At 608d of the Republic Socrates claims that the soul is immortal. In the text between this claim
and 611a, Socrates gives an argument for this claim.
Note on Writing Style.
You do not need to provide an introduction that will “hook” me or inspire me to keep reading.
However, you should provide a brief introduction, containing your thesis, that tells me what you
will do/say in the paper. It might read something like this:
“In the Republic, Plato argues that the soul is immortal because…In this paper I will
begin by presenting Socrates’ argument for the claim that the soul is immortal. After
presenting the argument I will argue that premise # is false because…I will then consider
how Socrates could best respond to my argument and will end by explaining why such a
response will not save him from my objection.”
From there, you only add the arguments that make up the paper and any discussion of
background that directly contributes to understanding Plato’s arguments or your arguments. NO
FLUFF, please (though if there is, make it funny ).
BASIC APPROACH TO STRUCTURING PAPER
In the first part of your paper you should present the argument that is the topic of the paper as
clearly and as fully developed as you can. (You can use numbered premise/conclusion form if
you like). After you have presented the argument, you are to evaluate it. There are three main
directions the paper can take from here (if you think you aren’t doing one of these, that might be
fine, but you might want to check with me).
1. If you think that the argument is invalid, i.e. the supporting claims don’t entail that the
conclusion must be true, then you are to (a) explain why it is invalid, (b) restate the
argument in a valid form as an aid to Socrates’ case, and (c) explain the degree to which
your restatement successfully defends Socrates’ claim (e.g. by making valid have you
made it sound as well, have you made if valid only revealing how obvious it is that there
is a false premise, etc.).
2. If you think that the argument is sound, i.e. the supporting claims are true and they
entail that the conclusion must be true, then (a) identify the premise that you think is the
weakest, (b) give the best argument you can that the premise is false, and (c) explain why
the argument in (b) is unsuccessful in showing the premise false and the argument
3. If you think that the argument is unsound, i.e. even though the argument might be
valid, there is definitely at least one false premise, then (a) identify the premise that you
think is the weakest link in the argument, (b) present your own argument for the falsity of
the premise, and (c) describe how you think Socrates might respond to your argument
(i.e., what is the weak point in your argument) and explain why that response would not
defeat your argument.
(Again, use “standard form” if it will be useful, don’t if it won’t.)
As far as your conclusion is concerned, you should be careful to be clear about where things
stand for the argument you have been discussing. Have you shown it to be hopelessly unsound,
invalid if plausible but implausible when made valid, unsound given the falsity of a premise as
stated in the text but reasonably believed to be sound when the objectionable premise is revised
in a way that is consistent with Socrates’ intent, etc. Be very careful about making extremely
strong claims such as “I have shown censorship is wrong” or “Given the preceding discussion,
the soul is indeed immortal.”