Reconstruct Anselm’s ontological argument, as presented in class. Your reconstruction should:

Philosophy 1101
Langara College
First Paper Assignment
Description: Reconstruct Anselm’s ontological argument, as presented in class. Your
reconstruction should:
a) Clearly identify the structure of the argument (i.e. how the intermediate and final
conclusions are inferred from the premises of the argument), and
b) Explain any important notions, terms or distinctions employed in the argument, and
c) Articulate one philosophically interesting objection* to the argument. Then describe
the strongest response you think Anselm could give to this objection. (Note that the goal
here isn’t to try to refute the argument, but to further clarify Anselm’s position)
*A philosophically interesting objection is one that sheds light on an important
metaphysical or epistemological assumption in the argument. A number of such
objections were presented in class. You can focus on one of those, or you can select a
different one.
Note: This assignment is not asking you to assess whether you think Anselm’s argument
ultimately succeeds or not. Instead, the assignment is simply asking you to provide the
strongest case you can for the argument, even if you don’t ultimately believe that it’s
compelling. Your focus should ultimately be on explaining the argument, and everything
you do in the paper should be in service of that goal.
Also: I’ve uploaded lecture slides on the topic, as well as a document with further advice
and a link to sample papers on other topics. You’re encouraged to use these resources as
guides. Ultimately, however, you must demonstrate that you understand the argument, by
explaining key points in your own words. Simply summarizing the lecture slides, without
any evidence that you really understand the argument and its nuances, will likely result in
a failing grade. Additionally, any copying, quoting, or paraphrasing that doesn’t follow
proper citation guidelines, as outlined in your citation assignment, will automatically
result in a failing grade and possibly being expelled from the College.
Due: by 11:59pm on February 8 via Turnitin (see below for further submission
Length: 700-900 words
Format: double-spaced, typed, 12 point font, 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins.
Submission Instructions: Papers are to be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service
licensed for use by Langara College, available here: Turnitin is
used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. You will be required to create an
account with Turnitin, and to submit your work via that account, on the terms stipulated
in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. A short video explaining turnitin basic
(how to register an account, submit a paper, etc.) is located here:
Further instructions explaining how to set up an account, or add a class to an existing
account, are located here:
The class ID is: 23699031
The password is: Schmor
Note: The above-mentioned agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as
part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service
may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do
not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify their tutorial instructor no
later than February 6. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the
anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose)
to inform their tutorial instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous
identity with the student.
Further Instructions: For this assignment, you do not need to consult any resources
apart from the Anselm/Gaunilo primary text and the lecture notes. Students sometimes
feel the urge to consult outside sources, particularly sources on the web. You are
strongly encouraged to resist this urge. There are plenty of articles online which offer
commentary on various versions of the ontological argument. However, the vast majority
of those articles are subpar and will only lead you astray. The assignment is asking you
to reconstruct the argument as presented in class, not as presented by some author you
found on the web. If you’re having difficulty understanding what was presented in class,
then please ask me for further clarification in class or office hours. I’m more than willing
to help!
Standards (What You’ll Be Graded On):
1) Be Clear. This means, first of all, that you must use proper grammar, spelling and
punctuation. It also means that you should express your ideas in as ordinary, simple
and concrete terms as the subject matter permits. A person reading your paper should
never have to ask, “what does this mean?” If an idea is very difficult, explain it in
simpler terms. If it is very abstract, give a concrete example to illustrate it. If it is
ambiguous, find a less ambiguous way to say it, or give a further explanation.
Additionally, a clear paper is carefully organized and reads smoothly.
2) Be concise. This means saying exactly what you need to say and nothing more.
3) Be Precise. If “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” precision means never
having to say “that’s not what I meant.” In this assignment, you will be graded on
what you write, not what you meant to write. Therefore, you should write your
sentences carefully, taking care to check whether what you have written is indeed
what you mean to say and what you mean to say is indeed what you have written.
4) Analyze and evaluate arguments correctly. This includes being able to identify the
parts of an argument (basic premises, inferences, main conclusion), being able to
determine whether the argument is formally valid, and being able to tell how
plausible or controversial the premises are.
5) Demonstrate Understanding. This means being able to recognize what needs to be
explained. It also means providing explanations that succeed in clarifying parts of the
argument that require clarification.
6) Be Persuasive. This includes being able to provide adequate support for
interpretation of the argument and your assessment of any objections. It also includes
being able to recognize when a point you make anywhere in your paper is
controversial or in need of further justification.

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