They may also use technical vocabulary which is new to you.

I say that morality trumps law in that I think doing the morally rightact is always at least our prima facie obligation. And I hold that obeyingsome bad laws in some circumstances is a worse breach of morality and dutythan obeying them until they can be changed. And in those cases, the lawought not to be obeyed. A law, for example, that required you to take thelife of an innocent person ought not to be obeyed if there is not timeto change it first. That is not something you follow and then change afterward.

Here are some tips to make the process easier and more effective.

This is partly because they discuss abstract ideas that you're not accustomed to thinking about.

What is the structure of the article?

But the problem is that even "critical" morality can be wrong. The historyof moral philosophy is filled with quite analytical/critical theories anddiscussions that nevertheless turned out to be in need of amendment orabandonment as new insights were gained and in some cases as new distinctionswere invented or discovered. The issue is not whether moral ideas are critical,surface, conventional, socially accepted, religious, traditional or howeverinitiated; the issue is whether they are good principles or not. But discerningthat takes ongoing dialogue and judgment, not some replacement for thosethings, such as mere voting or appeal to formal or supposedly objectiverules, or even acceptance by prestigious law professors or publicationin influential law journals. Moral philosophy is difficult and it is anongoing precess as new ideas and distinctions come to light. Substitutingsomething easy for it is abandoning morality, not simplifying it. And itis important to keep that in mind, so that we do not have the mindset thatparticular laws, just because they have been promulgated and even upheldin court, or accepted by academia, are therefore deserving to be permanent,revered, authoritative (in a moral sense), deserving of obedience, or arein some sense always right.

The articles we read won't always have a straightforward structure.

At the beginning of An Essay Concerning Human UnderstandingLocke says that since his purpose is “to enquire into theOriginal, Certainty and Extant of human knowledge, together with thegrounds and degrees of Belief, Opinion and Assent” he is goingto begin with ideas—the materials out of which knowledge isconstructed. His first task is to “enquire into the Original ofthese Ideas…and the ways whereby the Understanding comes to befurnished with them” (I. 1. 3. p. 44). The role of Book I of theEssay is to make the case that being innate is not a way inwhich the understanding is furnished with principles and ideas. Locketreats innateness as an empirical hypothesis and argues that there isno good evidence to support it.

Sometimes it won't be obvious what the overall argument of the paper is supposed to be.

I agree with Y that the skeptic's conclusion is false.

In your notes, you might make a quick outline of the article's major argumentative "pieces." Draw arrows to diagram how you think those pieces fit together.

The prose may be complicated, and you may need to pick the article apart sentence by sentence.

I think you ought to accept C for the following reasons...

For the purposes of the , Schopenhauer may be said to have made three great contributions to the Kantian tradition, which supplement the contemporary contributions of :

When you do figure out what the author's main conclusion is, try to restate it in your own words.

Sometimes he'll be supporting his view with a thought-experiment.

The primary qualities of an object are properties which the objectpossesses independent of us—such as occupying space, beingeither in motion or at rest, having solidity and texture. Thesecondary qualities are powers in bodies to produce ideas in us likecolor, taste, smell and so on that are caused by the interaction ofour particular perceptual apparatus with the primary qualities of theobject. Our ideas of primary qualities resemble the qualities in theobject, while our ideas of secondary qualities do not resemble thepowers that cause them. Locke also distinguishes a second class ofsecondary properties that are the powers that one substance has toeffect another, e.g. the power of a fire to melt a piece of wax.

This will help you to be sure that you really understand what the author is arguing for.

You'll also want to put signposts like these .

Second, some laws are immoral, usually because they are unfair but sometimesbecause they are counterproductive or harmful; in some cases, egregiousand reprehensible. Many laws about Jews in Nazi Germany and many laws concerningwomen and blacks in early U.S. law were morally wrong. Many apartheid lawsin South Africa were morally wrong. But there have also been governmentprograms set up by law that simply mistakenly harmed the people they wereintended to help, such as aspects of the welfare rules that ended up trappingpeople in poverty rather than assisting them to escape it.