Now that we are finishing up the theory part of the class, you have had two weeks to research and reflect on your own interest within the field of Ethics that we could not cover within this introductory course. This is a choose your own adventure. You can decided the prompt and when you do message me for approval and recommendations.
I understand that sometimes too much freedom can lead to decision fatigue. While the prompt is entirely open-ended these are some examples that have produced great research papers for this assignment in the past. You can choose any of them, or make your own:
Is it Ethical to be a Vigilante?
Is it morally required that I try to be a better person?
Is there anything that is objectively morally forbidden/wrong?
Is there such a thing as a morally permissible lie?
Am I morally required to use my privilege to help others?
Am I morally required to donate to charity?
Are drones and AI morally permissible? When are they not?
Before you turn in your paper, or as you are working on it, consider:
Does my first paragraph have a clear thesis? (Something I am arguing for or against)
Do claims I make and am not arguing for have proper citations to support them?
Is my paper 1000 words (Without citations, or formatting)
Will this paper have any problems going through TurnItIn?
Have I made a successful argument?
Completion of this assignment demonstrates the following learning objectives:
Identify important questions and conceptions within Ethics, distinguish from among divergent interpretations those that are better supported and those that are less well supported, construct well supported interpretations of diverse viewpoints and reason well about written and oral discourse.
Evaluate information concerning central issues within Ethics for quality, validity and bias to determine if it is objective and reliable.
Evaluate the relationship of language to logic and analyze, criticize and rationally justify points of view concerning ethical issues.
Reason inductively and deductively concerning ethical issues, reach conclusions about ethical issues based on sound or cogent inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge of belief.
Apply ethical reasoning skills to ethical issues and work toward a personal resolution of ethical issues.
This assignment has five parts: submit your prompt for approval, research your topic, form an opinion, make an argument to support your opinion, and submit your paper.
Step 1: Submit Your Prompt For Approval
This is a great opportunity to get some feedback and suggestions for your paper. I am happy to recommend articles, or accept rough drafts one you get to writing. This step will also help you refine your idea to be more specific and thus easier to argue.
Note: This step is not mandatory. If you find yourself at a crunch for time for whatever reason, you can turn in the assignment regardless of whether or not your prompt was approved. You will be graded on the content of your submission. This step is to help direct you to content likely to score higher.
Step 2: Research Your Topic
At a minimum, you should be reading at least one paper on your topic. Preferably multiple. You want to engage with this material and find a perch to fly from when making your own argument. If this is a conversation, then you need something to respond to before expressing your opinion.
You should also cite anything that comes from someone else. If you are arguing about Astrology and say “studies prove that there is no increased likelihood of any one group of people marrying any other group of people based on birthday”, then you need to add a citation for those studies. In a paper, we should not have to take your word for anything. Show us who is saying what you say people say.
Note: This stage is dramatically easier if your topic is specific. It will reduce the options of what to research and lead you to the ability to reply in an original and authentic way since there will be less material to respond to and thus less responses already generated by other philosophers before you.
Step 3: Reflect
This is where you gather what you researched and what you think about it. If you studied the question “Why be moral?” This is where you give us an answer. “Perhaps the most convincing reason to be moral is X”. That answer will be your thesis statement that you will now try to prove. If you studied the work of a specific Philosopher like Foucault or Hume, then use what you learned to create a thesis. “Based on Foucault, I believe that the relationship we have to history deeply affects our ethical convictions.” “Based on Hume, I believe scientific facts cannot be used to create moral facts, scientific facts can only be used to support moral arguments.”
Step 4: Support Your Argument
This is where you create the body of your paper. You did the research. You formed an opinion. Now, produce paragraphs that are part of your argument. Do not give random related paragraphs that explain everything you researched. This is not a book report. Assume I know the broad strokes. Each paragraph should be a relevant feature of the argument. If you can cut an entire paragraph and your argument stands; then that paragraph should be cut as it was a waste of both our time. If you are arguing that the best reason to be moral is to live the best life possible, then your paragraphs should probably address possible critiques, or define your claim. Why is morality the best life possible? Is it not profitable to lie, cheat, and steal? Is happiness and the best life possible the same thing? If so, or if not, how is morality promoting either?
Your final paragraph will take all of the evidence you gave (your premises), the argument for your thesis statement (any sub-theses or simply all your premises together) and restate your thesis statement (your claim, your conclusion) as something you have in effect proven either inductively or deductively.
Step 5: Submit Your Paper
In the text entry box of this assignment, you may leave comments about any research you found particularly interesting. What you feel the strengths and weaknesses of your argument are, or anything you would like to convey related to the material.