Paper Topic—Aquinas on Law
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, what are the four different kinds of law, and what is the specific connection or significance of each type of law to human beings? Is his conception of law and its importance for human flourishing convincing?
• The paper should be typewritten, double-spaced, 3-4 pages long, and it should have normal margins.
o The term ‘three pages’ means that the paper consists of at least four complete pages, while the term ‘four pages’ means that the paper should not carry over to a fifth page.
• I expect a clear and coherent argument which answers the questions and is supported with quotations from the text.
o Do not merely paraphrase the reading. Avoid offering a chronological account of the text (i.e. do not just repeat Aquinas’ argument in the sequence that he makes it).
o Answer the questions. Avoid offering an encyclopedic account of the text (i.e. do not tell me everything that you know about Medieval Europe or St. Thomas Aquinas).
o This is an academic paper so write in an academic style (i.e. assume that the reader, which will be me, is an expert in the field; use the terms of Thomistic philosophy and explain them when you use them). Do not write the paper in a familiar or personal style (i.e. avoid mention of your feelings about life, the universe, and everything; avoid exclamation points; avoid slang terms and obscenities).
o Make an argument. This entails beginning with an introduction and thesis statement answering the questions. Part of the argument will be expository and will demonstrate your grasp of the material. Part of the argument will consist of supporting a claim about whether Aquinas’ account of law is convincing.
You would be best served by answering the last question concerning your own judgment as to whether Aquinas’ arguments are convincing on the concluding page or in the concluding paragraph. While agreeing or disagreeing with Aquinas’ account are both acceptable, it would also be reasonable to say that some aspects of it are convincing and others are not. Remember, however, that you have to defend your position, not merely state it.
• The quotations that you use to support your argument should be supplemented by the appropriate page number from the Dyson edition of Aquinas—Political Writings, or by footnotes from any other editions used. For example, Aquinas writes that “nothing can remain entirely immutable among mutable things.” (151)
o If you do not support your answer with direct quotations from the text, you will not well on the paper. Supporting your claims about Aquinas’ argument with appropriate quotations demonstrates a mastery of the material that will contribute to success.
• I do not require that students use outside sources. If you choose to do so, you must footnote these sources. Footnotes should follow this format:
o Author, Title, edition if applicable (Location of publication: Publisher, Date of publication) page number.
o For example: Plato, The Republic, trans. Alan Bloom, 2nd edition (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1991) 55.
• Have someone proofread your paper before you turn it in to me.
o Grammatical and typographical errors make papers difficult to read.
o The more difficult a paper is to read, the more difficult it is to understand.
o Thus, although I do not use a point reduction system for such errors, grammar errors and typos tend to reduce students’ grades significantly.
• Students who wish to discuss their draft papers need to make an appointment with me. The appointment needs to be at least two days before the paper is due.
• The paper is due on Thursday 19 November 2020 by midnight. For more information on Aquinas on Law see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treatise_on_Law
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