Philosophy Paper Grading Rubric

 (based on rubric created by Mara Harrell, CMU)

 

Excellent

Good

Needs Improvement

Unacceptable

CONTENT (Comments)

 

 

 

 

Argument

 

Thesis

A clear statement of the main conclusion of the paper. 

The thesis is obvious, but there is no single clear statement of it.

The thesis is present, but must be uncovered or reconstructed from the text of the paper.

There is no thesis.

Premises

Each reason for believing the thesis is made clear, and presented in single statements. It is also clear which premises are to be taken as given, and which require further sub-arguments.  The premises taken as given are very plausible. The paper provides sub-arguments for any controversial premises, and the structure of the sub-arguments is clear.

The premises are all clear, although each may not be presented in a single statement. The premises taken to be given are plausible. The paper provides sub-arguments for controversial premises. If there are sub-arguments, the premises for these are clear.

 

The premises must be reconstructed from the text of the paper. It is not made clear which premises are to be taken as given, and which will be supported by sub-arguments. There are no sub-arguments. The premises taken as given are implausible.

 

There are no premises—the paper merely restates the thesis, or makes assertions without further support.


Or there are premises, but they are implausible and more likely to be false than true.

Support

The premises clearly support the thesis, and the author is aware of exactly the kind of support they provide. The argument is either valid as it stands, or, if invalid, the thesis, based on the premises, is likely to be or plausibly true.

 

The premises support the thesis, and the author is aware of the general kind of support they provide. The argument is either valid as it stands, or, if invalid, the thesis, based on the premises, is likely to be or plausibly true.

The premises somewhat support the thesis, but the author is not aware of the kind of support they provide. The argument is invalid, and the thesis, based on the premises, is not likely to be or plausibly true.

The premises do not support the thesis.

Understanding

 

Exegesis

The paper accurately and precisely characterizes the positions in any source text.  There is appropriate textual support for attributing the position.

The paper develops a plausible reading of the source text, that is fairly accurate and precise.  But it is not adequately supported by the text.

 

The paper develops a reading of the source text, that is flawed in some ways (e.g., attributing a “straw man” to the text).  There is some textual support for the position.

The positions attributed to source texts completely lack textual support, and reflect a failure to understand the source material.

Ideas

The paper contains a highly accurate and precise description of the issue or problem.  There is some awareness of different ways to respond to the problem, alternatives to what the author has chosen.

The description of the problem or issue is fairly accurate and precise, and an awareness of alternative responses.

The description of the problem or issue is limited in both accuracy and precision, and there is little awareness of alternatives.

The description of the problem or issue is incorrect, and there is no awareness of alternative solutions.

Thesis

Thesis is original, interesting, and relevant.

The thesis is interesting and relevant.

The thesis is slightly off-topic, obviously true (or false), or not really worth writing about.

The thesis is totally irrelevant.

STYLE

 

Grammar and Diction

Sentences are grammatical and clearly written.  Word choice reflects knowledge of precise meanings.  All new or unusual terms are well-defined.

All sentences are grammatical. Most words are chosen for their precise meanings. Most new or unusual terms are well-defined.

A few sentences are incomplete and/or ungrammatical. Words are not chosen for their precise meanings. New or unusual terms are not well-defined.

Grammatical lapses are so great that the paper is hard to follow. The author does not acknowledge that key words have precise meanings.

Proofreading

Information (names, facts, etc.) is accurate. Paper has been spell-checked and proofread, and has almost no errors.

Information (names, facts, etc.) is accurate. Paper has been spell-checked and proofread, and has very few errors.

Information (names, facts, etc.) is mostly accurate. Paper has several typos and other errors.

Information (names, facts, etc.) is inaccurate. Paper has many typos and other errors.

ORGANIZATION

 

Introduction

Thesis is clear, and contained in the introduction. The introduction effectively motivates interest in the topic.

 

Thesis is contained in the introduction. The introduction motivates interest in the topic.

 

Thesis is not contained in the introduction, and the topic is unclear or unmotivated.

No thesis is present, and the topic is also not clear.  Introduction is either irrelevant to the topic of the paper, or inaccurate.

Body

The structure of the argument is clear. It is made explicit which claims are being used as premises, and how these premises are supposed to support the thesis. The contribution of sub-arguments supporting specific premises is clear.  It is clear how the sub-arguments relate to the overall argument.

 

The structure of the argument is fairly clear. It is clear which claims are being used as premises, and how these premises are supposed to support the thesis.  It is fairly easy to determine how sub-arguments contribute, and to distinguish between sub-arguments and the overall argument.

The structure of the argument is hard to determine. It is somewhat unclear which claims are being used as premises, and how these premises are supposed to support the thesis. It is often unclear whether a given passage is a sub-argument or part of the main argument, or what it is meant to support.

There is no discernible argument.  It is difficult or impossible to locate premises or to understand how they contribute. There seem to be many arguments, and it is completely unclear what any given passage contributes.

 

Conclusion

Completes main part of the essay accurately and succinctly, while also conveying some sense of larger context.

Either completes the main part of the essay or suggests larger context, but one is not done effectively.

Includes an attempt to complete the essay and suggest larger context, but neither is done effectively.

Essay ends without a proper conclusion.