Philosophy of Film (Fall 2008) - Paper #1


Write a paper on one of the three topics below:

1. Is Film Art?

Explain Carroll's response to the skeptic's second premise: "A film is at best a photographic recording of a work of dramatic art."

2. Medium Specificity

Explain Carroll's argument against the claim that "it is just common sense that you don't make a tool do what it can't do. You pick the right tool for the job. You don't use a machete to cut a diamond; you don't make film do the work of theater." (Pick the strongest objections. Do not attempt to explain them all.)

3. Defining Cinema

Explain Carroll's reply to Yanal's "Spot" counter-example to the second condition of his definition of cinema: "x belongs to the class of things from which the impression of movement is technically possible." (You do not need to explain the other 4 conditions.)

Note: If you are explaining a reply to an objection, you will have to explain the objection. In order to explain an objection to a theory or argument, you must first explain the theory or argument. When explaining a counter-example to a definition, you need to specify whether the example shows that a proposed condition is not necessary, not sufficient, or neither.

Due Date

Tuesday, 10/7/2008


You have at most 400 words (roughly 1 - 1 1/4 pages, double-spaced, Arial, 12 point font).


You don't have much space, so you will need to be clear and to the point. Clarity should be one of your chief goals in writing this paper. Pick your words carefully. Write to be understood. Assume that you are writing the paper to be read by someone unfamiliar with the issues.

You should not need to use any quotations. The goal of the assignment is for you to explain an argument in your own words, as clearly as you can. Feel free to come up with new examples. You are not confined to those that Carroll uses.

This is simply a writing exercise. I am not asking you to evaluate the arguments. I just want you to explain the theories and objections as clearly as you can within the space limitations. The next paper will ask you to evaluate an objection. In that paper you will have to both explain the objection and consider possible replies.

I do not want papers that are longer than the word limit. The space limitation is designed to force you to practice verbal economy. That said, it is impossible to write an adequate paper on on any of the topics in much less space. You'll have to use most of the space, and use it well.


The paper must be typed. It should be double spaced. It should have one inch margins. You should use a 12 point font. I prefer Arial, since it is easy to read.


You are required to hand in a paper copy at the start of class on the due date. In addition you must submit the paper through TurnItIn via Blackboard by 11:59 pm on the due date. The link is on the assignments section on Blackboard.

TurnItIn is a plagiarism detection tool. It will compare your paper against others available online, in journals, submitted in this class, at Temple, and from all other universities that use the software.

Note: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the class, not just on this assignment.