How the Presence of Rules Agreements and Social Contracts

1. Reading

What is due?

Read the assigned text (Baier’s paper “The Need for more than Justice”) and underline its most important parts. Choose one small portion of the text, between 2 and 8 lines approximately (it’s ok if it’s slightly above or below that), that in your view is the most significant one, the core of the paper where the author makes her major point. It must be just one quote, not multiple quotes combined together. Copy and paste it in the submission. Then write a comment on it, explaining its meaning in your own words. Your comment (not including the quote) must be between 150 and 400 words.


This assignment is meant to assess your capacity to understand a reading and identify its major point, as well as your capacity to explain it in your own words. This is an important skill when it comes to writing a paper, especially – but not only – in philosophy. Therefore, this assignment is also an exercise that helps you prepare for the final paper.


In your submission, you are expected to choose one (no more than one) significant passage, the passage that in your opinion encapsulates the “take home message” of the reading. Note however that there is not only one correct answer to this prompt: different students will obviously choose different passages, and this is perfectly fine. What is important, is that the lines you choose are not completely marginal, and that you are able to explain the meaning of the author’s claim using your own words, instead of simply repeating the author’s own expressions. Your submission must show that you reflected autonomously on the subject.


Read the whole paper and underline (or highlight) it first, as you would do for any text that you need to study. You do not need to understand every detail of it, but you do need to understand the main message that the author is delivering. Then, look at the text again and “slim down” the parts you have underlined, until you get to the point where you cannot really delete any of the underlined parts without losing the meaning of the reading. Now choose, among the remaining underlined parts, the one that in your view best summarizes the major claim. This is the quote that you are going to comment.