PHI208: Ethics and Moral Reasoning
This course has three written assignments that build upon one another and are designed to take you step-by-step through a process of writing a paper that identifies an ethical question, examines the context, issues, and arguments surrounding the question, and attempts to defend an answer to that question using strong moral reasoning.
This first written assignment is a six-part exercise comprised of the following sections:
Reasons in Support of Your Position
Opposing Position Statement
Reasons in Support of the Opposing Position
The assignment should be 500 words, written in essay form, with six clearly labeled sections as indicated below, and include a title page and reference page.
Part 1: Ethical Question
Before writing the paper, you will need to spend some time thinking about the specific ethical issue you want to focus on throughout this course.
Begin this task by viewing the list of approved ethical topics and questions provided in the Week 1 Announcement titled: “Written Assignment Ethical Topics and Questions List.” Take some time looking over the list and browsing through some of the material in the corresponding chapters of the textbook in which each topic is addressed and decide which to focus on.
Once you have done this, choose one of the ethical questions associated with that topic. If you wish to do so, you may formulate your own ethical question, but it must be on one of the topics listed in the announcement. Be sure to carefully study the provided questions and model your own question after them in terms of specificity and ethical focus.”
Place the ethical question under the Part 1: Ethical Question heading at the top of the paper.
Part 2: Introduction
In this section of your paper, you should introduce the topic and question at issue by doing the following (not necessarily in this exact order):
Explain its relevance and importance.
Define any key terms and concepts.
Provide any relevant context and background information.
Briefly reference an idea, quote, or analysis of the issue that you have found in one of the required resources on the topic. Required resources include the textbook chapter focused on that topic (6, 7, 8, 9, or 10), the “Primary Sources” listed at the end of Chapters 6-9, and the “readings listed under “Further Reading” at the end of each section in Chapter 10.
The introduction will be the longest section of this assignment and should be at least 300 words in one or two paragraphs. Place the introduction material under the Part 2: Introduction.
Part 3: Position Statement
Your work on the introduction section has likely unearthed various positions one might take on the ethical question you have chosen. In this section, you will formulate a position statement.
A position statement is a one sentence statement that articulates your position on the issue and directly answers the question you have raised. For example, if the question was, “What is a physician’s obligation with respect to telling the truth to his or her patients?” a position statement might be “A physician may never directly lie to a patient, but it may be moral for a physician to withhold information if the physician reasonably believes doing so directly benefits the patient.” A different position statement might be: “A physician may use any means necessary, including lying to a patient, if the physician believes that will produce the best overall results.” However, the following statement would not be a sufficient position statement: “A physician must always respect the rights of his or her patients.” The reason this is not a sufficient position statement is that it does not directly answer the question concerning truth telling.
Think of the position statement as the strongest claim you would make if you were a prosecuting attorney making your opening statement to a jury, where you want to state precisely and directly the position you want them to believe.
Place the position statement under the Part 3: Position Statement heading.
Part 4: Reasons in Support of Your Position
Now that you have articulated a position on the issue, write a short paragraph—just a few sentences—that presents and explains one or two of the strongest reasons in support of your position statement.
You want your supporting reason to explain why someone should support the position you are taking on the ethical question. A supporting reason is a consideration that helps to show why your position is stronger than another position.
One way to approach this is to imagine yourself in friendly conversation with someone who does not necessarily agree with your position (perhaps they disagree, or perhaps they are undecided). When you state your position, they might ask why you think that; the kind of response you would give is a supporting reason.
Supporting reasons can include many things including, but not limited to: an appeal to moral principles such as duty, justice, fairness and equality; the positive or negative effects of certain actions on policies; or a summary of facts, statistics or evidence and an explanation of how they support your view.
Place the supporting reason(s) under the Part 4: Reasons in Support of Your Position heading.
Part 5: Opposing Position Statement
Now that you have provided reasons to support your position statement, in this section you will take a step back from all of that and articulate a statement that expresses an opposing or contrary statement.
Think of the opposing position statement as the strongest claim you would make if you were the defense attorney making your opening statement to the jury immediately after they have heard the prosecutor’s statement.
Place the opposing position statement under the Part 5: Opposing Position Statement heading.
Part 6: Reasons in Support of the Opposing Position
In this section, write a short paragraph—just a few sentences—that presents and explains one or two of the strongest reasons in support of the opposing position statement.
A strong opposing reason is a reason anyone would need to consider, even if they do not agree with the opposing position.
In other words, do not simply contradict claims that you make in Part 4, especially factual claims! You should strive to identify and articulate considerations in support of the opposing position that you think are accurate and true, or at least plausible, even if you still believe your own position has the most support overall.
If the reason(s) in support of the opposing position are ones you consider obviously false or indefensible, you should look for better reasons.
Put yourself in the position of a defense attorney who has to make the best possible case to the jury in defense of his or her client.
Place the opposing reasons under the Part 6: Reasons in Support of the Opposing Position heading.
In your paper,
Identify the ethical question.
Introduce the topic and question.
Formulate a position statement.
Explain the strongest reasons in support of the position statement.
Formulate an opposing position statement.
Explain the strongest reasons in support of the opposing position statement.
The Ethical Question paper
Must be 500 to 600 words in length (not including title and references pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Writing Center’s APA Style (Links to an external site.) resource.
Must include a separate title page with the following:
Title of paper
Course name and number
For further assistance with the formatting and the title page, refer to APA Formatting for Microsoft Word (Links to an external site.).
Must utilize academic voice. See the Academic Voice (Links to an external site.) resource for additional guidance.
Must document any information used from sources in APA style as outlined in the Writing Center’s Citing Within Your Paper (Links to an external site.) guide.
Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Writing Center. See the Formatting Your References List (Links to an external site.) resource in the Writing Center for specifications.
Carefully review the Grading Rubric (Links to an external site.) for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.
PHI208: Ethics and Moral Reasoning