Mid-term exam

The Assignment:

Write
a 4-5 page (double spaced) paper that explains, applies, and evaluates a
normative ethical theory (Pick one: Mill/Bentham’s Utilitarianism, Kantian
Deontology, or Aristotle’s Virtue Theory).

Explain
how the theory guides our moral decision-making. Pick a social problem and
apply the ethical theory to the problem. Then evaluate how well you think
theory does in practice.

Six Parts

Introduction

(1 paragraph)

Introduction
to Topic: This paper is about…What
is the social problem?What
is the ethical theory?How
do you think the ethical theory would evaluate the issue?Thesis
Statement: What do you think about how the theory applied to the issue? Does
the theory ‘get it right’ from your point of view? Why or why not? Example: “I will argue that [Utilitarianism]
is an insufficient theory when applied to [killing an innocent person looking
for a check-up to steal his organs and save 5 people] because utilitarianism
fails to look at [individual rights], which is integral to this situation.”

Introduce the
Social Problem

(1 paragraph)

In this
paragraph, (a) introduce a social issue, (b) explain why it is a problem, and
(c) describe the controversy (what are the various sides?).

For Example:

Abortion
is the early termination of a pregnancy.Abortion
is a social problem because many people want the procedure to be illegal and/or
strictly regulated; while others think it should be legal and/or widely
available.  The
main disagreement seems to be whether or not a fetus counts as a person. Some
argue that if a fetus is a person then abortion is murder, while others argue
that an early stage fetus is still part of the mother’s body and is not a
person in its own right. 

Introduce the Normative
Ethical Theory

(4-6
paragraphs)

Explain
the ethical theory in detail. Who is the main author of the theory? What are
the main arguments? Explain how an ethical decision is made. Explain all
essential terms
(e.g. categorical imperative, greater goodness principle, golden mean). Use
examples/thought experiments to demonstrate what the term is all about. If I
used a term in the Powerpoint, you should probably use it in the paper. Use quotes directly from the
readings and then explain those quotes to help illustrate the theory. Don’t let
the quotes do the talking for you – use short quotes then explain what they
mean (one sentence or less is a good length). Don’t quote outside sources, use
the primary sources: the readings.

Apply the Ethical
Theory to the Social Problemparagraphs)Explain
how the ethical theory would evaluate this social problem. What would Mill or
Kant say about your social issue? What is the morally right policy according to
the philosophers?  

Critique the
Application

(2-3 paragraphs)

What
are the shortcomings of the ethical theory? Even if you think the theory is
appropriately applied to this issue, what are the possible objections? What is
the weakest part of the theory? Check
the last few slides of the PowerPoint for specific ways the theories are
usually weakest. Choose the best critique and use it.   If
you think the theory fails to offer a convincing evaluation, then make sure to
pick the strongest form of the argument before you critique it. Don’t offer a
“straw man” argument to make your critique seems stronger than it is.   

Respond to the
Critique

(1-2 paragraphs)

How
does the theory overcome the objection? Or if it doesn’t, why not? Take the
critique of the application seriously and answer why you think the theory can
answer that critique or not.

Tips:

Have a clear
thesis statement.

Make a claim then
provide evidence (i.e. quotes).

Use short quotes
and explain what the quote means.

Write simply and
directly.
 
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