is it merely a survey of different positions.  Rather, it is an essay which clearly defends a certain position, by arguing against your opponent’s position.


1.  Select a general topic and a general position.  (E.g., affirmative action, for or against.)
2.  Within the debate, select a specific position which you plan to defend (E.g., “In this paper, I will argue in favor of affirmative action for college entrance.”)
3.  Consider what theory or theories you will use for your position.  (State what theory or theories you will use.)
4.  Consider your opponents’ positions, clarifying the theories.  Identify specific claims made by others/authors we’ve read, etc.
5.  Start by stating and clarifying your own position.  Identify several (if possible) different arguments that support your position.  (These would be “reasons” why you support your position.)
6.  Identify counter-arguments (“However, against my position, some might argue that…”) and debunk them one by one, by explaining what’s wrong with these counter-arguments.
7.  It won’t do to simply list your opponents’ views and say you disagree.  You must show why you reject their claims, either by finding faults with their arguments, or showing how their arguments won’t work, or show other ways in which you consider them wrong, ineffective, etc., or explain why your position would in fact be a better one.  You can appeal to some of the arguments already mentioned in class or in the readings.  If you use any resources, you must cite the source (page number).

Criteria for Grading:

Note: The particular position you defend has no bearing whatsoever on grading.  (In other words, I don’t care what position you argue for or argue against; in fact, it does not even need to be your personal position.  What I will look for is coherence, justification, and clarity with which you would defend your position and make counter-arguments for your opponents.)

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