During the semester you will have to write several essays. My expectation is that you turn in your own original work. You are, of course, encouraged to consult others (me, your classmates, your friends, your former professors, etc.) or the literature (books, periodicals or the internet). If you do so, however, you must properly acknowledge your sources. For example, if an argument was suggested by a fellow student, include that information in a footnote.
Rule of thumb: if you have the feeling/suspicion that you are committing plagiarism, then most probably you are. If you have doubts, you can ask me or consult the literature (e.g. Gordon Harvey: Writing with Sources, Hackett Publishing Co.) about proper citation. Among the Philosophical Links you can also find some connections to information on plagiarism.
PLAGIARISM is a most serious offense, and it will result in a failing grade for the assignment or for the ENTIRE course, as well as being reported to the appropriate disciplinary authority of the university.
Do not take chances, it's not worth it!