Matters of Life and Death

Fall 2004


SUMMARY:   a synopsis;  answers the question "what happened?"

DESCRIPTION:  observation of external or intrinsic properties;  answers the question "how or in what manner?"

EVALUATION:  assessment of quality or effectiveness;  answers the question "how successfully?"

ANALYSIS:  discussion and interpretation of underlying ideas;  answers the question "what is the significance or larger meaning?" ("so what?")

Our goal is to focus on analysis.  Limited amounts of description may be needed, but should always lead to the discussion of a "so what?" question.

In philosophical writing, significant time is often devoted to evaluation of the arguments of others.  But here, too, the point should be to figure out what is at stake if a particular argument or argumentative strategy succeeds or fails -- the "so what?" question again.


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